Comfortable In My Own Skin – Gayle, 66

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Photo Credit: Artifact Photography Studio

Gayle Petrillo, this Sunday’s Share Your Story, is one of my Kuel Category Experts, tackling the CAREER topic.

Gayle brings with her 35 plus years in healthcare leadership and the experience of surviving three layoffs. First Impressions, Gayle’s image consulting firm, was birthed from the combination of her personal frustration and desire to make a difference in other women’s lives. Gayle helps women across the ‘career’ lifetime; from getting a first job; to  returning to work; and/or landing that promotion by building their confidence on paper and in person.

I hope you enjoy, as much as I have, getting to know Gayle a little bit better this Sunday.

KUELLIFE: What are you pursuing now, at this stage of your life, that surprises you, or might appear to others as if it comes out of left field?

GAYLE: The thought of owning my own business, being an entrepreneur, was never something I ever envisioned for myself. I (mostly) enjoyed being employed by others, whether at a corporate level or smaller organization. The sense of ‘being supported’ was a comfort. The past 18 months have been successful years for me, beyond anything I would have imagined.

KUELLIFE: What’s a typical day like for you?

GAYLE: I read emails. They consist of responses to inquiries about my business, follow ups to/from clients, and inspirations from others. I look at my social media pages (Linked-In; FB – not so much Twitter, Instagram. I attend networking functions and business meetings (Chamber of Commerce breakfasts, lunches, meet-up groups) and attend Board meetings (I sit on two not-for-profit boards of directors). I meet with prospective and current clients and do one-on-one coffees with individuals or groups I meet during other events.

KUELLIFE: With what do you struggle?

GAYLE: My biggest struggle is finding my clients. Most of my clients have come from referrals. My website is still a work in progress. I know I need to find content and post on social media but it takes a back seat. I am a people person and find it difficult to sit at my desk. I’m in the process of creating packages for my services to better layout options for my potential clients so they can see and feel the value I bring.

KUELLIFE: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?

GAYLE: My motivation comes from several places. When I balance my checkbook every month, it’s a reality check. When I’m invited to join women’s business groups (they cost money), that motivates me. I hang out with successful women entrepreneurs and exchange ideas.

KUELLIFE: What advice would you give fellow women about aging?

GAYLE: It’s okay to now be comfortable in your own skin. Our bodies and mind change. Accept it, gracefully. You’ve earned those lines and wrinkles. Be kind to yourself. You have knowledge and experience worthy of sharing. Share it, but don’t necessarily give it away. That information is worth something. Your clients will pay you your worth – you need to find the right clients.

KUELLIFE: What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?

GAYLE: Being vulnerable means feeling confident to ask questions. It’s trying something new. It’s knowing that not succeeding is not failure. I LOVE the words in the song, “pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again!”
Joining Boards of Directors, sitting on committees makes me vulnerable. Walking into a room where I know no one, or presume I won’t know anyone, at a mixer/networking event makes me vulnerable.

KUELLIFE: What are three events that helped to shape your life?

GAYLE:   1. Most recently, pulling off two very successful annual fundraising events (me, myself and I along with a small cohort of supporters) and having members of the audience (192 in Sept 2019) tell me I shared a powerful message and was inspiring!
2. A physician boss mentoring me by showing me who to turn to, how to do something and praising me. He encouraged me to keep reaching outside my comfort level by giving me tasks and opportunities to do so and helping to build my self-confidence (ie, speaking in front of a group of strangers.).
3. My high school guidance counselor told me (at 16, having just moved from the city to the suburbs a few months prior) that because my grades had dropped, I should not consider applying for college and instead find a husband and have babies!

KUELLIFE: Who influenced you the most in life and why?

GAYLE: My father was a huge influence on me. He had graduated high school, worked several jobs, and always wore a smile. People gravitated toward him. He was a natural salesman – the good kind. He saw the good in everyone and everything. He loved my mom and his two kids, unconditionally. He told us we were beautiful. He told us we were smart. He showed us and told us about the importance of family.

KUELLIFE: What is the best advice you’ve been given from another woman?

GAYLE: Oh there is so much good advice I’ve been the lucky receiver of. I will share that years ago, a woman in her 30’s was brought in as a new office administrator as the company I was with was growing. I learned what not to do from her as a leader. She didn’t know how to listen. She thought managing was all about telling subordinates what to do, how to do it, and never open for discussion, feedback or the like. She didn’t last long in her position. Unfortunately, many of us left the company before she was terminated.

KUELLIFE: What woman inspires you and why?

GAYLE: Ruth Bader Ginsburg! She inspires me because in spite of the many adversities she has faced, she sets examples every day of how to be your best you. She is so remarkable in many ways.

KUELLIFE: Are you grown-up?

GAYLE: Now that’s a good question. Yes AND No!

I’m mature. I’ve learned a lot of things along my personal and professional life line. I hear my step-daughter say things to her kids that I used to say to her. I am more comfortable in my own skin than every before. I’m still learning and hope I will continue to do so until I take my last breath. I love to travel and though my patience has lessened with the regulations, long lines, etc. I am glad I have the time and financial freedom to do so. I make many solo decisions; however, I include my spouse in decisions too (both personal and professional). I think that’s in part what makes our relationship of over 40 years still on strong ground.

KUELLIFE: What do you do for self-care?

GAYLE: I am a huge believer in self-care. I get manicures every two weeks. I get my hair cut by a woman who massages my head and neck while she washes my hair. It is more expensive than my alternatives, but worth every penny, every six weeks. I have an occasion massage with hot stones, though I should book them more often. I go to the gym and/or walk EVERY day, sometimes by myself, other times with my husband. My husband and I talk every day, about everything. I read. I belong to a (mostly women) group for newcomers; however, many of us are not newcomers and most are not working full-time so we have many things in common and talk about social things, rather than work things. It’s a breath of fresh air for me. I try to meditate and do yoga regularly. I have lunch or go shopping (even window shopping) with a friend or two every week.This coming year I will be traveling with a girlfriend in addition to taking trips with my husband.

KUELLIFE: And last but definitely NOT least: What are the top three things on your bucket list?

GAYLE:  1. Travel: Take a cruise to Alaska; fly to Tuscany, Spain and Portugal. Australia is on the list as well.
2. Build my business. It’s not about the dollars in my checkbook, it’s more about the number of clients I can help.
3. Spend more quality time with my family (mom, sister, step-daughter and grand-kids) and friends locally and physically farther away.