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Anese Cavanaugh’s first brush with leadership started with a white lie.
Anese was fourteen years old and her parents were in the middle of a messy split. Looking for an outlet, she decided to apply for a job scooping World Class Chocolate at Baskin Robbins — but there was one problem: you had to be 15 years old to work there. Determined to get the job anyway, Anese lied on the application and said she was fifteen.
“My interview went great and at the end, the interviewer asked if there’s anything else they should know,” says Anese. “I couldn’t lie to him; I told him I was only fourteen and apologized for being dishonest. I thought if I could just get my foot in the door at Baskin Robbins, maybe we could work something out.”
Anese went home thinking she’d blown her chance at the job. To her surprise, they called her two days later and said she’d landed the job after all — because of the integrity she’d shown by owning up to her mistake and being truthful. She was overjoyed that she not only got the job, but also possessed some mysterious quality called integrity.
“It was the first time I had ever heard the word integrity,” says Anese. “I can still remember the feeling that gave me. It didn’t teach me integrity, it showed me I had it. I started to realize that even though the things happening around me didn’t feel good, I could write my own story and make the decision to create a life I really love.”
Those ideas took root in Anese and she began thinking deeply about the impact she was having on the people in her life. How did she make her family feel? Her friends? The customers she served? Herself? Was the way she showed up in her life helping things go better or not? It might sound strange for a teenager to be thinking about such philosophical concepts, but in the midst of her parents’ divorce, it gave Anese a sense of control and a new way to take care of herself and her three younger sisters.
“It felt like something had been broken, and I didn’t understand it,” says Anese. “But I’ve always had a superpower that allows me to take any situation, no matter how ugly, and make it into a lesson. I became fascinated with how we show up in relationships and how we create impact. I thought, if I can walk into a room and hold my state in the midst of chaos and negativity, that to me is one of the most important superpowers you could have.”
Those were the early beginnings of what would become The IEP Method®, which stands for Intentional Energetic Presence®. The IEP Method is Anese’s 3-part methodology for helping leaders show up more powerfully. What started as a childhood coping mechanism has blossomed into a full business — today, Anese is an author, speaker, advisor, and creator of the IEP Method. She is an expert on the intention, energy, and presence that is key to success in leadership and organizational well-being.
“Your IEP is exactly what it sounds like: it’s being intentional about the energy and presence that you bring into any situation you’re in,” says Anese. “You could be leading other people, sitting down to have a conversation with your kids, or gathering your taxes for the year. How are you showing up? How do you show up for yourself internally, and how does that impact how you show up to the rest of the world externally?”
Anese has always been passionate about these ideas, but it took her years to actually start a business around it. Up until she had her first child in 2000, she worked for other people: she worked in healthcare, she did a stint in corporate America, and she used her kinesiology degree to work with athletes. But when she had her son, her priorities changed.
“When I had my baby, I said that’s it, I’m never working again. You can’t pay me all the money in the world to leave this kid,” says Anese. “I made a vow to eat peanut butter and jelly and refried beans for the rest of my life, as long as it meant I’d never have to leave his side.”
That lasted for about a year and a half, until one day when Anese was in her gym’s parking lot waiting for her son to wake up from a nap. As she sat in her car thinking, she was overcome by a quiet nudging she’d been feeling for awhile: she really missed her work. But what job would be worth leaving her son for?
“Sitting in the car, I pulled out a pad of Post-its and started jotting down my favorite things I did in my career,” says Anese. “Eventually, I had all these Post-its around my dashboard, and I had basically written a job description for a very cool and meaningful role that, at the time, didn’t exist. I woke up the next day at 5 a.m. and started my company.”
Anese’s IEP Method puts a process around the powerfully simple idea of being present and showing up, and it’s garnering attention across industries. She’s brought her methodology to business leaders around the world, from New York to Shanghai, to students and teachers, and even to Law Enforcement and the Navy. Anese’s work is devoted to helping people show up and bring their best selves to the table in order to create significant positive impact in their lives — personally and professionally. So when she and her husband faced their own divorce after 18 years together, she challenged herself to practice what she preaches.
“Relationships have arcs, and arcs complete,” says Anese. “When we decided to complete our marriage, the experiences of my own upbringing helped me realize that I wanted to be collaborative with him and put the needs of our kids at the top, as well as care and respect for one another.”
Anese’s methodology and philosophies gave them the tools to navigate one of the most difficult experiences a person can endure. Instead of getting caught up in the usual pitfalls of divorce, they took a design approach to the process. They both have custody and live just four miles from one another — they made a commitment to stay in the area until their kids finish school. The mediator they hired told them it was the most collaborative and intentional divorce she’d ever handled. Still, co-parenting has its unique challenges, and it’s raised the stakes for Anese to embrace her own philosophies.
“I only have my kids half of the time,” says Anese. “Therefore it’s even more important that I’m very intentional and present and take care of myself so that I can show up 100 percent for them. It’s my responsibility to be able to command my own presence and be my best for my kids.”
In the office and at home, Anese encourages people to understand their impact and be intentional about it. When you’re in a conversation, how present are you in that moment? Are you really giving your full attention or are you thinking about what you have to do next? Is your intention ‘in service of,’ or is it self-focused (and do you even have an intention)? Anese believes that just by being more aware, you can reboot your presence and craft an impact that gets you the result you want.
“I believe that we’re all contagious,” says Anese. “Any time that we walk into a room, there’s an impact we have. We can’t control what’s happening in that room, or how people receive us, but we can control how we show up to make that impact the best possible. Even if we blow it, or have unintended impact, we can recover faster by rebooting our intentions, energy, and presence. How we show up matters and has a profound influence on our results. Know that, and we’ll all be better off for it.”
To hear more of Anese’s story and interviews with other purpose-driven leaders, tune into my Growing with Purpose podcast.
December 13, 2018 at 07:01PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs