1852 – The Vital Intersection of Leadership and Self-Care with Stephana Johnson

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the CEO of Powerhouse Leaders, Stephana Johnson.

Johnson Wide

Stephana opened up about her personal journey, which has marked exposure to high-stress, high-performance environments. She witnessed firsthand the toll such pressure can take on individuals, shaping her belief in the necessity of recovery time and self-care. As leaders, we often push ourselves to the brink. Still, Stephanie's experiences remind us that to sustain the energy and engagement required for impactful leadership, we must prioritize our well-being.

Stephana stressed the need for leaders to be acutely aware of potential imbalances within themselves and their teams. Recognizing and addressing these imbalances is crucial to prevent burnout or diminished performance. She highlighted that, as leaders, we are responsible for empowering our teams to maintain optimal engagement and energy levels.

Stephana's philosophy and gaining access to more resources, she invites listeners to subscribe to her energy and performance newsletter available on her website, This is an opportunity to stay connected with a thought leader who is genuinely invested in the intersection of leadership and self-care.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Importance of self-care for leaders
  • Impact of self-care on leadership and making a positive impact
  • Stephana Johnson's journey and insights on high-stress environments
  • Introduction of “Vita Five” principles: sleep, water, movement, nutrition, and stress management
  • Significance of each principle in maintaining physical and mental well-being
  • Concept of balance and the need for leaders to be aware of potential imbalances
  • Empowering teams to maintain optimal engagement and energy levels

About Stephana Johnson:

Stephana Johnson is a comprehensive guide for high-level executives, business owners, and public figures navigating critical moments in their personal and professional lives. With over 25 years of experience, she offers confidential, holistic, and intuitive support to foster significant positive transformations. 

Stephana focuses on root-cause solutions to ensure sustainable results without resorting to superficial fixes. She differentiates herself by providing an all-encompassing approach that addresses overall well-being and performance, steering clear of the fragmented assistance typical of multiple specialists. 

Her services are geared towards individuals and teams facing the challenges of early burnout and the pressures of high-stakes environments, advocating for a balance that prioritizes self-care and professional achievements. Stephana is committed to her clients’ goals, guaranteeing outcomes that enhance their leadership capabilities and overall success.

About Powerhouse Leaders:

Powerhouse Leaders, founded by Stephana Johnson, addresses leaders' distinct challenges by providing a transformative solution designed for lasting excellence. This program empowers leaders to unlock their full potential, fostering personal growth and inspiring their teams. 

Stephana's proven methodologies promote the development of a culture centered around alignment, engagement, and energy, which translates into high-performing teams and outstanding organizational outcomes. 

Through Powerhouse Leaders, participants are guided to revitalize their approach to leadership, ensuring they are equipped to navigate the demands of their roles effectively and achieve superior results. The focus is creating a sustainable environment where leaders and their teams can thrive together, setting new benchmarks for success in their respective fields.

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Powerhouse Leaders website at

Check out Powerhouse Leaders on Facebook at

Check out Stephana Johnson on LinkedIn at

Check out Stephana Johnson on Instagram at

Check out Stephana Johnson on Twitter at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey, thoughtful listener, before we get going, did you know that my company up my influence? Com has launched more than 200 business podcasts. The host of our shows are amazing leaders and collaborators. Folks I want to connect you with. Maybe you deserve your moment in the spotlight as a guest of one of these amazing shows. Just go to up my influence. Com where you can see more than 50 shows that are actively seeking business leader guests like you to celebrate right now in front of their high caliber audiences. Just click on the podcast tab and up my influence. Com where you'll see shows like Experience Focused Leaders Podcast. If you're seeking insights on transforming customer experiences, you can't miss the Experience Focused Leaders podcast with your host, Alex Kovalenko. Alex, the CEO and founder of Relay To, brings his rich background from Stanford MBA, Wharton BSc and the University of Pennsylvania B.A. he's a smart dude, along with his real world experiences of building organizations across global hubs to the forefront of this engaging podcast. Now, each episode is a deep dive into the world of customer centric strategies where Alex and his guests, seasoned business owners and industry veterans, share their invaluable insights.

Josh (00:01:32) - They discuss the latest trends, offer practical advice, and reveal the secrets behind exceptional customer experiences and business growth. Are you a business owner who values customer experience above all? Then this podcast is your go to resource. Better yet, if you've got unique insights and strategies that have helped you stand out in your industry, we'd love to have you as a guest on the show. Share your story with a community that's as passionate about customer experience excellence as you are. Tune in to the Experience Focused Leaders podcast for your weekly dose of inspiration and practical tips. Let's push the boundaries of customer experience together. With us right now, it's Stephanie Johnson. Stephanie, you are the CEO of Powerhouse Leaders. You are found on the web at Stephanie And to our friend that's listening, just click around on your show notes. We have a direct link, Stephanie, to your website. But it's great to have you.

Stephana (00:02:34) - Thank you. I'm excited to be here.

Josh (00:02:36) - Really excited to have you and Stephanie. Tell me about the work that you do.

Josh (00:02:42) - Obviously working with leaders. And, again, it's interesting like who leaders are and some of those things, I think if we think of traditional leaders in business, right, or, you know, within organizations, you know, who generally steps into that role and the life that it can sometimes take in order to do that type of work,, which I'm sure you have a lot of experience with. You know who that is.

Stephana (00:03:12) - 100%. I will tell you, I watched my mother, who was an innovator and an entrepreneur, go out and work at this high stress, high performing position and low self care, low recovery time. I watched my father do the same thing giving as a volunteer minister, but also in an executive position and high performing expectations. High high high, high stress and low recovery, low self care. And then I went off to New York. I was going to become an actor, and I was working both behind the scenes. And I got a great job with a record company in an executive receptionist position, where I was there from 6 p.m. to midnight, and I got to see all the stars come in, all of these incredible Grammy Award winning artists, some of them are no longer with us because they were high stress, high performance and expectations of themselves and from themselves, but also expectations from everyone else.

Stephana (00:04:20) - And they would do this day in and day out. Low recovery, low self care or the self care was inappropriate and inadequate. And I observed all of this, and it really was that as a catalyst. That was where I started to realize that who's their advocate? But then I took an executive position, and I was the president of a regional office of a global nonprofit. I was so excited to help and wanted to go in there, and everything was about this. So I was there six, seven days a week, round the clock, high performing, high stress. But I was excited about it. Low recovery, and it didn't take too long. About two years. And I'm in my early 20s at the time. I was burned out, I was starting, my body was falling apart. I was in pain. It just was. Wait a minute. What's going on here? And that's when it hit me that. This idea. Yes. As leaders, we want to drive impact and positive change, and we want so much to give and to support and to change, right? We're innovators.

Stephana (00:05:38) - We want to make something powerful, beautiful happen. But our bodies and our minds and our hearts and our spirits, with all of that driving force, there has to be recovery time. There has to be. Yes, it's self-care, but it's that recovery time and it's not okay. I'll work for six months and then I'll take a week off. Doesn't work like that. We can be all on and all off every day. And this it really was the catalyst. So for the last 2 or 3 decades, this is my life. This is what I am so passionate about. I have a book Lead Stronger Longer that I a podcast that I talk about it. I would love to have you on, by the way, to lead stronger, longer you must lead yourself first. And so that's why I say I'm my own first best client. But if you're here to make a positive impact. Awesome. And that. Vehicle that you are using. You want it to be able to stay energized and engaged, and that vehicle houses your beautiful mind that comes up with all these phenomenal ideas, right? And then there's your heart.

Stephana (00:06:52) - And I work in a holistic transformational lane. Right. So I'm looking 360 degrees at you, not just who you are behind the desk or on the stage. Right. So that's where I created powerhouse leaders. And it did come from, you know, when people say powerhouse leaders, oh, you're that's the executive powerhouse. Like. Yes. And because you know, what we do when you are a mother or a father, you are one of the most important leaders to me. I'm, as a mom, my role leading my sons. I take very seriously. I don't take myself too seriously, but I take that role seriously. And now my son, my oldest son just turned 18 and my youngest is almost 16, and that I was able to lead in a way that was whole. And they are the best examples of being able to stay in a place of wholeness as a leader, because I got to see that from the moment they were born until now. And that result, and I think now if we took a snapshot of our world and we might see the last year.

Stephana (00:08:07) - But what if we look at the five years, in the ten years and the 20 years and the 30 years? How about the 50 years? Where have we been led? And where are the really powerful leaders who are making a powerful impact? And if we really look and understand those leaders that are truly whole. And in alignment with their vision and their values and on purpose. We see the impact around them. Beautiful, powerful, profound instead of diminished. And that's that. I'm passionate about this as you can. As you can tell. So how's that landing for you?

Josh (00:08:49) - Yeah. Well, Stephanie, I'm hoping that because I absolutely resonate. And I think a lot of us do with what you're talking about. Right. This,, idea of I think that oftentimes as a leader or I should say maybe more specifically, is just someone who is in a leadership position., and I have very, very high expectations for what I want to do. The impact. Like, I've got too much.

Josh (00:09:14) - I just got this desire to serve. And you're right, there's a lot of times when I feel like I think historically, I give myself the crumbs,, you know, of what's left over, and I don't recharge. And I know that there are major consequences to that. And I'd say one of the biggest consequences is it subverts my intention. Right? Which is to make a huge mark on the world. And so if I don't keep my own cup filled, then I'm just not as effective in doing what I do. Like I'm not sufficiently recharged. And so therefore I'm not the leader. Or as you know, I'm not 100% of who and what I want to be. So I'm hoping maybe if you want to reflect on that a little bit, and then I'm hoping that we can kind of transition into some, let's set some action items together as leaders so that we can make the impact in the world that we desire.

Stephana (00:10:14) - Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So that is a huge point. And I will tell you right off, you must be creative before you are reactive.

Stephana (00:10:24) - And what does that look like? On a day to day basis. Yes, but let's look at as a leader, you have to have the big picture, the big picture strategy, the big picture understanding. You're the one that is creating the big picture or stewarding and fostering this vision. And if you're not clear, that's a problem. So first we take that time to really be creative, to get creative with yourself. What is that vision? What does that look like. And you dial that in. And then you if you're going to implement, if you're doing both the tactics as well as the strategy as a leader. Some are as business owners, you wear multiple hats. Well, then you need to absolutely tap back into that on a daily basis. For me. I'm even tapping into it sometimes on a moment to moment basis when there is so much going on because we can get caught in that storm, and if we're not crystal clear and do not have one singular point of focus, we will lose our power.

Stephana (00:11:32) - That's the thing that most leaders get distracted by is they have too many points of focus. You cannot. That dilutes your power immediately. So what is that? And define that singular point of focus. That is where you tap into your power.

Josh (00:11:50) - Yeah. So, Stefan, in our day to day, you know, you talked about recovery and recharge. What are some practices that you as a listen, I don't care who you are. I'm going to recommend that you do this, this and this., like, what would be some of those initial things that come to your mind like, yeah, these are way more impactful than you may think.

Stephana (00:12:15) - Yeah, I have five of them. I call my Vita five and everybody I work with. We start with those first because if they are not in, nothing can get done from there. Number one for me is sleep. But the five you'll I'll look at with the client and I'll, I'll look at where they most out and what needs to be dialed in.

Stephana (00:12:33) - Number two is water. I know that seems so mundane, but listen, your body and your mind do not function correctly. If you do not drink water. I cannot tell you how many executives I first meet. And they're living off of coffee. No, no. I'm sorry. You cannot do that.

Josh (00:12:54) - Yeah.

Stephana (00:12:55) - You drink a cup of coffee, you're going to need two pure water, not fancy weird salt filter. Whatever. Water. Pure water, pure H2O, pure water to counteract all of that caffeine in your system. Okay, so pure water. That's number two. Number three is you have to move your body. Your body is a vehicle that must be moved. If it does not move, it will diminish. The brain will start to shut off. Muscles, and as a result of that muscles being turned off, specifically your core and your booty. Maybe you're sitting a long time, or you're even standing at your standing desk. Great, but your core is off, and your back as a joint is having to hold you up because your core, your abdominal muscles, your glute muscles are not on.

Stephana (00:13:43) - So we've got to move so that the brain knows, oh, I have a vehicle this body needs to be used as a right brain is amazing at conserving energy. So I'll shut things off. Okay. So there's that. And then the fourth is what you fuel your body with, right? If you're eating garbage, I can tell you your body's going to diminish your brain, your ability to function, to show up, to think, make better decisions, to even have resources. Right. Think about resources. If you're trying to get to the top of Mount Hood, right. I'm Pacific Northwest, I'm looking at Mount Hood, and if you don't have the provisions in your backpack, you're not going to get very far. Your food is that it's your provisions. Again, seems mundane. Right? Okay. What's the fifth one? You can imagine what it is because I talked about high stress. You've got to manage that stress. And I have tools that I share specifically breathing. You're alive.

Stephana (00:14:43) - So you think you're breathing right? Most people are breathing about 40% of their bodies capacity, of their natural capacity. So we want to increase that. That takes down the cortisol level. We handle things with food by eating, you know, protein, eat clean, good protein. That's going to increase your serotonin. You must have protein, the amino acids for building blocks to get the serotonin up to repair where the cortisol has been flooding through your system because of the high stress. So now now we look at it that way. It's like, oh, okay, my body and my brain are regulating a little bit better. This vehicle, I can rev it at high speed. Awesome. Let's go. You know. Yeah. Basics. I know they seem mundane, but they are priority. That has to be. And that's my foundation. And then yeah. There.

Josh (00:15:35) - Yeah. And listen you know to those who are skeptical that breathing is that right. Oh look at the data. And that's number one.

Josh (00:15:42) - Number two just try it. Even if you don't like it like I'm not I'm like not a huge like meditator. Like I just like my monkey brain just is like a that's ultimate are like it goes crazy. I just don't love doing that. But I know that it's it's good for me. Like I know that I saved me with the results.

Stephana (00:16:03) - Did I say meditation?

Josh (00:16:05) - No, no, not at all. Not at all. I'm just as an example. As an example? Yes.

Stephana (00:16:10) - But but you could see that. Here's the thing is, I think meditation. It's so misunderstood. You think you're supposed like I am high velocity, right? But now I realized that if I don't balance that, you burn out. And if you can realize this, Josh, you're high velocity, right? But I hear your voice is already gone. It's because there is that balance piece that's missing. So we want to dial that in. What's going on? That. The voice got overworked. There was an imbalance.

Stephana (00:16:42) - And that's where most of the general injuries upsets. Right. Are cars crash when there is an imbalance. And this is important to understand as a leader because now you can see when you have a team and you're starting to see people fall off and diminish in their how, their performances, what their productivity level is, and as a result, your profits going down, like what's going on here?. Well, there was an imbalance that you missed. And as a leader, you need to be able to be aware of that and to be able to spot that and notice that and make the gentle course correction quickly, correctly before you crash and burn. That's my goal. That's is what I want to not only do for my leaders, but empower them so that they understand it. I can't be with them 24 over seven, so I need them to be able to recognize it and snap to it like, and then empower their teams so that they are driving ideal optimal engagement, optimal energy. Right. Not diminishing it every turn.

Stephana (00:17:50) - Yeah.

Josh (00:17:51) - It's defining your website is Stephanie, to someone that's been listening to our conversation and they want more Stephanie in their life, what would you recommend they do. Like where do they go from here?

Stephana (00:18:03) - I have a fun energy and performance newsletter, and sharing valuable and helpful resources is something I love to do. They can just jump on to my website. I have so subscribe buttons right at the top so they can just grab that and enjoy the newsletter. Enjoy the nuggets that I share every week. For free. Happily complimentary.

Josh (00:18:29) - And again your website Stephanie Johnson. Com that's all linked up to our friend that's listening. Click on your podcast app. You'll see where we got the show notes and direct links to find a to your website. So Stephanie Johnson, thank you so much for joining us again. You're the CEO of Powerhouse Leaders. And once again, your website Stephanie Stephanie, thank you so much for joining us.

Stephana (00:18:51) - Thanks, Josh.

Josh (00:18:57) - Thanks for listening to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show.

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