We had the good fortune of connecting with Steph DaLeigh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steph, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My dad was an entrepreneur, starting his own business and I was around it. I remember when he took rain-gutters off the roof to attach to a printer. I didn’t realize what was going on at the time, but he was looking for solutions. Working for myself is something I’ve always known I would do. I love coming up with solutions, and hope is not a strategy to find those. Being present and aware of where you’re trying to go, or where you think you’re trying to go, won’t always turn out the way you planned. In the moment, that can be really frustrating or drive me right into the sun, but the second you figure out that whatever you’re trying to do is possible, or discover a new way of doing something, it’s worth it. Can you be flexible while honoring intention? I’ve heard “make your dreams come true instead of someone else’s” and I think there’s some merit to that, but the best thing is that if you do work in a field that brings you closer to your desire and purpose, inadvertently you help others’ dreams come true. The energetic reach you have can inspire and expand perceptions of those around you. Do what you’re doing for yourself, but understand how it is you connect with your community; whether in a big city or small town, live your truth and learn how to listen. Feel into the tonality and the energy you have behind what you say, inside and out, and observe. Success to me is being articulate in how I’m communicating; verbally, physically, artistically, energetically, and being received close to how I intended. The question I always ask myself and those I work with, is “how do you want to spend your time?” If you can find how you truly enjoy spending your time, beginning with the smaller sensory-perceptive attributes that make up your human experience, you will begin to actively participate in living your life. This in itself is art. You’re the director of your own movie, so why not make it interesting? We only get one go around, and I enjoy exploring the energetic lever system that orchestrates everything I put time and effort into, personally and professionally. Every relationship has fundamental energetic principles behind it, including the one we have with ourselves. Is there really anywhere else to be? Where do you have to go? This is how I’m making art, because really what else is there to do?
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I’m not sure I’m set that far apart from other artists. I got great advice when I was coaching, that there’s “always enough clients for everyone” and I truly believe that. I don’t think I’m doing anything super different, except that I’m working the way I want to work, working on what I want to work on, and am very motivated to move into the disciplines I’m interested in next. I think that’s what makes everyone unique, is no one person is really going to experience a process in the same way, as sensory perception is more individual and less shared. I’m always going to bring everything back to energetics- if that sets me apart so be it, but I think if more people explored these concepts, more people would recognize their own internal value, possibly spend more time pursuing things they enjoy, create connections within their communities with compassion and curiosity, and generally elevate the collective consciousness and take care of one another. I think that’s pretty important. I spend most of my time trying to understand how I’d like to move forward in expanding this conversation. I’m super pumped working on a mural for The Clarendon Hotel & Spa. It’s a map of downtown Phoenix including places off the Historic Register, showcasing both past and present, things that have been maintained or lost forever. Myths and mysteries, Phoenix firsts, the sexual revolution, cultural celebration. Restaurants, music venues, murals and the artists behind them, museums, galleries, bars, parks, and any humorous signage. Humor is a big part of it, and it’s my own stream of consciousness on a completely free-handed 21×9 foot wall. It’s a piece to warm the hearts of residents and welcome visitors. I think so often I’ll see articles about “things to do in Phoenix” and it’ll be going to Scottsdale, or Sedona, or going somewhere else. There’s so much right here and it’s a city worth exploring. In every neighborhood there are places that keep each community bristling and alive. This is home, and as I’ve told any of my clients with injuries, there’s always hope. How did I get here. I think it’s interesting to have today be a mark on my personal timeline, because there’s been a multitude of global challenges in where we’ve all gotten ourselves here. And what got us “here” won’t get us “there.” Finding a commonality on where “there” is and what it might look like I think has become a little lost especially in first-world countries wielding a level of privilege unheard of elsewhere. Continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result hasn’t served me well in anything I’ve dedicated time to. I’ve had a couple small solution-based successes I’ve been stuck on for months and figuring it out feels good. I think if it’s easy, it’s almost like I wasn’t doing it right, or it wasn’t really aligned with my pursuit. Working as an artist full-time is probably the most difficult thing I’ve done professionally, and the more I educate myself the more often I see the lack of comparison. It’s all difficult, but it’s all relative to what. I’ve learned a lot about how vulnerable I can be, where shame shows up and how I approach it, and that taking breaks is really important. I’ve always been painting or taking photos but it’s not been my primary focus until a year and a half ago. In the “before-times” I was working in digital advertising in my early 20’s putting together proposals for the banner ads you see on websites. I was pulling demographics of people visiting our websites and using that research to convince an advertiser to run an ad campaign. I had no idea people did that job until I was in it. I wasn’t happy and started teaching fitness classes before or after work. With a classical ballet background Pilates came naturally and I’d been working with a strength coach on the side. Middle of the night two years later had an appendectomy, they got it right before it burst. I was stressed out and wasn’t sure what I enjoyed, I’d watched all the seasons of 24 and Law and Order in my recovery but I knew I couldn’t keep doing the same thing. A friend of mine said I’d never make a change until I “got hungry” and that was pretty accurate in what happened opening my independent training venture. I stepped out of ads and two feet into the sport and exercise world. I had a mentor who took me under his wing, and I ran with it. I was teaching group fitness, had built a fitness methodology for a studio chain, and began teaching other instructors how to teach. Anytime I feel insecure I try to educate myself. It’s not about what other people are doing, it’s what you’re going to do about yourself. I got certifications in multiple training methodologies, my USA Weightlifting and CrossFit certs, fell into mobility coaching with Kelly Starrett’s MWOD, now The Ready State. Then I built a second fitness methodology that combined Muay Thai, Pilates and Yoga. I was flown across the county and internationally to teach instructors in English and Spanish. More of my teaching focused on how to teach other people versus the content. I was reading books on psychology and behavior, and The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van Der Kolk is probably the most pivotal book I was reading at the time. Again came face to face with my own behavior mechanisms, and saw the root of my own pain. Never taking time to grieve things I needed to grieve, or consider that maybe taking vacations or breaks would have been helpful, led me to close my ten year practice completely. I took everything I’d saved over a decade of training with no vacation, and moved to Costa Rica to surf for 6 months. Then it was CDMX, Ireland, Amsterdam, Zurich and Italy for the remainder of the year. I moved to Phoenix a couple years ago to be closer to my Dad when he moved out this way and was having health issues. I took whatever I’d left in storage up in San Francisco and drove out, stayed at an AirBnb and got a job bartending. Went back to coaching CrossFit in the Garfield, and then left to drive myself crazy making art full-time. Overcoming challenges is a mindset of finding solutions, and being okay with them not working. Then you’ve got to be okay with continuing to search and research until you do find a way. Get good sleep, drink enough water, take rest. I’m not good at any of those but I show up with that goal and that’s the least I can do. Probably some of the more important lessons I’ve learned in my careers are to find the humor in what you’re doing. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Listen as much as you can. Show up for people and hold space. Work on your face matching what you’ve got going on inside; synchronicity is part of our physiology, and the awareness to recognize what we consider to be right vs wrong can most often be reframed as optimal and less-than optimal. Own what motivates you and suss out your judgements of yourself and others. Truth is a perception. Prioritizing money over love is more expensive than it is fruitful. Ask for help. Learn to trust, and recognize time as a greater value than most other things. I spent so many years hiding who I was, and this itself, is a story. We all have so many stories we tell ourselves, and recognizing the stories that don’t serve us anymore, or ones that we cling to in order to maintain our egos, or to protect ourselves from where we think our safety and security is being threatened, are all scripts we’ve written to justify where we are now. What do I want people to know? I hope my stories serve someone in a positive energetic “I see you” realization. I want the work I do, the communication I engage in, and the time I spend to be in alignment, inexpensive, and with purpose.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My best friend is a native Phoenician and now lives in her van, I’m sure it would be the other way around! I’d take us to stand up paddle on part of the Salt River that my friend Peter Deise showed me. Gracie’s was the first bar to welcome me to Phoenix; I’d been staying nearby looking for work and they’d just opened before I’d moved here, I’ll always have a soft spot for the chopped cheese and the staff. Thuderbird and The Coronado have kept me company more than once, and Dino’s pizza has the best spicy sauce I think I’ve had in the states. Cibo’s margarita pizza is still my favorite pizza in the city. Phoenix Art Museum, Joe’s Diner, Irma’s, Island Sensation, Bianco, Bikini, Melinda’s, Valley Bar for a show, or pick up wine at Hidden Track. Walk around on Grand after an afternoon at Shamus. Friday and Saturday nights are great to see all the amazing artwork being created down here and catch up with what everybody’s working towards. With the current climate, we’d probably hang out in my apartment, dance and watch movies. Talk about our feelings and tie one on.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’m extremely fortunate to have the parents I do. They’re really different, but have both shown me there’s not just one way to do things. My Dad has always encouraged me, responds versus reacts, and allowed me enough space to figure out my own direction, and change it without worrying too much about what he’d say about it. I think he trusts me to follow through and knows that I’ll always be running my own show. He’ll get excited for me when I move forward with something I’ve been working on, but doesn’t let me lose sight that it’s not over. Running your own business is never over. Whatever I’m working on, reading about, and people I choose to spend time communicating with, all dance together and make up my life. I’ve moved around a lot, so having the opportunity to be a part of the community here in Phoenix is something I’m finally ready for. I didn’t realize what it took to maintain relationships, and I didn’t know it was okay if I decided not to. I recognize how rich my life feels with the people I keep around me. They say you are the aggregate of the five people you keep closest, and I like to think that’s the case. The teacher in me honors the teacher within you. My mom is someone I think I’ve gotten to know so much more as a person the older I get. What she’s gone after and achieved is inspiring. She’s not gonna give up, she’s not gonna sit around and feel sorry for herself. I remember about twelve years ago I got laid off from a job in digital advertising, I’d become addicted to sleep aids and had been in a less-than-ideal relationship. I remember staying with her for almost a month, and she went ship-shape; had to go to the gym with her in the morning, and then tea, reading, sleep. Said if I didn’t sleep, it was too bad, but I’d be at the same routine tomorrow. I remember getting my interview set up for WIRED/Conde Nast and she bought me an $80 one way ticket to SF and told me to “make something of myself.” I think about it every day. The routine she gave me, the structure she provided, is still the same one I strive to maintain. Keeping up the physical training laid the groundwork for starting my first business as a trainer/coach when I left advertising. She’s a lot bigger of a part of my education than I think she’ll ever know. My little sister is fearless. She’s a flight instructor and just went after it. She’s always on my heels and it motivates me to hustle. I want to set a relatively-good example for her, or be able to share how I interpret the information I’m given, how to move through adversity, and embody gratitude. I’ve had the privilege to talk to her much more often in the last couple years and laugh with her as she explores concepts I have exhausted in my own trajectory. There may always be a little competition between the two of us, but why walk if you can run?
Steph DaLeigh LLC
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