How to be a More Influential Leader with Anthony DeMario

Learn to be a More Influential Leader with Speaker and Brain Health Strategist, Anthony DeMario

Hi everyone, it’s Jenn DeWall, and on this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit Podcast, I sat down with Ant DeMario to talk about how to be a more influential leader. I love Ant. He’s a colleague of mine. He’s someone that I’ve gotten to know. And let me tell you a little bit more about him. Anthony is a speaker– you’ve seen him on the TEDx stage. He’s also a poet, a certified brain-health strategist, and he has worked with leading behavioral scientists to develop enriching learning experiences and was among a handful that was selected, trained, and traveled with Tony Robbins.

As an experienced life strategist with an insatiable hunger to stretch who he is and what he gives. He applies science and art to his exuberant lightning-in-a-bottle delivery style. He was built in New York and has a colorful background of experience in training, which allows him to be versatile in his ways to educate, engage and empower people to take action on strategies to improve the quality of their lives. I promise you— you want to listen to this. Ant has dropped so many different considerations and so many different prompts to make you think. How can I be more influential? Well, it starts with me. And then what can I do, and how can I give to others? I promise you this episode will not disappoint. So I hope you enjoy the show.

Meet Anthony “Ant” DeMario, Speaker and Certified Brain Health Strategist

Jenn DeWall:  Hi, everyone. I am so excited to have Ant DeMario here on the podcast, and we are going to be having a conversation all our own about how to be more influential. And I love my work with you. You and I worked together at Better Up. It’s just been a fantastic journey, and I’m so excited to bring you in front of CREs comm’s audience for a private leadership podcast. I know that you’ve got so much influence, so welcome to the show. Ant. Welcome, welcome.

Ant DeMario:  Thank you. I’m super excited to be here with you. I admire you deeply and just wanna acknowledge you for you and your leadership and influence. Your energy’s infectious. And I was just thinking about this really quickly. I don’t know if any of you can relate to this, but I woke up this morning, and I just had a great hair day, and it just sparks whole different energy. So I’m pumped up to be in this virtual experience here with you, Jenn and also connect with your audience. And, you know, if you’re having a good hair day today, you know, go crush it as well. <Laugh>.

Jenn DeWall: I love it. Hey, it’s those little nuances that give the extra confidence, right? We’re talking about how to be more influential. I feel like sometimes that part of it is feeling like you have your power outfit on. Or feeling like, you know, your hair’s going well, I can relate to that absolutely. Because my hair doesn’t always work with me, but no, I love that. So, yeah, let’s go ahead, and dive in. I love to always start with a great origin story. Tell us who you are, how you came to be, and what your journey was like to become a speaker, become a coach, to become who you are today.

How Ant Learned to be a More Influential Leader

Ant DeMario:  Yeah, you know, that’s a beautiful question. I always say— especially as a leader or someone that’s influenced—the result is always in the question. The deeper we go with the questions, the more we can better understand. And I think we’re always trying to appreciate and understand people’s worlds, uncover the truth, how we can support them, and, you know, be strong enough in our presence. You know, presence speaks loudly, and we can help support them to get to where they wanna grow. And just really quickly before I dive, because I love this origin question, you know, we can only take people as far as we’re willing to grow. So what’s beautiful about each of you that are watching this? I think if you’re watching this, you’re after learning and growing, which is amazing, and I speak the same language, so I’m so super excited.

Just to chat a little bit origin story. So as the speaker, you know, it’s been a beautiful growing story. And just to share a little bit, probably about a decade ago, I discovered that, you know, people would kind of gravitate toward me, and I would tend to be speaking no matter if I was in the meeting or, you know, the different room or whatever it may be. And I don’t know if any of you out there can relate to this, but I feel a little bit unsettled sometimes if I’m always the center of the room. That’s just not how I am. Surprisingly, maybe for you, Jenn, to hear that. But <laugh>, I so I got really good at moving attention and energy to other people and spotlighting them. And I think, you know, as a speaker, we’re, we’re, you know, we’re always a lighthouse, right?

We’re helping people see the path get to the forest, so to speak. So for me, I kind of found this natural gift, which I’m, it’s a natural gift. It’s super grateful for. And I believe, you know, when we utilize our gifts towards something that’s bigger than us, we kinda walk ourselves into our purpose. So I started to do just that. I started to just leave these little be-you talks. What I noticed was that you know, what really meant a lot to me was spreading the message that it’s okay to be you, right? To authentically show up as I was kind of navigating and growing through that in my life. So I shared this little story. I call it a relatable message of hope. And it just started to grow. And I will never forget this one moment.

Maybe some of you that are becoming speakers yourself. It’s not gonna be easy <laugh>, but you gotta commit. You gotta pour yourself into it. People feel that in that room. Your words land powerfully with some wind behind them if they live and breathe in your body. And I remember this one moment I was sitting outside this little conference room. I peeked my head in before I sat down outside, and there were three people there. You know, you, we all have to understand that when you start speaking, you’re not gonna have thousands of people in the room right away, right? You’re, you’re building momentum, as you know, Jenn, very well. I picked it up, and there were a few people there. I sit down and, you know, at that point, you know, I wasn’t really doing what I am now and getting people to invite me in to really pay for the value that I’m adding.

Light Yourself Up First. Then You Can Light Up Others

Ant DeMario:  And I remember calling my Italian mother loud, loving so much energy. I said, Mom, like, you know, what am I doing? Like, you know, do people wanna hear this? Do people want to, you know, hear me speak? Like, am I actually making a difference in people’s lives? And I was like, I can’t pay my rent. I have no food in my house. Like, like, what am I doing? One of those moments, and maybe you felt like that before, and that’s okay. And she goes, get outta your head and get into your heart. You know, when you’re in your heart, people are gonna feel that. And if you’re able to just be some sort of message for that person, whatever battle they’re facing, you know, whatever they’re navigating, you become light, and people gravitate toward the light. So light up first, and you can light up others.

And it hit me. And I’ll never forget that moment because the biggest part is after that little session, that little session connected me to somebody at a foundation that transformed my speaking career. So every room you walk into, you don’t know who you’re connecting with. She’ll show up powerfully with presence, right? And I get back to my apartment, this is the point of the whole story I’m sharing with you, and I’ll never forget it. I walk in, and I got these little. That’s why I have so many of these little post-it notes everywhere. My mom’s my superhero. Not all superheroes wear capes. That’s the truth. She put little post-it notes everywhere, like, you are powerful, you’re brave, you’re courageous. She filled my fridge, and she left me another note. And she said I paid your rent for the rest of the year. Go fall in love with what you’re here to do.

Influential Leaders Know that Words Matter

Ant Demario:  And you know, I get emotional talking about it. I’ll never forget it. Yeah. And that’s part of that origin story. And from there, I just kept serving. And I truly believe if you’re becoming a new speaker, just fall in love with the process. It’s not about what you get. It’s about who you become and fiercely carved, and just know that they’re gonna be tough days. That’s the truth. But just keep falling in love with that process. Show up powerfully as who you are. And that led me to grace the TEDx stage, which walked me into doing some extraordinary work with Tony Robbins. If you’re familiar, you love him or hate him. He’s exquisite as a speaker. And brought me into some new partnerships and just where I am today. You know, it’s a little long-winded, but I think the core message that I’m trying to share with you is that you know, live and breathe the words.

I always hear this quote. You may know it– sticks and stones may break your bones, but words would never, and I strongly disagree. Words matter. Words matter. When you’re a speaker, words matter as a human, and maybe you could think about this, if you got a text before outta nowhere and you opened the phone, and it said, I love you, I miss you. I’m sorry. It makes you feel a certain way. So fall in love with the words that you’re saying. Lean into your message. Just know that every person matters, every conversation matters, and every step forward is in the right direction. So just keep moving forward on that.

Jenn DeWall:  I mean, yeah, you were like saying this for speakers, but this is a lesson in leadership, right? Yeah. How we show up, how we can create the light for others, and how we can, you know, you talked about Be Youniversity a little bit, but what would workplaces look like if we encourage people to just show up as themselves? And I know that there’s risk there, there’s, you know, it’s, it’s a little dicey when it comes down to trust and what trust looks like in the culture. But, you know, how would our workplaces change if we could just be ourselves and be encouraging and supportive and caring, like that story of your mom doing that is, is unbelievably generous, but be so incredibly thoughtful and just? We all need that encouragement sometimes.

Ant DeMario:  Yeah. It’s so powerful. I love that you asked that question. You know, just, you know, eye contact, just noticing different things, even if it’s your barista, just compassionate presence is the greatest gift. But it could truly, and I think it is, I truly believe that it is starting to catch the wind and transform different organizations. Because it could feel vulnerable, but I truly believe vulnerability is the undercurrent of our human nature. It’s what makes us, us.

And I think what’s helped me as a speaker is just to become visible enough to be seen, and then you can help other people feel seen. So as a leader, as somebody that’s, you know, moving people into action, if you become the product of the product, if you are aligned on the message, if you’re seeing people for who they are, their authentic self, and you’re paying attention, you’re observing, you’re empathetically showing up with compassion, you’re asking questions. And with that level of care and connection, you can lead people.

And I truly believe this wholeheartedly— that the state of an organization always comes down to the psychology of that leader. How they communicate with one’s self first affects how they can effectively communicate with others. And at the core essence, what I truly believe influential leadership is, is being able to empower people to pour themselves into action. So, how do we really do that?

Being More Influential Starts With You

Jenn DeWall: I was gonna say, so let’s dive into it. How do you empower people into action? Because I think there’s that piece of, you know, even talking about authentic leadership, which we just touched on, that’s difficult to be like, well, wait, what if they don’t like me? They’re not gonna move into action. Yeah. So there’s a lot of noise and head trash, if you will, that can come up for you. So, where do you start? How can you, as a leader, start to think? How can it be more influential? I mean, you’ve already hit on a lot. You can focus on your presence, right? Even how you show up with a barista or anyone that you see at work, just being present, smiling, giving me eye contact.

And, of course, that radical self-acceptance of, you know, hey, I love myself for who I am. I’m not going to judge myself for getting it wrong or for, you know, making a misstep because that’s human. So when you, I mean, you’ve done a lot of work, and we didn’t even touch on the type of work that you do, but I know that as we dive into this conversation, we’re going to get to that. So, where’s the starting point for becoming more influential?

Ant DeMario:  Yeah. The starting point, I think, starts with you. You know, I think what you said is so powerful. We have a lot of things that come up in our minds, right? And a lot of chatter sometimes. And really quickly, if that happens, you know, I always say crush ANTs, you know, Autonomic Negative Thoughts, You know, just start questioning something further enough, and you’ll start to get the truth out of it. But it starts, Yeah.

Jenn DeWall:  Do you ever have negative thoughts? Because we have to go real talk and what Ant just gave is the acronym. Yeah. ANTs. These are natural things. They’re Automatic Negative Thoughts. Yeah. That’s what that acronym stands for. And our brain is conditioned for a negative bias. So know that you’re already kind of set up to be a little bit more negative, but mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and what, like, I mean, let’s real talk, because I had messages, you know, in terms of that impact my leadership and my messages can be, you know, Oh my gosh, I’m not good enough. Or someone can do it better.

And I’m curious, what are some of the messages that you have? Because I like to open up and that it’s totally normal to have this level of self-doubt. Totally. And to just go there because someone might be listening, that’s like, you know, Jenn and ANT maybe got the playbook for life. Well, maybe they don’t think that it won’t be <laugh>, but thinking about someone else, and we all truly have it. So what are some of, like, what are some of your ANTs?

Ant DeMario:  Yeah, yeah. That’s a great question. And I always say, you know, you, the process is always acknowledged, accepted and activated on something that moves you in the right direction. But it’s true. We all have these thoughts that could hold us back sometimes and make us think a certain way, and you’re not alone. And, for those that are there, you know, you’re amazing because you believe that you are. And it starts with that. And, also, you know, for me, I don’t really go negative, but what I do is I think sadness drains me sometimes. Okay. So I’ll start to isolate myself, and that’s my thing. And it could be different for you. And that’s okay. But I believe where it starts just us conditioning ourselves first. Like, you know, what we need to do is, is make sure we gift ourselves that time.

The Way You Show Up as a Leader Starts With What You Do in Private

Ant DeMario:  The way we show up is pretty much what we’re doing in private, always. And just to give you some, you know, thought there, I think about, you know, the way we, I think the most beautiful discipline, a human trait is to regulate our own nervous system, to take care of us first so we can show up others. Because what you just alluded to, Jenn is the truth. People are gonna say some tough things. We’re gonna go through some tough moments. But if we can have that mindfulness to say at that moment, okay, you know, what am I gonna focus on? What does this mean? And what can I do differently? It’s okay to feel what I’m feeling, but that perspective is power. What we see in this experience is everything that we’re looking for. So for me just to be vulnerable, if that’s okay, I go into a sadness, I pull back, I isolate myself.

I give myself a few minutes or so and say, Okay, you know, this is what I’m feeling. That is, okay, let me think about why I’m feeling this. Let me explore this. Let me investigate this thing. And is it true? Is it absolutely true? And I started to question it. And what if I think the other thing? How would that make me feel? Probably a lot better. And the truth is this, my friends, whether you think I’m not enough or I am enough, we’re still right where here. So we have the power to choose the store we’re gonna pursue, right? So we have more control than we think. But I would encourage each of you that it’s, you know, I always say this, People think you’re so optimistic, you have so much energy. I was like, Yeah, I built this machine. Right, right.

Ant DeMario:  Every morning, right? I’m, I’m making sure my 24-hour clock’s aligned. We could talk about that if you’re up for it. But I’m doing the things every day. And it’s every day a climb. Life’s unpredictable. Life’s intense. You know, going back to my story, the reason I pursued the Be You message and created Be You universities is because what I noticed is that people were falling into the stigma. They didn’t wanna talk. They didn’t wanna go to therapy. They didn’t wanna do all these things. And we have to take care of people as a whole. And if I could become a relatable story for somebody to empower them to talk, to take care of themselves differently, then I was doing my part. And it’s always bigger than us.

So with that, I think the invitation is, you know, just make sure that you have your rituals in place whether it’s meditation or not, or hydration or just going for a walk in the morning before you even start the day. So that way, you set yourself up more powerfully. So when those tough conversations do come, when you do get that email, you’re in the space to say, You know what? That thought, I’m just gonna let that walk by. That doesn’t serve me. I’m gonna dance around it, maybe. And the more mindful I become, the more powerful I behave.

Become a More Influential Leader by Being Mindful of Your Thoughts

Jenn DeWall:  I mean, I love that we’re just starting with mindfulness. Yeah. And it’s something that I think people might just, some people I think might look at it as, Oh, mindfulness is doing yoga, it’s doing meditation. And mindfulness, to me, is very much tracking our thoughts of what stories we write, what ones we’re actually paying attention to, or if we, you know, the expression to look at our thoughts as cars. Like, what car are you gonna get in and drive? Yeah. And I love thinking about that. You alluded to that and said that we are the ones that are authors.

And so if you want to think about how you’re gonna be more influential like it starts with us in understanding the dang stories that we’re telling ourselves. So there’s a level of accountability that we have to have of saying, am I getting in my own dang way of being influential? And I think that’s an important piece, too, that’s both empowering and a shift from that. Maybe the victim, like, things are happening to me to saying, Okay, I got this. I can control this. Like, I mean, yeah, I, I just love all the things that you unpack there. And I’m curious about you’re 24-hour routine. Okay, what did you allude to with your 24-hour routine? Have such a stellar way of like self-care, and we’re thinking about taking care of ourselves and starting with you. What’s your 24-hour routine?

Ant DeMario:  Yeah, I love that. And first, what you said, I just wanna point you out because you’re phenomenal. I think everybody watching already knows, but you said something about the story. You chain the story, you write, you live what we rehearse, we become. So when I was navigating my depression and anxiety, and I mean, up until that first talk, I would be paralyzed in front of a room because that just wasn’t my nature. But the story I was telling myself was people didn’t wanna hear me. People weren’t there to listen. People didn’t wanna be moved by me or influenced by me. And what transformed everything for me is the story is like, people wanna hear me, people think I’m funny. People want me to be goofy. People want me to be me, right? And you change your story. You change everything. And we all become the writers. So I love that you alluded to that and what’s really powerful here, too, is that we’re a direct reflection of the belief of our story, and we’re a product of those patterns of rituals. So that’ll walk us into the 24-hour clock.

Regulate Your 24-Hour Clock to be a More Influential Leader

Jenn DeWall:  I’m Here for it. I want a 24-hour clock. Give me a, give a tool for how I can think

Ant DeMario:  About managing, and I have secret time and my best friends. No, we go on vacation like that first hour is ants, golden time, I call it. And then we stopped, we stopped laboring, and we started to pursue the best version of us. So for me, the 24-hour clock, it’s super simple. It’s rooted in science. She is a beautiful scientist at Northwestern. She’s top 1% of published in the world. And really, what it arrives is that every cell in our body is on a 24-hour clock. We have a master clock, a piece of the brain just up above the roof of the mouth, as we all know, right? We have our circadian rhythm. So if we wanna maximize the quality of our being, you know, we gotta understand some of the mechanics of that. So really quickly, super simple few things we could do to regulate that 24-hour clock.

The first thing is when we wake up simple, eight to 10 minutes of sunlight outside, if you can, if you’re in the Pacific Northwest, you might say, the sun never arrives, <laugh>, that’s okay. You know, you, there’s some beautiful app that can actually track. Even if it’s cloudy, it’s still potent. Now don’t stare at the sun. If it’s like hurting, that means you’re looking at it too much. But if you can get outside, eight to ten minutes of sunlight is life-changing. That alone will transform so, so much. And there are also beautiful mental health lamps. I think that you can get the right amount of lux, 10,000 lux I think it is. But eight to 10 minutes while you’re doing that. Super simple, go for a walk. A walk three to four times a day, research shows that yields the same result that we need to transform our health as far as like exercise.

And what’s beautiful about the walk is you’re not only walking, and you’re getting in sunlight at the same time, but you’re watching things pass you, and you’re opening up your vision. And we call that in science the cathedral effect. It’s bigger. You’re gonna feel more expansive with your thinking. And doing that puts you in an activated sense of calm. It’s really, really powerful. So if you can, and you’re able, three to four times a week, go for a walk, I, this is where I start each morning while I’m getting the sunlight in the brain is exquisite, it’s this magical pearl inside of our head, makes you, you, and me, me.

It’s not really like software. It’s more like a dense force, the mind wandering through thought, emotion, and imagination. And what’s really great is we can cultivate that force. So by walking, right? That’s basically fertilizer for a cognitive ecosystem, right? The brain showers itself and these beautiful neurotropic factors. So eight to 10 minutes of sunlight, if you can walk, get things passing, open up your view, really powerful. The third thing we arrive at is, I like to say, you know, just appreciation, right? Just expressing what you appreciate anchoring in there. And really powerful, too, to also share that if you feel comfortable because that’s a 10 x potency for the person receiving, which is really grateful. Really.

Share Your Gratitude to be a More Influential Leader

Jenn DeWall:  You mean, like, just share what you are grateful for? Like, hey, like, today’s our anniversary.

Ant DeMario:  Are you kidding? That’s great!

Jenn DeWall:  I know my husband, and I’ve been married for nine years, and so even just the gratitude of saying, I am grateful for you and the work that you do. Like this morning, he made the coffee.

Ant DeMario:  Oh, I love that.

Jenn DeWall:  I mean, I just love when he does. It’s the little things, right? It’s not this huge, like, I don’t need a dozen roses, but making the coffee, thank you so much for doing that.

Ant DeMario:  Yeah, it’s, that’s powerful.

Jenn DeWall:  It’s just starting with someone else. Like, I love that perspective because I think we often miss out on that opportunity to just give thanks to someone to just, and it doesn’t have to be this overly, you know, dramatic thing. It could just be like Thanks for being you, thanks for showing up, thanks for inviting me to this, or thanks for going for a walk with me or getting my coffee if they’re walking at work or just having that team meeting. It’s a little thank you. It doesn’t have to be big, like, thank you.

Ant DeMario:  Like coffee’s my love language, you’re speaking to me. And, by the way, my friends, coffee’s good, coffee’s fine. Beautiful research on how it does powerfully impact us. So eight to 10 minutes or so, walking sunlight, seeing things pass you, just walking to that level of appreciation, expressing that you’re gonna really reach yourself there. And then, we move on to nutrition with deep respect for everyone that does not have food. For those of us that have the privilege of skipping breakfast a few times a week, Research shows the brain is a hybrid model. It works on glucose and ketones. So just switching it up a couple of times a week improves the clarity of what they found in some beautiful research. And also what we eat. So the cadence is important. And then what we eat blue zones, do some research, if you haven’t already.

The mind diet’s exquisite. I’m not here to tell anybody what to eat or what not to eat. I’m Italian. I love food. I tend to lean into the mind diet, the Mediterranean diet. The best research shows it’s good for reducing Alzheimer’s and dementia and things like that. And then, you know, the last two pieces are probably the most important. So the brain is a three-pound thinking flesh. So that means if we want to improve our lives, if we wanna show up powerfully as a leader, someone’s influence, we wanna be more creative, more connected, we have to think differently. Maybe that’s just shutting off the GPS one time, going to that new grocery store or something like that. Or maybe it’s picking up a magazine or a different type of book. And just thinking differently is, is really powerful. You know, when we learn, we grow, we feel like we have more to give, and that gives us a sense of fulfillment.

Prioritize Quality Sleep to be a More Influential Leader

Ant DeMario: So as a leader, when we’re connected to thinking differently, serving people that are outside of us, and having a mission and community, whatever it is, we really anchor in the sense of meaning and purpose, which is really powerful. And then the last thing, before I start any training, I do a little bit of coaching. I call it strategy and breakthrough. But, as a speaker, the first question I’m always asking when people are walking into the room is, how do you sleep? Do you sleep well? Sleep is the elixir of life. It’s emotional first aid. So what does that mean? What they found in beautiful decades of research during REM sleep actually is the lowest amount of, we’ll call it, neuro adrenaline that’s happening in our brain. So what we’re doing without even knowing, it’s like group therapy. We’re clashing memories without that stress hormone. And then, almost like an editable doc, when we wake up, we can, if we have that capacity to almost retype that experience, that memory and save it differently. So sleep is exquisite for emotional health and well-being. So let’s walk through really quickly. Super simple.

Eight to 10 minutes of sunlight. Maybe do it while you’re walking. Open up your view, get things passing, right? Anchor in a place of appreciation, anchor and gratitude, bathe in happiness, right? Think differently. Make sure you’re getting an appropriate amount of sleep for you each night. And the last little tidbit I’ll add in just cause I, I feel like I wanna serve. Hopefully, you get some value from this.

Jenn DeWall:  You’re giving so much value, Ant. I’m like thinking, what should I do? What can I do? What can I do? I love this.

Ant DeMario:  Then maybe I can dive into my specific thing. But what’s also really powerful is, and I know if you’re watching this, you’re probably an achiever like me. If you can, from 10 30 to 4:00 AM, eliminate any unnatural light, like around 7:38 PM, my lights are off here. What they found was the unnatural light was actually disrupting so much. So there’s a piece of the brain called the amygdala, and essentially what happens is it spikes your insulin levels. So that means if maybe you are working late at 11 or 12, if you’ve ever felt that like sense of anxiety or stress pulse through you, it’s because you’ve disrupted. You’ve become imbalanced biologically. So again, not telling anybody to do anything, but if you can, if you have that privilege to turn the lights down or turn ’em off so you can really steep into, slip into what I call deep sleep, it’s, it’s really, really powerful.

And if it’s okay, Jenn, I, I’d just love to touch on this too, for any leaders out there learning to move people. Often I get this in my workshops. They say, you know, I want to influence people. I wanna lead people. You know, first focus on what matters most to you, right? Have that mission bigger than you. But also I’ll hear, you know, I get butterflies in my stomach all the time. I get nervous. Like, what if they’re not gonna like me? What if they judge me? Right? Right. And I will say this, the moment you make someone feel judged, you lose the power to influence them. So you wanna show up, appreciate and understand everybody’s world, just truly curious, compassionate,

The Moment You Judge Someone, You Lose the Power to Influence Them

Jenn DeWall:  Wait, say that one more time because I think that that’s a really important point.

Ant DeMario:  Yeah. The moment, as a leader or somewhat of influence, the moment that person feels judged by you, you lose power to influence them. So I call it a little arc. You wanna appreciate and understand the world. You wanna align, be relatable, establish rapport, and uncover the truth. Like how are you like there to serve them? And some people say, you know, my people are saying they’re stressed. Well, if you ask enough questions, you can follow the trail of stress right to fear, right? And then ultimately, the most important piece is the leader of someone’s influence; this last piece that I see is, is not mastered yet.

Jenn DeWall:  Can I go back to that point that you just made? Because I think, you know, influence, there’s, there’s likely that fear that comes up or that self-judgment that comes up when maybe we’re writing to someone that we don’t get along with very well, or we maybe don’t like very well. Or if they’re sitting in a meeting with us and we know that we have, you know, half the group that they’re on our side, we get them. And then the other half, I don’t know how they feel about me.

This is when you really need to be cognizant. Because if you start judging and creating these divides, that’s what Ant’s saying, yes. You really lose your ability to influence and connect. And if you think about that, expanding it to the team, you can’t motivate half of the team and not the other half of the team. And so that’s where like, how do you suspend judgment? I mean, curious. Ant, have you ever found someone that you don’t like? Because I feel like you love everyone. So how do you suspend judgment?

You alluded to the piece of like, you know, that maybe that second step if that’s how I caught it, but how do you kinda do that? Because what if you sent me a nasty email, and I am not liking you right now? Yeah. Like, how do you actually, you know, show up in a different way?

When You Are Grounded, You Can Influence Others

Ant DeMario:  Yeah, I mean, I will say this, you get the nasty email. People are doing the best they can with the resources they have. How can we be bigger? And also what you said too is that’s going back to the 24-hour o’clock. We take care of our state. We can impact the state of someone else, right? We’re all nervous systems, and we’re investing in each other. You felt somebody before that dismantles your nervous system and makes you feel weird, right?

Because they’re in a different state, so powerful states impact other states. And yeah, going back to that, that judgment piece. I just have a belief that I have inside of me that, you know, I’m, I’m truly here to understand and appreciate. And I think that goes back to your rituals, your conditioning. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get upset. Doesn’t mean that I don’t get sad when people say harsh things to me.

But I’m always trying to figure out what it is that could potentially be driving them to say that I don’t know what’s going on at home. I don’t know what battle they’re facing, right? So I let those words not land here. I separate from that because ultimately, you know, I love this quote. Detachment does not mean that I don’t own anything. It means nothing owns me. So you’re unattached independent of the outcome or that experience.

And then, you know, going back to what you said there for, for just that understanding of the room, you know, just to be curious about people while they’re walking in there, people like themselves really wanna be more alike. So just doing your homework before you even step into there was really powerful. I remember one time I was doing a talk, and I was in Texas, just outside of Houston. We were in the cuts. And I walk in there, New York, I’m moving like a taxi in Manhattan. And this, this, this nice gentleman came up, and he goes, he goes, Ant, you know, you’re in Texas, right? And we just talk a little bit slower here. And I go, Oh, I understand. I get you. So you wanna understand what you do before you walk in there. And that’ll walk us back into this, this last thing,

Ultimately, this last piece of leadership, I think, is incredibly important. You appreciate you understand their world. You uncover how you can support. You can serve them independently of the outcome. This last piece that I see a lot of people fall short on, which there’s no judgment because I was there, and I’m still working on it. We’re all students of learning and growing. We’re students of life. And that’s a gift we have, right?

Jenn DeWall:  You’re either growing or dying every single day.

Ant DeMario:  That’s exactly it. And you know what’s really possible, what’s really powerful is that influence is not like what we did. It’s, it’s what we do. Like, it’s one of the most important skills as a human. And it’s, it has to be that alignment internally first. But this last piece is we have to be powerful enough in our presence. I think it’s Ralph Waldo Emerson that says, You speak so loudly, you don’t have to say anything really, or something like that.

I’m paraphrasing. But we have to be powerful enough to empower or challenge directly or encourage– whatever the language is for you– people to move forward. So what that means is, what happens is because when we’re too attached with how they could perceive us, we wanna lean in sometimes, Well, I’m gonna be too strong here, but really we’re not doing our job as someone of influence in our leadership if we don’t help them really take action on those next steps, right?

So we have to be so aligned going back full circle here with our words, with our mission or what we’re after, who we are, what we stand for, and the standard to which we play this game of life at. And in such a way that we know that even if they feel a little bit challenged, we’re helping them grow. And that’s how we’re serving that person. Otherwise, we’re not gonna help them grow. And I think truly, if you’re watching this, we’re after really making a difference in people’s lives. So understand, appreciate, uncover, find the strategy, help them maybe discover the story that can take them to take action on those steps and be strong enough not to them, but with them to move them into action. And I think that’s leadership.

Jenn DeWall:  I love the difference between being strong enough to them or with them. Even thinking about that and the power of words. I think I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of words lately because it was in a conversation I had yesterday, and I forget the individual that I was having this conversation with but talking about how it’s your words matter. But here’s the other thing. You might say them in one way, but people hear them in a different way. And that’s something that we have to be super mindful of as leaders. Because you might be like, Hey, I said the right thing. Well, maybe you did it because it really actually matters how someone else received it. And that could be tone, that could be timing, that could be, you know, what specifically was said. And maybe it wasn’t offensive to you, but it could have been offensive to them. And I say that because I think we do need to be mindful of our language. And I’m curious if you have any like, thoughts, or tips on that as we wrap up?

Mindful Language Makes a More Influential Leader

Ant DeMario:  Yeah. You know, language is the wardrobe of our experience. You know, it constructs our everything. And, and just to bring, you know, connect the dots here, you might be like, whoa. Well, Ant’s talking about the 24-hour clock. How does it support my leadership? Well, great leaders move emotion in others. So if we’re in a powerful state, again, we can empower others, right? So, you know, when we think about language, you know, it’s extraordinary what we can do with just growing our vocabulary and even going back to the 24-hour clock, thinking differently, learning new words each day.

Because with a language, we can construct different experiences, we can pull people in and allow them to understand, you know, what we’re really trying to do together and, and really grow together. What I like to say is, ultimately, even with like different words, we can plant seeds under trees we wish not to sit under, right? And that’s what leadership is.

You know, leadership is when you’re around somebody, you empower them and then when you leave, they still feel empowered. Management is just when you’re around them, they wanna do what you know, what they’re after, right? So I think going back to words, it’s, it’s one of the most powerful tools that we have to regulate our nervous system too unless we can regulate somebody else’s. So my invitation also is this, be careful. Be patient with your words, not just with yourself, but with others. Because the words we use help us to cultivate our experience.

And ultimately going back to, you know, where I was going with the butterflies, you know, before you have to go into the meeting, before leading, you know, a presentation for people that you’re trying to influence or looking to influence. Know that those butterflies in your stomach could be nervousness or excitement, but what if you were to think of five encouraging words to help those butterflies fly in formation? Because ultimately, whether you’re nervous or excited, if you close your eyes, it’s the same internal feeling, but different what? Meaning. And that’s constructed by words.

Where to Find More From Ant DeMario

Jenn DeWall:  I love it. And snaps to you. There are so many little tips in there, just that perspective. And I feel inspired and empowered right now. That’s what I think we all need to recognize that we can do this. It starts with us, but we can influence others by also allowing them to be them and being curious about them. And how can people get in touch with you?

Ant DeMario:  Yeah, I appreciate that. Appreciate you. Thank you. I’m so grateful for those of you that are watching! I’m glad Jenn and I connected, and she’s a powerhouse. And I’m just so grateful to be here. And you know, for me, if you wanna connect with me– so I cultivate experiences, I call ’em. You know, engage, educate and empower. It’s Be Youniversity,  DeMario. Co. I’m on Instagram, too, trying to build my social presence, presence. It’s Ant— a n t d e m a r i o. You follow me, and I’ll follow you back. We’ll lead each other to some growth.

And you know, ultimately, so the only real thing that I’m focused on right now is cultivating the experiences. So if you’re a leader, if you have a team and you’re looking to make a shift in energy, helping people shift their perspective and also gain some strategies to, you know, help them impact at a greater level, that’s something that we can do. And you can check me out on my website. But other than that, the last little thing I’ll leave with you is this. What are you after? Why are you after that? And how do you use your gifts to serve something that’s bigger than you and fall in love with that process? Fiercely carve your path, and don’t let anybody tell you who you can and cannot be. Don’t let anybody quiet your roar or dim your light. You’re powerful because you believe that you are.

Jenn DeWall:  Oh my gosh, yes. I love that you are powerful because you believe that you are. Do not let anyone dim your light. These are all reassuring, okay? And encouraging messages, we all need to tell ourselves every day. Ant, thanks so much for uplifting our audience and for giving your time. It was a pleasure to have you on the show today.

Ant DeMario:  Right on, you rock. Thank you all so much! Be You!

Jenn DeWall:  Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit Podcast. I enjoyed my conversation with Ant. There are so many considerations that I feel were awoken within me that I am going to take action on. And I just loved his energy and how he held space and just that encouragement because I think we need that. So if you want to help your team dive deep into a sense of meaning in their career to feel more alive, connected, engaged, and fulfilled, you can connect with the Be Youniversity experience application via And if you have a story and would love to learn how to craft or share and make it meaningful, because he’s an amazing storyteller, so you can make a difference in the world, he can help too. Again, head on over to there, you can connect with Ant, you can see his services, see his messages, it won’t disappoint.

About Crestcom

Jenn DeWall:  And of course, if you know someone that could benefit from hearing this message, maybe they’re feeling a little discouraged, and they need that upbeat encouragement, share this with them! Share that love! And please leave us a review on your favorite podcast streaming service. And finally, heck, we wanna help develop you. That’s what Crestcom is all about. Crestcom is about deepening your ability to love leadership, to love your people, to connect with them, to influence and inspire. And if you are looking for leadership development, head on over to We would love to connect with you. We offer leadership workshops that are complimentary, at no charge whatsoever. And we would just love the opportunity to help your team or organization make a shift in how you do things so you can create a better place for everyone to work. So thank you so much for listening today. I hope you have a great day. Until next time.