International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on March 8th, is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This month’s CIO Look Issue celebrates female business leaders who influence positive change throughout the world, and Deanna Latson is the inspirational leader we’ve chosen to feature in our cover story.
When you meet Deanna Latson, you know you’re in the presence of someone exceptional. A phenom. A phoenix. An incredible, inspiring force.
The only female corporate officer in NewAge, Inc., an internationally recognized social selling health and wellness company, Deanna embodies confidence, competence, and ingenuity. As NewAge’s Chief Product Officer, Deanna’s knowledge of and dedication to the purity and potency of the company’s products are unapparelled. A wellness authority and fearless nutritional pioneer, she has been the keynote speaker at almost 1,000 colleges, including Stanford and NYU, and regularly works with major companies on issues of health and nutrition.
In 2019, Deanna logged more than 200,000 miles traveling the world to educate and support customers, representatives, and communities. She continues, amid this worldwide pandemic, to spread her message, and in 2020 Deanna has held empowering webinars in more than 50 countries.
Among her other accolades, Deanna is the recipient of a total of 20 professional awards, having been named Woman of the Year, Female Executive of the Year, and Innovator of the Year from the prestigious Stevie® Awards, One Planet® Awards, Golden Bridge® Awards, and Women World® Awards. In addition, Deanna has received another 20 awards from the same award organizations naming her a contributor to the success of the company in her role as an executive leader in categories such as Executive Team of the Year, Management Team Achievements, Most Innovative Company of the Year, Best Company of the Year, etc.
Man or woman, her list of accomplishments is impressive.
But it is her personal story and uncompromising commitment to her beliefs that are truly extraordinary.
‘Staying Power’ Philosophy
After witnessing the power of the human body through her own journey overcoming an eating disorder and watching family members suffer from serious illnesses, she became interested in nutritional education. A certified nutritionist consultant with a master’s degree in health communication, Deanna worked as an educator at San Francisco State University for a number of years. Through lectures and trying to reach students, she realized her message for well-being could best be spread through a career in public speaking. Discouraged by others from pursuing her topic of health and wellness and told public speaking was a “man’s world,” she refused to be dissuaded. “Nothing was going to rock my boat,” she said. It is that fierce determination and strong sense of self that forms the basis of Deanna’s “staying power” philosophy. And it is that staying power that created the wings that have carried her to soaring heights in her professional career.
The way Deanna explains it, all professional endeavors have ups and downs. She says many people quit and give up on their dreams right before they’re about to make a breakthrough, usually because they feel unworthy or not good enough. She says staying power means you can’t falter or give in to those feelings, which are a normal part of the process. True staying power means the difference between a 99 percent commitment and a 100 percent commitment. That even a one percent chance leaves too much opportunity to give up. Your goal must be “non-negotiable.”
In her journey, Deanna has encountered others who are smarter or more talented. But she succeeded when they didn’t because she stayed 100 percent committed to her goal. Deanna says this level of commitment is scary because, “It’s a big jump. The biggest jump.” But one she believes can be achieved by anyone.
Helping Other Women Find Success
While Deanna’s message for success through tenacious commitment has no gender bounds, she has advocated this belief, and her story, in a tireless effort to teach and empower other women.
As the only C-level executive in a major company, Deanna is well aware of the disparity in the number of women in high-level positions. Yet, Deanna never felt obstacles being a female. From a young age, she learned to thrive in male-dominated industries. Her father worked in law enforcement, and her family also owned several paint and wallpaper stores. By age 12, she knew how to fix a pressure washer and worked daily with contractors who were almost exclusively men.
If these unique experiences gave her an edge, she has made great efforts to share it by becoming a trailblazer in helping other women find success.
As a NewAge executive, Deanna regularly speaks with women from all over the world. She views these experiences as a privilege and embraces them with great passion and responsibility. In her observations, women, unlike men, often hesitate to display confidence or express their wins. To this end, she has organized a multitude of global empowerment and self-improvement events for women, including leading firewalking and arrow-breaking ceremonies, board–breaking activities and other events in many countries such as China, Australia, Indonesia, Bali and others. These activities offer an element of danger if the participant isn’t fully committed and are designed to help women work through the perceived threat, thereby conquering their fears and limitations. The results are nothing less than miraculous as women are shocked by their own strength and perseverance. It’s the successes the women experience that teach them that they CAN overcome limitations, objections and male-imposed barriers. The trust Deanna inspires in her audience allows their participation in these powerful events that help them overcome obstacles to create lasting change in their lives.
Deanna encourages women to let go of their doubts and to be themselves. She explains that being a woman in a powerful position doesn’t mean you have to act like a “tough guy.” She is adamant that leadership doesn’t require you to hide your emotions. On the contrary, as a woman, your authenticity and empathy are powerful tools.
Deanna says the biggest challenge women confide in her is balancing family and work. In speaking with women from hundreds of countries across most of the major continents, this concern of work-life balance is universal regardless of culture or upbringing. Yet, fascinatingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, she has never once heard this concern from a man.
As a single mother, Deanna is no exception to the worry of balancing family and career. From her own personal and understanding viewpoint, she advises women that her approach to effectively straddling those two worlds is to be fully present when she is home and with her children. Deanna explains there is a difference between being physically present and making the most of every moment with her kids. Whenever possible, she brings her children with her on her travels, including them in as many avenues as possible in her professional life. She says, “I want them to know what I’m doing.”
Building Connection is the Key
In her vast experience speaking with women, Deanna has also learned that many assumptions are made about women in leadership positions. “A lot of women look at me and think I’m so strong. But I’m not good at everything in life. I struggle sometimes. I have personal hardships.” She explains that what links us as human beings is that regardless of who we are and where we come from, we all experience hardships unique to our own lives. Even if you are perceived as successful or seem like you have it all together, there’s always a backstory. It’s this kind of transparency and vulnerability that Deanna shares about herself and her difficulties that give her strength and help her make connections with others.
Connection is a key ingredient in Deanna’s efforts to empower women. In addition to helping them face their fears and claim their powers of empathy and authenticity, Deanna teaches female representatives how to tap into their naturally social natures to connect with NewAge’s predominantly female client-customer base. This woman-to-woman connection has helped countless female representatives find a path to financial success and security through social selling. With Deanna’s passion and continuing efforts toward helping other women, she is on track in assisting NewAge meet its goal of becoming the number one social selling company in the world!
For Deanna, the future will continue to include her efforts to help women (and men!) realize their true potential. It also means working hard to continue creating the best products on the market and continuing to get to know the people in NewAge’s social network of representatives, which she considers the best part of her job. “I actually feel the world is small,” she says. “We’re all dealing with our own stuff and trying to learn and grow from the hardships we face. And while each person’s experience is individual, we all share the same human story of wanting to be the best person we can be, for ourselves and our families. In this, we are all the same.”