November 1, 2023
Lois Barth ’12: Finding Her Courage to Sparkle
Lois Barth ’12 has one word to describe her career: holographic. And like a hologram, her professional life features a dazzling array of professions. Actress. Stand-up comic. Medical massage therapist.
Today, Barth has merged her myriad experiences to become a human development expert, life coach, executive coach, motivational speaker, and author. Her goal is simple: to help people change what they do and how they think, so they’re happier and more fulfilled.
Underlying her work has been a lifelong fascination with human behavior. “I’ve always been interested in why people do what they do,” Barth says.
Barth grew up in Long Island, where her father was an engineer for ABC who televised history-making events around the world and worked as a technical director on soap operas. Her mother was a homemaker who frequently counseled her father on how to deal with interpersonal challenges at work.
“Within five minutes after pelting my Dad with a battery of questions — from body language inflection to the context of the conversation — she had deconstructed the dynamic and given him hacks to help create a bridge between him and his colleague,” Barth recalls. “My dad was mystified how my mom would know. Her response was always the same, ‘Ben, you figure out machinery, I know people.’”
After graduating high school at 16, Barth went to SUNY Binghamton. She later transferred to NYU to study acting but dropped out to become an actress.
While still acting, she got licensed to be a medical massage therapist, worked as an arts educator, performed and wrote three one-woman shows, and did stand-up comedy. Among her favorite assignments was a brief stint with a group called Comedians in Recovery. “We used humor as a tool to heal people’s challenges and traumas,” she said “We did alcoholism and drug rehabs, co-dependency rehabs, shelters, eating disorder units, and co-dependency rehabs. We did this to bring humor to a place that had tremendous pain.”
Becoming an Expert in Human Development
In 2006, Barth became a certified life coach, working with people ready to make a change. Some want to sever a bad relationship. Others want to switch careers or launch a business. Still, others are seeking more holistic changes.
“I work with people who are very clear that they want a change and are willing to take the actions to get that,” she says. “They don’t always know what it is they’ll do, and coaching provides the clarity. But they have to know they want to make the change, and they have to be willing to commit. Others are crystal clear, they need support to get to the next level.”
Sometimes, she starts with what clients can’t stand, or are putting up with, in their lives. “It’s what we in coaching call tolerations,” Barth says. “What are you tolerating in your life? Is it a partner who’s not supportive of you? Are you tolerating being 25 pounds overweight and not walking up the stairs easily? Or are you tolerating a job that at this point you’re just phoning in? You have a mindset that doesn’t line up with what you’re doing.”
Barth has since become a certified executive and relationship coach as well, helping people in C-suites improve their leadership style and working with their staff to achieve greater fulfillment. In addition, she’s a motivational speaker, who presents to associations, real estate agencies, and women’s organizations to strengthen their engagement with their work.
Barth believes everyone can benefit from a coach. She regularly hires coaches to support her in her goals and recruited a relationship coach when she wanted to find a romantic partner. Five months before the COVID lockdown, she says she “man-ifested” Marty, her “Pandemic Prince.” They’ve been together ever since.
A Return to College
Even as her resume expanded, Barth knew something was missing: a college degree. Decades since leaving college, she was haunted — and beckoned — by the degree she never completed.
By the time she was considering going back, she’d met many people who had attended Empire State University. She loved what they told her about the adult learning model and how life experiences counted toward college credit.
Once she enrolled, she fell in love with the university, where she met other people with eclectic career paths. In 2012, Barth graduated with a B.S. in human development and spoke at commencement about her longstanding desire to get a college degree, what she called her “dirty little secret meets her secret longing.”
Her experience of wanting to return to college became the basis of her introduction in her book, “Courage to Sparkle: The Audacious Guide to Creating a Life that Lights You Up,” which was an Amazon #1 Bestseller in the self-help/emotions category in 2016 and re-released this year with new and expanded content.
Barth had become an example of what she wanted people to do, to find the courage to sparkle. “I see sparkle as a metaphor to shine bright, share our gifts, and make a difference,” Barth says. “Be open to what the universe brings that you didn’t necessarily ask for. As one of my mentors told me, ‘Commitment to vision, flexible with form.’”