Every little girl’s superhero is her dad, and their mom is the champion of their life. This is how Dr. Leslie Hewitt knew that she was born to be a leader. Her parents imprinted in her at a very young age the powerful principles of women in leadership. From an accident that put her in a coma at the age of 16 with no neck rotation, it was chiropractic that changed her life two years later. As the President of the California Chiropractic Association and the Owner of Anatomy Power Chiropractic Wellness Studio, Dr. Hewitt is doing an admirable job of promoting women in leadership through connection, collaboration and celebration.
My guest is Dr. Leslie Hewitt, the President of the California Chiropractic Association. California is the sixth biggest economy on the planet. She stays involved politically at the highest level to make sure she can share talking points with legislators in California, in Sacramento, and in Washington DC. She is also the CEO and Founder of The WOW Talks, as well as the owner of Anatomy Power Chiropractic Wellness Studio in Danville, California. It is my pleasure to have Dr. Leslie Hewitt on my podcast talking about women in leadership.
Listen to the podcast here:
Women in Leadership with Dr. Leslie Hewitt
Thanks for inviting me.
I’ve been watching you from afar for several years and admiring the leadership and the collaboration in your heart for wanting to see women succeed in all areas of their life, specifically in being an entrepreneur. I want to talk to you about what you want to share with us about women in leadership and where this came from. Who was the person, the woman that inspired you to want to get into this?
It goes back to when I was a little girl. This is a family story that my family shared. When you’re sitting around the dining room table or the kitchen table as a family for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the fun stories start coming up. My parents always shared the story of when I was a two-year old little girl. I would go out and I had white hair, just like I do now. My dad used to call me headlight because he said he could look down the street and literally see my head glowing and knew that I was out there. I went out to the street and rallied all the little children and told them to go into their homes and get towels. I wanted all the kids to put the towels around their neck as a cape so that they could all be superheroes. Ever since I was a little girl, that has been a family story and I’ve always been a leader. I’m a born leader.
Another part of my story with that is I remember my dad coming out to bring me in for dinner. I remember he leaned down to me because he could see all the little kids around me with their little superhero capes on, and he said to me, “You’re a bossy little girl.” At two years old, I remember thinking in my head, “You’re my dad, you’re my hero, but this seems like wrong information.” I have an inner voice, innate wisdom, and something inside of me, a little two-year old little girl, and it was such a young imprint. I remember saying, “Not all things are true.”
I remember like it was this big two-year old vision of, “I have to be careful what people tell me. Even though I love my dad and he’s my hero, I’m not bossy. There’s something else going on here,” but I didn’t know leadership. I didn’t know that terminology. That story went through my family for decades at Thanksgiving dinner. Later in life when I was an adult, I was able to go back to my dad and say, “That was some bad imprinting right there. You don’t realize that I’m a leader.”My dad isn’t around anymore. He passed on five years ago, but I’m happy to report my dad died thinking that his daughter was a little leader.
It’s like that with me. I was always told that I was nosy, and I was like, “That isn’t right. I’m interested and curios. I want to know about you. I want to know about what makes you thrive and what I can do to support that.” For you to know that at age, two, it is that divine innate intelligence that we talk about in chiropractic all the time that gives us that knowing.
It’s cute that you are called nosy. I hope that you’ve converted that to curiosity. When we find out what our power is, that’s your power. We have a lot of other power, but it’s interesting how that imprinting can happen at a very young age. I turned that leadership into, “I am a natural collaborator.”When I go into a room, I always say in my head, “I want to connect. I want to collaborate, and I want to celebrate.” Those are my three words. When I connect with anybody, my intention is that when we’re together we do those three things.
That’s the thing that I’ve noticed about you that has attracted me to you from a mentor-mentee perspective because I wanted to create that same environment here in Orange County for the Cal Chiro Organization. When I became the President in 2014, I had only been in practice for five years. What I felt like we needed to do in Orange County was collaborate and become champions of each other. We’re not in competition. There are four million people in Orange County that need the services that we have and the care that we want to give. If you do Cox Distraction or you do Activator, just because I do Blair doesn’t mean we’re in competition. We can collaborate and treat people and refer to one another. That raises the bar for our profession and for us, individually, to know that we’re all trying to do this thing and help each other out.
That’s the one thing that I’ve noticed about you watching you from afar and close is you’re natural at it. I want to thank you for what you’ve done in Orange County. You’ve raised that area in California and you brought a new tone to the chiropractic profession because you bring that energy.
I love being able to operate the gifts that I’ve been given and see it become successful and see other people appreciate it. That’s what it’s all about. I want to know what woman has inspired you because you talked about your dad and you talked about your innate knowledge as a two-year old little girl rounding up the neighborhood kids. What women in your life has given you inspiration?
Early in my childhood was my mother. My mother was a champion for me. I had the best little girl’s room in the neighborhood. It was like a princess room. My mother always held me up like her princess. She’s no longer with us, but she is my first role model of a woman that was smart. She skipped two grades in school back in her day. She was independent and creative. When she was a young girl, she played on a baseball team way before women played sports. She was very athletic. Our house was decorated gorgeously. I have a beautiful home because she inspired surrounding myself with beauty and things that are luxurious. She was a good woman. I’ve never heard my mother gossip. She had good friendships. She worked, so I saw her as a working mother. I would say, from a very young adult, I had a very healthy relationship with another woman.
My undergrad is in psychology because I was so inspired by what drives our brain and what behaviors I want to reinforce. Since I got my undergrad in psychology and then became a Doctor of Chiropractic, I realized that our relationship to each other is what helps guide who we are as people. I would say my mother, for sure. Then looking around, Oprah inspires me because she has used her fame and fortune to do great things. I’m always looking for women in our community, in Hollywood, in politics, and in my girlfriends. I tend to choose women that have influence and impact and want to give back and serve. Those are the women that I’m drawn to.
I love that you mentioned Oprah. I’ve been listening to her podcast. I love Brené Brown too. They had this incredible conversation about shame. Brené Brown is a renowned shame researcher and the things that they talk about were so true. You know when you hear it but it just brings the sense of like, “Yes, this is what I meant to do. This is what I’m meant to be. I don’t have to tolerate bad behavior.” I love both of those women so much. They brought so much clarity to my life. Tell me your chiropractic story. I know you went to undergrad and you studied psychology, but what brought you into chiropractic?
I got hit by a truck when I was sixteen years old. I was running for a bus and got hit by a truck and ended up in a coma in the hospital. I came out with zero neck rotation and I’ve never been able to turn my neck. That was sixteen years old and that was back in a time when I couldn’t make my own health care decisions. The MDs, all they want to do is throw a ton of drugs at a teenager. At eighteen, I had a job and one of my colleagues at lunchtime said, “I’m going to my chiropractor. Do you want to come?” I’m like, “Sure.”
I went and had my first neck adjustment and I was in. I was like “I’m doing this for life.” I was like, “This is the best thing that I’ve ever felt in two years.”I’ve been under regular care since I was eighteen years old and throughout my twenties. I had a corporate job for ten years and I used to walk from my corporate job at lunch hour once a week to get my neck adjusted. I’d get my full spine adjusted too, but the neck was the most profound. I remember my first thought was, “I would love to marry a chiropractor so I could get this done every day.”
Then I was like, “I’m going to be a chiropractor. What am I thinking?” I’d never heard the philosophy the whole time I was getting adjusted. I went to chiropractic college, and as soon as I went to chiropractic college and heard that it’s more than just cracking bones, it’s stimulating the central nervous system, improving function, increasing range of motion, boosts your immune system, and it’s good for kids and babies, I was like, “I just landed in Hogwarts, like a Harry Potter magical world.” I became a chiropractor and got right out there and practice. Twenty years later, here I am. It was divine intervention. I cannot think of a better profession to support me as a human being on all levels from my spiritual, my psychosocial, my lifestyle. The philosophy has moved into my life in a way that has enriched me and my community beyond measure.
It’s interesting that it all started with an insane horrific accident. Sometimes when I meet patients that come into my clinic, they come in because of accidents and I say, “I know that this sounds silly, but that accident was a blessing because it was what got you here and it’s what is allowing you to get connected above down, inside out.” Then their lives turn on and they become able to thrive and be the best person for themselves and their family. I always say chiropractors are healing the world one spine of the times. Now that you have been the President for Cal Chiro for two years, where do you want to see the organization go and what do you want to see come from it? You’ve had such a tremendous impact with what you’ve been able to do the last two years in our organization.
We restructured from the ground up. We took a look at all the things that weren’t working, and we hired experts. What we found was our organization was operating like an old corporate dinosaur. We weren’t racing for relevance as we were told. The book, Race for Relevance, was some of our guidance. Another good book that I’ve been referring to by author David Kidder is The Startup Playbook. What he did is he went and interviewed all the best startups in the United States and Silicon Valley. He spoke to us at Cal Chiro and shared the five top traits of the best startups. As President, I’ve been running the California Chiropractic Association as if it’s a brand-new startup. We tore this organization apart right down to the paperwork, the bylaws, the policy, staff, how we were doing things, how we were lobbying our legislative approach. We were looking at everything, our website, our logo, our branding.
What I felt as a woman, and we’ve been hearing this for years and I know you have as well, is it’s an old boys club. It had that image. There are not a lot of women that are stepping in because they’re raising families and kids and busy practices, but we needed to get this organization to a relevant look and feel for the marketplace as it is today. I’m happy to report we’ve got a new logo. We’ve spent many years, even prior to me. We’ve had three presidents prior to me, so we’re in our second three-year strategic plan. We’re going into six years of doing this. I’m at the four-year mark of the six-year plan that we’ve done and we’re now at the point where it looks inclusive. It feels inclusive.
We are open to diversity. We’ve got a lot of different techniques and philosophies, and we have three different chiropractic colleges in the state of California that we’ve got to represent them equally. All three chiropractic colleges are very different and unique, just like each of our practices. We have over 50% of our grads coming out of our chiropractic colleges are women. We’ve got to bring that collaborative spirit into this organization that represents women. Women are telling us that they’re doing their practices different. They’re not working full time. They’re not doing high volume. They’re blending in family and community.
A lot of women do a lot of community stuff and mommy-and-me stuff. A lot of our young female grads are saying, “I need an organization that represents me.” Our millennials are saying, “We need more technology. You have enough technology for us. We want technology. We want online classes. We want an app. We want a website that has a very robust functioning tool.” You can get a lot accomplished online. We’ve achieved all that and we’re still moving forward.
I tell my patients all the time, “Structure dictates function.”I was part of the reorganization from the ground up. It was an incredible opportunity for me to observe how to make that happen because I was in as the secretary at the Orange County level. I watched this dinosaur-like process happen. The first year I was President, I would sit in the back and there would be 33 people sitting around. I was like, “What is actually getting accomplished?” The second year as president, it all got changed and it was so refreshing. It felt like we were able to have traction and make a difference. I took all the training that I observed from the Cal Chiro Organization and applied it to the Blair Chiropractic Society. We got lean and mean and super effective too.
Now we have a board of seven. It used to be thirteen. We have meetings and they produce things. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have been a part of watching something have to change. It went smoothly. There’s always going to be a little bit of trepidation because nobody likes change, but it needed to happen and it’s been remarkable. I love that you were speaking to 50% of women coming out of chiropractic school because for me, when I came out of chiropractic school, I literally left Davenport Iowa Palmer College and I moved to California. That first year, I had my second daughter. I was like, “I have to set the standard for myself of how to be a mom, be a wife, be a chiropractor, and have that blend well.”
I tend to be a bit of a workaholic. I tend to be a bit of a go-getter. I did have to step back these last couple of years and realize like, “It’s not all about my profession. My kids are watching me.” I love that you talked about your mom being a good role model as a working woman because she gave you that original ability to see that it is possible to have a career and be a mom and make it work. I want to set that example for my daughters too. So far, it’s working out. My eight-year old, McKayla, definitely wants to be a chiropractor when she grows up.
I want to drop a word because you used it and it’s a powerful word. It’s the old model of balance. This is something for men and women, but especially for the women that are workaholics. I am too, and I can tell you that most women are because we are multi-taskers. Our lists are long every single day and we’re always trying to do all these things. There’s old language the women are still using and they’re saying either, “I’m in balance or out of balance.”It’s so linear. I’m in or I’m out. I want to scratch that and blend. Each day is a different blend. When you wake up in the morning, there are some mornings where the blend is, “I’m going to spend more time with the kids,” or, “The kids are home from school today, so the majority of my day is going to be focused in the home with them. Maybe we’ll go do some grocery shopping or go catch a movie or hang out with the kids.”
The next day, the kids may be in school, so your blend is, “I got to get to the practice. I got to see my patients. I’ve got a ton of paperwork to do. There are things I need to do while the kids are at school.” I would recommend that we start replacing the word “balance” to the word “blend.”Each day is a different blend. There’s no imbalance or out-of-balance, it’s just a blend. If you can wrap your head around that, then you won’t beat yourself up so much when you feel overwhelmed. What I hear from a lot of working moms is they feel guilty. When I’m at the practice, I’m guilty that I’m out of practice and not home with the kids. When I’m out with the kids at home, I feel guilty because I’m not at the practice. We’ve got to get rid of that guilt and that shame, as Brené Brown said, and start enjoying the blend and being in the moment and the power of now and celebrating the moment that you’re in.
Structure dictates function. I’m a huge advocate of creating a very structured calendar so that you have compartments. My compartments are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’m in the practice from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Tuesdays and Thursdays are my Cal Chiro days. I’ve given my staff at CCA or Cal Chiro Central and my committees and everybody else to call me on Tuesdays and Thursdays because that’s when I am in my presidential role. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I’m full on in the practice. I also give myself a two-hour lunch when I’m in the practice because I need opportunity to go eat and work out and get some errands done. Saturdays and Sundays, I’m open for spontaneous things like. Because I’m so compartmentalize, and I have so much structure, I have improved function.
It shows up in every area of your life. I encourage people to do what you’ve done and have that and be present. I’m enjoying this mindfulness practice that I’ve been in self-compassion and mindfulness and being present and being aware in the moment and being 100% right now. When we’re done, we can go to the next task that we have. It’s a beautiful blend and it’s enjoying the process. My intern, Jared, is a fifth term student at LACC and he was with when I was preparing all of the behind-the-scene things that happen to get podcasts ready and he asked me, “How can men support women in leadership? I thought, “That is a good question.”
I’m in a relationship with an amazing man and we’ve been together for twelve years. I can say that he authentically holds space. Men are good at holding space. What I mean by that is he supports me in being a president. He likes that I’m in a high-level position and getting stuff done. He gives me a break in terms of when I should be hanging out with him, I’m actually doing stuff like this. There are times when he says, “You put a lot of your time into CCA.” I said, “That’s what I signed up for and that’s what you signed up for, so I need your support in supporting me and holding space.”
In terms of the chiropractic men that are on my committees and on my executive board and all the chiropractic men that are out there, what I have noticed that they are excellent at is getting stuff done. If we can go back to primal brain function, us, women, are gatherers. There’s list of things to do, like got to get in the trenches and structure this paperwork or get these things done. What I have found is men are good in their primal brain function. They’re the hunters and we’re the gatherers.
The hunters in that hunter primal brain function can get so much accomplished. If I call up a couple of guys that I trust and say, “I noticed this particular member has quit or they’re not happy or we need to pull them in a little bit,” the men will get on a call and make that happen. The other thing I noticed is a lot of men love the Superman archetype. I have found that if I can inspire a man to be my Superman, be my hero, and give them an opportunity to be the hero in a certain situation, men love to feel validated and acknowledged. They love to be the hero. They love to protect and serve. Us, women, can inspire that in them. What I’ve learned as an older woman now too is I’m not attached at how it gets done. I say, “We’re going in this direction. I need your support. Can you guys go get the stuff done?”Send them out, let them get the job done, and let them get it done in their own way.
It’s so funny that you explained what happened with the men on your team because as I was making the list of everything that I needed to get done, Jared was texting me YouTube videos on how to make sure all of my technology worked. I referred back to those tools to help me make sure that everything was going to work the way that it needed to.
That’s the same with Roy. In the beginning of our relationship I would say, “I got a list of twenty things that need to get done. Here are some things that you’re good at. Can you get those things done?”In the beginning, he was a little resistant to me handing stuff off to him. Now he’s like, “Give me a list today.” What happens is I’ll go away and come back and stuff like that. He’s a handyman. He’s good with technology. He’s stronger. There are things that need to be moved around the house and he can lift those things. If I need some stuff moved around in the garage, if I need the cars moved, if I need a couple of things done, it relaxes me when he gets stuff done.
Then the other thing is we’ve done The 5 Languages of Love and my number one language of love is acts of service. He knows that that’s important to me. The men that I work with have figured that out quickly about me as well. If you do something that supports me, that’s the most loving act that you can do for me. What I have found in my personal relationship and organizationally is if we can figure out where each other’s genius is and stimulate that, everybody shows up as a hero. It goes back to me as a two-year old and I’m getting everybody to put on their own capes so that they can all be their own hero.
One of my friends, Tracy Hazzard, is an Inc. columnist. She wrote an article about how important it is to be able to be a successful woman and to pick the right partner. What you were just describing in Roy is exactly what I found in my husband, Michael. He is a champion and a complete supporter of everything that I’m passionate about. For example, he’s home with our girls knowing that I had to come here and I want to do this podcast and get some work done.
She wrote an entire article about how if you choose the right partner you’re both in a thrive because you both are going to be supporters and encouragers of the things like you were just talking about. It’s important to have a good partnership. You spoke to men wanting to be heroes and wanting to be a protector. That doesn’t diminish a woman’s power. It doesn’t diminish our ability to rise up and be a leader. In fact, it enhances it.
Even if we can bring in the LGBT community into this conversation as well, it’s not a man-woman role. It’s about partnership and being like a power couple with whoever you couple is. What I have found is when you do get the right partner it’s amazing how it creates momentum in your life because there’s a division of labor. You get to support each other, like here you are, in your office and your husband’s home with the kids. It’s a beautiful blend because you’ve got another partner that starts blending all of the things that need to be done. It actually enhances both people in the world. You’re a powerful woman, so you need a guy that’s going to help you so that you can really raise up your voice. Your voice is needed out there with young women raising families, working full-time. You definitely have a mission and a purpose with your podcast.
We had a lovely conversation and I’m so thankful that you took time and that we were able to collaborate together and blend for this great information. For my audience, if you have any questions, comments or concerns or you want to know more about what Leslie’s doing, Leslie can you tell me how to find you?
You can take a look at a couple of my websites. The first one is The WOW Talks and it’s TheWOWTalks.com. You can also visit CalChiro.org which is our chiropractic website. If you’re anywhere else in the state of California and you’re looking for chiropractor, you can go to that website and find a chiropractor near you. My personal practice website is AnatomyPower.com.
Thank you so much for a delightful conversation. I look forward to doing a lot more collaborating with you in the future.
About Dr. Leslie Hewitt
Dr. Leslie Hewitt is the President of the California Chiropractic Association, the 6th biggest economy on the Planet following the United States, China, Germany, Japan and the UK. She is politically involved at the highest level, sharing important Talking Points with legislators in Sacramento CA and Washington DC. Chiropractors can be the solution to the biggest PAIN epidemic we have ever seen in the United States.
Non-drug solution as Primary Care Providers will increase access for patients to chiropractors before going to MD’s for drugs
Cost-effective solution assists with Societal and Community impact on Families, Foster Care, Medicare, Police, Fire, Prisons
Safe solution has no addictive or harmful outcomes of care
Patient-satisfaction surveys done by Gallop Poll shows people are looking for a Non-Drug solution to pain & get results with chiropractors
CEO and Founder of The WOW Talks, the biggest women of wellness network; Dr. Hewitt brings her concerns about healthcare to the forefront. The WOW Talks reveals her commitment to create a new cultural authority and social proof for women to affect global change in the healthcare industry, corporate policy, education, legislation, and government.
Dr. Hewitt is clear about her life’s work and it is centered around a few powerful principles: Connection, Collaboration and Celebration. She demonstrates a delicious life force vitality through the clarity of example. Her expression of empowered femininity is evident in her writing, on stage, and shared with many people in her Practice. She shares the ancient spirit technology of mind-body-spirit, and reminds us all that healing is an INSIDE job. She brings a philosophy to life with her talks that awakens innate wisdom.
Owner of Anatomy Power Chiropractic Wellness Studio in Danville, California; she practices to keep her finger on the pulse, her hands on patients, and continues to change people’s lives in her concierge chiropractic practice. Author of “Little Miss Sarah Tonin” and “Little Miss Sarah Bellum”; her children’s books inspire parents to consider children as leaders in training with holistic tools to cope with a busy life, healthy foods, optimal brain function, and let’s all remind kids to trust their innate intuition to make good choices, and that includes non-drug choices.