Power Women: Sarrah Rose On How To Successfully Navigate Work, Love and Life As A Powerful Woman￼
How does a successful, strong, and powerful woman navigate work, employee relationships, love, and life in a world that still feels uncomfortable with strong women? In this interview series, called “Power Women” we are talking to accomplished women leaders who share their stories and experiences navigating work, love and life as a powerful woman.
As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sarrah Rose.
Sarrah Rose is a certified tantric sex, love, and relationship coach who has traveled the world and studied over a hundred modern and ancient texts to understand the best modern approach to ancient techniques of tantra. She also runs Tantric Activation, an online tantric sexuality coaching platform for men. In 2012 and 2013, Sarrah traveled to India, where she was trained in tantra. Sarrah then studied under legendary tantra coach Layla Martin at the Tantra Institute of Integrated Sexuality, where she received a certification as a Sex, Love and Relationship Coach. Sarrah has also worked with the visionary psychotherapist and relationship expert Esther Perel.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?
I grew up in a suburb of Phoenix, AZ. It was a very sheltered upbringing in an evangelical Christian church. My dad was the pastor of the church, and my mom was the principal of the school that I went to. The school was part of the church. I had very limited outside influence in my life. After leaving Arizona, I spent several years of my adult life reconditioning myself out of religious ideology. So many of the people that I work with struggle sexually because they were raised in religious environments that turned them against the sexual nature of their bodies.
Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?
I moved to New York City when I was 17 to model. I was dying to get out of Arizona and explore something more exciting! I met a man and got married to him when I was 18 years old. This was common in the community that I grew up in even though it’s nearly unheard of here in the city. Unfortunately, the person I was married to is diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder but I didn’t know it at the time. I was very unhappy and shut down but because of my religious upbringing, I didn’t believe that divorce was an option. Even when he had multiple affairs, I thought it was my job to make the marriage work.
I practiced yoga for several years and eventually started exploring other spiritual paths. Christianity no longer worked for me, but it was still hard to fully overcome the conditioning I had from childhood. Eventually I found Tantra and through that practice, I was able to heal, and I was finally strong enough to get out of the marriage.
I received training in India to teach Tantra and was introduced to my guru there. When I came back to the US, I met a man that was in the same tantric lineage as me and we became lovers for two years and explored Tantra and tantric sex together. After we ended our relationship, I was dating and having conventional sex again and it was so unsatisfactory that I decided to create a worldwide brand that would teach people to have sex in ways that would blow their minds and change their lives, the way tantric sex had done for me.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Talking openly about sex has opened my eyes to the strong prejudices that there are still in society about sex and specifically about women’s sexuality. Even recently someone told me that my business should focus on relationships, not sex, to not tarnish my brand. Isn’t good sex a part of a healthy relationship?
We are making progress though. My ex-husband tried to use my career against me so he could get full custody of my children. The court rejected the documents that he provided, and I retained custody.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Focus, discipline and relentlessness.
Since I started practicing Tantra in 2011, I’ve dedicated hours of my days to mastering it and teaching it in the most effective ways. When I started my company, I didn’t have a team and I didn’t have an education in business. I figured it out one day at a time. From the beginning of my company, I’ve worked 16 hour days. Thankfully I work smarter now. At that time, I was trying to figure out the basics.
I didn’t have a romantic relationship and only had very select friendships for years as I focused on creating my company. Growing my business and raising my kids were all that mattered. When the debt from the startup became too much, I sold my house and moved into a rental to have cash to keep going.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. The premise of this series assumes that our society still feels uncomfortable with strong women. Why do you think this is so?
A male dominated society has existed for so long that it’s what most people, men and women, are comfortable with. The status quo is comfortable, and most people want to feel comfortable. Even highly driven people have many areas of their lives where they default to what is comfortable.
It takes courageous men and women boldly making it the new normal to accept strong women in society. Fear is a huge motivator and there are some that would rather kill than face the fear of change. There is a psychological condition called “intolerance of uncertainty” in which uncertain circumstances feel unbearable. From a rational perspective, it seems ridiculous that a powerful woman would cause such fear, but fear is not rational.
This fear of powerful women has been ingrained into society for thousands of years. Women have been killed for being anything other than what men said they could be so women did what was necessary for survival. Those fears are passed on through epigenetics so again, even if they aren’t rational fears in our modern society, they are still there regardless.
My experience is that truly confident men don’t feel uncomfortable with strong women. Those that are uncomfortable may wear a mask of confidence on the outside, but they don’t have real confidence.
Without saying any names, can you share a story from your own experience that illustrates this idea?
I receive emails nearly daily that are harassing and degrading. I received a death threat and worked with the FBI to stop the man. These are men that feel so out of control in their lives that they try to diminish me in an effort to feel some sense of power.
What should a powerful woman do in a context where she feels that people are uneasy around her?
A woman should always do what she feels is best for her in the given circumstance. If her safety is at risk, she should prioritize that. In other situations when it’s not a safety concern, I encourage women to be confident, own their power and be comfortable in their own skin. That’s how we make progress.
What do we need to do as a society to change the unease around powerful women?
There needs to be more powerful women in the media, in politics, in boardrooms, in sports. Everywhere.
But most importantly, mothers need to be powerful, and fathers need to encourage their children’s mothers to be powerful. My children will grow up knowing that powerful women are normal because of their life with me. This is how we change the next generation.
In my own experience, I have observed that often women have to endure ridiculous or uncomfortable situations to achieve success that men don’t have to endure. Do you have a story like this from your own experience? Can you share it with us?
I was on a zoom call today with a man that was interested in signing up to work with me. He is struggling with erectile dysfunction. He told me that his penis is a good size when it’s erected but he can’t get an erection and so it’s small. He pulled out his phone and asked if I wanted to see a photo of his erect penis. I said no and he started to show me anyway. I told him that I didn’t want to see it and to put his phone away. He continued to put his phone in front of the camera. He then said I was difficult and demanded that I refund him for the call. I let know that what he had done was illegal and to never contact me again. It’s very unlikely that a man would have to deal with a situation like that.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women leaders that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Women are less likely to be taken seriously, considered intelligent, or listened to. They are also more likely to be sexualized in nonsexual situations.
Let’s now shift our discussion to a slightly different direction. This is a question that nearly everyone with a job has to contend with. Was it difficult to fit your personal and family life into your business and career? For the benefit of our readers, can you articulate precisely what the struggle was?
Absolutely. There are so many times that I would rather be with my kids or my boyfriend rather than working. Thankfully, I love what I do but it’s still a career and my relationships are really what matter. I have to choose to put work away. No one will die if it doesn’t all get done today but I’ll miss my kids’ lives if I don’t spend time with them. I’m grateful for the example that I give my kids and I know that I’m raising them to be independent and empowered and yet, I still feel guilty that I’m not the mom on the PTA and making dinner every night. But we have some of Manhattan’s finest food delivered!
What was a tipping point that helped you achieve a greater balance or greater equilibrium between your work life and personal life? What did you do to reach this equilibrium?
It’s a choice that I have to make every day. Some days work has to be done and there’s no other option. As a business owner, it’s really up to me to make sure everything is moving forward. But I make a conscious effort to have fun with my kids. My dad was always fun, and I remember that. I want my kids to remember me that way. As far as a relationship, I wasn’t ready to commit to that until my company reached a certain level of success that I was comfortable with.
I work in the beauty tech industry, so I am very interested to hear your philosophy or perspective about beauty. In your role as a powerful woman and leader, how much of an emphasis do you place on your appearance? Do you see beauty as something that is superficial, or is it something that has inherent value for a leader in a public context? Can you explain what you mean?
My mom is very beautiful and while I was never pressured to be a certain way, an emphasis on appearance was modeled for me. My mom spent time on her appearance and I do the same. I’m glad I learned that from her. I started modeling when I was 16 and worked in the fashion industry for a few years. Aesthetic sensibilities are a part of my natural make up. I like to be in beautiful environments, and I like to feel beautiful. I do what I like, and I don’t worry much about anyone else…except my boyfriend. I know what he likes and I have fun with that. Feminists may be indignant to hear that I would dress for a man but I do and I do it because it’s what I want to do. I like turning him on. It’s my choice, not something I feel forced to do.
The key is that I do what I want. Beauty may be superficial but so is eating at my favorite $$$$ restaurant or spending summers in the Hamptons, but I still do that simply because I like to.
I don’t think that beauty has inherent value for female leaders. Women will be judged either way. For women that focus on beauty, they may receive more attention but they may also be seen as less intelligent and mocked for focusing on appearance. Women that don’t focus on beauty may be criticized for not living up to ridiculous standards but they may be more respected in business. As a woman, the key to winning this no-win battle that the patriarchy has designed for us is to give it the middle finger and do whatever we want.
How is this similar or different for men?
There are different expectations. A woman that is overweight would likely not get the same respect that an overweight man would. It seems more strange in society for a man to have botox than for a woman to have botox. For men, expensive clothing or watches are more of a symbol of success than a beauty requirement.
Men have different standards that they’re required to live up to. Their situation is often the opposite of women’s. Powerful women are feared but men that are not powerful are not respected.
Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Powerful Woman?”
My best friends are everything to me. I’m fortunate to have four really close friends that I’m in contact with almost daily. They know the ‘real’ me. I can be honest with them about my struggles and more importantly, I can laugh with them. We have a shared history and life with them is easy. They have supported me through so much!
I regularly have coaches in my life to help with my continued personal and business development. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t had coaches help me get here.
I can’t do it all on my own and thankfully I have a strong team to help me. I value the people I have that do excellent work. It’s very important to me that my clients receive the highest quality experience possible when working with me and having the right team in place makes that possible.
I’m an introvert functioning as an extrovert all day so time to myself is very necessary, especially with as much exposure as I have. I need my space to be alone, center, ground and process all that is going through my head.
I am my business and if I’m not having fun and enjoying my life, why is anyone going to want to work with me? When I’m having fun, that’s the energy I bring to my clients and they’re going to have more fun!
If I can add a 6th, it would be exercise. I drop my kids off at school and go directly to work out each morning. It’s nonnegotiable. I don’t schedule meetings until after I work out. Keeping my body healthy and strong is good for me and my business.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
That’s so easy. Of course, it’s Madonna. She’s, my idol. She’s the ultimate female entrepreneur and has always been groundbreaking. What I have gone through as a woman in the field of sexual empowerment is nothing compared to her.
There were many times during the early years of creating my company that I felt very discouraged, and I watched the replay of her Woman of The Year speech for Billboard Women in Music. That speech was my inspiration to keep going. I remember watching it with my 90-year-old grandmother who had tears in her eyes as she recalled all those women had gone through in her lifetime.
Madonna, if you see this, thank you.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.