Featured Female(s): Lynette Barbieri and Vanessa Coppes
Age: Lynette (51) Vanessa (38)
Lynette lives in Freehold, NJ and Vanessa lives in Marlboro, NJ
Business: Lynette is a Business and Financial Coach; Vanessa is an Author, Lifestyle Blogger and a Social/Digital Media Strategist. They are both the founders of ETTWomen and The ETTWomen Foundation.
Kids: Lynette has 4: Jenna (25), Danielle (23), Michael (20), and Victoria (15). Vanessa has 2 boys: Tomás (8) and Samuel (4)
Our mission at the Girls Leadership League is to contribute to more confident and sparkly girls ….
What advice would your big girl self give your teen/tween self about confidence?
Lynette: Learn to love yourself. It is o.k. to compete with someone just do not compare. Always remember you are unique, beautiful, and have your own special gifts. Nobody else can be you.
Vanessa: You are not from an alternate universe. You belong, you are loved, you are seen.
In my classes we teach young girls to create a Friendship Recipe of traits they are looking for in a true friend …What characteristics would be in your friendship recipe?
Lynette: Honesty, loyalty, trust, positivity, authenticity, and a little dash of crazy!
Vanessa: Trust, respect, authenticity and a sailor’s mouth -meaning having no filter. Someone who owns their flaws and all, has my friendship for a lifetime.
We believe strong family values and consistency are important in creating confident kids …What was one of your favorite family traditions from your childhood? What new traditions have you started with your own family (if applicable)?
Lynette: Eating Sunday dinner with my parents and grandparents every week at 2 p.m. and just talking. I do this once a month with my family now and we talk and catch up, laugh and enjoy each others company. Always keeping that open relationship where we feel free to talk about anything is important.
Vanessa: Saturday morning breakfasts with my mom and Sunday brunches with my father. As a divorced family, we quickly learned to split our time. So doing different things with each of them was confusing at first, but with time became family staples which I’m now incorporating in my own life with my own kids. In a sense it shows them a side of their grandparents they only get to experience through my eyes.
At the Girls Leadership League we teach our girls the importance of accepting oneself even when you don’t feel so sparkly …How do you respond when you receive a compliment? Tell us about this.
Lynette: I have struggled with that I must admit. I do try to make a conscious effort to just say thank you and just accept it for what it is. Don’t overthink it and know that we all deserve compliments. Own it.
Vanessa: This took me a while to embrace. Today, I say thank you and smile. When I was younger, I would brush it off with a ‘whatever’. I eventually learned that in my negative response, I was pushing people away. I don’t think he knows this but it was my husband who truly helped take ownership of my physical body. I had a very jaded view of what other people saw, when they looked at me. But once I made peace with that, I was able to fully connect with my inner self. And boy, does that feel fabulous!
We believe pursing a passion is a great way to build confidence for girls …If you had free time to pursue a “passion project” what would it be? (i.e. something outside your regular work and leisure activities. For example, learning to knit or building a piece of furniture)
Lynette: My passion project would be learning how to become a good author.
Vanessa: I’d take ballet lessons again. It’s been on my radar for a few years and this year, it just may happen. I need more discipline around physical fitness. It’s the one area where I slack, a lot.
An important skill we teach our girls is how to identify how she feels about a situation and ask for what she needs to make it better …How good are you at communicating what you feel and asking for what you need with others?
Lynette: With most people my communication is great. There will always be someone who you communicate that is very different and communicating isn’t as easy, but if you recognize that and make a conscious effort to work on it, it will get easier. As women we have issues asking for what we want. Until the last few years, I didn’t ask for the help I needed but now I have no problem delegating and asking for help. As a business woman when it comes to clients or other business women I have no problem asking for what I want. The younger you learn to be direct and ask for what you want, or even asking for help the better.
Vanessa: I was one of those who would literally bite off more than I could chew. I think when your need for being liked, supersedes what you need, you end up doing a huge disservice to yourself. It isn’t selfish to ask for what you need or want. I fully embraced this after having my own children and realized with every year, I emulated my mother more and more. I used to think she was feisty and liked picking fights with others. I quickly realized that she was defending her space, her time, taking care of herself…all things I do unapologetically today.
Social Media is now a fact of life … Social Media … Love it or Love Hating It? Love it now Hated it at first. What do you do to help balance your digital life and you’re your “real life”? Any tips to share?
Lynette: Learn as much as you can about it. But don’t try to be an expert in every area. It is a necessary form of communication now, especially for business. Do not let it control you, set parameters for when you will get on social media and what you need to use it for. Be careful what you put out there.
Vanessa: So, I absolutely love social! I love it so much that it’s become a part of what I do for a living. My approach to it is very personal, as I firmly believe that what you put out on the WWW can eventually come back to nip you in the butt. I have never posted or shared anything that I wouldn’t post/share in a real life setting. I am more restricted when it comes to my spouse and children as I respect their privacy. I have several certifications in social media but am always learning as it changes very rapidly. I like to think of social as people’s lives on the go. The more you can connect online to someone authentically, the more likely they’re going to want to know you IRL.
When you look out into the world, who do you see as great role models for girls?
Lynette: There as so many women that are great role models for women. I was never one to worship anyone famous, although there are women I admire like Suze Orman, Ellen Degeneres, Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, Audrey Hepburn, but I am lucky to have a wonderful business partner I consider a role model for young women, and some wonderful women in our ETTWomen community I look up to and admire as well.
We teach girls to embrace making mistakes.
Vanessa: I would hope that every girl would look to their mother first as a great role model. I know my mother is one of my heroes. I understand that life happens and that may not be the case, I do feel there are many women out there who are doing the very best they can and then reaching back to their fellow girl squad. For me: Oprah, Michelle Obama, Emma Stone, Emma Watson, Salma Hayek, to name a few famous one. In my every day life: Courtenay Hall, Lynette and yes, our ETTWomen crew. They are the pure definition of fierce, loyalty.
Can you think of a mistake that you made that led to great things – an important learning or a new direction?
Lynette: Many, but when I had my first daughter, a new home I decided to jump into a business I knew nothing about full time, which was credit repair and debt counseling. It was awesome the first year, because I got to stay home with my daughter and made great money. It then led to the financial services career I am in today which has given me a very good income and the ability to have the flexibility to raise all 4 of my children while still earning a six figure income. Not a bad mistake.
Vanessa: I’ve been a firm believer of the statement, “Everything happens for a reason,” since I could remember. A happy mistake was deciding to clean the restroom one morning. Not a big cleaning fan, let alone of the restroom. But, it’s where I found the newspaper that led me to meeting Lynette and eventually partnering to lead our fabulous organization. And here we are today, 5 years later. We don’t like to admit we met in the bathroom too much, but we did!
We see fear as normal and a sign that you are pushing yourself to grow …
Do you have any tips for pushing through fear?
Lynette: Fear is just a false perception of reality. We are all afraid of something. Force yourself to do it anyway. Meditate first, do a breathing exercise, listen to a tape on overcoming fear. Just work on it, work through it. If your goal is clear, you will do it anyway.
Vanessa: I eat fear for breakfast. I psyche myself up whenever doing something I am afraid to do. Public speaking is a huge fear of mine and if you were to catch a glimpse of me preparing to go on a stage, you’d probably wouldn’t want to meet me! I look like the hulk (LOL). The truth is that I always repeat to myself, “If not you, it will be someone else. If not now, when? Do it anyway.” I have a bracelet with those words engraved on it. Sometimes just looking at gives me the reassurance I need. In the end, keeping your eye on the prize supersedes all the fear.vWhen we shine our light, we liberate others and help them do the same. It’s a domino effect that I know I am a part of, so if I don’t do my part, the next domino can’t fall.