Episode #58:
Build Your Resiliency with Peggy O’Neill

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Peggy O’Neill, speaker, author, and inclusion and empowerment strategist, is no stranger to challenges. Standing at 3’8”, she has had a lifetime to master skills in overcoming difficulties, such as building resiliency, personal empowerment, and using your voice to make sure you are included. In this fun and light-hearted episode, Caterina and her long-time friend discuss easy-to-implement methods to help you manage your stress so that you can build your resiliency and bliss more in everything you do!


Peggy O’Neill is an award-winning keynote speaker and author. For 15+ years, she has inspired powerful positive change in corporations and in women’s groups across the US with her unforgettable, dynamic, and humorous keynote speeches and trainings.


Coming from the field of psychotherapy, and drawing from her extra-ordinary experiences triumphing over the many trials of being a little person living in a big world- Peggy lends her expertise in the areas of diversity and inclusion and personal empowerment.

Peggy has presented to prominent organizations such as FEMA, Chase Bank, Diversity Works, Texaco, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lucent Technologies, Ball Aerospace, Lockhead Martin and many others.

Peggy has authored 5 books on empowerment and inclusion. Featured on the cover of Speaker Magazine, Peggy is also a contributing teacher in the films The Opus, and Tapping the Source. Additionally, Peggy has inspired over 100,000 young students, offering anti-bullying and self-esteem programs.


Happily, Peggy brings real solutions to audience members and their hosting organizations. She celebrates her daily life in Ojai, CA, a small town near Santa Barbara.

Connect with Peggy

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Expand Your Fempire Podcast #58 Transcript


Build Your Resiliency with Peggy O’Neill


Welcome to Expand your Fempire with Caterina Rando, the podcast for women in business on a mission. Sharing ideas to support you to grow and thrive. Now here’s your host, Caterina Rando.

[00:00:24] Caterina Rando: Welcome to another episode of the Expand Your Fempire Podcast. I am with my fabulous friend, Peggy O’Neill, bing, bing, bing, who I love so much. And Peggy and I are going to talk with you today. I want you to get to know her. She’s going to support you in having less stress and share some of her insights on her entrepreneurial journey with you.

[00:00:55] Peggy and I met many years ago. The truth is I saw her from across the room. I said “That girl looks like somebody I want to get to know.” We were at an event, we started dancing together and we’ve been friends for, I dunno, Peggy, how long has it been? 15 years, maybe ish?

[00:01:15] Peggy O’Neil: Yes.

[00:01:17] Caterina Rando: And this is somebody that you’re gonna want to get to know. Peggy, before I ask you about your entrepreneurial journey, let’s start by having you share a little bit about yourself so people get to know you before we talk more.

[00:01:33] Peggy O’Neil: Okay. So hi everybody. I’m so happy to be here and I am looking forward to sharing with you and hanging out with Catarina, I always love that. So a little bit about me. I am a little person, one thing I’m standing up, I’m sitting down, it doesn’t change too much.

[00:01:56] Caterina Rando: Peggy, tell people what that means for people that don’t know.

[00:02:00] Peggy O’Neil: Yeah, or that aren’t looking at their screen. I’m three feet, eight inches tall. So I have a very unique perspective in life. I have a very unique opportunity to learn life lessons and to deal with certain challenges.

[00:02:13] And so one of my expertise is resiliency or overcoming challenges. And that’s what I speak and write on a lot. It also gives me a really great inroads to talking to, and I’m a speaker, so I do speaking. I’m similar to Caterina. I speak and write. I do a lot of work in corporations.

[00:02:33] I have done anti-bullying programs for over a hundred thousand kids and, yeah, so the diversity inclusion thing, I have a great platform for that because I’m not the Hispanic person or the black person. I’m a little person, which they never get a chance to have a little person. So, you know, if they want to do something new, I’m the great choice.

[00:02:52] Anyway, I had a couple careers. I’ve got a degree in education. And then I got a degree in photography. And this was part of my entrepreneurial journey I’m gonna insert here, is that when I was a month ready to graduate from photography, which was extremely hard for me because we use big, big equipment. And in the studio there’s these huge lights and heavy stands.

[00:03:15] And I mean, even if you’re a six foot tall guy, it’s hard. And it was super hard for me. And every month, every semester I wanted to drop out. My friends kept saying, “You’re so talented. Just keep going.”

[00:03:25] And I did. And I kept saying the four most powerful words any entrepreneur can say which are “I can do it.” And I kept saying that. And I made it.

[00:03:35] And a month before graduation, the Dean called me in his office and he said, “Guess what? Nobody’s going to hire you because you’re a little person.” I was like, “Oh, thanks for telling me after four years and a hundred thousand dollars of tuition.” And, the truth is he only got there in my seventh semester and he was an idiot.

[00:03:52] So, but the thing is that I was not an empowered person at that time. And I internalized his voice and I started telling myself I’ll never get hired. And so when I go think about going to an ad agency…

[00:04:06] I graduated and I had beautiful portfolio, and I think about going to show my portfolio to ad agencies, when I think about going to open a photo studio or even being an assistant to another photographer, I hear that voice in my mind.

[00:04:19] And it really taught me a very, very, very important lesson in life about paying attention to what your critical voice is saying and silencing it when it’s telling you, you can’t do something that your heart is in. Telling you, that you can’t do really anything because anything’s possible. So, I hope that that fit into both my entrepreneurial and also my tenacity.

[00:04:41] So anyway, I did not become a photographer and serendipitously I, went on to become a speaker. And so I don’t know about destiny or something, but I have a beautiful gift to be able to articulate well and to connect with people well, and I have so much life experience that is helpful for other people because I’ve had so much support and so much resiliency and so much insight that I’ve been able to overcome so many challenges.

[00:05:06] And now I share those with other people. So, like you. You’re here with me and Caterina.

[00:05:11] Caterina Rando: Yay! You know, Peggy. I don’t think I know the answer to this question. How did you get started with speaking?

[00:05:17] Peggy O’Neil: Oh, well that’s a good question. After I dropped out of photography, I did become a psychotherapist. I found out that I had a gift with that also. And I was working on myself a lot then , I had a suicidal crisis in my mid thirties. And I started to do some theraperutic s piritual work and found out that I had a knack for it.

[00:05:36] So I went to school and became a therapist and I was talking to my good friend, Marci Shimoff, which she lives up in your area. Many of your folks probably know her. And I told her, she and I went to college together and we had stayed good friends, and I mentioned to her that I was going to go and do a workshop to get people to come to me for therapy. And she said, “Peggy, your Dharma is to be a speaker. Come with me next week to the National Speakers Association’s National Conference.”

[00:06:04] That was probably like two years before I met you there. So anyway, I went and I just kept watching the people up there and going, “I can do that.” And then “I can do it, right?” And then I came home and I wrote my story and I wrote a brochure and I started speaking for free.

[00:06:20] And I did that for a couple of years. And then I went on to this, that, and the other thing. So, I got there because Marci saw potential in me and she supported me and I said, “Yes.”

[00:06:31] Caterina Rando: That’s beautiful. I love that story, my friend.

[00:06:35] Peggy O’Neil: Yeah.

[00:06:35] Caterina Rando: I want to say on your entrepreneurial journey, that you also have been a restaurant owner.

[00:06:40] Peggy O’Neil: Yes I have, I was, that came right after college. I’m also a meditation teacher. So it was a meditation teacher, then a restaurant owner. And then a photographer. And then a psychotherapist. And then a speaker, and author, and coach. So, you know, but now I’m a stress management… I needed to be a stress management expertise because they have the phone app called Tap For Joy that helps people relieve stress.  I think somebody asked me what I liked of all those jobs, what I liked best? And I said, “Change. I like change.”

[00:07:11] Caterina Rando: Because also you’re a retreat leader. You got to retreat or two or 20 in your future coming up too.

[00:07:17] Peggy O’Neil: I do, I do, I do.

[00:07:20] Caterina Rando: Bing bing bing!

[00:07:21] Peggy O’Neil: Bing bing bing!

[00:07:23] Caterina Rando: My friend, okay, good. So one of your many areas that you support people in is resilience, stress management. And the truth is modern life can be stressful and the entrepreneurial life is dynamic and sometimes… we’ll keep the positive spin on it my friend…

[00:07:46] Peggy O’Neil: And lots of changes

[00:07:48] Caterina Rando: Yes, lots of change. Lots of resilience required. Let’s do what we can today in our time together to support our listeners in upgrading their resiliency, their stress management. What are a couple of tools that you have to support them?

[00:08:05] Peggy O’Neil: Well, the first one, of course, is Tap For Joy. And that is a phone app. You can get it in the Apple store. Put in Tap For Joy, it’ll come up and then you can download it. It’ll guide you through the process, which I’m not going to do today because you can do it there.

[00:08:19] And the thing that’s great about it is that, it’s more effective at releasing stress than actually meditation and mindfulness. It actually has been scientifically proven to release deeper levels of stress and actually resolve trauma.

[00:08:35] So you can work with your most difficult stresses and your most difficult memories. And what it does is… to tap, you use two fingers and you tap lightly.

[00:08:44] This is not EFT. This is called faster EFT or “eutaptics.” And it’s a new and improved version of EFT. And it includes hypnotherapy and NLP.

[00:08:54] Caterina Rando: I know, you know, all the jargon, my friend…

[00:08:56] Peggy O’Neil: Oh EFT, emotional, Emotional Freedom Technique.

[00:09:00] Caterina Rando: But you also said NFT, and then you said something else.

[00:09:04] Peggy O’Neil: NLP, neruo linguistic programming

[00:09:06] Caterina Rando: Okay.

[00:09:07] Peggy O’Neil: So, “faster EFT” is a combination of emotional freedom techniques with hypnotherapy and with neuro linguistic programming. And put all those three together and simplify the tapping version so that we only tap around our eye and on our collarbone. I did not make this up, Robert Smith did, but the app I did create, and then we grab our wrist.

[00:09:33] So how tapping works is that when you tap around your eye on collarbone, it stimulates the organs in your center, your tummy and in your torso to create happy chemicals, like oxytocin.

[00:09:51] Caterina Rando: That’s exciting.

[00:09:52] Peggy O’Neil: Yeah. When you think a stressful thought, you create stressful chemicals like cortisol. And when you combine a stressful thought with the tapping, which is creating serotonin and oxytocin. When those two things happen simultaneously, it breaks the old neural pathway of the stressful memory and it creates a new neural pathway. And that neural pathway gets associated with peace and calm, not with stress.

[00:10:22] So if you had a traumatic experience of falling out of a boat, perhaps, and maybe almost drowning, you can tap out the stress of that.

[00:10:31] And when you think of it, it won’t bring up that fury. Or if something happened with your parents, I mean, so many of us had so many things in our childhood that we don’t even classify as traumatic, but actually are. Because we stopped the energy flowing inside of our body. And so something emotional or emotional development got stuck there. So that when situations come up in our life, now we overreact and we react badly.

[00:10:57] And that’s not so effective. So tapping is really great. Tap For Joy, you can get it.

[00:11:03] Also we could do some techniques like breathing. Like meditation. Like yoga. These are all things that I do to help me to stay in my center so that when I come to my life, the challenges, the obstacles, the frustrations, the difficult people, my own inner stuff, worries and fears that I have, that I’m coming from my best self.

[00:11:33] I’m going to tell a little breathing super tip. It’s more of an instruction. So, this breathing is called “whisky breathing” and…

[00:11:40] Caterina Rando: whiskey breathing! How funny!

[00:11:42] Peggy O’Neil: It makes you feel the way you feel when you drink a shot of whiskey. It relaxes you.

[00:11:47] What you can do is to sit quietly. If you might want to close your eyes. We can all do it now together.

[00:11:53] Let’s all take a deep breath in. And just exhale. And then on the next inhale, I’m going to count out we’re going to do a 4, 4, 4 breaths. So we’re going to breathe in for 4, hold for 4, and exhale for 4 okay?

[00:12:08] So just close your eyes and let’s breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4. Hold your breath 4, 3, 2, 1, and then exhale. 4 3, 2, 1. Again, breathing in, take a nice deep breath, fill up your diaphragm. 1, 2, 3, 4. Hold 1, 2, 3, 4. Exhale, 4, 3, 2, 1. Okay.

[00:12:52] Caterina Rando: We should all feel calmer and more relaxed right now, right?

[00:12:56] Peggy O’Neil: Yeah. And I mean, it’s great to do like 10 rounds of each count, the triad, the triangle, do 10 rounds of that. And you really feel a very significant release of stress and a really significant coming back to center.

[00:13:11] Caterina Rando: Peggy, I love that and for entrepreneurs, this is a really great tool to support them throughout the day. Because we can be going in 10 different directions and, you know, sometimes I call it the “challenge du jour.” You know, they’re usually some little thing that comes up during the day, and this is a good technique for that.

[00:13:34] One of the things that I know you know, that I want to remind our listeners of is that it is important to be aware of your feelings in business during the day. How are you feeling right this moment and to check in with yourself. Are you feeling stressed? Then let’s take a few minutes for breathing.

[00:13:54] Peggy O’Neil: great to notice.

[00:13:55] Caterina Rando: Yes. Great to notice. And of course I want people to notice when they’re blissing in their business and what’s going on at that time.

[00:14:05] Also, let’s take some time during the day for some gratitude. Because there’s definitely a lot to be grateful for when you have your own business as well. Grateful for our clients, grateful for the great results that they’re getting. Grateful for the people that are supporting us on our team. Grateful that we get to be ourselves, do our thing, serve our people and massively monetize. Right?

[00:14:31] And I know Peggy, one of the things I love about you is that you, one of the many things, is that you are really good at gratitude as well.

[00:14:42] Now, you know what, Peggy, sidebar here. One of the other things I love about you is that you have very good awareness of how you are feeling in the moment. Any ideas you want to share with our listeners about that?  You said it’s good to notice.

[00:15:01] Peggy O’Neil: Yes

[00:15:01] Caterina Rando: Any ideas about that to support our listeners?

[00:15:04] Peggy O’Neil: I was just going to actually do it as the next technique. And do a little bit move from your head to your heart technique. So I will guide you through it in a moment, but this is good for so many things. It’s good for getting out of stress. It’s good for, if you want to connect with yourself. It’s good if you want to check in with what is going on inside of you? What’s with your internal landscape, what’s happening in there?

[00:15:34] It’s also great if you want to connect with other people. Because, believe it or not, the brain sees differences and the heart sees sameness.

[00:15:45] Caterina Rando: I don’t get it, say more about that.

[00:15:47] Peggy O’Neil: Yeah. So the brain’s job is to discern and to discriminate, right? It sees different colors and hears different voices. It sees different faces, it reads different words. The heart, it’s function is to see commonality, is to see things that are the same. You’re a human, I’m a human. You have flowers, I have flowers, right? Oh, you’re smiling, I’m smiling. I like you, you like me.

[00:16:14] And when it recognizes similarity, it generates this thing called love and love is the glue that sticks people together. So what happened when you and I met on that dance floor, that night… was

[00:16:27] Caterina Rando: We fell in love, mwah.

[00:16:29] Peggy O’Neil: Exactly, the love rose up and that created a big bunch of glue. And here we are today. So this is, one of the tenants of my diversity work is to help people.

[00:16:41] We were trained in school very well, how to use our brain. We were not trained so well, how do you use not only our heart, but the wisdom of our heart. So the HeartMath is like scientific research place. They have all of this information about the fact that the heart has its own brain and it actually generates guidance.

[00:17:03] And it can be called intuition. It can be called feelings. And it can be called heartfelt sense. So, we can use the wisdom of our heart to know, especially when we’re in a relationship, what to say next. How to respond. When to pause. When to stand up for ourselves, all those kinds of things. So let’s do the technique now and then, maybe we’ll do a little summary and then we’ll give a kiss goodbye.

[00:17:27] Okay. So everybody just sit comfortably and close your eyes. And let’s take a big, deep breath. And as you do, I want you to bring one of your hands and place it over the center of your chest, where your emotional heart abides, and just breathe in to that center.

[00:17:45] Just breathe in, feel your chest expanding. And just let your attention come down into your chest and feel somatically, feel the muscles. Move any kind of sensations that are happening there, or lack of sensations, notice what you feel in your heart area.

[00:18:12] And you might notice what emotions are here right now. You might feel peace. You might feel some trepidation because this is unusual. You might feel hurry up. I mean, it could be all kinds of things. So just notice what you feel. Take note and be conscious of how you’re feeling right now.

[00:18:33] And then the one step more that you can do is to just check in with your heart and ask it a question and then just listen for the answer.

[00:18:42] And the question is, “How are you doing right now? How are you doing right now?” And then just listen for the answer. Or “how are you feeling right now?”

[00:19:01] If your heart is feeling less than great, you can also ask the question, “how can I support you right now to being open and feeling connected to all that is? How can I support you?” Just listen for the answer.

[00:19:25] Take a deep breath and just come back…

[00:19:27] Caterina Rando: Oh, beautiful, and Peggy, what my sense is, is that the more we do this, the more we’re going to increase our self-awareness for how we’re feeling even when we’re not doing it.

[00:19:42] Peggy O’Neil: Yes. There’s two benefits of that. One is we can identify what our needs are and get them met. Because when our needs are met, we’re happy. When our needs are unmet, we’re unhappy.

[00:19:54] So, checking in with how we’re feeling can identify how we’re feeling. The other thing that it can do is help us to be more authentically ourselves. So we can become aware that, maybe I’m feeling a little bit frozen or I’m feeling a little fear filled, do a little breathing, or do a little stretching or whatever, do some tapping and come back into our more authentic self. So we can bring that when we interact with our work, when we interact with others.

[00:20:20] So those are two of the really big benefits and as we know authenticity is where love happens. It’s where bliss happens. It’s where bing bing, bing happens..

[00:20:30] Caterina Rando: I love it. Peggy. That’s beautiful. And the other thing is that then there won’t be the tendency, which some people have, to overreact. because they’re not having self-awareness.

[00:20:42] Peggy O’Neil: Yes.

[00:20:43] Caterina Rando: When they’re self-aware, like you said, we’re not happy, when our needs are not being met. We can become more aware of what our needs are. And another thing that you’re very good at, my friend, is asking for what you want in a way that doesn’t blame, shame, or make anybody wrong.

[00:21:01] And as a result of that, no wonder you’re blissing all the time, because you know how to ask for what you want.

[00:21:05] Peggy O’Neil: Well, if you honor what you need, you can also present those needs in a way palatable to other people. When you deny your needs and come at it and start blaming people and saying, “Why didn’t you this? Or how come you this?” that kind of stuff just doesn’t honor you and other person doesn’t feel honored so they’re probably not going to do what you want them to do.

[00:21:27] Caterina Rando: And they also get very defenso in those situations.

[00:21:30] Peggy O’Neil: Exactly. So I told you one thing about on my entrepreneurial journey that I use the phrase, “I can do it.” I think that’s a really cool, awesome thing to just really sustain optimism in your journey. And then we talked about stress and how important it is. Did you know, there’s a statistic that says that women are more stressed than men? And 33% of the people that go to a doctor have a stress related disease. So, really important to clock down the stress. So tapping can then reduce stress, breathing, you can do the whisky breathing, you can do the heart meditation.

[00:22:09] Also, you might have your own meditation that you do, which I encourage. So, those are a few of the things that I hope will help you on your journey in becoming your awesome self and sharing and monetizing your awesome self.

[00:22:26] Caterina Rando: Great Peggy. Wonderful. Now, you know, I love you forever. My question that I would like you to answer is for all of our fabulous listeners, if they want to get your app or they want to connect with you.

[00:22:40] Peggy O’Neil: Yes.

[00:22:40] Caterina Rando: They want to keep track of you or are they going to do that?

[00:22:44] Peggy O’Neil: Okay. Well, I have a website, peggyspeaks.com. It’s my name and what I do, peggyspeaks.com, and there you can get a free ebook from me called, Springback: Five Secrets to Building Resiliency. So go to peggyspeaks.com. You can get that ebook and get my five tips and read it.

[00:23:02] And there’s personal stories in there. It’s like a mini book. So it’s like a really cool thing. And then, you can also find out about my corporate work and about inclusion work, Tap For Joy, all of that is there.

[00:23:14] Caterina Rando: Wonderful. Peggy, final thoughts to support people on their entrepreneurial journey, aside from “you can do it”, which we have already discussed.

[00:23:24] Peggy O’Neil: I think that my attention goes immediately to my heart. To paying attention to your heart. Having your needs met so that you’re feeling happy. So that you’re feeling peaceful. So that you’re feeling your best. So you can be productive, effective, and really serve.

[00:23:42] And in serving, I mean, all of that makes you feel joyful and then serving others makes you feel even more joy.

[00:23:50] Caterina Rando: Absolutely. And the other thing that I would say Peggy, is that hanging out with great girlfriends like you, every time we get together I’m blissing, is another great thing to have more bliss and joy and really release stress in our lives, is great girlfriend time. What do you think?

[00:24:10] Peggy O’Neil: Totally, totally, totally, totally. It’s great connection time. Connecting with just about anybody helps relieve stress. But there’s something really safe and wonderful about being with your girlfriends.

[00:24:24] Caterina Rando: Yes. Well, everybody go tell your girlfriends you love them. Go hang out with your girlfriends. Come on a retreat with me or somebody else because, by the way you deserve it, and that’s the way to support you. And the best investment you can ever make is an investment in yourself.

[00:24:42] Check out my friend, Peggy, because she will uplift you like she uplifts everybody she comes in contact with.

[00:24:49] Peggy O’Neil: Thank you, sweetie.

[00:24:51] Caterina Rando: I’m Caterina Rando, I want to remind you, you have massive value to bring, and I cannot wait to be with you again, bing, bing, bing!


We hope you enjoyed this episode of Expand Your Fempire with Caterina Rando.

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