By BILL BULEY
COEUR d’ALENE — Carmen Ohling likes to ask questions. Lots of questions.
Because better questions lead to better answers.
And that is when people expect to receive good things in life. It’s when they wake up each morning with joy, saying to the world, “Show me what you’ve got,” instead of fearing what’s ahead.
“We can start seeing through the lens of possibilities,” Ohling said.
The podcaster, founder of the Flow Academy, holistic life coach and former corporate executive was the keynote speaker at the Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber’s third annual women’s luncheon at The Coeur d’Alene Resort.
About 250 women attended the event that aimed to inspire, empower, engage “and elevate the remarkable women in our community.”
Ohling, who lives in Miami Beach, gave a spirited 30-minute talk that had women up and out of their seats, even hitting their thighs, to ignite the energy within.
She said there are two things that hold people back: First, they’re convinced something “is not for me because” of a multitude of reasons, such as being too young, too old, too slow or having no time.
The second is when they think, “I already know.”
“The thing that stops us from getting to our next level, it’s not what we don’t know,” Ohling said. “It’s what we think we do know. That’s what stops us.”
Ohling grew up in Oregon, married and raised a family. She spent 16 years in corporate leadership, wore a black power suit, won awards, received praised and earned promotions.
“Everything on the outside looked wonderful,” she said.
But on the inside, she wasn’t as confident, often critical of herself, never feeling good enough.
“Nobody knew because I was so afraid of being exposed,” Ohling said.
At 25, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which she believes was the result of the pressure and stress she put on herself each day.
She hid that, too, worried she might be passed over for a promotion or people would feel sorry for her.
“I used to believe asking for help was a weakness,” she said.
At one point, she asked those in the room to raise their hands if they felt different on the inside than they appeared on the outside.
Many hands went up.
“It sucks, right?” Ohling said.
Eventually, she followed her heart and found a new path. She urged women to be themselves, to find the joy within.
“The more you become yourself, the less nervous you are, the less critical you are,” Ohling said.
The key to that, she said, comes back to asking great questions, which opens minds to what’s possible.
“Things can really change for you when you start asking and answering better questions,” she said.
Melissa Luck, executive news director at 4 News Now, said she is one of less than 50% of women across the country leading a newsroom.
She shared an email from one viewer who criticized their coverage for its “saccharine content” and referred to their women staffers as “the estrogen brigade.”
“We are so proud of that,” Luck said.
She said KXLY is led by two women, Elizabeth Murphy Burns, president and CEO, and Teddie Gibbon, general manager.
Luck said, as news director, she looks for “opportunities to give women the chance to work in this field and not get burned out.”
“Our company busts a trend when it comes to women of leadership,” she said. “To have a powerhouse woman leading us, it trickles all the way down as one of the values we hold dear in our company.”
Luck, married with children, said it’s always a challenge to balance work and home. To remind herself of what’s important, she keeps a saying close to her computer at work: “If you want to change the whole world, go home and love your family.”
She said no one will remember last week’s newscast or the headline typo.
“At the end of the day, the difference that you make in your community doesn’t happen at your job, although it can have a lot of impact,” Luck said. “The long-standing impactful work that you do comes at home.”
About 250 women attend the Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber’s women’s luncheon at The Coeur d’Alene Resort on Friday.
Women join a movement session to open the Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber’s luncheon on Friday.