Women in Business: Leesa Rowland

Leesa Rowland is an animal activist, author and actress who is now using her expertise to help others find their inner stars in her new book 'Discovering the IT Factor Within You.' The book takes readers on a journey through Rowland's celebrity and drama filled past and her painful path to self-discovery.

'Discovering the IT Factor Within You' reveals the heartbreak Leesa experienced over the headline making domestic abuse (including a broken nose and black eye) and constant intimidation she suffered at the hands of Hollywood actor and her then boyfriend James Caan. Leesa also talks about her mother's suspicious death and how through all this tragedy, and the subsequent depression, she still found herself and her peace.

The book, that serves as both a memoir and an advice tool, took Leesa five years to write and much longer to actually prepare to write. Within the deeply personal pages, Leesa talks about how she stood up for herself at the time of her abuse, but wasn't able to talk about it until she eventually was able to start writing down her feelings, and regain her self-esteem.

Rowland is also a committed animal activist who has served as the New York Liaison for Last Chance For Animals since 1989 as well as an active host committee member for LCA's Annual NYC Gala. She is also the Founder and President of the non-profit organization, Animal Ashram, a no-kill, no-cage shelter located in Manhattan.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
My life experiences have taught me that one must be able to successfully lead themselves before they can lead others. I am at a wonderful place in my life right now where I want to share my knowledge and skills with everyone!

My passion and love for people and animals grows with each new day, but I still have pretty much that same zest for life and natural curiosity to know more about others as I did as a child. It is a choice to be happy, not bitter. I want to make positive changes in the world. Positive leaders create positive changes.

We all have an inherent IT Factor inside of us, and it is up to us become aware of IT, developIT, and nurture IT. We can all help make the world a better place., and together, we can amplify our efforts!

How has your previous employment experience aided in creation of your new book; Discovering the IT Factor Within You?
Previous employment experience helped me develop intricate business and social skills. We grow from varied experiences as well as from adversity to become stronger and wiser. You must earn your own humility. I wish it didn't have to be that way but it is. I have learned to put my personal needs aside in order to help others. Remember, a candle never loses anything by lighting the flame of another candle.

What have the highlights and challenges been in the lead-up & creation of the new book?
I very much enjoyed researching various subjects more in depth simply by fact checking topics and researching what I had touched upon in the many chapters.

I loved writing about the charismatic personalities I used for examples in the book. I love to observe people and learn from them, and gained so much knowledge to develop a deeper level of abundant empathy for others.

Tell us about any new projects that you are working on.
I work at least four hours everyday on promoting compassion, respect and dignified welfare for all living beings through my 501 non-profit Animal Ashram. I just finished filming a cameo in an art movie that was shot in Brooklyn, NY called The Lion's Den, which will be out later in the year.

Also, the Swami priestess Robin Cofer and I are developing a workshop to help you develop many of the skills and techniques we mention in the book.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own business?
Women starting their own businesses must have a genuine passion for what they are creating and whole heartedly want their business to be the best it can ever be. You must create a solid business plan. Take your time and set your goals wisely. Start small. Plan big. Focus with precision. Visualize. Follow through with self discipline.

Know your strengths. Be humble enough to know when you should delegate authority or ask advice of other experts. Don't kid yourself. We all have some type of blind spot.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I am a passionate and enthusiastic person! I love sharing all that I've learned and love learning from others. My professional life often over laps with my personal life, which is a beautiful balance.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I think that we often still do have to work harder than men to prove ourselves, but I see nothing really wrong with that. Use it as motivation. Know your worth and always keep honing your talents.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I have learned an immense amount of knowledge from other people in every aspect of my life. My book is full of secrets I have learned from various mentors in both my professional and private life.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I am in total awe of Gloria Steinem for her instrumental role in the feminist movement. I admire Hillary and Chelsea Clinton for being female pioneers in politics and humanitarian causes. They are great role models.

What do you want to personally and professionally accomplish in the next year?
I want to rescue more animals, meet more people and touch more lives!