Founding Year: 2002
Office Locations: Sedona, Arizona
In our search to find some of the most influential women leaders in business, The Chief’s Digest has come across a few names who have not just made a mark for themselves in the world but are also making an impact in the lives around them. At the moment, we couldn’t be more honored to have received the chance of interacting with Debra Stangl and presenting her story.
Debra Stangl is an example of how life is full of second chances. In 1999, she was a divorce attorney in Omaha, Nebraska, hating her work, depressed, 40 pounds overweight, and in an unhappy marriage. Through a strange set of circumstances, she came to the spiritual mecca of Sedona, Arizona for the first time and experienced a spiritual reawakening that changed her life.
She closed her law practice, and over the next three years, traveled back to Sedona over and over again, pursuing her personal healing work with the amazing practitioners who have been drawn to Sedona from all over the world.
In 2001, just two weeks before 9/11, Debra received the message that she was supposed to move to Sedona. She followed the instructions, and six months later started Sedona Soul Adventures. Drawing from her personal experience of coming to Sedona to heal, Debra realized that the healing came from utilizing the unique energy of Sedona and working one-on-one with different practitioners on different aspects of her healing process.
Through the vehicle of Sedona Soul Adventures, she developed the unique process of deeply transformational, customized retreats for individuals and couples. Since then, the lives (and relationships) of thousands of people have been transformed through the work of Sedona Soul Adventures.
In Conversation with Debra Stangl, The Essence of Sedona Soul Adventures
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? In what circumstances did you find your leadership/entrepreneurial spirit?
Both of my parents were entrepreneurs and out of 6 children, 4 are entrepreneurs. I discovered early on that I wasn’t at my best when I was working for someone else and not fulfilling my dreams.
What was the toughest part of starting? How did you manage to overcome them and move forward?
In both of my businesses (as an attorney and starting Sedona Soul Adventures), the toughest part of starting out was money. Especially 40 years ago, no one wanted to invest in a woman. That’s gotten a little better, but not much.
How does your organization provide value to your consumers or society at large?
As our motto states, we are “Transforming lives, one soul at a time.” I am on a personal mission to have everyone live their best life. Most people are living their lives in disconnection and unhappiness. They don’t realize they can move beyond the pain and trauma that have caused most of their disconnection and unhappiness. That’s what we help them do.
What does your company do in this fiercely competitive business world to stand out from the crowd?
Each of our retreats is custom designed for each individual or couple, consisting of private, one-on-one (or two-on-one) sessions. It’s the customization that means everything. The pain and trauma, which brought you to where you are, are different than the pain and trauma which brought someone else, and what you need for healing is not what someone else needs. This is why group retreats don’t work; there isn’t a one-size-fits-all that works for everyone. Plus, we do our work in incredibly beautiful Sedona, Arizona, one of the most beautiful places on Earth, where our world-famous vortex energy contributes greatly to the transformations which happen.
Considering the social, cultural, and personal barriers that foreshorten the confidence and capabilities of women from taking up leadership roles, what programs or policies can be put in place to help more women come forward in business?
We must start by enforcing equal pay for women. It’s incredible to me that we still don’t have this. We must also provide provisions for healthcare and childcare and ensure they are easily accessible to everyone. But on a deeper level, we must demand that women have an equal footing in all areas of life, including education, government, and business. We have to foster a mindset that gender discrimination will not be tolerated.
Women in entrepreneurship are crucial not only for improved economic growth but also for a better society. What are your thoughts on this?
How crazy is the idea that half of the world’s population shouldn’t contribute their talents and skills? How crazy is the idea that everyone shouldn’t be able to be, do or have whatever they want? I am of the belief that everyone should be able to live their life in the way they want, as long as they’re not damaging the planet or other people. Women should be able to be whatever they want – wives, mothers, corporate leaders, police officers, bankers, investors, engineers, scientists, whatever.
When you come across new or unpopular ideas that could be beneficial for the organization, how do you push for systemic change?
Because I own my own business and have fabulous people working with me, I’m in the wonderful position to be able to institute changes I want, with my team’s concurrence. If my team isn’t in agreement with what I want to do, I will most often defer to the team.
How do you define success? Do you think there is a formula to achieve success?
I define success very differently now than I did when I was younger. When I was an attorney, I had the traditional definition of success, which had to do with accomplishment, financial reward, acknowledgment, etc. Once I had those, I found myself with the feeling of “Is that all there is?”.
I discovered that the things society told me would make me happy, made me feel accomplished, but not happy and complete. It was not until I discovered my spiritual purpose and connection that my life became really blissful. And incredibly, I manifested even more accomplishment, financial reward, and acknowledgment when I was utilizing the spiritual principles that we teach at Sedona Soul Adventures. Many of our clients are in the same position I was in, and we show them that the way to really turbocharge your life is to be operating in connection on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Business leaders have always emphasized the habit of reading for success, on the record. Is there a book that you draw inspiration from?
I am usually reading 2-3 books at the same time and I love reading.
I hope people can understand why I say the book that I read the most often is my own book “The Journey To Happy – How Embracing The Concept That Nothing Is Wrong Can Transform Your Life”. When I’m not feeling 100% or when I’m starting to think that something is wrong, it helps me to remember to practice what I preach. It actually humbles me to read it in those moments.
On a larger level, one of the books that had a profound effect on me at an early age was “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl. The thought that someone could use the power of their mind to transcend the horrors of a Nazi death camp made me understand that we make the decision whether or not to allow our circumstances to define us.
How would you describe your career so far? What have been some of the make-or-break points in your entrepreneurial journey?
I have loved it that I have had two very different careers – 20 years as an attorney and 20 years leading Sedona Soul Adventures. Both have brought such richness to my life.
The make-or-break time for me came when my intuitive self knew that I had to leave my law practice. I didn’t enjoy it anymore and it was killing me. Everyone thought I was crazy, especially because I had no idea what I was going to do next. But I listened to my intuition and that has led me to a level of success and happiness that I didn’t think was possible.
What one piece of advice would you give any aspiring women business leaders reading this? How would you encourage them to never give up?
I would tell them to listen to their feminine intuition, it knows more than you might think. And I would never tell anyone to never give up. There’s a difference between working really hard and getting to the point where the Universe is telling you, “This isn’t working”. We have to listen and feel that when it happens and sometimes, we need to shift course. That doesn’t mean to stop doing everything, it means you don’t fight what’s not working and be willing to shift.
What are your plans for the future? What do you want to achieve or build next?
I’ve just completed the second edition of my book, “The Journey to Happy”. I met my husband 3 weeks after the book came out and hit #1 in 5 categories and 4 countries. Since then, I’ve re-written the chapter on relationships and I’m very excited for that to come out. And also, my husband and I are planning to write a book on relationships – I’m super excited about that, I think it’s going to help a lot of people.
One of the strange benefits of the pandemic is that it forced us to start doing our retreats online because no one was traveling to Sedona. We discovered that our online retreats pack the same punch and create the same transformations as our in-Sedona retreats because our Practitioners are such masters at utilizing the transformational energy of Sedona that it doesn’t matter whether you’re in their healing space or your own home. They are masters at connecting you with it and creating these amazing transformations. This now means as long as people have a good internet connection, they can be anywhere in the world. We still have a language barrier at this time, but we’re working on that as well.
“My philosophy is that we come onto this planet to experience joy, peace, and connection on all the levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – and I’ve devoted my life to helping people achieve that.”
Read Full Magazine Here: 10 Influential Women Leaders in Business 2022