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Young Change Makers: Why and How Desiree’ Stapleton of FMYX Is Helping To Change Our World

An Interview With Penny Bauder

To me, “making a difference” means doing something that alters someone’s life for the better. You don’t have to be rich, pretty, smart, or popular to matter and do something that’s meaningful. Everyone has something to offer.

As part of our series about young people who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Desiree’ Stapleton.

Desiree’ is a Certified Master Life Coach, Author, and CEO that coaches women that have experienced trauma how to re-discover their voice and honor themselves so they can start living the life they’ve always envisioned.

After going from suicidal ideation and suffering in silence to being deemed a Happiness Expert by news officials, she now uses her experience to help others see that there is life on the other side of their struggles and that they too can use their past traumas, setbacks, and challenges as stepping stones to success.

In addition to being a Certified Master Life Coach, she is a Certified: Mindfulness, Happiness, Life Purpose, Goal Success, Professional, and Mental Health Life Coach.

Desiree’ is also a contributor for Entrepreneur.com and has been seen in numerous publications such as Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, Ticker, FOX & CBS News. More information can be found at desireestapleton.com/portfolio

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us about how you grew up?

I actually faced some traumas when I was younger. I used to self-harm and feel numb, but I was always ambitious and nominating myself the leader of groups when I was younger. I used achievement to give myself a sense of self-worth and even though I mostly appeared bubbly and goofy, I had suicidal ideation. I didn’t feel like I had a super loving and encouraging upbringing, but what I did get from my upbringing was my sense of grit and perseverance. My upbringing is why I chose the field I am in.

Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

To date, the organization that made the biggest impact on me was my last place of employment. Why? Because I was facing a really tough time with a sexual assault I experienced while there. After being vocal about the situation, that individual no longer had a job there. But then, 3 months later I too no longer had a job there. That experience shifted my perspective and was the biggest catalyst for all of the growth I’ve experienced this year. Like literally, had I not lost my job last year, I wouldn’t have been a full-time CEO to two companies right away. I wouldn’t be on Entrepreneur. I wouldn’t have had press opportunities. I wouldn’t be interviewing with local and international news. I wouldn’t be doing a TEDx in August. And I dang sure wouldn’t have been invited to do this interview.. I wouldn’t have had the time to pursue all the opportunities I’ve had this year.. I wouldn’t have had the capacity to think as big as I have been had I not been removed from that environment.

You are currently leading an organization that is helping to make a positive social impact. Can you tell us a little about what you and your organization are trying to create in our world today?

Sure! So, I am a Certified Master Life Coach, Author, and CEO that coaches millennial and Gen Z women that have experienced trauma how to re-discover their voice, honor themselves, and start living the life they actually want to live. The estimated global revenue from coaching in 2019 was $2.849 billion. The coaching industry has a $1 billion value in the USA, and a search for ‘coaches’ on LinkedIn brought in over 6.28 million results in 2020. What does this data tell us? People are hungry for answers and shortcuts. They don’t have the capacity or desire to wait ten years for results. People come to me to bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be. They pay because they don’t want to spend more time than necessary in the valley they are in.

The truth is, people commit out-of-character acts when they are hopeless or struggling. Our mindsets and mentalities dictate our quality of life, and suicide rates would be a lot lower if people knew and felt they had other options and that people were actually in their corner. Because of that, the goal of both of my companies is to provide people with tools to help them process, heal, and progress, as well as expound their personal growth and development. My goal is to activate the version of themselves they desire to be.

Can you tell us the backstory about what originally inspired you to feel passionate about this cause and to do something about it?

I experienced suicidal ideation. I felt alone. I felt misunderstood. I kept shrinking and muting my voice. I was honoring other people more than I was honoring myself. Because of the traumas, challenges, and setbacks I faced, I struggled with being the version of me I knew I was supposed to be. I struggled with living the version of my life I knew I was supposed to live.

I knew from a young age that I had a big purpose, but I just couldn’t activate that person because of what I saw and was surrounded by. I’ve always been ambitious, and yet, I had flimsy boundaries and always seemed to honor other people’s wishes more than my own. Even when I didn’t want to.

I knew that I wasn’t the only person who’s physical boundaries were violated. I knew I wasn’t the only person that experienced domestic violence. I knew I wasn’t the only person that experienced suicidal ideation. And I knew I wasn’t the only person who was living a life that didn’t add up with what would be expected when people see you.

Have you ever witnessed a friend or family member that you thought was GREAT, do something that didn’t add up with who you know them to be?

I knew there were those of us out there that needed help unlocking that next level of our potential.

It’s hard building new habits when you’re surrounded by people and things that aren’t in alignment with where you are trying to go and it’s also hard to not regress if you do not have a strong support system. That’s why I also have communities available for people to be able to be a part of as they are growing, building new habits, and ultimately, new lives.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

When you are in the coaching industry, you receive blessings from both sides. As a Master Life Coach, you are helping your people unlock their potential and helping them facilitate their greatness. You are serving as rails to let them know they are steering off track, and it is a beautiful thing. To me, coaching gives an immediate ROI. If done right, after every session your client has received some sort of breakthrough or transformation and being able to help facilitate that is the most rewarding thing for me. It’s me being able to be what I needed growing up, and it’s a teary-eyed moment because you are helping change their life. You are helping decrease the amount of time they spend in the valley and are serving as a bridge from one place to the next, making it easier for them to succeed.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

I remember two teens in particular that I helped. When I walked in, they’d already sized me up and assumed I wouldn’t be around long. Why would I right? All of the people before me said they’d help them and left. I remember doing group coaching and those two teens not participating, for weeks. Then, something shifted. When the group would get a little rowdy because one of the kids decided it was his time to shine, one of the teens stepped in and ‘set him straight’. They’d always make sure the group was ready and paying attention when I got there. The other would ask “do you need me to set this up?” while pointing to a sheet of paper I was going to hang on the wall to write on.

It brought tears to my eyes. Those kids had been through so much and I understood from personal experience why they’d feel it was easier not to get attached when they knew things weren’t stable, or if they knew they would be moving again or that things were temporary where they were. I understood them thinking that it’d hurt less when they have to leave it, or ‘it’ had to leave them. It made sense to me. So when they started inching closer and being more open, I was all smiles. They’ve graduated and one has aspirations of being a doctor. I literally could not be prouder. I know all that teen had to experience and it really was a blessing to see that’s she came out better than anyone could have prayed for.

How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

To me, “making a difference” means doing something that alters someone’s life for the better. You don’t have to be rich, pretty, smart, or popular to matter and do something that’s meaningful. Everyone has something to offer.

Many young people would not know what steps to take to start to create the change they want to see. But you did. What are some of the steps you took to get your project started? Can you share the top 5 things you need to know to become a changemaker? Please tell us a story or example for each.

What are the values that drive your work?

Integrity, purpose, and alignment.

Many people struggle to find what their purpose is and how to stay true to what they believe in. What are some tools or daily practices that have helped you to stay grounded and centred in who you are, your purpose, and focused on achieving your vision?

I make a habit to say “no” more. If it isn’t in alignment with the results that I want for my life, I work hard to say no to it.

I have to take the time to figure out what it is that I really want and if what I am being presented with is going to take me closer or further from that goal. If it’s something that I know is going to disrupt my peace or jilt my mental health, I say no to it.. It’s how I honor myself.

We’ve been conditioned to think that if you decide you don’t want to be everything to everyone, that you’re a bad person. But in actuality, you’re just taking care of yourself. You are putting your oxygen mask on first so that you don’t die in the process of helping someone else put on theirs.

In my work, I aim to challenge us all right now to take back our human story and co-create a vision for a world that works for all. I believe youth should have agency over their own future. Can you please share your vision for a world you want to see? I’d love to have you describe what it looks like and feels like. As you know, the more we can imagine it, the better we can manifest it!

A envision a world of empathy and were people can be themselves. What do I mean by this? I mean living in a world where people can respect other people’s differences and co-exist. There is a difference between accepting something and approving it. In other words, you can accept that something is the way that it is, but that does not mean you also need to “sign off” on it. That looks like your kid telling you they are gay and you not freaking out. It looks like you accepting them for who they are even though you don’t approve. It looks like a well-known celebrity or person-in-power being able to have a human moment and say “I’m not okay right now” without them having to hide it so that they don’t lose fans, clients, or business because they aren’t this superhuman people expect them to be. It looks like being able to talk about your “mess” with people and not being shunned. It looks like people saying, “I get that, what do you need?” I feel like we feel we must have this persona of perfection in order to get anywhere in life.. We have to be super serious. We have to have all our ish together. And we have to do it all with a smile.

That’s not REAL. We are PEOPLE. We go through things. And the more people that are able to empathetically listen, despite their feelings about the situation, they may be able to better understand people that don’t look like them. Accept, not approve.

We are powerful co-creators and our minds and intentions create our reality. If you had limitless resources at your disposal, what specific steps would take to bring your vision to fruition?

Oh gosh. I’d pay to get one on one coaching with Tony Robbins and then later build a working relationship with him. Same with Oprah. I’d also summon the Gods to be able to have a conversation with Ellen, Gary Vee, Michelle Obama, Sarah Jakes Roberts, Demi Lovato, Taraji P. Henson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tiffany Haddish and Janelle Monae. Oh, and Beyoncé. Why? I’ve learned something from each of them and I’d like to talk to them about their hero’s journey. If I could, I’d get some of the biggest names together and have them share their story. I’d let them tell it the way that they want to tell it and just let people hear story after story after story after story of triumph after pushing through. I wouldn’t have them talk about their niche or what they did to succeed or anything like that. We’d all just be sharing our ‘then and now’ stories; and through that level of “mess” and human-ness, people will be able to connect. They’ll see what’s possible if they keep going and trying to pursue the life that they want to live. I think that it’s incredibly for people to hear your “mess” and not-so-shiny parts because it sends the message, “you can still make it even though you struggle with _____”.

I’d also get a seat at the table where some big decisions are made and do my part to shake things up. We all have what it takes to do great things.

I see a world driven by the power of love, not fear. Where human beings treat each other with humanity. Where compassion, kindness and generosity of spirit are characteristics we teach in schools and strive to embody in all we do. What changes would you like to see in the educational system? Can you explain or give an example?

There needs to be WAY more classes on life skills. Honestly, some of the classes we get in college should be offered in high school.. Interpersonal Skills 101. Discovering What You Love 101. How to be Yourself 101. What Life Looks Like as an Adult 101. How to be a Good Person 101. How to be Confident 101. How to Treat Yourself Nicely 101. How to Disagree with What Someone is Saying and Not Have an Argument 101. Alllll that, we need to teach more of. Because some people go to the grave without some of these skills and I just wonder how much more well-rounded we would be if practical life skills were also taught in the first twelve years we spent in school. Because honestly, not everyone goes to college. What if, from day 1 we are learning some life skills along with math, science, and social studies. What if it was actually in the required curriculum all throughout school from the very first day we have to take language arts, math, science, and all the others?

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

You have a gift. You are special. You’ve overcome some obstacles and/or learned how to do things that other people love to know how to do. And when I say that, don’t think “well there are thousands of people that already blah blah blah” because those people are not you. There is a whole slab of the earth that has people on it that connect with YOU. You and I could get on stage and talk about the SAME thing, have the SAME background and struggles, and some will resonate with you more than me and vice versa. There are people that will see themselves in you.

So if you feel called to do something greater, it’s because you are supposed to, and because you actually CAN. You WILL succeed, and you have everything it takes to live the life that you envision.

Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Oprah for sure. And not because she’s Oprah, but because she embodies what is POSSIBLE. To see someone conquer great adversity and then create massive success is amazing. But even more so, is what it takes to pull yourself out, to change your mindset, eliminate limiting beliefs, expanding your comfort zone, choosing to live the life you want to live, maybe feeling lonely on your journey, not regressing back to who and what you were before, helping people along the way, turning your “mess” into the thing that has touched millions upon millions of people in varying demographics, and to then be able to look back and be like “I’ve done it”, that’s EVERYTHING. That’s what LIVING looks like to me. That’s what choosing to WIN looks like to me, and I’d settle for a picture and a 15 second message from Oprah. If I don’t make it to Super Soul Sundays, or the Oprah Conversations, I AT LEAST want to have worked out how to get that picture and 15 second message. I’m not trying to leave this planet without it haha. But in any event, I do plan on financially sowing into her causes, once I’m at the level I need to be at to sow the amounts that I desire.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They can go to my website at desireestapleton.com, on FB and IG at @desireesstapleton, Twitter at @desisstapleton, TikTok at @desireestapleton, and Clubhouse at @desireestapletn. You can also find me on LinkedIn!

If you resonated with this interview, come join me on social media or book me as you coach. I’ve got communities designed to provide a space for you to feel seen, heard, and understood. I’ve got courses for days- some self-paced and others that are live teachings from me. And if you need coaching but feel like you can’t afford it, I have this program called the H.O.P.E Program Initiative where every individual that qualifies gets one free product or service of mine. One. In their lifetime. Doesn’t matter the cost or duration.

Utilize it. And then after that we can work something out with your budget. But in the meantime, kick ass friend. And I hope to meet you soon.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!


Young Change Makers: Why and How Desiree’ Stapleton of FMYX Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.