Happiness is empathy and sharing.
The Queen of Joy – Denise O’ Brien is an award-winning Publicist, Producer, Communication Strategist, Humanitarian & Global Ambassador for Woman rights. Being the CEO and Founder of multiple organisations, she is providing innovative branding, marketing, and public relations strategies for NGOs, corporations, producers, directors, actors, speakers and authors. She was recently a speaker at Women Economic Forum, Cairo, Egypt 2020.
PV: Denise we truly appreciate your time and global efforts, How would you describe your style of leadership/mentorship?
Denise: This began in my grammar school days when I realized that not every child I met was capable of making confident choices and decisions as I did. Being born the oldest of four children, and the firstborn daughter, my birth order led me to be an instant leader in my family, then, my church, and in school during my 16 years of education before going out into the real world. My parents modelled and taught me Christian values: to live by the Golden Rule, and these values were enhanced by the companies I worked for after graduating from college before starting my businesses.
To me, leadership is not about being at the top and looking back at the team, but rather, leading by example while in the trenches. Golden Rule Leadership- Doing unto others as I lead them to utilize their God-given talents to help others. Mentoring and leading with joy and passion.
PV: What is your organization’s mission?
Denise: I am grateful to have had the opportunity to found numerous organizations, including Wings of Love International, Inc, an NGO whose mission is to bridge a pathway from abuse to emotional health, wholeness and abundance. I also founded a company called California Safari, headquartered in California where the mission is to help educate the young leaders of the world on how they can come together for the betterment of others, teaching them the secrets of business success in Silicon Valley as well as how to network and confidently share their message with others from Silicon Valley venture capitalists to the elite on the Hollywood red carpet. Empowering young leaders to keep on learning and networking internationally to encourage them to develop and share their global missions with the world.
While for DOME Entertainment & Consulting my mission is to teach businesses and entrepreneurs how to shine their brilliant best in everything from their social media and websites, to books, TV and films. We are media partners for many nonprofit organizations, helping them design and craft messages that empower those around them while uplifting the collective consciousness of the world through socially conscious films.
PV: Wow, Denise that’s incredible. Now, to you what’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how has it proven invaluable?
Denise: The most important leadership lesson I have learned is that you can’t get to the top without bringing others with you. I realized as I grew up that not everyone had the same wonderful educational opportunities. That it was imperative to look left and right, grab the hands of my co-workers, colleagues and friends. An overall leadership lesson would be empathy & compassion, that truly is incredible in its power to help convince people and make them shine.
PV: In your opinion, how ready are the next- generation leaders in terms of knowledge, expertise?
Denise: The next-generation leaders are our children and their peers, and to my conscious self they are ready. They learn differently, with knowledge at their fingertips. They are eager to learn, and the hunger to change the world even more than previous generations. While like everyone else, I sometimes worry that the values of our older generations are lost or watered down in the younger generations, but then I travel and meet many young leaders who are knowledgeable, sympathetic, honest, ambitious to make a difference, and energetically up to the challenge. Knowing when to learn and when to live is an especially beautiful gift our GenY and GenZ youth embrace. They are open to learning, unafraid to live their lives out loud and speak their truth. Our world is in good hands with passionate young leaders, we only need to provide them with opportunities to exhibit their skills, channel their energy, intelligence laced with integrity and grit.
PV: Beautifully expressed, well Denise, What causes are you most passionate about?
Denise: Thank you, if I would be honest I am passionate about a variety of causes. Each of my passions comes from a challenging experience when giving up was never an option. When I was just 12, I found a job as a bookkeeper at an engineering firm, then outreach specialist, then public relations director for a small non-profit in Silicon Valley supported by United Way, which was an 18-bed secret home to house women and mothers suffering from domestic violence.
Little did I know then that my future married life would involve domestic abuse, but it did. After escaping a very tumultuous marriage in my 40’s while pregnant with my third child, I founded the NGO Wings of Love International to help spread the message that it is never OK to stay in an abusive relationship. With strong support and empathy, women can make a different choice. The effects of abuse caused my daughter, now 28, to confront her mental health issues, eventually leading to a label of bipolar 1 disorder, a challenge my family has embraced and educated ourselves about for the past nine years. Thus, my passion to help others who are abused and/or who deal as a result of mental health challenges became a great obsession. I found my healing in helping others.
And just a few years later, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Sharing what I’ve learned on my journey, helping others with family members in earlier stages of AD has been a blessing for myself and those I encounter daily. Seems everyone knows what AD is now, however,it wasn’t the case a decade ago.
PV: What do you hope to achieve with your philanthropy?
Denise: My humanitarian and philanthropic efforts are driven by a dream to educate others that are just a few weeks, months, or years behind me in their challenges. If the cycle of domestic abuse or mental health stigma can be broken, we can positively affect the next generation while saving lives. My talent as a publicist and film producer is to help others tell their stories through books, movies and other means of developing their social media platforms. When the power of the media is harnessed correctly and the positive message is shaped to be heard by the masses, we can create global change.
PV: What is the most challenging part for you to manage between (PR, Communication Specialist & Global Ambassador?
Denise: The most ambitious part of managing my career is my love for the humanitarian efforts and platforms so much so that business efforts slip to help someone in need. I will always take the time to coach a woman who is being abused or having a challenging time with a spouse or friend before taking care of my business. The challenge is not enough time in the day for all I want to do for others. These paychecks of the heart don’t pay the bills, but watching someone rise above their challenges brings me great joy and satisfaction.
PV: What is your upcoming project? What purpose/problem will it solve?
Denise: The world has changed a lot in just the last few weeks. All 40 million citizens in California, over 80 million people in the densest cities in the USA, and much of the world are currently under ‘stay-at-home’ and ‘shelter-in-place’ orders during our collective challenge to defeat the invisible enemy of the Coronavirus COVID-19.
Unfortunately, in my own family, I have lost(before) a young 37-year-old member to depression and suicide, and other family members also suffer from anxiety, depression, alcoholism and suicidal tendencies.
I am currently finishing up a book I have been writing, based on my life experiences, entitled “Golden Rule Leadership”. My book features real-life stories, challenges, and positive solutions and outcomes that readers can learn from and adopt into their life routines by focusing on the positive and delivering the impossible. My philosophy is that we are all one-winged angels, and when we embrace each other we can fly! We all deserve to have positive uplifting people in our lives. Sometimes our joyful spirit and smile are the only good news someone hears in a day or weeks. With this book, I wish to reach millions.
PV: Maam, please opine on the current status of International Education?
Denise: Our world keeps growing smaller due to the internet. I had the blessing of growing up in Silicon Valley, California, the USA where ideas are shared, valued and multiplied on the internet by the millisecond. I worked part-time as a paper delivery girl from the age of 10 and full-time for eight years from the age of 12 to 20 so that I could study abroad in college, paying for it myself. I travelled to over 50 countries while studying in Rome in 1984 and 1985 in London. The first personal computers were introduced to my college while I was in London, and while the internet was growing globally, so was the opportunity for students to be educated. Now, 35 years later, the company I started to facilitate this education, California Safari, is an extension of the wonderful education I was blessed with, taught by some of the best teachers in the world. Everyone deserves to be educated. I travel the world speaking and training and educating others to believe in themselves and ask for what they want in life. Life is beautiful. Education is the key for those young and old to learn a new way of living it well. No matter where you live, learn and then let your light shine in everything you do!