How to Accept Your True Voice and then Find the Grace to Let it Go

Episode 13 with Dr. Anne Foradori

We have a great episode today, filled with information about accepting your true voice and navigating the changes in life while finding a new expressions for your Voice of Influence. Don’t miss the great lesson at the end where Dr. Foradori helps us learn techniques for making our speaking voice resonate and carry through a crowd.

Anne Foradori has appeared in recital, concert, and opera in the Midwest. She has performed works by several American composers, and has presented at national MTNA and NATS conventions. She made her New York debut at Symphony Space in 2007. Dr. Foradori has published in the Journal of Singing and contributed to the American National Biography. Dr. Foradori teaches voice and coordinates opera and musical theatre at the University of Nebraska at Kearney where she is Professor of Voice.

Transcript

(approximate transcript)

 

Andrea: Well, I am here right now with my former voice professor, Dr. Anne Foradori. I’m so excited to be here. We’re actually sitting here in person. Thank you for meeting me.

Dr. Anne Foradori: Thanks for asking me. I looked forward to this since you brought it up a while ago so…

Andrea: Yeah this is so fun. So we were already kind of started to talk about voice a little bit but I think, we should start…we’ll go back when I was here. I came in as a junior.

Dr. Anne Foradori: Right.

Andrea: And what was really funny is that I started, and this is something that I will tell everybody and show off from the rooftops, but I started doing voice major at another school. That’s a very pretty famous music school in Nashville and I got here and just working with you blew all of that away, all of it. I learned so much like I walked in the door, and first of all, you were just nice and then I remember you asked me if I could belt.

Dr. Anne Foradori: Yes. Well, because of where you’d gone to school and what I could hear in your voice. So I wondered if that was anything you had a background in.

Andrea: Yeah and I was like “Oh sure I can.” I had no idea what it was. I just thought that singing loud. So you had me start to sing and I just started singing loud. You were like “Whow, wait a second, you’re gonna kill yourself.” I don’t know if you remember that but I do.

Dr. Anne Foradori: I do and later on that you another student were both accepted to the NATS winter workshop master class. And so we had to prepare for that. So we had a trip to New York that was very exciting.

Andrea: Oh my goodness. It was unbelievable. I mean, again, it was sort of like you came out of blue and you just sort of handed it to me, “We’re gonna go to New York.” You found a grant and you just took us to New York to be on Broadway and see Broadway. I started to sing and that was unbelievable. I think it was one of those things that helped you to see that even though you’re in a little small Nebraska school, because you’re in _____ right now. I don’t think I introduced that but University of Nebraska at Kearney, which is really close to where I grew up, and just the idea that we’re not limited by our geographical situation. Of course, you are to some degree but you really help me to see that you could really reach beyond that. It was so cool.

Dr. Anne Foraderi: And fun for me too, fun for me to be a voice teacher of students who may not have had opportunities yet to spread their wings and go to other places and to provide those experiences for them.

Andrea: Yeah. I think you do that all the time. It’s just what you do, right?

Dr. Anne Foraderi: Well yes.

Andrea: Definitely it is. Yeah, so how long have you been teaching voice?

Dr. Anne Foraderi: Okay well, the short story or the long story? I finished the master’s degree in 1979, and started to teach right away. I’ve gone to Cleveland Institute of Music, and I taught for their preparatory adult education students. So I had a great big voice studio, and I also taught for a community college in Cleveland and taught music appreciation class. And I taught for music for senior citizens classes then I taught voice class and class piano at a community college to teach a lot of preparations.

And was a music director for a couple of shows then I taught four years at an all girls’ high school. So I had a choir, large mixed choir and a show choir, those were sort of up and coming and I taught a drama class and was music director for whatever we did for musicals. So I did that for about 10 years and it was very satisfying and I love working with high school students.

But there was something in me that when the students were ready to graduate, high school students are ready to graduate and going to college, there was a part of me that “Oh I just wanna give them two more art songs. I just wanna have them lessons as college students. I just wanna get you to a competition.” So I made up my mind to go back to school and get a terminal degree. I had always thought at the back of my mind I might get a doctorate but I was teaching and I was enjoying it.

So it took some soul searching. I don’t make decisions quickly and at that point, I thought, well there are three areas that interested me. One would be to get a doctorate in voice, which I did and the other was to get a doctorate in  comparative arts for that then you end up going to teaching in combined college arts program. And the other one was to be an attorney.

Andrea: Really?

Dr. Anne Foradori: Yes, because I had the energy for it and I had interest in the law. And I thought “Well, if I work as an attorney and I want to do anything very much with it and that makes it difficult to balance that in the family,” and I could not get singing out of my system. There was more to be sung and more to be taught. So that it made that choice pretty easy in the long run. So then I went to school and got a doctorate and then taught for a year in Indiana State before I came here 23 years ago.

Andrea: Wow!

Dr. Anne Foradori: I know a long time.

Andrea: But that’s impressive that you stuck yourself a long here.

Dr. Anne Foradori: Well, a lot of people change career paths, but I always found something new and exciting, either developing a class or students I’m working with or my own singing and research that just keeps me motivated to work at this.

Andrea: I’m just wondering, why teaching and not performing, you know as far as a focus?

Dr. Anne Foradori: Well, you and I have spoken a little bit about personality types and I was telling you about different, not assessment, I’m not sure what to call them, tests. Everything from the Myers & Briggs to other personality tests and I always have…well, two things, first my mother who was both a teacher and then a theater administrator. The professional side that she works in, she was a managing director. She did all the business end of the theater for professional theater. But she taught before that, she taught high school and she taught college. So I had that role model.

And the second was, because I love them both, and they each that needed to be scratched as performer, I could do in a city large enough like Cleveland, I had a soloist position in a large prominent church in the city. I could do whatever gigs I want to during the year and balance that in my teaching. So it was sort of the best of both worlds to be able to do things and then it was also a way to get invested in both but not that to commit to one till I felt like I went back to get a doctorate.

By the time I went back to get a doctorate, I was already in my 30’s and that’s not late. But in terms of making opportunities as a performer that’s older than most of the summer assistant programs and things like that usually dry up by the time you reach your late 20’s. And by then I had firmly thought that really what I want to do was continue to develop my own voice and to work with others. I had made that firm decision and then got to work in graduate school as teaching associate, so it sort of cemented it and I’ve been in to look for that path.

Andrea: That makes sense.

Dr. Anne Foradori: It does and I think for people who want to teach in a college level, there are kind of two ways to get there. The first is to have been a famous singer off somewhere and made a career in that and then come to college teaching with the information you have from your experience. And then the other is to follow a path where you do some performing but do a lot of more studying of pedagogy in working with students and that’s the path I took.

Andrea: It fits you so well and one of the things that I always really appreciated was you’re so attentive to your students from you walk in the door and you sense that some things is off.

Dr. Anne Foradori: It’s an interesting balancing act, because we are not your counselors, we are not your parents; we’re your voice teachers. But that being said, we teach this discipline in a one-to-one manner. It’s not the same as going to a lecture class where other students in it where the teacher may notice you or may not notice you unless they call on you. There is no escape, it’s just the two of us for the half of hour or the hour whatever the time period is.

And so there’s that and that kind of symbiotic type of relationship we have. The other is that, I think I’m biased because I’m a singer, more than any other musician, we have a different personal investment in what we do and we just do. If you’re singing and you don’t like the sound of your voice and it’s not a technical aspect that can be fixed, we go through a lot of soul searching and learning to love our voice giving ourselves permission to love our instrument. That’s a hard thing to do. We joke about it, we say “hate my voice, hate me.” We cannot take it personally. Can I get spiritual here for a moment?

Andrea: Of course.

Dr. Anne Foradori: Just the gift God puts on each of us to be an individual as a singer, you might be able to tell a certain pianist by a style or certain wind player by their tone. But you can always identify a singer. So with that comes both this great celebration of the gift we have, the individual gift and also the horrifying responsibility of having to achieve at a certain level. And if you don’t, is it because I have not learned my techniques enough or is it because my voice is unworthy and not beautiful enough instrument?

And that’s the thing that young singers struggle with a lot and even older singers struggle with and getting through that discovering your voice literally and figuratively is a challenge. And that’s one of the things I hope I do with students by the time they enter the studio and then by the time they graduate that they’ve had enough Aha-moments and have come to the realization that they are worthy. And that their instruments are worthy of developing and that their voices are intrinsically tied to their being but it’s not the sum of all their being.

So I have a framed card, it was a greeting card with a code on it that’s on my desk and I love it because it was , but she said she really got it from her French writer. So good for her for giving up the credit there, but it says “The end is nothing, the road is all.” And that’s really profound and it’s true in terms of finding your individual voice, but it isn’t true entirely with musicians because what we do is very public.

So for students having to come to groups with knowing that the journey is always present and the journey isn’t less as important as what you discover. Because you discover things about yourself along the journey before you get to the end. But no one wants to hear a C- choir. We have this struggle all the time of wanting to invest in the journey and know that we’ve grow and our voice grows by following the path and the journey. But knowing that still we have to be a little product oriented and that can be tough.

There are a lot of students who studied in high school or were involved in their plays, musicals, and choirs in high school, when they get to college and maybe start as a music major but then, I don’t want to say it’s no longer fun, the party came easily to them and their voice grows and developed and they find that it’s not fun as they thought it would be. And so it’s time for them to leave that in a good place in their hearts and spirit and to be participating musical where they want but maybe not pursue it as a career.

Andrea: Oh, of course while you’re talking, I’m remembering both my experience as a student but then also my experience in the last few years of this figurative voice that you’re talking about. This Voice of Influence that I’m trying to grapple with and I love the comparison of the two because it’s just seems so incredibly powerful and true that everything you just said also applies finding your voice that’s going to make a difference. And I have this saying that your voice matters but you can make it matter more and it’s that idea of developing your voice that yes, there is a product.

And so when you do put out something whether it’d be singing in front of people or a black poster whatever, it needs to be edited. It needs to have gone through a process of refinement in a sense to really make the biggest different that it can make and really connect to the audience or whatever. So all that you’ve just said I feel like it totally applies to this other voice as well. Do you feel that way?

Dr. Anne Foradori: Yes, and that’s why I said, the voice is not the sum of your being. Sometimes when the students will do a recital, I will tell them specifically to do not listen to your tape for at least two weeks. Don’t listen your recording. You need to live in a moment of euphoria that comes with performing and with feeling like you put your whole heart into your activity and that you communicated with your audience.

And you don’t ever really hear that entirely on a sound recording because you don’t see their facial expressions and their acting and how visual they are with it that they don’t experience what they’re experiencing in life with the audiences reactions and things. And so just know that this is a little museum piece of what you did and this is a snap shot of a moment. You will sing these songs different ways on different occasion.

If I can count on one hand the times in lifetime when I think I had a perfect performance, then it’s just not entirely there. I remember saying to a colleague once when I was performing some new music and I wasn’t sure that everything I sung was a correct pitch. Some of it maybe a little “ish” and this colleague said, “Well, you know when someone is hitting a 3.33 batting average and they’re on a baseball team, that means that every three times they come up to bat, they get a hit.”

And we think that at 3.33 batting average is pretty damn good. So why do as musicians, because we’re in the midst of creating live art that’s very fluid and changing. If I sang only a third of the right note, I would think I was a failure. Yet in other aspects of life, someone would get a third or something accomplished and depending on how you view project as a whole, then you would think it was a great success otherwise.

And that was a really good way for me to look at approaching performing, and in this case, performing a new music where you part of bringing a piece to life is working with the composer. And sometimes, you’re a little wrong and you have a note that flipped up, you have to be kind yourself about that. Know that you’re creating fluid art. This is not a sound recording or commercial sound recording…

Andrea: Where you go back and make all these little changes, yeah.

Dr. Anne Foradori: So yeah, I think that discovering your voice whether it’s your voice in a classroom as a teacher or in a studio as a teacher or as you said writing a blog post or doing a podcast, finding your voice is a life-long process. I mean, it isn’t anything we ever entirely get to…we get to stages I think where we’re happy with our voice.

In 2007, I had West Nile encephalitis, probably bitten by a mosquito of gardening in the evening and I ended up in the hospital for several days and then home for three weeks. And it was difficult for me to think clearly because of the encephalitis and I eventually came through it well. But it started sort of an emotion of other things happening that my immune system and defense system were not strong.

And so I had that in 2007. I had aortic stenosis and a heart valve replaced in 2011, and then in 2015, I had two kinds of cancer. And with each one of these episodes, each one of these challenges, I begin to look at my own message, my own voice what was my next step, what was next role. And I have, one doesn’t say bounce back, but I have recovered from each of these, thank God and I feel like I have more to give to things.

But the last voice from the cancer combined with turning 60 and then having a very aggressive chemotherapy treatment really did the end of my singing voice. And you can hear my speaking voice is rough now. So again, that was me looking at what is my voice as a teacher and if my singing voice is not going to be my singing voice, what will be my voice? What is going to be my outlet for creativity and what will be the next step I take? And it’s unlike when I got to the sort of the end of the road teaching high school and teaching for 10 years between degrees. And I was thinking, what was my voice be next, will it be in the classroom, will it be in a courtroom which would mean going going to law school. Where is my voice most connected to the core of me?

And so for me when I was going to chemotherapy, I talked to a lot of great school friends on Facebook who have lots of advice for me. And someone said “Oh, write a blog, do a blog.” And then someone suggested, “Oh do a blog about getting through cancer.” I was like “Oh my gosh, how horrible would that be.” Because I don’t want any illnesses I’ve had to define me. I feel like that’s part of as my sister said, “Any scars you have in surgery is like the path or the map of your life, different travels you take.” And people do that now saying “Oh see these stretch marks on my elbows when I blah, blah, blah.” “See these stitches on my skin I got as a kid.” And mine are much bigger stitches but they’re just a part of the story of my life, not my whole life. So that’s how I got involved in the other blog I’m doing now.

Andrea: So tell me about the other blog. It’s a food blog, but I would love to hear more about why that?

Dr. Anne Foradori: Well, since I was going to not try to sing on a professional level anymore, I thought “Well, what was I thinking of when I went to college? What would I have majored in if I didn’t major in music?” You know, go back to the things that you like the most. And before we use the word foodie thing right, other people got subscriptions to National Geographic. We got subscription to housing garden magazine and gourmet magazine. So that was the reading magazine around my house when I was growing up. And my parents’ idea of a good time was to go to New York for weekend, go out to eat and buy some French cookware.

Andrea: Really?

Dr. Anne Foradori: So I guess I had no choice I was sort of indoctrinated at an early age. And I remember even as preteener or teen when the gourmet magazine came, there were two things that always struck me. One was a gourmet travel section where some would just go and snap pictures of wonderful food all over the world and I would think, “What kind of job is this, this is great?”

And the other one was something they put out every month that was called gourmet meal of the month and it was a whole menu that was some kind of a protein that would be a roast, turkey or goose or whatever and then several side dishes or maybe a salad of some kind and then dessert. They’d have it all in a sort of a big banquet table and then they even suggest wines for it.

And every month, my parents made at least a portion of the gourmet meal of the month. They never bought the fancy wines but they would do things like make the roast or whatever and several side dishes and maybe the dessert every month. I just thought, it was the most wonderful way to grow up. My parents, one of their combined voices they had as a couple was in the kitchen. My dad is like the chef. My mom is the baker and I have more pictures of us with my parents in the kitchen cooking or serving big family meals.

And this was just a part of our lives that, part of my getting my new voice because I was going to use the singing voice so much was my culinary voice and my storytelling voice. So I worry the first I thought for every recipe I put, and I have an eight paragraph story that goes with it. And I wondered if people would respond to that, and so far, they have been. I have a small following but I can only do it as much as time allows because I still teach fulltime.

Andrea: Right. How does your story connect with your food?

Dr. Anne Foradori: It might something as simple as…or there was one week, I went in the recipe files from my mom’s. We moved out here. My dad moved out here and lived with me. And they’re all handwritten cards or my grandmother’s cased typed cards. She typed them and she had always would have the date and who gave her the recipe on it. And then she’d have her own little stories to tell about “you can use this or this, but I like to use this first or something.”

And there are some recipes in there. I made a pineapple upside down cake, a recipe that belonged to my great aunt, who I’m quite sure was my mother sister-in-law, my grandfather sister. And she was Aunt Ally who was smart and a smart, snappy dresser and really beautiful and would show up for these family events with this pineapple upside down cake. I’d remember this as a child, and I think she finely relented and gave the recipe to my grandmother who felt it was triumphant to get all if she gives her this recipe.

So these family stories about food, and I have another recipe card that’s in my grandmother’s handwriting marked 1919 that was from her mother-in-law about sort of a homemade Fig Newton cookie, sugar cookie with a ground fig filling. And the back of it, my grandmother had thought and wrote something like “Oh mother I love these cookies, her eyes lit up every time she made them and she thought she was a making a delicious cookie and it was still frugal.”

And just this whole little narrative that went around this and you know, that is not anything new. There are new family stories told around the dinner table and family occasions. And so a part of what I’m doing is finding recipes. Some of which are re-imagined that have been family recipes and stories to go with them. This week is going to be about Mother’s Day and I have a picture in the blog that will be my grandmother holding me as an infant and my sister who is about 16 months looking at my mom sort of smiling next to her, introducing my sister to me.

So three generations there and just the joy in my mom’s face and her voice what she did as a mother and what she discovered in a creative hand she had in our upbringing and what she introduced us to. That’s all part of the side stories about my grandparents and my dad. And it has been good because whenever I do the blog, it’s sort of a family affair because I cook what I want and then my son who is artistic takes beautiful pictures. And I’ve had a couple of other former students who are now photographers take pictures.

And I told students “No, I wasn’t making money on this but you can take home dinner to your family.” And I said come on over, have a meal and when I was writing this up originally, the narrative word or something has become sort of a catch phrase I use in it. There was just sort of our life that I use in this now was there’s always room for one word at the table. And that’s sort of a philosophy of life that I live and a philosophy that my parents always lived.

So for me, room for one more at the table means you have someone wants a voice lesson and I’m not horribly overloaded, there’s room to squeeze another one in during the week. Or someone needs some extra advising and something like that, there’s always another hour to make that happen. Part of my voice is wanting to have a generosity of spirit. I felt that sort of drives to me. So anyway, that’s a little bit about with the blog is about.

Andrea: Have you always felt this connected to your family?

Dr. Anne Foradori: Yes

Andrea: Or it’s just a new thing?

Dr. Anne Foradori: I would hear my grandmother tells us a story of their youth and then I would say something to this aunt who’s 10 years younger. I said, grandma told this story of such and such. And she said, “I didn’t remember that.” Or she’d say “I didn’t remember those details.” Well, of course, they may have lived over the same thing but with 10 years of difference in their childhood. So I always thought that that was interesting in terms of hearing my grandmother relayed that she had a great sense of drama in telling our family story and how other siblings who were younger may have lived through it. But the experience was not the same because of the distance and that. So yes, my grandmother was a great story teller. I’ve always had this connectedness.

Andrea: I’m curious what it was like for you when like emotionally when you realized that you didn’t have as much of a singing voice anymore? Was that difficult?

Dr. Anne Foradori: Yes and no. You are prepared for different stages of life, different ways. When I was 49, once I got 49 and a half, I just started to refer to myself as almost 50. So I said, “Well, I’m almost 50, I’m almost 50.” When I turned, I thought “Well, I’m only 50.” So I think in my mind I have prepared myself and knowing having said in that voice in pedagogy to understand that woman’s voice have changed and cartilage that was once flexible becomes more calcified and with that all the things that come with it and that some people are singing to their 60s and some do not. It’s like preparing yourself for anything when you get to middle age and then wake up one morning and say “Oh I couldn’t have any more babies, could I?”

So there was not sadness, there was just an adjustment to other things and my students have said “Well, come and sing, sing first.” And the truth is if I got one drop enough, I could do more singing and I can always demonstrate lessons. But again, that comes to how I judge myself and what I want to experience to be and if the experience is going to be such that it’s difficult for me or painful for me because I can’t sing as I do when I was 40, 20 years old, then instead of being sad about it, I turn the corner and say “But there’s other things I can do. There’s so more I ca n do and my interests are broad.”

So I’m working on a paper now to send up to publication and five musicals that changed the face of musical theater in America. So I’m interested in that and food blog and working on projects with students. So I don’t miss it because the minute that one thing was taken off the table, many things came in in it’s place. I think there’s a passing of that and I think because I always combine singing with teaching, it’s not like one day, I woke up from the Metropolitan Opera and couldn’t sing, you know.

I always knew it had to be part of a balance for being a teacher and a musician. So sad for about five minutes and then I thought and through chemo and I’m alive. And so the bigger picture for all of that was…I had my surgery done in Omaha and then I had chemo back here but I know when I was in the hospital in Omaha and due to complications I had to stay about 10 days. And I remember the physician, my colleague just come in and said she could not believe what a positive spirit I had. I was just so positive and I just said to her “You know, I’m just glad this was caught and I’m alive and I’m just glad to be here, just grateful to be alive and so what was there to complain about. I have so much more than so many other people.

I tried to keep that as my focus and my approach of things. I remember when my son was little, we had many talks about the difference between need and want. He would just “I need, I need, I need.” And I said, “No, you want, you want, you want,” and that’s different than needing. So do I need to sing? No, I don’t need to sing because there are other things. I need to live. I need to have a voice. I need to feel like that voice matters. But it can be done through many different ways. One of my friends once said that the people who are most successful in life have a good Plan B. So I’m okay with going with Plan B sometimes.

Andrea: You mentioned the desire to be generous before and the fact that you feel that gratitude and also you have this attitude of abundance that you can be generous then. And I think that that is a really powerful thing too to have those core beliefs that there is enough, there is always room for one more, there is always…and I’m grateful for what I have. That puts you in a position of power to be able to offer generously.

Dr. Anne Foradori: Here’s a saying in among the philosophers that a reflected life it is worth living. So I try to be thoughtful in how I make decisions especially if it all includes other people. I try to be thoughtful and I try to examine my life a little bit everyday and that’s different from beating yourself up for the things that you aren’t accomplishing immediately. You have to be patient with yourself. But in the long run of life, I see…some of like I mentioned my mom about being a good role model. And one of a very few people I think I know in life who I think died with maybe no or very little regret because she lived a very honest, very true life. And she when was at her most ill and I went home to visit and I knew I would not see her again and I was teary, and she used like great line from A League of Their Own,”There’s no crying in baseball.” We had that as running joke and we cry “There’s no crying in baseball.”

And I think that was her way of saying, I have lived a good life. Don’t be sorry for me. So that would be the greatest thing if anybody said at the end of the day, the end of whatever my end of the day is I lived a good life. I was a good person, I lived a good life. I think that’s a huge accomplishment. It sounds very basic and it sounds like a “Are you underselling yourself? You don’t want to cure cancer? You don’t want this, you don’t want that?”

But I think that some people are made for overt big changes. Some people are meant to discover things scientifically or go to the moon. And then some people work consistently and quietly for change and good things through their own way. And I think I’m in that category B. I always want to be in the classroom or in a studio with the students. I didn’t want to be an administrator running a program.

I think half of discovering your voice is recognizing what your gifts are. Not feeling dwarf by saying “Well, I’m not really good in this,” but understanding what your gifts are and how to use those gifts to speak to others. What are your gifts? What do you bring to the table? And from that, how do you develop those gifts to be a voice that you can use to bring your point of view for an advocate for others or whatever you want to do with that.

And I think that’s interesting, understanding and recognizing that your voice comes from your gifts. So the first part of that is understanding, recognizing, and appreciating yourself and your own gifts. And if you appreciate your gifts then you think you are worthy to bring them to the table and then you develop your voice and serve others too. But it comes with the recognition of “These are the things I do that are good and worthy and are good to share with others.”

Andrea: I think maybe everybody does this to some degree but where we view other people’s gifts and we admire them and then we kind of make this assumption that our gifts aren’t as powerful, strong, meaningful, or effect2ive or whatever it might be that we’re trying to aspire to be. How do you think that people can recognize their gifts as being good?

Dr. Anne Foradori: Sometimes, it’s good to what I say as a personal inventory. What are the things I like and what are the things I don’t like. So I might make a list of “Here are the things that I wish were different in my life.” I only can put down things over which I have control. I can’t say world peace, because that isn’t my personal responsibility. I’m only responsible for myself contributing towards that. So I might make an inventory or I might do that with singers, I might say “We’re gonna talk about your voice today.” Especially if they’re having a hard time with something technical and they’re frustrated, I’ll say “Here are the things, I can write down five things about your voice that I really like.”

And I then I don’t let them necessarily write down things they don’t like in their voices. And you write down five things about your voice that you like and then we’ll compare the notes. So they have to start by looking at themselves in a positive light instead of do’s and dont’s, what do I like and what do I don’t like. So I’m just going to say, this is what I like about your singing voice and this is what I like and I want you to write down five things about your voice.

Andrea: How does that affect them?

Dr. Anne Foradori: Well, I think they’re surprised because it’s usually hard for them to come up with five things because they want to be critical of themselves and I just make them do it.

Andrea: Why is that, why do we do that?

Dr. Anne Foradori: We blame it all on original sin. I think it’s in our human nature if you were raised in an atmosphere family whatever where you taught humility. It becomes a habit. But I mean, it becomes sort of something that informs how we view ourselves and we view the world. But there are also as false humility and that’s something we have to be careful of. If you have a gift like a gift of a voice and if you choose to develop it and develop it to the best of your ability then bravo for you. And if you don’t then that is your loss, but everybody has some gifts. Everybody has something to give and it’s precious because it was given to you.

We don’t self manufacture gifts. Those are given to us. We develop them. We bring them to the light. We can do that but we’re hard on ourselves. I think understanding where gifts come from really important. We don’t receive gifts unless there is some good intention behind it. After my junior recital that’s way back, I wasn’t entirely pleased with how I sing. I was very hard with myself. And sometimes after recital when visiting with friends and family and a couple of people came up to me and said nice things to me and then I tried to talk it the way like “Yes, but then there was then one note and dah dah dah.”

And my voice teacher, a wise woman, came stood up next to me and I felt a little pinch on my arm and she said “Just take a compliment.” I remember thinking “Yeah, why can I just say thank you and be done with it.” That’s hard to do, but I think it’s important to do and important to recognize that you have the gift. And I think you mentioned earlier people comparing themselves with one another, “Is my gift big enough? Is my gift good enough? Is it good enough to develop?”

I have heard more voices what I would consider a very good instrument, not the top natural instrument to come to school but a very fine instrument who work like dogs. And in the end, you know, it really is a little story, The Tortoise and the Hare of who gets ahead. The person who was taken what they have as a gift and work and work and work to develop it. So that’s a puzzling question on why we’re so hard on ourselves and why we don’t just accept gifts.

Andrea: Okay, so I have some like technical questions.

Dr. Anne Foradori: Okay.

Andrea: Now, I think that most of the people they’re listening, Influencers who are listening is not necessarily thinking about their singing voice. But I think if they just got a ton of other information which is fabulous, but I do think that we each have a speaking voice. I think that so much of what you taught me about singing applies to speaking whether it would be one-on-one or in front of a crowd.

And so I’ve noticed this in some speakers who might have a powerful voice in a sense. They have very strong opinions but in particular women tend to hold back on the way that they express those opinions. And I’m not even talking about theoretically now or figuratively. I’m actually talking about actual vocalizing of the way that they’re talking, where almost that connection of breath and phrasing those sorts of things, and breath support, they aren’t there. And I’m thinking I want to get them singing so I can show them what’s this means. So I think that you do a better job than I do right now explaining what connection of breath is and why that matters.

Dr. Anne Foradori: Well, if I spoke this whole time where I should be speaking, my voice would probably not have been tired. So if I were going to work with a professional voice user and developing there tone and timbre and strength with their speaking voice, there are few things I would address. The first is define what we call an optimal speaking pitch. We are not valley girls anymore but we’re in a society fry in the end of it. I hear from mostly young actresses and people who are interviewed, they talk and all of a sudden their voice fries at the end.

Andrea: Yes that vocal fry.

Dr. Anne Foradori: And that’s not very good for your voice, so to find the optimal speaking pitch, should I do this in piano?

Andrea: Sure that would be great.

Dr. Anne Foradori: So to find your optimal speaking pitch, so I’m going to say for a mezzo-soprano your two octave range, I’m just going to say is a e. So we’ll just pick that up [played piano]. So the top note of the bottom third…is about where your optimal speaking pitches. So what I would do first in working with someone is I would just say, I want you to talk and I’m not asking you to sing but I want you to keep this pitch in your ear, this is your optimal speaking pitch.

So my name is Anne Foradori and I’m doing this interview today with Andrea Wenburg and we are talking about developing voice or finding your voice. So if I had spoken like that through the whole time this interview, my voice would not be roughed, but it might sound affected. But when you’re speaking it in front of a crowd, you do not mind a little bit of a lift because we don’t want to fry at the end. So I would say the first thing would be defined about where your optimal speaking pitch is. So for here, I would say would be about for you is e. So you want to give it a go?

Andrea: I really do enjoy speaking and read about that tone.

Dr. Anne Foradori: Yeah, okay. It seems high.

Andrea: Yes.

Dr. Anne Foradori: So I usually say to people if it seems a little high, give yourself a break and go back down half a step and work on it like that. So finding an optimal speaking pitch is the first thing. The second is to do some exercises with that where you are whether I have that pitch still in my head, I would be saying “Unfrozen, stop holding back and release the real you.” Then I would start to try to connect voice to it. And for people who are Harry Potter fans, I say it’s the professor Trelawney School of Divination.  So I have students play that for fun on their optimal speaking pitch or trying to speak an elongated fashion.

The other thing to find if you see my voice cleared up breath, part of the other thing you find if you use an optimal speaking pitch is that you cannot sustain that higher pitch of speaking without graph. So speaking quietly, you don’t need breath support like that but if I want my voice to carry, I have to have breath connected to it or you run out of it.

So I would probably work on some exercises and made them do that too then I would also work on the two what I just call ‘quick’ or exercises that are great that are noninvasive singing exercises. But first is a lip throw like a motor boat and they put voice on that. A lip throw is one the fastest way you can warm up a voice if you can’t be somewhere where you can sing loudly and that you can take that high. Shall we do it together?

Andrea: Sure.

Dr. Anne Foradori: Let’s go ahead. Okay, so when you take that high, you don’t feel pressure on your throat but you can feel pressure up on your resonate area in your face. And you see how much breath pressure you need to get up that high to sing so that’s a good reminder of how much breath pressure you need when you’re going to speak. But I would say for anybody who wants to develop their speaking voice to find their optimal pitch and then they warm up their voice like they would as a singer.

There’s a phrase in Italian: sing as you speak, or I’d say, you speak as you sing. And so the same rules apply to singing as applied to speaking. And there have been an occasion to hear a professional singer speak whether on the stage or somewhere else, the voice is elevated like this, you know, you hear resonate sound. Those are the first things I’d start with that would help somebody or professional speaker to develop their speaking voice or their singing voice.

Andrea: Uh-hmm and that vocal fry thing, I remember you’re giving me an article actually and you’re explaining too that that’s just a vocal chord beating each other up really and that’s what I’m doing right now kind of. But I speak up higher then my vocal chords are not hurting each other so I can do it longer.

Dr. Anne Foradori: Right.

Andrea: I’ve got more longevity with this particular voice at this particular time and in general. I’m not going to end up with vocal nodules so not be able to really talk. The other thing I remember you’re saying too which I think is very interesting and powerful is that well placed vocal abuse is okay sometimes.

Dr. Anne Foradori: Well, so…alright, for instance say your singing a musical theater piece where you want to growl and a sound like that, so someone wants told me in terms of…I don’t know if I heard this on a funny episode or something like phrase or what, but someone was talking about how dry they wanted their martini and the response was, I want a fork full of liquid. Well, the joke of course is a fork full of any liquid is just a teeny bit of liquid as you can imagine. So you want a fork full of a liquid for anything that you do that would enhance the sound or for something in the sound like a vocal fry or a glottal stroke or any of those kinds of things…

Andrea: Explain the glottal stroke real quick?

Dr. Anne Foradori: Well, instead of starting with the air puffing the glottis apart, the vocal chords apart, and the truth if you’re singing in German and start with a vowel sometimes that vowel starts with a hard sound or glottal stroke. So a little bit of bad is okay, won’t kill you or people. Ethel Merman of whatever she was singing in a hard belt with a lot of some vocal abuse in there too.

But a phrase I use a whole lot with students who are using especially learning belt is I’d say “Don’t make your sound breath starved. Don’t cut it out, you know, you don’t want your voice to sound like you pulling the neck on a balloon. Let me hear out that the breath is what feeds us all the time.” So having the breath in the sound is important terms of the development of speaking voice too.

Andrea: I think that that’s really important. Breath is huge and we often don’t take a big enough one.

Dr. Anne Foradori: We often and we often sort of speak to the end and impress the sound. All of that is hard and the voice in terms of the fatigue factor.

Andrea: Well thank you so much for this time.

Dr. Anne Foradori: Well thank you. This has been sort of gone all over the place but that’s okay.

Andrea: That’s the great thing about having your own podcast. You can do whatever you want to.

Dr. Anne Foradori: I guess.

Andrea: Well, yes, thank you so much and I appreciate your voice in my life on so many different levels and the experiences you have given me. Thank you for what you’re doing to students as well. I appreciate it.

Dr. Anne Foradori: And I especially like before we started that you’re articulating through this in a voice that each voice is worthy to be heard. Everybody’s voice has something to add to conversation with your voice no matter; even it feels like it’s a small contribution. All contributions are welcome and that the table is big enough for people to be there and every voice deserves to be heard.

Sometimes even the voice that may seem like it’s a voice in the wilderness or they may seem like the message is a small, it’s important to that person and so it’s important that it’s heard. We all become more generous and are giving if we feel like what we offer is acknowledged and appreciated even on the most basic level, even if what we do seems like the most basic act of kindness. Sometimes even just someone saying, thank you is all we need to feel inspired to be more generous and to be a better giver.

Andrea: Uh so true. Thank you!

Dr. Anne Foradori: You’re welcome!

 

END

The Four Elements of Your Voice of Influence

Voice Studio Episode 12

I am so excited to share this episode with you today because this is the introduction to the hearty nourishment I hope to provide through this podcast. If you’re wanting to develop your impact, today I’m revealing the four elements I believe make up a Voice of Influence.

Not mentioned in the episode is the fact that there is an inward awareness and development and then there is an outward awareness and development. The inward elements are Identity and Core Message. The outward elements are Creative Contribution and Strategy.

We’re getting down with the good stuff of purpose and calling here today. Enjoy!

Join the Voice of Influence Community Facebook Group

…where I will be doing a Facebook Live going into more depth on these elements on Saturday, June 3rd. If you’re reading this in the future, check into the group. There will likely be a number of posts about these elements in the future!

Listen here, on iTunes or Stitcher.

What I Learned About Myself from Working with a Fashion Stylist

Voice Studio 11: Reflections on identity after working with Image Consultant, Toi Sweeney

This is a special Voice Studio episode. It is the audio from a video I recorded right after returning home from Philadelphia where I worked with image consultant, Toi Sweeney. In this episode I share my reflections about what I learned about myself from the experience and what I most wanted to share with you.

Mentioned in this episode:
* SECRETS OF A WELL DRESSED BRAND by Toi Sweeney
* My Fascinate Advantage® offerings
* The original video of this episode (below)
* Episode 11 How to Dress Your Identity and Message with Toi Sweeney

Listen here, on iTunes or Stitcher

This is the original video where the audio from this episode comes from. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for more.

How to Dress Your Identity & Message

Episode 11 with Author & Stylist Toi Sweeney

If you think you know what fashion is, Toi Sweeney is going to blow your mind in this interview. This interview isn’t about superficial tips to be sure other people like how you look, oh no! In fact, this is what I said in the middle of the interview:

“People are going to you for fashion tips, but what you’re giving them is identity.”

In the first few minutes you get to hear us discuss our experience of working with each other when I went to Philadelphia to get styling assistance from Toi. It was a blast and I am sure you’re going to love this interview with author and stylist Toi Sweeney.

Mentioned in this episode:

Listen here, on Stitcher or iTunes

Thank you for rating, reviewing and subscribing!

 

If you are interested in learning more about your own identity, message and business, check out my one to one offerings here.

Andrea: Toi Sweeney, welcome to the Voice of Influence Podcast.

Toi: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be speaking with you today.

Andrea: I don’t think we’ve talked since we did shop, since you shopped for me in Philadelphia.

Toi: It was so much fun. It was so much fun.

Andrea: Oh my goodness. Well, we’re going to tell everybody about that but first, let’s tell the Influencer listening where we met, shall we? Do you want to do the honors?

Toi: Oh my goodness, sure. So we met in the Fascinate Advantage advisors’ group. We were two of what maybe like 14 exceptional leaders that are in that advisory group and it was really, really, really fantastic…fascinating I might say.

Andrea: Indeed, always. And if you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you’ll know that sometimes I talk about this Fascinate Assessment because it is something that I use to help me understand people’s voices, to understand what they’re communicating and how they’re communicating that to the world and how other people perceive them. It just seems like a really powerful tool. Have you used it a lot with your clients and other people since we took the class, Toi?

Toi: Honestly, since I’m finishing my book, I hadn’t use it that much as I would like. So I was really excited about meeting you and then being able to communicate that because you were kind of helping to test drive my big idea about how I would use it on my clients. And so as you’ve been probably talking about on your podcast with all of the different archetypes you know if you are Maverick Leader and I’m the kind of or whatever then what is that look like when it comes to your real identities. So I really wanted to play around with that a little bit more and you gave me the opportunity to do that so that’s why I have to make sure I thank you wholeheartedly for that.

Andrea: Oh my goodness. Yeah, it was a real privilege. So after we met in this Fascinate course which was a virtual thing, we actually got on the phone and talked about business and Toi’s book that is out now. And we were talking about these things and then she started talking about branding and possibility of using me as an example. So I was all about that because I’m somebody who, I so want…you know, Toi, I really want to express who I am on inside and let that come out but at the same time, I’ve been hiding it for a long time.

So when I found out that my archetype for the Fascinate Assessment was the Maverick Leader and that’s innovation plus power which means the language of creativity plus the language of leadership, that wasn’t was I was expecting. And I think I have been softening my voice and my self-expression for long because I don’t want to appear too bossy, you know, powerful I guess. So when I took the assessment and that’s what came out, and I was like “Oh my goodness, I…”

And I started looking at myself and my clothing, and I already knew that I wasn’t very trendy but fashionable. But I mean, you know, I walked in to this shop with you, you had already….anyway, when I walked in, I had on very blend clothing. I had tennis shoes, jeans and this very plain like navy blue shirt.

Toi: And that was okay.

Andrea: Yeah, it was okay.

Toi: You haven’t had the Toi Sweeney experience yet.

Andrea: No.

Toi: So that was okay.

Andrea: Yeah, but when you looked at that, it communicates a different message than probably what my voice really communicates which is that creativity and leadership and it wasn’t very powerful image, my clothing. So anyway, Toi ended up going through process with me ahead of time that helped her identify some things about how she wanted to help me convey who I am. So Toi, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you did?

Toi: Well, the first thing that we talked about was I wanted to talk to you about your mission. We talked about your vision. We talked about your values, you core values, your perceived value and all of those things and then what’s more important to me was just a little a little talk about your image where you are versus where you want to be. And isn’t just the way every aspect of our lives are so we want to be here but we’re actually over here.

And so once we kind of talked about those things, I think and pictures. So as you were talking to me, I was listening and kind of formulate in my head what I think you should look like. Then as per the usual with my clients, I give them my style test which is just kind of tell me to pick the right items off the rack, which is going to tell me that you like separates over dresses.

It’s going to tell me you know your level of comfort if you prefer sneakers or strappy sandals that when you walk into the room, do you care more about being powerful? Do you care more about being innovative? Do you care more about being comfortable at the end of the day, because if you’re not comfortable then if you’re speaking in front of a crowd obviously, right then you’re not going to be your best self. And my greatest intention is to always lead you better than I found you. And not knowing necessarily in a negative way but just like, you know, I want to do my part to encourage and inspire you as well.

And so we just talked about all of those things, and so we did your style test and it just revealed that you really love feeling in being effortless. There’s a level of comfort there but at the end of the day, you want to be powerful but you also really want to be very comfortable. So we decided that we’re going to give you a very effortless style but that speaks to the Fascinate, you are an innovative leader and that you are very creative. If anyone has ever had the opportunity and the privilege to speak with you regarding your business, you have ideas. I tell you, you’re doing this all the time.

And so I wanted to take all of those things and just really incorporate it into your look and so that’s what we did. So after that when we hang up the phone, I looked at your skin color, your eye color, and your current hair color and I looked at the colors that were going suit you best. I think I reached back out to you and said the most important question “What do you wanna say, what do you want to say?” You know, because you can do all those things and what’s a normal image consultant would do.

So all of those things are as for normal, but for me I took that all information and I felt through it through your brand and I felt through your Fascinate Advantage and then I helped you kind of create this unicorn if you will that looks so… I mean, if anybody have seen the after pictures that was so effortless and it looked like it took no time. But honestly, it was a lot of work, right?

Andrea: For you… I thought it was pretty effortless myself.

Toi: Which is should be for my client. Yeah, it was effortless. You show up and everything is done for you. You just tried things on and when we’re kind of we’re through what we’re going to purchase and why we’re going to purchase it. And then we grouped it all together and then you were pretty much finished unless the next step is that you’re travelling and have a big event and then I’ll come over and you know how to get packed and put some different outfits and stuff together.

So that’s the main thing that kind of sets me apart from other fashion stylist and other image consultants is that I care so deeply about your voice and the message that you’re conveying. And you know, you really, really walk into a room and before you say one word, people want to get to know you. You are so fascinating in the sense that they come over to you. So you don’t have a message that you go over to them, because it is the conversation piece like “Oh, I like that jacket. Oh I like…you know whatever.” It’s just that I really want you to be able to walk into the room, feel your absolute best and crush it and I think you did that.

Andrea: Oh my goodness, yes. So I’ll share my perspective as somebody coming in. I travelled a long way to get to Philadelphia, which was amazing and I walked in and you brought me into this dressing room that was huge and there’s clothes, like so many clothes lining the walls already. She’d done all this work previous to me coming. So all she had me in the nerve. She was on the floor, so she started having me tries things on and I think it was maybe the second thing I tried on. I was just like my whole being in countenance and everything sort of lifted because I was like “What?”

Toi: And I was nervous because you were saying anything at last. I was thinking “Oh man, I might have messed this one up.” And you looked in so cute and you were looking at the mirror and you were smiling and you started giggling. You have my favorite laugh in the world and you started laughing and you like “Yeah.” And I was like “You like it?” And you like “Yeah, I like it a lot.”

Andrea: Oh my goodness. I could not believe what I was looking at the mirror.

Toi: It was great!

Andrea: It was. People have asked me since then you know, “Would you have picked these clothes off the rack?” And I said “No, I wouldn’t have because first of all I don’t know anything about fashion. But second of all, even if you told me there was this big line up of things that were fashionable; I wouldn’t have the guts to pick up stuff off the rack because I just don’t feel confident in my ability, first of all. But also just understanding the fashion, understanding what fits me like I wouldn’t have known, you know. I just wouldn’t have known.

And so when I put it on, it was so different than anything else that I owned and then you put shoes on me and different pair of pants and what not, and I just about fell over. Because I was like “Oh my gosh.” And there was this one girl that I had in mind but she’s in her 20s and she’s the cutest little thing and I saw myself in the mirror and I’m like “I’m just like her. I look like her,” and I’ve been admiring her and her style for so long and I’m like “Oh my gosh.” You just said to me, years have fallen off of you.

Toi: Yeah, I mean there are so many A-ha moments in that fitting room, you know. I think that we walked away with you looking a lot younger. The most important thing that I do for my clients and then I stressed in my book is that “You wanna look relevant.” So it’s not about the trends. When we were picking items, we don’t mean a $5,000 dress or a $2,000 shirt or anything crazy like that. It wasn’t this like costume made pieces. It was really, really about at the end of the day making you look longer, you know less essentially the parts of our bodies that we love until we can work on the other stuff. We might want to talk some stuff a week for now.

Andrea: Yeah exactly.

Toi: You know, we talked about…and we did that. And so I was saying you know, “See the difference if you put this top on?” And then you took it here and we tied it there. If you’re like me that tend to gain weight in your belly, you know, I know how to make myself look long and lean because I’m only 5’3”. And so it was just manipulating basic, classic, beautiful clothing just to make you look your best and then adding the right accessories.

And so you showed up and looked like you came to shut it down. I have to tell you what blown me away the most about the shop, it wasn’t what we did in the fitting room but I have to tell you like the next day, we shoot some pictures and we did all that stuff but it was after everything was completely finished.

And you could have put back on your clothing that you travelled in and you didn’t. And you put on this gorgeous denim top, which was a basic denim top and I was like “We’re not doing the button-down.” We ended up doing like more of a pull over because button-downs for anybody is they’re very difficult to wear. And you saw that because they tend to open, if you have to put it down and if you don’t have the fattest belly then it folds there.

So you put that on, you put your new jeans on and you had your new fashionable sneakers on, because again, it was your style about effortless and it was very polished and it was powerful in the sense. And you looked a million dollar and all you were wearing was like denim on denim look. You know what I mean, like were sitting in a restaurant and having brunch and I’m looking around and I was like “Does she owns this restaurant?” You looked like you belong there.

Andrea: Yeah, my confidence level just walking into that nice little restaurant that we went to, I mean, it was just so different. Even the shoes that I was wearing, I always wear tennis shoes because my feet hurt all the time. But you got me shoes, you found me shoes that didn’t hurt my feet but was cute and that’s what… So anyway, walking in this different kind of shoes and let alone the hair and makeup and the clothing, I felt so much more…I just felt like I was standing in my power.

Toi: You looked fabulous. I mean, it was so obvious. And I just kept saying like “Look at her, look at her confidence.” I mean the way you sat or everything. You spoke differently.

Andrea: I did.

Toi: I mean everything about you completely blown me away and I mean it wholeheartedly. I was in awe of what we accomplished. I really, really was and then you went to read your post afterwards and I just like you know, I got to see this like 5-year-old giddy little girl giggling in the fitting room and you walked out this fabulous woman that looked like she was so ready to take on the world. It was awesome. It was so awesome.

Andrea: Yeah and it was wild. I got a speaking gig like the next week at a conference and I was “Oh my gosh, I have my weeks’ worth of clothing and I’m gonna rock it.” I just felt so amazing just knowing that I was prepared in that way so that I could bring my best. I honestly, I think I have always felt really uncomfortable. I feel very comfortable in front of a crowd but as far as my appearance goes, I’ve sort have done it besides the fact that I don’t feel comfortable in my appearance, like I’ve sort of reason above the fact that I don’t feel that great about my body or that I don’t feel that great. But when you put clothes on me, it was like “I felt great in this body too, like I don’t even care.”

Toi: Absolutely. Right, I mean because at the end of the day, you know like I have in seven days, I have to go on television, and you know I got on the scale this morning and I was like “Oh so, the last 45 days, you have been finishing your book and doing this different tours speaking engagement and all those these things and you’re not taking care of yourself because you decided that it was going to be okay that you went all on your book, right?

Andrea: Yeah.

Toi: And so right now I have to be honest and say “Well, can I lose 25 pounds in seven days, probably not.” And so what do we do, we show up and rock it out where you are. And so the difference is in what I talked about in the book is that not only are you going to the biggest things are, so now you’re able to dress your message, right? But what you’re saying, right here you say is that it’s easy like you can focus on preparing for the main things and you don’t have to worry and fret about how are you going to look. The worst thing is showing up and not looking the part.

Andrea: Yes.

Toi: You know because we talked about this in Fascinate Advantage group. And in those 8 seconds, they’ve already decided if you have deserved or earned the right to be on that stage. You know, we all know that we have, right? But isn’t it so magical standing there knowing that you do so that you feel that way also, right? And so that really is what is about and so the continued process would be that we’re going to work on is just getting your closet to the point where you can wake up in the morning and you can have 15 minutes to get somewhere and everything that you grab is magnificent.

And that everyday even if you just dropping the kids off of the bus and it’s a tunic and leggings and a fashion sneaker and shirt, and wear your sunglasses on and grabbed that gorgeous handbag that you bought, and you’re still rocking it out where you are like “Okay, so I have my coffee, and I have 15 minutes to get dressed and still look amazing.” That really is what it’s about.

Andrea: And I looked amazing and I don’t know, there’s something about that putting on clothing that matches who I am on the inside and sort of draws out the best of me. And I think that’s what so powerful about what you’re offering people in general is that we don’t have to master it up on our own. Like there is a way to sort of put these things on that are going to call out of us and release it out of us. Whereas, if I’m just dressed in my sweats and a t-shirt to take my kids to school, what are my kids seeing up me? You know, what am I feeling about who I am and how I’m going to attack the next thing on my list of things to do today. All those sorts of things, I’m like “This is so transformational.”

Toi: It is. You know, I always say, when you look and you feel good, when you’re feeling good, you’re confident and when you’re confident the world is yours. But I will take it one step further and since we’re talking about the kids was I sight this in the book that there was an article that was written about the headmaster in the UK, and she sends out letters to all the parents that basically said “Hey, when you drop your kids off in the morning or you pick them up in the afternoon, can you please not wear your pajamas.” What kind of message are we sending are we sending to the kids,” you know, and that just blew my mind.

Andrea: Wow! Shoot!

Toi: You know, I’m like “If you saw the way I drop my kids…” and I’m guilty of it too. You know, but I’ve got my closet to the point where it is a ____ somebody is like “Oh that was amazing.” I’m like “Really?”

Andrea: Oh my goodness, yes.

Toi: You know what I mean, and so that’s what I’m really talking about is that if you put together a brand, you know, dress-the-message type of closet right then anything that you grab and so can you imagine that being at home and receiving that email of like “You did not show up today and we need you to not only show up for yourself but to show up for the kids.” And what are you saying to them and then you think about the fact that in our Fascination group, one of the guys released an article about the fact that everybody was hiring freelancers and personal branding was so important. What are we teaching our children about dressing the message? What are we teaching them about being able to sell themselves, because we’re all selling something rather yourself or a product, right?

Andrea: And when you’re saying selling, you’re saying compelling communication which is exactly what this podcast is about, compelling communication. So even if you’re oppose to the word selling, dear Influencers, understand that compelling communication is sort of that same thing. So that’s exactly what you’re talking about.

Toi: Yes, so you know, it’s so important and I think that at the end of the day, I’m talking about simple things. You know, I want you to show up as your best self. I want you to be able to give a 100% to all of the things that are so important to you and I’m saying “Hey, do you need some help with dressing your message, then let me help you with that part so that you can be the best writer. You can be the best podcaster; you could be the best leader. You can be the best mom. You can be the best entrepreneur so that you don’t have to worry about these things. If you can’t hear some simple steps that you can take, you know, if you’re saying, “You’re in Philadelphia. I can’t afford to fly there,” here are some steps that you can take to at least start the process.

I’m really excited about your journey and what you have coming and all the things that you’ve been able to accomplish and just how gorgeous you looked now. Now listen, your headshots look great but when we took your picture that day you looked amazing and we just kicked it up a knot, that’s all we did. If you look your headshot and the images that we took side by side, you looks great. You look fine, but I don’t allow my customers to dwell on the possibility of fine or okay. Why would you settle for being great when you can be exceptional, when you can be amazing?

Andrea: Yeah. Okay, so last week I had some friends get together, they said, we want to see these clothes. So this is the best and I want to tell this story because I think it’s so important to copying up this part of your message. But what happened was they all sort of just sat down and I told the story about how we met and why I went out there and all that sort of thing. When I went back into this bedroom and I put on my first outfit and I walked out and they were like…first of all, before anybody saw me, I was in the hallway grinning from ear to ear, almost like trying to hide my grin, you know, like “Oh my gosh, I don’t wanna look like a little kid right now,” but I feel like that little girl who’s in her brand new dress running out to spin in front of her dad. You know like “I know, I’m beautiful and just enjoying the way that I am.”

You know, that is what’s going on inside of me and then I walked out there and they all just like gushed. They were just like “Huh, oh my goodness.” And this is just the clothing, you know and the shoes and the look that you gave me then I went back and I went back and forth, and went back and forth. And you know even the most casual things were like, I sort of progressed in I guess dressiness as I went through in the most casual things, they were like “Oh my gosh, I can totally see you speaking in that.” And I thought, “Oh gosh you haven’t even seen me the good stuff.”

So anyway, it was working and they’re saying this is the image that you should be in front of people you know. And then this is the really funny part, the next day, I got I snap from my one of my friends and she was like “Okay, I just want you to know that I was looking through my closet and I’m trying to figure out what to put on and I kept thinking to myself, “I wonder what Toi would think of this.”

Toi: I hear that.

Andrea: It was so great.

Toi: It’s so humbling. I think that that is just “Hey that’s awesome, that’s so fantastic.” You know, just message me next time and attach images.

Andrea: Well, I think they all came away wanting to buy your book.

Toi: Oh that’s nice.

Andrea: You know because they want to know…they saw the transformation in me, in one of their dear friends, and they saw how you had been able to make inside come out on me and they were so inspired and they were…these are the things that they were saying. So I see all that too because I think that people should know that there are so much more potential that we don’t have to stay where you are. I felt stuck in that, in my brand of clothing because I didn’t know what to do. And so I really, I’m excited for your book. Now this book, let’s talk about your book for a little while. So tell us about your book and the format that you chose.

Toi: So the book is titled Secrets of a Well Dressed Brand, because we are all while we choose to believe it or not, everybody is a brand because you’re already putting something out into the world. People are already perceiving that brand; good, better and different. So if you are a brand, you might be a well-dressed brand. And so it’s really funny because when I was meeting my book designer, he showed me the typical kind of eBook layout and I hated it to completely being honest. I hated it so much. I was like “This is horrible. I hate everything about this.”

Andrea: Because it was just words?

Toi: It was just normal, you know, and I don’t do normal. I think you’ve got to spend a weekend with me so you know, I don’t do boring and I don’t do normal. So I was really bored and I was just too typical. And so what I asked him to do was to lay out the same way you would lay out a fashion magazine. And he said “We’re gonna need a lot more images.” I was like “Oh boy!” So leaving Corporate America just seven months ago and having a bunch of gorgeous talented friends, I reached out to a couple of people and say “Can I ask some pictures?”

And so I’m really, really excited to bring you guys something that’s more like a fashion magazine and also you know video. It’s an eBook that features video and images. I’m so proud of this. It is so exceptional and I just can’t even believe that it’s here. I can’t even believe that it’s done. So I’m so excited for everybody to kind of dive into it and really it’s a quick read and like I said, it’s really engaging. It’s kind of like part television, part fashion magazine if you will.

Andrea: Yeah. So what do think the results are for the person who buys your book and reads it and watches the videos, what are they going to leave with?

Toi: It’s funny that you asked that question, or I find that interesting that you asked that question, because when I was talking to my copywriter, she said “I have to be honest…” You know what I’m thinking, “oh boy.” And she said, you know, and I heard this before, I haven’t thought much the way that I looked like. I put myself together and I feel like I was doing just fine but you really make look at it from a different perspective.

And so if you walk away and you’re thinking about your clothing the same thing that was happening with your friends when they saw you, if you just have that moment of “Wow, what I wear really does matter, number 1.” Number 2, it’s so important for me to not only create a look for myself, but also to create a signature style for myself. Have that set things that you’re known for would be my second thing that I want people to kind of walk away with.

And the third thing is what you can do. It’s actually really simple to kind of create a signature look, and I just kind of give you some things like if you wear glasses and you can’t leave without wearing your glasses then make that part of your look. It’s really is about embracing who you are and just exploding that out into the world in a way that they cannot ignore you. That really is what it’s about.

Andrea: So what are some other examples of signature style? You said glasses or just to give me a couple of tangibles.

Toi: Yes, so if you’re someone like I have a client who loves…I have two clients actually, who are both completely obsessed of stripes so then don’t wear them because right now, stripes are very relevant in the industries. So don’t wear them the same way that somebody else wears them. Right now, it’s trendy to wear stripes with floral, so you buy stripes shirt and you have a floral design on top that’s different than the traditional nautical what everybody else is doing. Don’t do that. Don’t do what everybody else is doing.

Maybe you wear it this way and instead of you wearing maybe a stripes shirt, again that’s everybody else is doing, maybe you got a cute sundress and you wear stripe wedges or stripe flats or get a stripe handbag. You just incorporate your signature whatever it is into your lives and you should wear it everybody. It should be a reflection of something that you’re going to do every day, and so that’s it. It can be pop of color on your lips, you know, regardless if you wear all black or if you wear whatever color.

Regardless, I can expect that when I see you, there’s going to be red or pink or whatever on your lips. So think about Victoria Beckham, you know, she does wear a ton of color if any on her lips, regardless of whatever they’re wearing. Kim Kardashian, regardless of whatever they’re wearing, it’s always a smoky eyes and a nude lips that’s their signature style. Just think about those things in your life.

I always say for busy moms and busy mom-preneurs if it’s your kids then maybe you have a necklace that has a meaning to you or something that signifies when you started your business, whatever it is that’s important to you that should be your anchor and build out from there. Like a lot of men, collect watches, cufflinks and things like that. Those are things that you can build around and start to build your personal brand image around the things that you love.

Andrea: I can imagine at this point, but I’d like to hear from you what is the benefit of having that thing that signature thing?

Toi: That’s a very good question. I’ve never been asked that before and I’m so excited to answer it.

Andrea: Yay!

Toi: Well, I just think that it anchors you, right? Because every time I ask someone what they want to say, everyone wants to feel most, and out of all my clients, I have one that give me a different style. Everyone wants to be approachable; no one wants to be seen as someone that doesn’t get along with others and all those type of things. Approachable, it is probably the number one answer, right?

Andrea: Interesting.

Toi: And I think that we all seek or should seek in all of our greatness to be humble because it’s never, it’s about us right? We never really got to anywhere by ourselves and I think that that’s just an important message for me and that’s just kind of me projecting them on to my clients like you need a place to call home. You need a home base, because when you’re that nervous and when you’re that excited and you’re really up and against and it’s stressful to do all the things that we all accomplish in a day. It’s stressful to try to working out at a fulltime job, your business is a fulltime job, working a fulltime job and taking care of your family, and so you just need a place that’s home base.

So we just kind of need that something that we can touch or look at that reminds you that somebody loves you, somebody has your back that you got this that you didn’t get there alone. Like I wear a lot of crosses because of my faith, I wear a little M sometimes for my son that passed away, you know, that just reminds me that like I’m okay, you’re okay. We can do this. It’s like a quiet way of screaming, I got this, and then you build all the other stuff on top of that so that at night when you strip the lashes off and you remove the lipstick, you’re back at home base.

Andrea: Okay, first of all I’m tearing up here. No, I mean for anybody that has ever said that fashion and your appearance is superficial, if they just hear what you just said, they’ve just totally taken back everything they ever said about that because that was so beautiful. What you just said was so beautiful and deep and meaningful. That’s speaks to me personally in a way that being trendy or just looking your best for other people and that sort of thing, that doesn’t speak to me. But when you just said what you just said, that is just so convicting and it opens my mind to “Oh wow, there’s something really meaningful in my appearance.” Wow that was so powerful.

Toi: Because it should be, and I think that again that would kind of sets me apart because I really do when I think about the sounds like not humble but it’s true. When I sign into social media and I say to you that I love you then when you get to know me, you know that it really is coming from a genuine place. And so it’s important to me that you have a home base, because life gets tough. It gets tough for all of us and so if it’s just about the stuff, you lose that stuff.

You know all the stuff will come and go but if you’re anchoring yourself in your home whether that’s your faith or your family or whatever that’s for you then you have a better chance of being unshakable. You know what I mean? And so at the end of the day when I’m saying dress for message that’s what it is about. That’s why I’m saying that it’s important for you. I want to know what’s your vision is because I want to know where you’re going. That’s all about stuff. I want to know what you’re values are because that’s the piece that we’re going to choose that represents something to you.

Andrea: This is like therapy. I mean, yeah retail therapy exactly. No, you know, it’s not. It’s so different in that. It’s so good. So many important things for us to really consider and I can only imagine the kind of impact that your book have on the hearts of the people that read it because they might be going to you expecting fashion tips. But what you’re giving them is identity and that hope that anchoring themselves in who they are and expressing self-expression and those really deep things that I love so much.

Toi: You know, I kind of like see some fashion in there and that I feel like…

Andrea: Oh yeah, I’m sure you did, yes.

Toi: You know, It’s a fashion book, but thank you for what you just said because…and now I’m going to try not to tear up because it’s so much more to me than that. I feel like my purpose is about so much more than that and I think that God has given me the life that he has given me and all the trials because I have something bigger to say than just the clothing.

Anybody can go out there and put an outfit together and that’s not what I do. You can go to Nordstrom, you can go to anybody. There are a thousand fashion stylists. Everybody is an image consultant and that’s not really…at the end of the day, I hope that I deliver so much more than that and that when you look in the mirror like you did, you see your own story for all of the glory that it is and for the all the things that made you use of that when you stepped up on the stage and you’re talking to people about their voice, it’s authentic. But not in the way that we’re all tossing that word around and it just gets on my system. It truly really is authentic, for real.

Andrea: For real.

Toi: For real, authentic.

Andrea: Yes, yes. Oh gosh, yeah. That’s a good stuff. So Toi then can I ask you where does your fashion for this come from? What is in your story? Where you’ve been? What sort of things has happened that has motivated you to be so passionate about this?

Toi: Oh my goodness, so many things like all of us. I mean, the short answer is…I’ll give you the quick notes, you know, it’s just like everybody. You come into this world and you have natural loves, right? I’ve always love art, music and fashion. I grew up thinking that my mother was the most beautiful woman in the world. She still is. She has such a great sense of style and I was left to my own so I really learned to depend on myself a lot and just not allowing all the negative things, learning in my 20s to love myself because I didn’t love the negative stuff in, right?

And so my goal in my 20s was really learning and to made a conscious effort to really learn on how to love myself. I did it because I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t smart enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. I was funny, you know, and I always had a great sense of style. But I didn’t really love myself. So once I realized that, I kind of put that as a priority so that when I finally did met my husband, “you have to accept me and all of me, for who I am. I love myself too much to settle for anything less than what I deserve.”

So when we got married, you know, he travelled a lot. He would be gone 14 weeks at a time and I really wanted to start this business. I really wanted to start a family so when we comes home, we tried for three years to have a baby and nothing was happening. And then after all of the infertilities in six months and I have a uterine eruption. I lost our first son, Myles, and it ripped my heart out and it just drawn me to nothing, to ground zero. By the way, I was still working in Corporate America just really trying to dive into this career that I had of time to make it a different aspect of the fashion industry and dealing with just the tough stuff there as well.

And so before that, we talking about divorce and all these hard things that you kind go through and just really, really standing that ground zero and decided to still look up. And fashion and putting on my power was such a great part of that for me. It’s always been my saving grace as far as like “Okay, Lord, I’m gonna anchor myself,” and you still have to get out of bed and I need a look. If I dressed how I feel, there’s going to be a problem. So let me go one better and I take it until I made it and then it really just it.

And so now, when I see women who don’t stand in their power, and I see women not dressing and living up to their full potential, I take it on us like personal vendetta like “Oh, you can do this.” This is not okay. This is not just okay and so you got to get up and I take my own advice. You have to get up, put your big girl panties on and go seize the day. I’d stopped and nobody cares, work harder like nobody cares about your personal problems. I care about that big thing and for me it was just being stuck in my career, losing my son and almost losing my husband and almost losing my life. It was all of those things.

You know, I also was told I was stupid that I wasn’t pretty. I was told all of those things and so if I don’t know how to do anything else by the grace of God and because of my love for Christ, I know how to survive. I know how to do that so when I’m telling you, it does kind of matter if you have messy hair and red lipstick on because it might just change you in that moment. One moment leads to another moment because now you’re talking to a stranger at son’s doctor appointment or on your daughter’s recital, right?

And it turns out that she is the blah, blah, blah, of blah blah and you’re like “Oh my gosh, thank God, I showed up that day. Oh thank God, at least even though I was wearing the leggings or the jeggings but at least I had on a good shoe and a handbag, you know what I mean? Because what you’re doing is telling the world that you care enough. You care enough to be treated a certain way. You care enough to show up for them and for yourself because that’s always saying at the end of the day, you say, I love me enough to do this and I love you enough that I’ll do it for you too.

Andrea:  I’m so inspired and I can’t believe that I teared up so much on this podcast today. But obviously, I mean I know personally what you’re talking about now. I get it. You know, it’s not just the longing inside of me anymore like you’ve given that gift to me and what I think, I think that your message is so desperately needed amongst women of all ages. Men too for sure, men definitely applies but hey, you’re going to gain a stronger voice with women as you have the opportunity to speak in colleges like you have in various settings where you get a chance to really speak to the heart and address that. I mean that’s really powerful stuff right there.

Toi: Yeah, that means everything. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Andrea: So Toi, why don’t you share how we can now, now that we’re so inspired, how do we go find your book?

Toi: So you can log on to iTunes into your account and purchase a Secrets of a Well Dressed Brand. My name is a funny name. And my social media under that name except for Twitter, it’s sweeneytoi. But yeah, if you have an Android, we loaded it up on Cobo so you can still be able to get it that way. I’m really, really excited to spy it and let me know your thoughts. Please reach out to me on social media and say hi because I love that. I hate the term fashion profession. So hopefully, it’s much more, more than that but I have a passion for people for sure and just helping you to dress the message.

Andrea: Yes, and we will definitely link your book into the show notes. So if you’re listening on iTunes, as soon as you’re done with this, go poke the link to the book and your already on iTunes or Apple podcast is what they’re calling it now, you’re going to be taken right to the book. Just go ahead and get that thing because this is pretty exciting stuff and I know that you’re going to appreciate the things that Toi has to share with you. And if nothing else to say thank you for everything that she just gave us today. So thank you so much Toi from the bottom of my heart, from myself personally and for the audience who I know this Influencer that’s listening is really touched. So thank you so much!

Toi: Thank you so much for having me!

 

If you are interested in learning more about your own identity, message and business, check out my 1 to 1 offerings here.

A Family Miracle: Polygamist Cult Survivors Part 2

Episode 08 with Anna LeBaron of THE POLYGAMIST'S DAUGHTER and Ruth Wariner of THE SOUND OF GRAVEL

In Part 1 of this interview with cousins, authors and polygamist cult escapees Anna LeBaron and Ruth Wariner we learned the back story of what makes their relationships so extraordinary. In this episode we hear how the cousins relate to one another’s painful experiences, healing journeys and the messages they feel called to speak to the world.

Share this one with a young woman you love (teen+). There is so much we can relate to here and their examples are powerful for helping others realize that their voice matters.

Mentioned on this episode:

Ruth Wariner’s Website

The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir by Ruth Wariner

Anna LeBaron’s Website

The Polygamist’s Daughter: A Memoir by Anna LeBaron

Shannon Thomas – Healing from Hidden Abuses

Brene Brown – Website

The Voice of Influence Community Facebook Group (Join here)

Listen here, or on iTunes or Stitcher

Thank you for subscribing, rating and reviewing the podcast on other platforms! It really does make a difference!

 

Transcript

Hey, it’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence Podcast. Today, we have Part 2 of extra special interview with Anna LeBaron and Ruth Wariner. Now, these ladies are both authors, they’re cousins, and they’re polygamous cult escapist. And if you have not heard Part 1 of this interview, you need to go back. Stop this right now, and go back and listen to Part 1.

So many amazing things that they share about the way that they met, their interaction, and how that’s been healing for them. It’s fabulous. Now, in today’s interview and today’s episode, we’re going to dig a little bit more into what it was like for them to not have and then find their Voice of Influence.

Andrea: Welcome back to the podcast Anna and Ruth!

Anna and Ruth: Hi!

Andrea: Okay, so we’re we left off in the last episode was that you were discussing the fact that sharing your stories, even quoting your stories out there for each of you was healing for you. But it kind of brought up some other things with other family members know that it’s difficult for them. So have either one of you had any resistance to sharing your stories with the world?

Anna: Oh my gosh, I know that for me having witnessed other people in our family, having written their stories and then listened as people reacted to and responded to the things that we shared, the difficult situation to be in telling such an intimate details about your family. And then finding out those things have impacted other people sometimes in negative ways.

And that has been a reality for me hearing from family and then hearing from others who hear from family where you know that what you’ve done by sharing your story has impacted others negatively and that’s a hard thing.

Ruth: Uh-hmmm. It is.

Anna: It’s a hard thing to process and navigate and work through; however, I knew that it will impact people just because I’ve seen it happen so many times before because there have been so many books written about our family, even made for TV movie that was just horrible and horrifying to watch myself.

Ruth: It was for me too, yeah.

Anna: Just watching what happened, and the fact that these things transpired in our lives and then having to _____ them through other people’s lives.

Ruth: Through another perspective, absolutely.

Anna: And the key was that, it’s somebody else’s perspective.

Ruth: Yeah.

Anna: So when I watched that made for TV movie in 1993 on television, it was impactful and that it was told through somebody’s eyes that I wasn’t very familiar with. And so the scenes and the things that played out, I was a little bit surprised like “Oh my gosh, these things are odd or unreal.” But it was actually very real but it wasn’t my perspective. The story wasn’t told [crosstalk].

Ruth: It wasn’t your experience.

Anna: And so when I started writing, I had gone to the place where I knew that everyone has a story and every story matters. And even me writing my story was going to impact people that my story mattered. And so, me being able to tell my story even knowing that people were going to be having to make shift their inside….

Ruth: In their own understanding.

Anna: Their own understanding of what happened. Those shifts were going to happen and it was going to be difficult for some people, I just felt like I needed to…I’ve known, I needed to tell my story for decades.

Ruth: Me too.

Anna: And had to go through a long healing process personally before I could get to the point where I could tell my story and share that was really intimate, really impactful things that happened to me with the world.

Ruth: And that was something, as I was writing, it was a conflict that I had honestly I was writing because it was so important for me to be honest and for me to share my truth and my experience because I hadn’t felt this as a child. And really when I started writing my book, it was more for family. I wanted my younger siblings to remember our mother and to know who she was because they didn’t have a memory of her.

But I wanted them to know who she was through the experience that I have with her from my perspective and that part of it was really important to me. And so my memoir ended up becoming more of a we-moir I guess. It was about our family experience but I was very concerned about how that was going to affect my family. And that definitely influenced the way that I wrote about the religion in the book because I have so many family members that are wonderful and I adore that are still practicing polygamous and practicing Fundamentalist and still believe that my dad is the prophet.

I knew that I was writing and I took that into consideration. But at the time I was ready to share my manuscript with the publisher, I had my siblings that I’m closest to, which are all of my mother’s children, I had them read it and I want a feedback from them. And I wanted them to be okay with the way that I told the story. But it was impossible obviously to break outside and to get feedback from people outside of my nuclear family.

So my brother Matt, he was still in the religion. He still lives in Colonia LeBaron, he read it and he loved it. So for me, that was important and he also helped me. You know, I had been 20 years removed from my childhood in LeBaron when I first started writing and I was reflecting and remember. I used a lot of photographs. I’d been back to the Colonia LeBaron a few times and it helped with my writing and my memories.

But he definitely helped fill in a lot of little memories and little stories that we both remembered. We spent a lot times of impactful conversation about what happened. And I remember asking him, I’m like “Did this happen? Is this true?” You know, because it was so bizarre to me after having left the town for 20 years basically. It was important for me that it was okay with him because I didn’t want to hurt our relationship in real life.

It was exciting that he was able to not only understand my perspective. And he said that, he said “I know that this is your perspective.” He was very understanding of that and not only understanding but he was excited for me and he wanted to know as the book was being released. He wanted to know how it was doing.

So that part, I felt really good about that my mom’s family, the family that I’m closest to was okay with the story. And not only okay with it but they loved it and they all said that it was healing for them to read from my perspective and understand where I was coming from and really understand why we ran away. That was a very big part of me for my little sisters to understand that.

Andrea: Because you played a big part in getting your sisters out as well.

Ruth: Yeah, my mother passed away in a tragic accident and we lost a little brother and they were 5 months, 2 and 4 years old. And my brother Aaron was only 10, and I a special needs brother who was Luke was 17 and I was 15. And we grew up with a stepfather, another polygamous man who also believed in my father and his priesthood. He then incredibly _____ us as we were growing up and I found out not long after my mom died that he was continuing to abuse my special needs brother.

And it was at that point that I called my brother Matt working in the States – he was only 18, already out on his own. He left home at 14 and has been working hard labor in construction for those four years. I called him. I explained situation the situation. And you know, after my mom died, there was this part of me that was so profoundly just this really strong primal mother bear instinct that I had for my sisters because my stepfather even right after my mom’s funeral wanting to take my little 4-year-old sister and be alone with her.

And I was like “There’s no way you’re taking that little girl anywhere without me.” And you know, he had apologized for his abuse of all different kinds. He apologized and everybody was like “He’s repented, you need to forgive him.” And that’s how the community responded to him. When I found out about my brother, I was like “There’s no way, we’re staying. There’s no way that he’s gonna start taking my little sisters and being alone with them.”

And so I called my brother Matt. My stepfather had left. He had work in the States so we didn’t know when he was coming back. And I called my brother, I told him exactly what was going on and I said “You are not gonna leave us here anymore.” I was just like “There was no way.” My mom wasn’t there anymore. She wasn’t keeping us and that had always been. She had been the rock. She was the person that did everything for us.

And he came down literally the next night and in an old ____ station wagon. We throw all the kids stuff in the car. We turned off the lights and we literally just lurched out of town so nobody would notice in the middle of the night. It was terrifying because we didn’t know when he was coming back. We didn’t know his family was going to see us leaving. And by the time we got to the border, the sun was rising and going into the border at Arizona.

It was probably a few of the longest seconds of my life as we were waiting. I don’t know for people that have been in border town situations, the lines are long. And it was always frightening to me to cross the border either to Mexico and or to the United States, but it was something that we were definitely well practiced with. But we had never crossed the border without my mom.

And my brother was in the car. I was in the car with my sisters and I was teaching them how to say, you know, to say Americans, so that when they ask us our nationality, we’d all be ready to say American. The border patrol woman, I remember she shined a flashlight inside the car. She looked at each of us and said “Why were you in Mexico?” And so my brother said same thing that my mom had always used to say and it was “We were buying clothes for the kids over the weekend.”

She looked around. She didn’t have any reason to believe that we were newly orphaned or that our mother had just passed away. We were taking the kids away from their father and she let us through. And that was literally the moment in my life definitely when my time and my childhood in LeBaron….it was like that night that cut my life into parts. Yeah, coming out of that was we were safely lived at my grandmother. So that part of it was good but also left behind my family and life that I knew and I was raising a family at that point, my little sisters. My grandmother wasn’t in position to take care them by herself, so I stayed home with them and her with them and then eventually moved out when I was 19 with my sisters and I raised them in Southern Oregon.

When I was raising my sisters, I first just a teenager, a woman in her early 20’s, a single parent with them and you know, it was so important for me for them to understand what had happened that they have a memory about. But since the book has come out, I’ve had a little bit of resistance from the people in Colonia LeBaron, my family there. And I think really the hardest thing for them, you know, my half sisters like I said who they’re wonderful parents and they’re wonderful people but they don’t understand the situation that I left in. I think that they’re the most resistant that I’ve had or had been from people that haven’t even read the book. They haven’t read it and they don’t understand the perspective.

I’ve had one sister in particular call me out pretty _____ on social media on Facebook publicly. She hadn’t had a conversation with me in years and in fact, I don’t know her very well. She’s quite a bit older than I am. But I also realized too that she’s in her 60’s or in her late 50’s, and she remembers my father. She remembers the man who was charismatic and who was a leader and who created this church.

He was obviously very confident and a visionary and that’s the person she remembers him being and I don’t have that connection with my father. And I think that just the fact that I’m questioning whether or not what he said was true, whether or not he was a prophet has really impacted her personally that I would consider that “no, he was not a prophet.” Does that make sense?

Andrea: Oh yeah.

Ruth: Yeah, so that part of it is very personal and very real for her in a way that’s not for me and I understand that.

Andrea: Yeah, Ruth, this idea that the people who have provided the most resistance to your book and to you. Those people haven’t even read the book that sounds a lot like growing up and not having a voice, not being able to share the story, to share your perspective. When other people were telling you, you needed to forgive your step father, when they were saying he’s repentant, you know, you need to just forgive him now; did that cause you to question your own perspective?

Ruth: Oh I definitely did not feel this in to and the fact that so many people supported my stepfather in spite of knowing this had he’d been definitely affected the way that I felt about myself. I’ve struggled with feelings of very insecure feelings and also not knowing how to value myself because I didn’t feel valued. I didn’t feel heard, and that was definitely part of it. The way that the community reacted, but really more importantly the way that my mom reacted and her decision to stay, had a profound impact on my life.

I did struggle with a lot of self doubt. I thought I was going crazy like I know. I had always been very intuitive that there was always something about my stepfather that really bothered me. I didn’t want to be around him. And even before he became abusive, he was very religious and I knew there was something that wasn’t right about him. So part of me learned to trust that little voice inside me, that intuition that I felt and that I felt very alone in feeling.

But as my stepfather became more and more abusive, I realized that there was something real about the way I felt and that I needed to listen to that. And it was the same intuition that when I found out he was abusing my special needs brother, it was that intuition again that told me I needed to leave. And because I had been right before just in that instance, especially in regards to my stepfather, I knew that I needed to listen to it.

Andrea: Yeah, your book indicated that you’re really resolute at that point. You just knew.

Ruth: Oh yeah. No doubt.

Andrea: Whereas before, you might have been questioning but then when it happened to somebody else and when it was possible that it might be happening to other people in your family that mother bear said “No.”

Ruth: No way.

Andrea: So Anna, Ruth mentioned her mother and the fact that her mother stayed was a significant difficulty for her, what it was like for you knowing your mother and her background and the fact that after you left, she stayed?

Anna: Well my mother is still alive so that was one of the things that I had to consider strongly in deciding to write my book. For the longest time, I thought I’ll wait until she passes because she didn’t know a lot of these things that happened to me and I know it would just break her heart to read about them. But then that’s not how things ended up being which I wrote the book even though she was still alive and with us. And I knew that it would impact her life to read these stories and for me to talk about the ____ of polygamy that she’s still very strongly believes in and resonates with and that guides her faith and her practices.

And so I had to overcome some of that resistance within my own self to talk about the things that happened to me knowing that it would be very difficult for my mother to read those things and to share those things like a lot of people don’t tell their parents when negative things happened to them. There’s just some kind of silence or something that happened inside of children when bad things happened to them and telling others is just hard especially telling your own parents. And so that was something that I had to overcome.

Andrea: Why do you think that it is the way that is? Why is it so hard to tell your parents?

Anna: When things are happening to children, oftentimes they’re being told don’t tell and threatened and bullied into not telling so that’s part of the experience. But then you also have that internal dialogue that happens that makes you afraid to speak up or to say what’s happening.

Ruth: Absolutely! I think there’s a tremendous amount of my experience with the same and that there was a tremendous amount of emotional manipulation from stepfather. He was always saying….as I was watched my mom, she has 10 kids and was 38 when she died and she had three special needs kids. It was a tough situation and I had watched her suffer so much. And so when my stepfather was abusive, he asked me not to tell because he didn’t want me to hurt her and so that was something that was very sensitive to me.

And because of the narcissistic personality that he had, he knew the part of me that was easy to manipulate. And there’s also the part in children that blames ourselves and so it’s scary to tell somebody else that we may have done something wrong. It was hard for me really as a child not to blame myself to what was happening in my life and to not have as sense of shame for myself and my body and who I was. And that made it harder to talk about for sure.

Andrea: Yeah. So Anna, you eventually did share your book with your mother, right?

Anna: Yeah, I did.

Andrea: Will you tell us about what that experience was like?

Anna: When I started writing, I knew I needed to tell my mom that I was writing and she was actually very nervous about what I was going to say. So one of the things that I did during the process of writing book was I just maintained some contact with her periodically and sporadically letting her know what was happening in the publishing process, because it was a very long process.

So it was several years of updating her and letting her know where we’re at and then I told her that once I had turn in the entire manuscript to publisher that I would get on the plane and come visit her and talk with her and read it to her. And I wanted her to know what was in the book or what was going to be written about before that book showed up on her doorstep delivered by the postman.

I didn’t want her to be blindsided and to _____ understanding that her choices, her actions and decisions impacted my life so negatively. I didn’t want her to sit with that alone. I wanted to be there beside her and allow her to see that I had grown and matured and healed. I wanted her to see with her own two eyes in flesh and blood. I wanted to be in her presence to be a comfort to her heart with my very presence.

Ruth: Giving you that space that you talked _____.

Anna: I know that like so many people in my family, especially my immediate family. My mother’s children – they have a lot of conflicting feelings as well as I do. I have conflicting feelings about my own mother because she holds to those faith practices that were so devastating to so many people’s lives. So there’s a lot of conflicting feeling even though I feel tenderly towards my mom, there’s still that aspect of being in a relationship with her that’s in conflict with my own values, moral standards and things that I hold as dear in my own faith practices.

So that conflict is there. It’s internal and it’s ever present in every interaction I have with her, however healing or whatever. But I will say that having her grieved and mourn while I was reading even though she regretted because one of the things that you touched on earlier is that there are people in the community we’re born and raised in, they’re still believe that Joel was the prophet. I will say that there is nobody that I’m aware of that’s alive today that believes that Ervil was any kind of prophet at all, not even my own mother who followed him through his death.

Ruth: Wow, I didn’t know that.

Anna: She does not believe that he was a true prophet anymore. She does believe that there’s another that was and you’re probably familiar with that thinking that would cause her to kind of shift gears in that way. So just knowing that she shift and make that shift away from that kind of thinking and that mentality that kind of keeps you _____ sort of kind of stuck. In her mind, she’s not stuck. She has a different [crosstalk] than I do. But from where I was sitting, she was very stuck and the fact that all of her children have now left that way of thinking as far as that who she believes as a prophet currently.

It’s just a lot of conflicting feelings that’s where I was going with it. There’s conflicting feeling in this relationship that I have with my mother and yet, the community that she’s involved in right now doesn’t require her to not have contact with people that are outsiders or considered outsiders. So for that I’m grateful because I have been able to have this experience with her even though internally there’s still that conflict.

Ruth: Absolutely. That makes sense. It totally makes sense and that’s something about my story that has been really hard for me as to not have that opportunity to have a conversation with my mom.

Anna: Is there a part of you…now, I’m talking and…I’m having a little…

Ruth: She’s having a little interview right now.

Andrea: Please, please, please feel free.

Anna: Is there a part of you that can look at my experience with my own mother and think she might have had that thing response.

Ruth: She might have and that’s a good question you know when I think about my childhood. Had my stepfather been the one who passed and not her, would she had married another polygamous and stayed?

Anna: I have not thought about that.

Ruth: Yeah, so you know that’s a good question and I spent years in therapy. And my idea about my mother was always that she would have eventually left because all of my stepfathers’ wives did leave him eventually and you know that we would be friends because I still felt so close to her as a teenager when she died and there were so many feelings of betrayal that I didn’t get to resolve with her.

And thinking back during my therapy actually and this is something that my therapist said to me, she said, do you think you’d have a close relationship with your mother had she survived? And my initial feeling was, yes of course. I would have forgiven her. It would have been amazing. She would have been my friend and I would have known her as an adult and all of my life’s problems would have been solved.

But you know, that might not be the case. I mean, I don’t know extensive the abuse might have been towards my other siblings and how disturbed I might have been have my mother never left. Those are all unanswered questions for me.

Anna: Well, I have siblings. We have _____ feelings with my mother.

Ruth: Yeah, I can imagine.

Anna: Because she still believes those things and still practicing and still…she’s walking down that road.

Ruth: Yeah and hearing your story about your relationship with your mom too, I realized that mine probably wouldn’t have been very perfect either. I probably wouldn’t have been dealing with a lot conflicts and in fact it is true for me and my brother and I. My brother, Matt and I were very close when we’re young. And when he decided to go back to LeBaron and take a second wife, he has 15 children now and has been married a few times but that’s something that’s hard for me.

It’s been hard for us to be able to continue to have that close relationship and relate to each other’s experiences in life because the decisions that my mother made and that my stepfather made in polygamy were so devastating to my life. And so it’s hard for me to watch and go back to it even though I don’t think his situation is not as harsh as ours was growing up. So he has evolved in that since and he’s not nearly as abusive. They have a better lifestyle than I did when I was there but yeah definitely the way women and children were treated, it’s hard for me to watch. It hard for me to see that happening again in my family.

Anna: Agreed.

Andrea: At what point did you each begin to believe that you voice actually did matter, that you mattered and that you expressing your thoughts and feelings, that people might actually listen? At what point that that actually happens for you?

Anna: Well, I’ll just start and kind of ____ with what was being said earlier about therapy.

Andrea: Please do.

Anna: It was for me was when I started my down the road in the healing path that I took when I accepted an invitation from a friend that offered to make an appointment for me with the lay ministry counselor at her church. And I didn’t know I needed therapy but she could obviously see the signs that I was in distress emotionally. And so she made that appointment for me and then after an hour with this woman, she wisely referred me to a licensed professional therapist and that began a five-year journey of what my therapist called ‘peeling back layers of an onion.’

And when I first sat down in her office with her emotionally, I was very stuck. I was very shutdown. When you’re raised in that environment and even after getting out, finding your voice, finding your feelings, or finding expressions for the emotions and the thoughts was really big part of my healing process. I learned how to cry, how to grieve, which those are things that I…I was a grown woman with children of my own and did not know how to express grief. I didn’t know how to express emotions.

I had what I called ‘a very limited range emotionally.’ I couldn’t go very far negative, I couldn’t go very far positive just because being raised in and groomed for eventually becoming just wife, you’re taught to shutdown emotionally.

Ruth: You have to.

Anna: You’re taught to restrict your emotional expressions and so you live a very limited human experience without that big wide range of emotion that’s possible and that’s very normal.

Ruth: That’s human.

Anna: That’s very human and so just being able to tap into and access that emotional expression was such a big part of my healing journey.   Just having tears come out at the corner of eyes, you know, it took my five years to heal.

Ruth: To give yourself permission to feel.

Anna: Yeah. And so the way I talk about it now is because I’m now able to express the negative emotions, grief, and anger and you know rage, sometimes I have permission for that expression in a healthy environment, in a healthy way. There’s a healthy expression of anger and just having access to those negative emotions and the freedom to express them has given me access to the range on the other’s end of spectrum to all the joys and the peace and love in its very wide space.

Ruth: Yeah, it’s so inspiring. That’s amazing.

Andrea: How did other people respond to you when you did start to express yourself? The people that were around you, did they notice sudden change? Did they accept this new expression of your humanity?

Ruth: Good question.

Anna: It wasn’t sudden. Like I said, it took five years for me to open that inner space inside of me that had just been held down for so long. And then I mean, once the dam broke I think I cried for days and months to have let all that grief out that had just been held in for so long. Even years after that, my healing journey has been decades long and I would say that my sister that’s closest to me, Cecelia, that I write about a lot in the book just because we have so many shared experiences.

She has said probably in the last two years or so, that’s why I’m saying this is a decade long process. So none of it was instant, none of it happened quickly. But she has watched me just locked them into the person that I naturally am, the person that’s me, the real me. And just seeing from her perspective and from her eyes and hearing her talk about what she sees in me and how beautiful it is to her that I have finally found my voice. That I have found my full expression of who I am and just seeing that through her eyes and having her expressed that to me has been such a powerful experience.

Ruth: Yeah, I can imagine.

Andrea: How about you Ruth?

Ruth: We’re still healing. We’re still in the process, we’re still finding our way and I’m still finding ways to express my voice to say what I have, find the confidence within myself too. Express myself and to feel those feelings too.

Anna: Yeah because you are.

Ruth: For me while I was raising my sisters, I really feel like I was on autopilot for so many years and I just got up. I got up and I make sure everybody was fed. I was in a state of survival for many years. And when I finally finished graduate school and started teaching and I had the benefits to get help. I started to go first to counseling and I started there and sat down in a group situation with a minister and there were other.

You know, there were other people who have just suffered tragedy and I started to talk about my mom and my brother and my little sisters and my situation. I was shaking and crying and after the meeting, a couple of people walked up to me afterwards and asked about how long it had been since my mom passed and we left LeBaron, and I said, it had been 15 years. And they were like “You know, you looked like it something that happened yesterday.”

And I realized, you know, there was so much going on inside of me that I had not given myself the permission to feel and to heal and in a lot of ways raising three kids by myself was a distraction from who I was and how I was suffering. So because I was so young, I think it was something that I eventually became okay because I started to seek counseling and help.

When I was about 30, I was 29 I guess when I first started going to therapy. And I think I was ready, you know, I was ready to express that trauma and I was ready to begin to let go of it. It was definitely…I felt like I started to learn about who I was really when I was going to college. I took a lot of world’s religion classes and I was just fascinated by the idea of comparative religions and the philosophy. I wanted to dig so deeply into that because I wanted a loving God, and I wanted a God that was not what I grew up with.

So I just looked for that everywhere and I found little negative truth everywhere and it ended up becoming a very personal journey for me that part of it. And I really felt like sitting in some of those classrooms and thinking about those things and feeling inspired, I remember sitting down just being lit up with inspirations about what I was learning and how exciting it was that I got to choose what I believed in. Yeah, so I think it started there and then it was the way that the therapist called it peeling away layers of an onion. It was definitely like that for me too and it’s still is that way.

I was seeing a therapist for ____, gosh I think I still go, I probably need to. But that’s where I really started to find different ways and started to break away from that fundamentalist way for women where they didn’t really get to express their feelings or ask for what they wanted. And even as I was raising my family, when my sisters finally moved out, when they were teenagers going up to college and everything and I was on my own for the first time, I think I was 33 years old. I’ve been in therapy for a few years at that point.

But I had a major identity crisis because I had never learned, like I taught my four younger siblings all how to drive and we always were in the car together. We took our trips together. We did all together and I always listen to their music. You know, they were listening to Pearl Jam and all the 90s, big 90s rock people. And you know, I love that music too, but it was always their choice. It was what they wanted and so when my youngest sister moved out, I literally like “What do I like? What do I want?” And I was in my mid 30’s.

I had never considered those things before again, because I never had the permission to do it. I was on this earth the way I was raised and as I was on this earth to get married and have children, period. There was no room for wants and desires and choice. And I found a tremendous amount of healing and freedom and realizing that I had that choice. Yeah and it’s been actually…it was intimidating at first having so much choice and trying to decide and really taking responsibility for my life and what I wanted to do with it. Those were huge steps for me. Therapy definitely helped me get there.

But you know now, it’s fun for me. It’s exciting to plan a trip and go somewhere and you know, to have the freedom and money to be able to do that. So that it was a tough road but really, it has been incredible to me to realize that who I am inside of me that what God gave me was a spirit that could survive and that’s stronger than the circumstances I grew up in. It’s powerful. It’s been empowering for me to recognize that.

Andrea: Wow, I look at both of your stories and I realize that you both left your families, the polygamous cult at a young age. And Ruth, you were 15?

Ruth: That’s right.

Andrea: And Anna you were 13?

Anna: 13

Andrea: Just think about that for a minute. You know the children who are out there who are 13 years old or 15 years old, how strong they are and could be. I was also just really struck by the idea that what you did and the way that you have continued to heal since then has said so much about what it means to escape this feeling of being trapped and emotional manipulation or physically being trapped. So I would like to ask you to consider here for a minute, what would you want to say to someone, be a young woman or an older woman even a man, who feels like they are trapped in a situation that is not good for them? What would you want to say for them?

Anna: I’ll just go first.

Ruth: Go for it.

Anna: What I would say is find a safe person and talk about your experience, about the feeling of being trapped and then see where that conversation goes. Brene Brown talks about safe people in her book, Daring Greatly and the Gifts of Imperfection and even Rising Strong. There are safe people in the world whether that’s a friend that you can have a cup of coffee with, a small group of people that you’ve come to trust with your stories. When you tell someone your story, it’s important to have someone like Brene Brown quotes that somebody that has earned the right to hear your story.

Ruth: I love that.

Anna: So that’s my thing. It’s finding the safe person, someone that has earned the right to hear your story and even if that friend, a mentor, a counselor, or somebody that a minister type person that you have trust their guidance or just a professional counselor. Find someone and speak.

Ruth: Absolutely and Brene Brown too when I read one of her books years ago said that there is a tremendous amount of shame in silent and shame grows in silence. And that makes so much sense to me so I think the methods to speak to someone and to speak your truth, to say your truth and to talk to somebody is very important. And that was definitely my grandparents for me having a place to run to when we escaped.

And also what were important for me in my survival was that intuitive voice and listening and trusting yourself and what’s inside of you and you know develop your intuitive muscles and question your feelings about situations that are uncomfortable. And even though things might seem okay, I think it’s so important that we listen to ourselves. For me I feel like it was that part of my intuition that warned me and told me there was something terribly wrong with our situation when I was LeBaron.

You know, listening to that and trusting that gave me so much strength and it literally saved my life. And we are given this intuition to protect us. I feel that it is a tremendous gift from God. It’s something that I’ve always felt very blessed to have and you know finding that part of ourselves and realizing that is…it is stronger than a situation and it is possible to get help and survive and finding the people you trust, that was a big part of my life for sure in addition to that.

Anna: The part that helped me all along was reading books that shaped the way I thought and felt and thought. And I say books mentored me.

Ruth: Uh-huh, I think me too.

Anna: Because I was a voracious reader and for anyone that feels stuck in a circumstance whether it might any kind of trauma or abuse, there’s a really great resource from an author named Shannon Thomas. She has a book called Healing From Hidden Abuse and that is a resource that I would recommend to anyone who has been through to any type of abuse situation. And she calls them hidden abuses because there are so many abuses that don’t need marks and scars in the body. They leave marks and scars on the skin of your heart and your soul and your spirit. And so healing from those types of abuse that may not be visible for the human eye or the people around you, or even to yourself. So that’s the great resource that I’d love to recommend people who are beginning a journey. It helps you recognize what’s happening around you.

Ruth: What’s the name of the author again?

Anna: Shannon Thomas.

Ruth: Shannon Thomas.

Anna: She’s a license professional therapist specialized even this type of…helping people heal from this type of abuse. So I think a lot of people…you don’t have to grow up in a polygamous cult…

Ruth: Absolutely. It’s just an extreme situation but it happens everywhere.

Anna: Right, it resonate with the things of our story.

Ruth: It’s universal – a lot of universal aspects to our stories.

Anna: And the other part was when work with the therapist who’s very recently been involved in my life in the last few years and she was able to tell me that it was post-
traumatic stress that I being triggered by posttraumatic stress just being able to name it so was so helpful to me. And it was like a relief to me like “Oh my gosh, of course.” You know, it never occurred to me what I’ve gone through was traumatic or even trauma.

Ruth: Well, we didn’t recognize because that’s the way everybody was treated.

Anna: It was normal. It was our normal.

Ruth:   It was our normal.

Anna: And so having her identify that and named it made the healing process go a little bit quicker for me.

Ruth: That’s great.

Anna: And the other part of it is that healing is the moment, you know, you can have moment in time where you make huge strides and you think “Okay, this is it.” And then you realize a little bit later “Oh healing is a process.”

Ruth: Yeah, I thought I was better _____. I need more help.

Anna: I still need more work so healing has been long process for me decades long journey. And so I want to encourage anyone listening that if they’re just getting started or they’re significantly down the road and ____ if there’s bump down the road that make you realize, oh I need to kind of seek something out, seek more then it’s okay.

Ruth: I think to your point of stories and books, I’ve always been influenced by them. But I have had experiences that are often just from reading people’s stories even if they’re fiction. But if I can relate to a particular character, I’m one who needs meaning in a story. I don’t always just read for entertainment although that’s been sometimes, but I really love having takeaways and being able to resonate with characters and learn from them and find meaning.

And there have been some books in my life and stories and books that helped created little _____ shifts. I don’t know if you ever read like that amazing good books like you could just feel your self changing and growing as you’re reading because the stories are so incredible. And that’s been a huge part of my healing process. And I think that’s so important for us to find our voice and to find the ability to express it and tell it.

Andrea: Some great advice.  I want to close with one more question and this is related to each of you and your mission now, like how do you want to use your voice in the world? You each have a platform now. You’re authors, you’re speakers who would you want to hear what you have to say? And what is it that you want to drive home?

Ruth: The first word that comes to my mind with my own story and my own speaking practice is courage. To empower people to feel courageous, to take responsibility for their lives and to know that who they are is stronger than what they grow up with their current circumstances. And that we all have within us the power to change and to create a life that we live and make choices that are positive and impactful both in our lives and the lives of others.

And also too, I think it’s important that we tell these stories in spite of how sometimes hard they can be in a way that’s powerful and empowering and not victim minded if that make sense. I think it’s so important for us to tell our stories in a way that it doesn’t make other or ourselves feel like a victim because I don’t think that’s naturally who we are. I know for me personally, I had learned victim behavior and I held on to that pattern and it created a lot ____ in my own life.

And I was able to recognize that in myself and the choices I was making that brought that about and how I felt like a victim even after I became adult mature woman. That was something that helped me change quite a bit. I think that’s so important for people to understand.

Anna: For me, I would say that one of the biggest ideas that helped me has been one that I’ve been pursuing for the past decades, or a little more than a decade and that’s the idea of freedom. And the way that was defined by one of my spiritual mentors is freedom is becoming the person that you were created and redeemed to be. And so find that freedom journey that I have been on. I hope that any time I have the opportunity into the lives especially of women. And just because I’m a woman I resonates, I find that women can relate to me even though men have related and spoken out and sent things to me about the way my story have impacted their lives, mostly it’s women that I kind [crosstalk].

Ruth: It has been for me too.

Anna: It’s an incredible privilege and honor to kind of enter to people’s stories and hear them and listen to them tell their stories. Everywhere I’ve been hearing people say “me too,” even though it’s not polygamy other things that resonates. And being able to kind of point out the path for where people can begin their own freedom journey that’s a privilege for me and shining the light on “Here’s my story. This is where I began my freedom journey and here’s the path, I’m shining the light on that path.” So that others can begin walking their own that’s been important to me.

Ruth: The freedom to be yourself.

Anna: Yes!

Ruth: Absolutely!

Anna: Yeah.

Ruth: It makes sense.

Andrea: Wow, this has been just truly an honor. It’s been an incredible experience to hear you interact with one another and hear your story, your collected stories and then to really honestly be a witness over the past couple of years, myself personally, to see you guys really stepped into your Voice of Influence in the world. And I want to thank you for your courage and for your freedom that you have found, that you have courageously pursued and that you are now offering others. So thank you so much for your Voice of Influence. Thank you for being on this podcast.

Ruth: Thank you for having us.

Anna: Thank you. It has been an honor.

Ruth: It’s been an honor.

Andrea: Right before we leave here, Ruth, where can people find you?

Ruth: Through my website. I hear from a lot of people through email basically. My website is through ruthwariner.com and my book comes out in paperback this spring. So it’s available in I guess wherever books are sold.

Anna: Tomorrow.

Ruth: Tomorrow but it’s comes out tomorrow but it’s going to be in the future.

Anna: The paperback is already out.

Ruth: Yeah that’s a lot interesting. And my paperback is out and it’s great. I’m really interested about the paperback actually because there’s an interview with me in the back of the book and it’s also got the addition with the book club questions so that’s enough and it’s a beautiful book. And I’m super excited about this next page and about writing again and yeah. This has been awesome.

Andrea: How about you Anna?

Anna: My website is annalebaron.com. I’m on social media AnnaKLeBaron, my social media handle everywhere. So you can connect with me this way. My book is in store everywhere. Both of our books are audible.

Ruth: Yeah, we both write our audiobooks.

Anna: So our journeys have been a lot both similar so my book just came out a month ago, just released.

Ruth: Hers is called the Polygamist’s Daughter and mine is the Sound of Gravel.

Andrea: Awesome. Thank you so much and I hope that you have a wonderful lunch together and time together and so glad that it has worked out.

Ruth: Thanks for being a part of this and for welcoming us. You’ve been a wonderful host.

Anna: Thank you, Andea.

Andrea: Thank you!

 

I would love to hear from you. Share your personal reactions and reflections below, on social media or join our Voice of Influence Community Facebook Group.

A Family Miracle: Polygamist Cult Survivors, Part 1

Episode 07 with Anna LeBaron and Ruth Wariner

In the fall of 2015, Anna LeBaron (author THE POLYGAMIST’S DAUGHTER) sent a Tweet via Twitter to a new author she wanted to support. Unbeknownst to her, the author, Ruth Wariner, was her cousin. She is the daughter of Joel LeBaron, who was killed by his brother Ervil LeBaron’s followers in 1972. Anna LeBaron accidentally broke a decades’ old silence between their families with a simple Tweet. But after a tenuous introduction through social media, the cousins bridged the gap between their families and Anna offered to help Ruth promote her book, New York Times Bestseller, THE SOUND OF GRAVEL.

Mentioned on this episode:

Ruth Wariner’s Website

The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir by Ruth Wariner

Anna LeBaron’s Website

The Polygamist’s Daughter: A Memoir by Anna LeBaron

 The Voice of Influence Community Facebook Group (Join here)

Listen here, or on iTunes or Stitcher

 

Transcript

(This is an approximate transcript.)

I’m on the line with authors, cousins, and polygamous cult escape’s; Anna LeBaron and Ruth Wariner. I really knew that I wanted to interview both of these authors for this podcast because I’ve witnessed the emergence of their own voices into the world as an advanced reader for each of their books.

And because of that, I’m also aware of the difficulties that they faced as young girls and women trying to find their voice, while in similar environments but in unique circumstances. In fact, Anna and Ruth didn’t even know each other until recently. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

So I knew that I wanted to interview each of them. But a month ago, it occurred to me that it would be really fascinating to do a joint interview, and they agreed. And so that’s why we are here today.

Now, I’m breaking this interview up into two different episodes. But don’t worry; you won’t have to wait long. If you’re listening right away to part 1, part 2 will be out later this week. Now, let’s get to it with Anna and Ruth.

 

Andrea: Anna and Ruth, welcome to the Voice of Influence Podcast.

Ruth: Hi, thank you for having us. This is exciting.

Anna: Hi Andrea this is a long time coming.

Andrea: Hi! Yes, it really is. It’s actually amazing when I think that to a couple of years ago when you and I met online to how this has come and this is just a full circle in the sense. So I’m so honored to have you here and excited that we’re getting to do this together. So thank you!

Anna: I’m excited to talk to you and I’m excited to get to meet you in person in a few days basically.

Andrea: Yes, like after we air this interview, the full interview very next week that Monday, you’re going to be at my house and I’m so excited. And Ruth someday, we’re going to meet too.

Ruth: Oh yes, we are.

Andrea: There’s no doubt about it.

Ruth: I keep making it a habit to meet people online and then become real life friends with them.

Andrea: That’s a very good habit to have. Okay, so I want to introduce you guys to the Influencers that are listening with us today. I’m going to read your bio just to start out with.

Anna LeBaron is one of more than fifty children of infamous, and polygamist cult leader, Ervil LeBaron. Anna LeBaron endured abandonment, horrific living conditions, child labor, and sexual grooming. At age thirteen, she escaped the violent cult, gave her life to Christ, and sought healing. A gifted communicator and personal growth activist. She’s passionate about helping others walk in freedom. Anna lives in the DFW Metroplex and loves being Mom to five grown children.

RUTH WARINER is an internationally renowned speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling memoir THE SOUND OF GRAVEL. At the age of fifteen, Ruth escaped Colonia LeBaron, the polygamist Mormon colony where she grew up, and moved to California. She raised her three youngest sisters in California and Oregon. After earning her GED, she put herself through college and graduate school, eventually becoming a high school Spanish teacher. She remains close to her siblings and is happily married. The Sound of Gravel is her first book.

So it is significant that you guys are cousins but you didn’t meet until just recently. So Anna, since you kind of got the ball rolling on that, why don’t you tell us how you met?

Anna: Oh my gosh, that’s a fun story! I love telling it if it wasn’t so…it was very emotional. Here’s how we meet, let me just start from the beginning because you have to start there. I was on Twitter one day and Ruth’s publicist (that I was following because of another author) posted a tweet saying “Here’s this new memoir coming out in January. It’s a must read.” And there was nothing on there that would have alerted me that Ruth was my cousin.

So I tweeted the author of the book. And one of the things that I enjoyed doing is promoting new book. And so I tweeted the author and said “Ruth, I can’t wait to read your book. Do you already have a launch team,” thinking that that would already be a work on progress and I could join in and read and promote the book because I love memoir.

So a little bit later that day, I’m reading a Goodreads review on the book and I haven’t think I told you this, Ruth. When I was reading the Goodreads review because I thought “Well, shoot. I’ve already offered to promote book, I should see if it’s any good.”

So I’m reading the review and the review was amazing but there’s still wasn’t any clue that there was any connection between myself and the author. Then in the comments of the Goodreads review, someone says “I’ve read a lot of books about polygamy and this is one of the great ones.” And I went “Whatttttttttt?”

So in my mind, I’m thinking “There’s a lot of polygamous communities and I wonder which ones she’s part of.” So I went back to her Twitter feeds, found her website, started scrolling through her history tab, and long before I see a picture of her father, my Uncle Joel. And my blood kind of ran cold at that minute and I went “Oh no!” Then I kept scrolling and I’ve seen my father’s mug shot from when he was arrested.

And there’s a long story behind, that whole sentence that I just said. I sat there and went “Oh my gosh what have I done? I’ve tweeted the author publicly and she’s part of my family that we haven’t spoken to of more than four decades because of the events that transpired more than four decades ago that separated our family.”

So I felt horrible at that moment in time and didn’t want to go and delete the tweet because that would even make it more awkward if Ruth had already seen it. And so there was a little bit of awkwardness there while I decided what to do.

Andrea: Now, would she have known who you were based on your Twitter handle? Did it say Anna LeBaron, would she have recognized that?

Ruth: It did say Anna LeBaron. When she tweeted me the first day, I was in New York City, which is why my publicist was tweeting about me because I was doing a media event and I was also recording my audio book. It was in October of 2015, and I was stuck in the studio for three days and she had reached out to me literally on the first day that I was in the studio.

It was a Wednesday afternoon and I saw that the Twitter handle, and I was like “Who the heck is Anna LeBaron?” Because I didn’t know, and so at that point literally, I was in the studio for 10 hours that day. And when I got back to my hotel room, I Facebook messaged one of our aunts and I just asked her if she knew who Anna was and what her story was.

So she responded almost immediately, Irene Spencer was her name, and she said that Anne was a really positive person and had nothing but wonderful things to write about her. And that point I don’t think I even realize then that it was Ervil’s daughter. I knew she was my cousin but not that it was Ervil’s daughter.

And then the next day, I still hadn’t responded to Anna, and she tweeted me back and totally apologizing for reaching out to me so casually and not understanding that I was her cousin, which I totally understood. So I private messaged her at that point.

You know, my initial thought when I found out that she was Ervil’s daughter, because she tweeted me that she was at that point, so I private messaged her and I said “Hey, if you want to talk, if you want to connect, and if you want to help promote my book, I’d love that.”

But I wanted her to read a copy first, you know, before we decided to meet or to talk on the phone or to do anything just so that she knows who I was. And I wanted people to believe in the story and to love the story because that really – it’s the springboard for making things happen.

Andrea: It’s also very, you know, the story itself is an intimate story, so if they don’t understand that and yeah…

Ruth: Yeah, and it was an opportunity for her to get to know who I wasn’t and for her to know if she wanted to meet me and to help me with my book. So we set up a time to call. I had sent her the book to her home in Dallas in the meantime right when I got home back to Portland, Oregon. And we set up a time to call within a week and a half, within the first two weeks of the initial tweet. She had finished my book at that point she received it. She finished it.

Andrea: I’m sure!

Ruth: And it meant for a very emotional conversation, obviously. I mean, both of our stories are so intense and emotional and so profound and powerful that the phone conversation…I heard her voice when we called each other for the first time and it was like “Oh my gosh, she totally sounds like LeBaron.”

Andrea: Really?

Ruth: It felt like family right away totally and so interesting because even though our families broke apart so many years literally – I was born in 1972, and the brothers and the churches had already split at that point. And so, I had never in my life thought about my Uncle Ervil and his children or what they might be doing in life.

So it was such a shock but also such a nice surprise to realize that because I had ran away from the LeBaron when I was so young, I didn’t have that family attachment that I left and I really felt like I’ve missed out on not knowing my sisters and my half sisters from my dad’s side of the family.

So it was a delight. She was a delight and I was so excited that we were able to connect. And it was so interesting to meet too because even though our family had split, there was so many similarities in our stories which I thought was, you know, really speaks to that mentality, the mentality that we were raised with and how that affected our lives.

But as we were talking on the phone, she said, “You know, Ruth, I have sisters in Portland.” And I was like “Are you kidding me?” Like I had no idea that Ervil LeBaron’s children were here in Portland. So at that point, my husband, Alan were like “We really need to meet these women.”

So Anna ended up visiting that December. So it was literally within three months. She was up here. I met two of her sisters that live here and it was an incredible experience. It was amazing and it was enlightening in the sense that it was familiar and I felt connected to family again, to the LeBaron side of my family. And so that part of it was very special for me.

Andrea: Wow!

Ruth: Yeah.

Andrea: Anna, let’s go back to that phone conversation when Ruth sent you her book and you read it. What was it like for you to read The Sound of Gravel?

Anna: Well, it was completely an emotional experience, like overwhelmingly emotional. I cried my way through it, and I had received the book the day before our scheduled conversation phone call. I started at that night, stayed up until probably 2:00. I could not put it down.

It was so riveting. I couldn’t put it down until my eyes just refused to stay open. I woke up at 5:00, made a pot of coffee and kept right ongoing and I finished the minute before our conversation was going to happen.

Andrea: Really? Oh my goodness, I just get goose bumps.

Ruth: So did I.

Anna: I was so grateful to have completed and finished reading the book because my heart was just split right open at that point when the phone rang and I was talking to Ruth. And just experiencing her life through her eyes and through her writing and then getting to talk to her after the history that our family shares, was an honor. It was emotionally impactful and I won’t ever forget that conversation ever, just because of what it meant to both of our families.

Ruth: And there has been a ripple effect, don’t you think?

Anna: Yes

Ruth: From just our conversation and then meeting in person.

Anna: Uh-hmm

Ruth: So it was early December, right that you’d came?

Anna: Yeah.

Ruth: And Alan and I picked her up at the airport and we were supposed to videotape it, but I was pretty emotional and nervous. So I forgot to take pictures of that moment but…

Yeah, I saw her waiting outside the airport and I was just like “Oh my God, she even looks like me.” It was pretty incredible so yeah. The familiarity with her reminded me so much of LeBaron and my childhood.

Andrea: Now, I think it’s pretty important for us to give some context, just a little bit more context about the background at this point, because you’re saying Ruth that when you saw Anna and knowing it was Ervil’s child and everything that you were feeling familiarity. You were not having bad feelings it sounds like about it, but can you tell us why that is so significant?

Ruth: Well, I had never known my father. I was three months when he was killed. And when I was a child, I had always been told that it was Ervil LeBaron that had my father assassinated. And so, you know, later on we found out that definitely it was true and it was a scary childhood because Ervil had been like literally this very real threat and shadowy ghost that haunted our community. There were threats.

He and his church members were threatening our people, as we used to call them, are the ‘LeBaron people.’ So he had always been like that monster in childhood, that terrifying thing that I knew had my father killed. But when I talked to Anna, I realized, the meeting was so important for me and meaningful for me because I had escaped too.

And so once I talked to Anna and she told me her story, I identified so well with that part of it. I identified profoundly with her experience and her need to get away and her need to tell her story. And so there was that connection and I also because I was able to break a way. I knew that it wasn’t, in spite of what had happened with our fathers and me having grown up without a dad as a result.

That was not her responsibility or was not her family’s responsibility. And you know, I think because of our stories in our childhoods, I had a natural compassion for her and her story that really reflected unto me.

I mean, it helped me be more compassionate for myself too, understanding that other people had gone through similar stories. Again, like I never imagined in spite of how scary the idea of Ervil was growing up, I never imagined that he might be inflicting that kind of horror unto his own family in different ways.

And you know, after reading Anna’s book, it was incredibly eye-opening and so heartbreaking too. But yeah, for me, it was meaningful to reconnect that part of the family because I had shut the door on them in a lot of different ways. And so it was that opportunity to heal even a little more and a little deeper.

Andrea: So Anna were you nervous? I mean, it sounded like you were nervous when you realized who Ruth was. Were you nervous to break that ice? Were you nervous about what she would think of you?

Anna: Yes. I was absolutely nervous about that because there’s always been a stigma attached to being Ervil LeBaron’s child and because of the atrocities that he was responsible for and that he had ordered and committed against people that we love and care about.

So wearing that stigma and that shame has been a part of my life, of my entire life. And knowing that we were not welcome in that community where Ruth and I were born into and raised in – I was born there too but we left when I was 9 months old. And our whole family had left in the part of that community.

We knew that with Joel’s family and the impact that our father had on that entire community of people that cared and loved and respected and even revered Joel, my father’s brother, and so we knew that there was this Chinese wall, this big huge chasm between the two families.

Ruth: Definitely that was my feeling about. That was definitely me growing up in LeBaron and Joel’s as my father – he was also the prophet of our community and the prophet of our church. And that’s definitely what my mom believed and what our family believed. And they still in Colonia LeBaron believe that my dad was indeed a prophet.

He was 49 when he was killed. He had 42 children and seven wives at that time, and you can imagine the whole in our community and how that affected so many of us. And for me, my dad was more like that mythical Christ-like figure in my life. He was one of the founders of our church and a spokesperson for God, I mean that was I was always taught.

And so, I think there still is, even today, there is a fear. And I don’t know if it’s a fear or a judgment, and I don’t know what the word would be exactly to describe what the LeBaron’s feel – the Joelites which I hadn’t realized. We always called Anna’s family the Ervilites and the Joelites, but I didn’t know that until I met Anna. So now, we distinguished our families between the Joelites and the Ervilites. But yeah, it’s been a wound to that community that has not yet healed, I would say definitely.

Anna: So when I tweeted her not knowing who she was…and here’s the thing, if I had known who she was, I would never have sent the tweets. We would have never met.

Andrea: Wow!

Ruth: That’s right.

Anna: Because I wasn’t familiar with the name Ruth Wariner…

Ruth: Yeah, I took my mother’s maiden name. I have never had the legal name LeBaron even though my dad was Joel LeBaron. And lots of different reasons behind that but all of my mom’s children were named after her. Her name was Wariner, and so people have always been that confused, right? And I knew Anna was a LeBaron. I knew she was my relative when I saw her name but there was really no way that you would know that name.

Anna: If I had known who she was and who’s daughter she was, I would have known my place, and my place would be no contact, don’t reach out, or don’t reach that. It’s not my place to bridge that gap.

Ruth: Right and you would have no idea either that I escaped too.

Anna: Right.

Ruth: She wouldn’t have known my story was what it was and that we have similarities in that way.

Andrea: Sure!

Anna: So it was a memoir and I love memoir so…

Ruth: Yeah, nonfiction.

Anna: So I just randomly and off the cuff just tweeted the author and…

Ruth: And Anna had worked on books before. So you had already been interested and she had been working on social media – she’s very good at it by the way. But yeah, so she had a history in promoting books. So it was kind of a natural fit. I mean, interestingly enough about how it all came together. But you’re right about that, I hadn’t thought about that myself that you wouldn’t have reached out to me had you known that I was a LeBaron. That’s interesting.

Anna: Right. So I’m grateful that I didn’t know that she was and that I had the audacity to tweet one of Joel’s daughters and then make this connection that has just become part of our story.

Ruth: It has been.

Anna: And I say that you’re part of my half away ever after.

Ruth: I think so too and in fact, I’m going to write about this in my next book when I get to meet you. It would be awesome.

Anna: And I should write about it in mine too.

Ruth: Yeah, when I’m writing that getting published and reading my audio book. It’s going to be so exciting.

Anna: I’m excited to read that. Can I help you with that one too?

Andrea: I’m in.

Ruth: We’ll take all the help we can get as we know all three of us are authors, we need help from each other for sure.

Ruth: Absolutely!

Anna: That was an experience that I will never forget. I’m grateful that I didn’t know who you were so that this connection could become something what it is now and just so special.

Ruth: It is very special. And Anna is awesome, not only she’s doing tremendous good in the world but are her sisters. They live two neighborhoods away from me. They’re so close, 20-minute drive from my house here in Portland and so that’s been pretty awesome.

Andrea: Wow that connection, a family connection. It sounds like the healing that has come with that has been so significant even beyond… I mean, writing a book about your story, there’s so much healing that can take place with that. But then like you had no idea what would happen when you came together. I mean, you would never been able to orchestrate it. You never would have been able to ask for it. It was such a gift, it sounds like.

Ruth: Oh a tremendous gift, a tremendous blessing for sure.

Anna: For both of us.

Ruth: For both of us and I feel like I’ve been connected in a way to my father in a way that I haven’t been before. And actually, I’ve met a couple of times now with Anna and her family, her siblings my family too. And just hearing their stories and their perspectives about what the stories were about my dad, you know, and what the stories about that side of my family that I didn’t know a lot about. It’s been amazing.

Andrea: Now, Ruth, one of the things that you’ve mentioned was by meeting Anna and hearing her story and having compassion for her, you were able to have more compassion for yourself. Can you expound on that a little bit?

Ruth: Part of my journey with what happened in my life, there’s been a lot of…you know, growing up in fundamentalism that way, I didn’t feel…gosh it was such a big family but not only that, just the beliefs about women and their place. And there was also a lot of abuse in my childhood, and so I was always very hard on myself in my journey. And I separated with a lot of guilt because my mom really wanted her family to be raised in the fundamentalist church that my dad started.


So that guilt and the shame has been, you know, it’s been a lot of suffering and my sufferings has been a teacher in a lot of ways but it’s also been torture in a lot of ways. And just seeing that Anna and her sisters have done so well with their lives outside the church that they grew up in, and to see how far Anna had come, I could see the same in my own life that I was able to do the same thing. Does that make sense?

Andrea: Yeah. It almost sounds like by seeing somebody else experiencing what you experienced in the sense, there was almost like permission.

Ruth: Yeah, to give yourself permission to forgive yourself and forgive the situation.

Andrea: That you’re not the only one and…

Ruth: Yeah that’s right.

Anna: And to know how far you’ve come.

Ruth: Yeah exactly that was part of it too, absolutely!

Anna: They were huge steps.

Ruth: They were huge steps and it was awesome too that it kind of fell in line with the publication of my book. I mean the timing of it that way. I met her in December and it came out in January, and it was time for me to heal and it was time for me to let go a lot of those things, yeah.

Andrea: So, Anna, I can only imagine that there were a number of things that this has brought about healing in you, what for you have you noticed in particular this interaction with Ruth? How does has impacted your healing process?

Anna: Well knowing Ruth, knowing what she has been through and having read her book, knowing our family history, and being able to process that in terms of that I’ve been a part of the healing for both of us. Just knowing that what I’ve done and how I am, just me being myself on social media. And doing the things that I’m gifted at, and just being the person that I’m created to be has helped. It’s just amazing that I can be myself and make an impact in the world and that me being myself is enough.

Ruth: Uh-hmm I love that.

Anna: That has been one of the biggest realizations that has come about in the past two years. Is that I can be myself and engage with the world and make an impact and that is enough.

Ruth: It’s enough and it’s enough to create miracles.

Anna: I know.

Anna: I’m just thinking about it. It still gives me chills. I mean, out of all the billions and billions of people…

Ruth: Tweets

Anna: And tweets yeah. All the billions of tweets online and I just happened across the one, that to me is not an accident.

Ruth: I don’t think that’s either. Not at all.

Anna: So I’m eternally grateful.

Ruth: Yeah, I’m too. It’s been awesome. And now, we get a book to do a book reading together.

Anna: I know, oh my gosh!

Andrea: Ah you do?

Ruth: Yeah.

Anna: So by the time this podcast airs, it will be in the past so probably not fair to talk people…

Ruth: Oh yeah sorry, sorry.

Andrea: Maybe if you record it. You could record it and then air it on your social media channels and we can go back.

Anna: It’s going to be on Facebook Live.

Andrea: There you go.

Anna: Well, combine it on there.

Ruth: Yeah that sounds good.

Anna: We’re not just being really cruel.

Ruth: Oh no.

Andrea: So how did you choose what you would each read from your books for this joint book reading?

Ruth: We haven’t done that yet.

Andrea: Ohh!

Ruth: We’re going to lunch after our interview with you and we’re going to decide that.

Andrea: Cool.

Anna: How exciting.

Ruth: I know it is exciting.

Anna: Oh this was like so much fun.

Ruth: Well, it is a lot of fun but it’s also as you know I am Andrea, is it Andrea?

Andrea: Yeah, Andrea uh-hmm.

Ruth: I know that it’s so interesting because as you point it out earlier, I mean, it’s such a sensitive topic like what do we talk about. It’s like “Should I say something about Anna’s father in public and in front of an audience live? You know, those are good questions.

Anna: And then I say, do I say anything about her father and what happened between us?

Andrea: How beautiful is it that you guys get to asked each other that question. You get to have lunch and discuss what you’re comfortable with and it sounds like you’re both pretty comfortable with a lot of things. So you’re not going to have a hard time figuring this out. The healing has taken place in each of you individually and then in the relationship between the two of you seemed to have freed you to be able to offer what other people might need to hear from you. So you don’t have to worry about all that fear and trepidation of what the other person’s is thinking but you’re able to just…

Ruth: Be ourselves like what I was saying earlier. There’s an authenticity on that. I think that’s really important and that will have an impact on people who hear our stories.

Anna: One of the things that I have read about that I love the idea of is holding space for someone. And I think Ruth and I have done that for each other very well. We hold space for each other to kind of navigate.

Ruth: And be ourselves like you said.

Anna: Yeah, it is.

Ruth: And that is so important and that is so impactful on other people because then they see that they can do the same on their own lives.

Anna: So I’m navigating this relationship as tenuous as it started out and keeping in mind that each of our family which they’re very large and many people are impacted. I know from my perspective and from where I’m sitting, me telling my story has upset the applecart for a lot of people.

Ruth: Yeah, I can imagine.

Anna: And so having both of us in a short period of time, you know, relatively speaking and both of us telling our stories and people being able to see the impact of our family history on each of our lives. And then all the people that are impacted by the fact that we’ve decided to tell our stories. So I feel like in a way, I’m holding space for a lot of people to kind of navigate through the feelings that are brought up and bubble up as a result even if they haven’t read the books. Just the fact that the books are out there impacts people’s lives.

Ruth: Absolutely.

Anna: And so there’s that little bit of “Ahhhh!” You know, or you just hope for the best outcome possible.

Ruth: That’s exactly for everybody involved, yeah absolutely. And I think another important part to this is that Anna and I can be a support for each other because of the type of stories that they are, because of the impact it’s having on our families. We have an understanding for that part of our lives and that the choices that we made to tell our stories and I think that’s been important too.

Anna: But it applies to even small families.

Ruth: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Anna: Normal families, you know.

Ruth: Yeah absolutely…normal.

Anna: Normal family where you know people grow up and there’s any type of trauma or abuse…

Ruth: It happens everywhere.

Anna: Anybody that finds their voice and speaks up and tells the story of what happened that the whole family is going to be impacted.

Ruth: Right, I agree.

Andrea: Man, that is a really good place to break for this part of our interview because I’m really looking forward to continuing this interview and digging more into of how you each found your voice and what this means for the future of both of your families and what not. So thank you for what you have offered us in this short first segment and first part of our interview. And I’m really looking forward to finishing this in the next episode.

Ruth: Thank you, Andrea, this has been wonderful.

Anna: Thank you!

 

What I Learned About Myself from Working with A Fashion Stylist

oh yes I did!

I’ve never been someone who wanted attention for how I look, but when I started writing and wanting to offer my voice of Influence in the world, I realized that my appearance was getting in the way of that happening. So I recently took a trip to work with Toi Sweeney, a fashion stylist for entrepreneurs, professionals and TV personalities. This is what I learned about myself in the process.

This video is going to be included in a longer video about the process. I’ll post it here again when I have it ready for you!

Find information about the Fascinate Advantage assessment here.

Follow Toi Sweeney for information about her upcoming book release.

 

Also, I’d love to have you join in on the conversation in the Voice of Influence Facebook Community group. Join here.

Discover the Language of Your Authentic Voice with Finka Jerkovic

Voice of Influence Episode 02

Finka Jerkovic is a Leadership Empowerment Coach and Professional Development Mentor whose vision and purpose is to inspire breakthrough transformations in your work and life. 

Her passions lie in turning the workplace from transactional to transformational. She believes there’s room for everyone’s potential. Everyone can have a breakthrough. Finka works with professionals, entrepreneurs and organizations to help them discover their `signature brand specialty` using the Fascination Advantage® system

Prior to founding FINKA Communications Inc. Finka spent 20 years in Corporate Canada in the financial services industry, ranging in roles from sales, leadership, HR, training and development. She is a certified CPCC Co-Active Coach, a Certified Fascinate Advisor and Trainer, an Adult Trainer and Educator and a Transformation Mastery coach.

Mentioned in this episode:

Listen, subscribe, rate and review in iTunes: Voice of Influence

 

Transcript

(Please note: This is an approximate transcript.)

Andrea: Finka, it is so good to have you here on the Voice of Influence podcast.

Finka: I’m so happy and excited to be here Andrea. Thank you for inviting me today.

Andrea: I met Finka through this Fascination Training because she was somebody who led the group coaching. How you say that?

Finka: I’m the Fascinate Certified Advisor facilitator, so I teach the Fascinate System. I’m the program director for the Fascinate Certified Advisor Training Program. And so for people like you who are interested in using the Fascination Advantage System in their business with their clients or in their work environment. I help people learn how to use the tool, how to integrate it into their business, and how to help people bring the best of who they are into their work and into their relationships.

Andrea: And I can attest to Finka’s mastery of training. She does a great job with that and I’m really excited to visit with you today about your voice, how you came to be where you are now. Then discuss a little about the Fascinate Assessment because I do find it very interesting especially when it comes people finding their voice and really diving into what it means to develop that. So Finka, I’m curious when you first took the Fascinate Assessment, we’ll start there since it’s kind of our point of contact, when was this and how did you get involved off with it?

Finka: So for me, I took the test. I’m going to say about four years ago now. I’m probably on my four year anniversary this March. I’ve taken other test like I’ve taken Myers Briggs. I’ve taken Strength Finders and I’m taken Standout, and they’re all very valuable assessments. But it was this one that really helped me see myself in a different light than I had previously.

So I took the test and it was one of those, you know, just landed in my inbox because I was actually part of part of Marie Forleo’s B-School list and think she was doing an interview with Sally Hogshead and they were offering a free assessment for the first 1000 people and I’m like “Let me do this and see what is this about.”

And so I take the test and it was 3 minutes long and you’re like “Okay, not a big deal.” But man, it was a big deal because the impact it had on me, you know I took it and I listened to the words. I watched the videos, I read my report and I was just like “Ahh this is who I am and this is what I’ve been struggling with to be.”

In the sense that most of my career, I’ve worked in the finance service industry, so manym many years in this industry where it’s very, I’m going to say very trust space, very conservative. You can just picture what a banker looks like and you know exactly what type of my environment that is.


So for myself when I did the Fascinate Assessment, my results were – I was a trendsetter and my primary advantage being innovation is I speak the language of creativity and second advantage being the language of prestige, which is I’m always looking to make things better and improve things.

So as a trendsetter in an environment where trust and the tried and true and the way we used to do things is the way we do things around here. I always felt like a square peg in around hole. I could not find my place and honestly, I felt like an alien. I felt like I fell in the trap so many times conforming to what my leaders wanted me to be, conforming to the environment that I was in and losing myself because I thought who I was was wrong and wasn’t a fit.

So when I took the test, where I learned as a result of it was that it’s not so much that I had this value to bring to the table and I’ve wronged it for so many years. And what I learned was it was different from everybody and that difference was actually here to add value. Over the years, the more I learned to own my difference and to be really deliberate and strategic around where I’m applying it. The reward recognition and just sort of more alignment to my voice than who I am. I feel better. Things take less effort. I don’t have to work so hard because I’m not trying to fit in to a box anymore.

And so for me taking that 3-minute test was eye-opening and it gave me the courage to all my voice. Sometimes, I just think about it and I’d say like “Really?” “How pathetic you have to be that a test had to tell you how to claim courage to own your voice?” And it did. It was the thing that worked for me. It was the catalyst, the trigger that helped me claim my voice. I believe we all have different ways to access our true voice and our authentic self. I know for me my goal has been try everything and I’m going to hit it. Something is going to give me that spark and this is one of the things that really helped me.

Andrea: Wow yeah, I can definitely relate to a lot of what you’re saying here about wanting that alignment with who you are and then also the need to some sort of outside voice affirm yours. And I think affirm specifically that’s one of the nice things about this sort of assessment but this one in particular being so related to voice is that it feels like there’s a really specific affirmation. It’s not this general idea of I like to say “your voice matters” because I do believe it, but that’s very general.

So when you get really specific and say this part of you, this creativity that feels like that’s not fitting into any boxes or whatever. There’s a reason why you’re like that. And maybe there’s a really good purpose or maybe you’re just that square peg in around hole kind of thing and you define the other around holes to fit into.

Finka: For sure and I think that’s the another element of our voice and what we bring to the table is identifying. For me the Fascinate was a real I guess catalyst or trigger to understand the language I speak and that language of creativity and language of prestige and excellence. And so for me that was eye-opening and how it was different from the environment I was working in. And then the other element of the equation I think that helps us get more congruent with our voice is figuring out where you could apply it best.

And so it’s almost like now, I know what language I speak. I know I bring ideas. I know I’m going to look at making things better all the time but then where can I be really deliver and selective of where I’m going to apply that. And again, I got lost in the weeds and this is all just from my own personal experience of trying to understand myself. “Okay, I’m gonna work in my corporate. I’m gonna work in my business. I wanna have these projects going on or this initiative going on.”

And what I learned was I expect myself too thin and so when I figured it out where my – let’s say my skill set, and I don’t know if it’s really skills or gift. But when I figured it out that I’m really good at teaching, facilitating, and helping people kind of self realize where they can be their best then I started really focusing on “Okay, that’s where I wanna apply my innovation and my prestige, that’s where I’m want to be focusing on.”

So it’s like niching down our own voice. We really need to get really specific around how you do what you do but then what it is that you do best. I know I’ve got a strength in this particular area, but it’s something that I continue learning to grow and expand on it. So I’m doing it out my best right now in this moment but I know I’ve got still so much more learning and developing and growth because I want to hit mastery.

When I hit mastery, I’m going to continue to excel in that area. Or I might say “Okay, I wanna to pick something else but I think when we think of our voice on where we’re going to apply ourselves best is understanding how your personality and your communication style where it’s going to help serve you in the best direction. But then there’s also this part of the capabilities, the skills set like what is it that you do that you can apply that whether it’s creativity, whether it’s familiarity, whether it’s relationship, or emotional of connection. Those are some attributes we have but then thinking about where it’s going to be best applied. That’s been sort of my journey over the last few years of really finding that piece.

Andrea: So did you come to the point where you’re at right now, were you’re doing some work with the Fascination Advantage and the actual company but then also you’re doing your own thing? Have you always wanted to have your own business? Is that something that you’ve always wanted or is this something that kind of come up out of your discovery of your voice?

Finka: I guess I’ve always had this entrepreneurial spirit. When I even look at my career in the corporate world, there’s a term for entrepreneur and corporate environments, we just call entra-preneur and so I always the one that was sort of outside the box. I always look at the business I ran within my organization. So whether I was a sales professional or a leader of a team, and most of my career, I spend as a manager or leader of a team. When I was in those roles, I looked at that as my business. I didn’t look at it as I was working for this organization and they give me responsibilities that I need to deliver on.

I really looked at it as “This is my business.” And so for me, I feel like I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. I was just applying it in a different environment. And to this day, I still linked it to my corporate work. I help others uncover and what they’re entrepreneur spirit and helping them find their voice within those environments because I think it’s critical, especially for corporate environments.

But for me when I started…the seed was planted like “Oh I can do this outside of corporate.” And what I love about it is in my corporate environment, you get to work with like so many people and you know how it is when you’re in your business like there’s like your ideal client. And so when I’m working with the corporate world, in a group of 20, my ideal clients maybe there’s two to five are going to be my ideal clients. And what I love about having my own business right now is the fact that everyone I work with is my ideal client.

And so there’s a different impact that I have or there’s a different reward I received from them. It such a passion or there’s such a congruency and I remember when I started my business, I struggling to find my ideal client. And when I was doing that, I was trying to be everything to everyone. And over the years, as I started getting more specific how it is served me, you know, just the value that I’ve been able to offer but also the value that I’m getting out of the client that I’m working with. And so I think it’s really important.

And now how does Fascinate fit within all of this? So I was part of an initial pilot program. I took the test. I fell in love with it and I started asking questions with the Fascinate group around you know “Are you offering this to other coaches to get certified in the system.” And they said “Wow, we’re just happened to start a training program.” We’re running a pilot. We’re looking for 10 people to be part of this program and based on your advantages and who you are, you’d be a perfect fit. Would you be interested in taking the pilot with us?”
I got off the phone with the lady I had a conversation with and I went to my husband and talked. I’m like “I don’t know what it is. I know I just took this test but I got to take this training. I don’t know what it is. I got to take this training.” And so I signed up for the training and during the training, it was the funniest thing. I just said I’m like “I could do this. I could teach this stuff. I know I could teach this stuff.”

So it was just some seed that was planted. And again, I think it’s like when you have that idea planted in your mind like “I know I can do this,” and I really believe that I could. And so over the coming years after, I really started to show how fascinate the tool can be used in the workplace, how it could be used for professionals and helping them build their brand and their voice and their presence. And I really started bringing what I was doing, bringing that information inside the programs that I was teaching around Fascinate into the Fascinate community.

And that’s where I stayed the Fascinate community with Sally Hogshead. They really took notice “Oh look at the work that Finka is doing on Fascinate and look how she’s bringing it out into her workplace, into her business.” And so that was sort of the door that opened for me to give me an opportunity to start leading and facilitating the training for the Fascinate System Advantage and for Sally and her team.

Andrea: So you could sort of be the trendsetter if you will.

Finka: Yes, yeah.

Andrea: Or the Fascinate coaches.

Finka: Yeah and it’s funny because I’ve done the test a couple of times and sometimes people when they do the test they say “Well, I have a different result. What is that mean now? And so what happened is I took the test again and I did get a different result but what was the constant was my innovation that kind of always stayed with me. I would say your first test is always the true test of your results because when we take things for the second or third time, we’ve now know the system. So the way we responded to those questions is going to be biased in some way because you might be leading towards you know, “Well, I’m leading towards my mistake advantage or my priority advantage a bit more.”

I looked at some of the other results and I said “Those are true but I’m always a trendsetter at heart and I know the way my brain is wired and the way I work is always see things two or three steps ahead of everyone else.” It’s a wonderful gift because I can see where things are going and in the moment sometimes I can be like, you know, people don’t listen because I can tell you where it’s heading, “I could do that I told you so.” Like “I told you so we’d end up here,” but what I learned through the process has been where my communication or my voice doesn’t meet another person’s voice.

So we all speak in different ways and we understand things in different ways, and so I speak in the trendsetter way which means, I will go from A to Z very quickly. And that might be on a particular topic or particular segment.

Andrea: When you say A to Z, you mean cover all the things or to go deep really quickly, what do you mean by that?

Finka: Yes, I can go deep very quickly. I can see the end. Most likely I can see the end while we’re in the start like I can see the end, even though the end might come a year or two years or three years down the road. And so where my challenge has been for me is communicating. So when I say A to Z. I go A, Z. It’s B, C, D, E, F. It’s that stuff in the middle that I struggle with.

Andrea: Yeah, I can relate to this.

Finka: And so my challenge has been, you know, if I want to pitch an idea or if I want to get people onboard to what Z is like what the outcome is, I need to do a better job of talking about the process of how to get there. Or what got me to think that this is going to be the ideal solution or that we should get on board or “If we don’t do this, what’s the cause of not doing this?” So it’s been getting me to get more clear on communicating the message in a way that others will understand.

And I think that has been my biggest learning curve because where I went from A to Z like I see end result to where I want things to go or what I want to do very quickly, my challenge has been how do I get, you know, key decision makers to buy into that idea, clients to buy in. And so that has been my biggest learning of getting people on that vision and on that mission as well.

Andrea: The different assessments I know like any of them are very helpful for us to feel more comfortable with who we are. But you just brought us something that I think is really important that just understanding other people who are different on us as well. If you understand who they are and whether it be through conversation and you just figure it out or by understanding their Fascinate Advantages or whatever it might be then you can sort of meet them where they are a little bitter.

Finka: Absolutely! It is so important like it takes two to tango. If you want to dance, you need a partner. And so when we think about communication and conveying our voice, there’s an authenticity and authentic voice you want to convey. You’ve got a certain mission you want to deliver on and you have a vision that you see. But to get others onboard, you may need to and this is where I say, you don’t change your mission, you tweak your messaging.

So again, you don’t change your mission. You’re still going to go for that goal. You still want to achieve that outcome but the way in which you communicate it, the messaging maybe different depending on your audience. So if I’m speaking to someone who relies on the tried and true, who is someone who likes to do things the way we have done them before and not where they want to focus on.

I need to be sure where I’m communicating, you know, something that might be new to them, how it fits into the tried and true model, where I might have been tested before and tried before and getting some of that maybe anecdotal evidence or testimonials. So it puts them at ease and comfort that “Oh this has been done before. It’s nothing new and fresh but it is something that they feel more confident in because we can position it in a language that they understand.” Does that make sense?

Andrea: Yeah. I definitely agree and I think this is something that I’ve certainly thought about for a long time. But I appreciate just the language and structure of the Fascinate Assessment to be able to very easily kind of gain and understanding of other people and myself. And how that communication can actually connect instead of that ideas of speaking to whom I’ve heard is just like you.

Finka: Exactly!

Andrea: That’s the hard part. There’s a tendency to talk in a way that you’re comfortable and then you just kind of gather those kinds of people around you instead of ranting out.

Finka: Yeah and seeing how the value of having those different voices around the table, how they actually add more value and can contribute to helping you get your voice and your vision out into the world. And so what I mean by that is…so I speak the language of innovation and prestige. So I give hit with shiny objects very often. So for me, keeping me on task of like “Okay, I’m gonna do this and this is my new bright idea,” and to stay committed to it for a long period of time is a challenge for me.

And so I’ve got partners and I’ve got key relationships in my life that help me stay grounded. So one of my key partners is my husband and he has the trust advantage that’s his primary and that’s my dormant. So for many times, you know, I’ll be like “Oh I’ll do this.’ And he’s doing this already and you know what if he just sticks to this for a while and just see it comes to fruition. And I can’t say enough of how having the other perspective of asking different questions than I would ask that has allowed me to stay longer to some projects and how I could think…

I’m still delivering and teaching let’s say my workshops and that’s part of my work that I do, but instead of teaching new topics which is where my innovation will sometimes lead me to is how do I refine and get innovated in a topic that I’m teaching on. So then I get deeper in that and so I’ve learned to stay longer in certain projects that are serving me well. I’m not getting distracted by the next brilliant idea I get. Finding a place for that idea because I think I incubate it somewhere because my brain needs me to do that. If not, I will get distracted. But how do I not let distraction get the better of me and stay in my projects or in my current venture long enough that I can reap the rewards and benefits.

I’m going to say Fascinate has been one of those, so for me to have stuck with a system for four years is a testament to this Trust Advantage that is not my strength but it’s something that…let me understand the system better, let me get deeper in it. Let me work with it more. Let me teach it to others. If I succumbed to my distracted shiny object syndrome two years ago, I wouldn’t understand as I do now. I probably wouldn’t be the program director working with other people teaching them a system in how they can apply it because I jumped ship too soon.

Andrea: Oh this is really, really good, Finka. I know we’re running low in time so I want to make sure that but first of all, how are you applying this and what kind of offerings do you have? I know you have a course that you’re working on or you’re about to launch maybe, would you like to tell us about this?

Finka: Yeah absolutely, thank you! So a couple of things that I do so I do teach a Fascinate from a personal branding and professional branding so as an entrepreneur or a professional in the workplace. If you’re looking a brand that would be a piece of what I do and for team building workshops, so if you’re owner of an organization or you working out in the corporate environment and you’re looking to use a tool that can help build better communication, a team building, and better engagement within a group definitely it’s a piece of work that I do.

My current and my newest passion project is called the Daring Introvert. It’s really around helping introverts or high achieving ambitious introverts in the workplace or entrepreneurs who are looking to find their introvert voice. There might be some challenges standing in the way that they might feel misunderstood in the workplace or undervalued and they really want understand how to use that introverts super power advantage to their advantage. And they might be hitting sort of a glass ceiling in there. They’re not maximizing their potential.

So this course is really for leaders, for entrepreneurs who are really looking to leverage their introvert advantage and they really want amp up their daring. They really want to unleash this power quiet that’s sitting inside of them. It’s just a small voice that’s wanting to burst through in screen, out from the rooftops because they want to make a difference and make change. And this course is really about helping people do that.

So I’m really excited about it and so this will be my new passion project, one that again is a lot of innovation and prestige of thought into it at the same time, it’s something that I’m looking for the long haul to see of how I can help introverts. I’m an introvert, and so I know and understand the challenges of finding your Voice of Influence as you would say, Andrea, as an introvert and I’m really helping them find your Voice of Influence as an introvert and not just any introvert, a daring introvert. One that’s really willing to come to the edge and say I’m ready to take the jump and leap.

Andrea: I love it! So Finka if you had any advice for the Influencer that’s listening right now related to – if they were to take the Fascinate Assessment, give us your last two minute kind of spiel on what you would advice somebody who’s just taking the assessment or thinking about it. How did they approach it?

Finka: I would say take the test number one, and #2 – Make it a live document. We take tests and we do these quizzes and we do all sorts of things, and then either it gets buried on your C drive or goes in the cloud or wherever it goes, make it a live document and take it out with you into the world. And start really using it to find where you shine in those areas. Whatever those advantages are, go out and ask your friends, your colleagues, your peers, managers, or mentors, coaches where they see you show up in those ways so you can start getting some evidence from your outside world that this is who you are and this is how your advantages show up.

What I know is that the thing that comes easiest to you, the thing that comes most natural to you is the thing that you’re going to take for granted and you’re going to think it’s no big deal. But it such a big deal and it such a big deal to the world, it’s a big deal to your work and going out and getting that feedback from the people that you work with and live with. Your clients, they’re critical because they are mirror to you that let you know what you do well. Because what you do well is going to come easy to you and you’ll say “Oh this thing, it’s no big deal.” It is a big deal. You need to bring this work out and so we take it for granted because it becomes your natural nature and you don’t think it’s a big deal but it is.

And so what I would say is #1 – Take the test. Two – Go out and ask people how it shows up. What the impact to them on you showing up on this way. What is that you do specifically that shows them that you are being innovative or passionate or you’re showing your Trust Advantage so you can get that evidence and #3 – Continue to bring that. You have the power to choose to live in an alignment to who you are, what you do, and what you bring. Don’t let other things that you’re distracted out of that. Don’t let time or you don’t have to do that. You do have that time and the power stays within you, and so you being the director of where you’re going to apply your talent. Your skills is critically important.

Andrea: Great! Thank you so much, Finka. I really appreciate it you taking time today and especially appreciate your Voice of Influence within professionals, with me personally and I look forward to seeing how this Daring Introvert Course really impacts people. So thank you so much. Thank you for this opportunity and I enjoyed having this conversation with you and I look forward to taking with you and I’m excited about the Voice of Influence and the work that you are empowering others to help them find their voice and to use it for influence so that they can make a bigger difference in the world. So I’m so excited about the work you’re leading here for all of us. So thank you for this.

Finka: Thank you!

Andrea: You’re welcome!

 

END

Your Voice Matters, But You Can Make It Matter More

I nearly floated out onto the stage as the crowd put their hands together in an audible wave of anticipation. “This is where I belong. On stage, moving the audience with my voice,” I thought.

But then as I glanced at the red curtain and the dimly lit auditorium, I had a strange sense that I’d been here before. My stomach began to make its way to my feet. Music played and I took a breath. Just as the first note began to roll out my lips, I realized I didn’t know the song at all. Attempting a professional moment of pulling it together, I looked down and then realized in horror: I was completely naked!

A cold shriek came out instead of the first note of the song and shame ran me off the stage where I grabbed the curtain to shield myself from view. Moments later I opened my eyes find myself sitting up in bed, wrapped in blankets, breaths coming in rapid succession. I had indeed been here before, in this recurring nightmare.

That’s when the weight of the moment hit me: I might have a voice that can get me in front of an audience, but it is insignificant and even wasted if I don’t do the work to prepare.

Your voice matters, but you can make it matter more.

I know I have what it takes to move an audience with my voice, but when I overestimate my innate ability and experience, I end up spending an insufficient amount of time and effort in preparation to use my voice effectively. My voice matters, but I can make it matter more if I take the time to develop it and learn the song in my heart – the right song for my voice.

The same is true for you.

You may be or want to be someone who influences others with what you do and say, but trust me. It doesn’t just happen. And the truth is that many people think they are making a difference when all they’re really doing is exposing themselves and pulling out a reaction rather than truly moving their audience. If you want your voice to carry the weight of significance, you need to develop your voice, your message and the way you deliver it.

Your voice matters inherently because you are a human being. However, your voice can matter more when you take time to prepare and develop your style, your message and your strategy. You make a bigger impact on every stage in life when you carry with you a Voice of Influence.

Your Voice of Influence

In April I’ll be launching a new podcast entitled “Voice of Influence.” It’s been a year in the making and the name of it changed recently when I had a massive breakthrough about the message and focus of the show. The podcast (previously “Brand Revelations”) will feature interviews with experts and leaders who share the story of their own voice of influence, as well as practical advice based on their area of expertise. I will also have short segments where I bring you into my “voice studio” and share actionable insights that you can apply, one at a time, to make your voice matter more.

This podcast is for men and women creative leaders who care about the people they serve at home, work and in the world and want to make their voice matter more. I will be publishing the podcast audio and transcripts here on the blog and you’ll be able to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, etc.

In order to be sure I show up on this podcast stage prepared and focused, I have been quiet on my blog and social media in 2017. I’m ironing out the look, sound and feel of the show with the help of a little team. The goal is to spread this message far and wide, so the strategy is to invite as many downloads, ratings and reviews on iTunes as possible when we launch in April.

The Voice of Influence Podcast art is in development – this is just something I created.

I am already booking incredible interviews with New York Times Bestselling authors, Internet marketing gurus, leadership experts, entrepreneurs, speakers, psychologists, etc. But these amazing interviews won’t see the light of day without your help. If you’re interested in helping, there are three levels of involvement, outlined below. I’m taking this very seriously, so I’m offering a thank you package to the launch team level (LIMIT of 25 PEOPLE) that includes a big bonus!

3 Levels of Involvement

I’m guessing you already feel some kind of nudge to help out if you’ve read this far. Take a look at these options and identify which one fits you. Then share in the comments below or on the Facebook post.

  1. The “Interesting, I’ll have to check it out,” option. Follow me on social media or subscribe to this blog so you know when you can listen to the podcast. Thanks for the interest!
  2. The “I want to support you” option. Simply promise to subscribe and leave an honest rating and review on iTunes in April. I will explain exactly what it takes to do this so it takes very little effort on your part.
  3. The “I want to be a part of making this podcast a huge success” option. This is the Voice of Influence podcast launch team. I’m offering rewards for participation in the launch team, but it requires filling out an application by March 21st and will be closed when we reach 25 committed members. PODCAST LAUNCH TEAM APPLICATION

Voice of Influence Launch Team Member Thank You Package

(Value: $250 – Limited to the first 25 Accepted Applicants)

  • Insider knowledge when I book and record interviews with celebrities, leaders and experts. 
    • I already have some amazing people lined up and as soon as you’re in the launch team, I’ll let you know who!
  • Insider knowledge about the process of starting and executing a high-quality podcast, including a cheat-sheet of my podcast process from start to finish.
  • A Fascinate® Advantage personality assessment that gives your primary and secondary communication advantages and your archetype.
  • A high-quality, special training video from me (a Fascinate® Certified Advisor), explaining how the assessment works and how your results can transform the way you communicate at home, work and in the world.
    • If you know me, you know I’m OBSESSED with personality assessments. Well, this is my favorite assessment to help identify and develop your voice, so I promise, you’re getting something amazing.
  • I will create HIGH quality, individual coaching videos for each person who completes the requirements for the launch team between March 31st and April 28th. This will take your Fascinate® results to a very practical and personal level, addressing your individual communication struggles and potential. You must apply for the launch team by March 21st to be considered for the launch team and receive these rewards.
    • I will be discussing this assessment some on the podcast and I have a coaching package in my business for this, so it’s truly exciting to offer this as a thank you!

Launch Team Requirements (March 21 – April 28th):

  • Fill out an application by March 21st here: PODCAST LAUNCH TEAM APPLICATION
  • Subscribe, rate and review the podcast on iTunes the first week of April.
  • Share your enthusiasm about the podcast with your connections on social media a handful of times though April and May.
    • If you’re on or willing to get on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during the launch period, that’s even better.
    • This could mean anything from re-tweeting/reposting my podcast posts to sharing an insight you gained from an episode you loved.
    • I will have certain requests in the month of April, but they will be related to sharing things on social media.
  • Join and participate in the Voice of Influence Launch Team Facebook group
  • Recruit/encourage others to subscribe, rate and review the podcast on iTunes in April.

I’m so excited to share these amazing podcast interviews and actionable insights to empower you to know what you want to say and how you want to say it in relationships and in your creative contribution to the world!

Thank you for all you do to amplify my voice so I can help others. I am sincerely humbled and grateful.

Do this Before You Kick 2016 to the Curb

The other day I did something I’ve been wanting to do for months, possibly even a year or two. But fear and lack of technical understanding kept me holding back; and you know how I feel about holding back. You see, I’ve been hiding behind the written word for the past couple of years. In a way, writing was a wonderful way to allow my voice to emerge, but it’s time to up the game.

I do not consider myself to be a writer. I’m a thinker. A strategic activator. I want to share ideas and begin or further the dialogue. I want to call out your deeply authentic voice because I want to hear it and I believe it matters. A couple of months ago I started offering more videos, and I will continue to do so. But I also want to try audio. So I started recording audio and today I’m going to share with you an edited transcript of that audio, along with the opportunity to listen. Just press play – or read – or both. Whatever works best for you. Then let me know what you’re going to bring to 2017!

Own 2017

I understand why so many people are discouraged with 2016. It’s been a doozy! Between the bloodshed around the world, the US presidential election and the loss of so many pop culture icons, let alone your personal pain and loss, I completely understand why you might be ready to move on.

But if you are ready to kick 2016 to the curb, please don’t throw your hands in front of your face, turn away and then say, “I hope you treat me well, 2017 because 2016 sure didn’t.”

I get it. Truly, I do. Some circumstances can leave us feeling frozen as victims to our circumstances. But I would be remiss if I stayed right here and didn’t call out the deeper, stronger YOU.

Who Are You?

In 2016, WHO YOU ARE didn’t change. WHO YOU ARE came out more powerfully because of what happened in 2016. That’s what’s going to happen in 2017, as well. Whatever happens in 2017, it is going to call out the depths of who you are and ask, “How are you going to meet me?” 2017 doesn’t have anything to say about who you are, but it will definitely call you out.

Most likely, you’re not a victim to 2016. Because WHO YOU ARE doesn’t have to change based on your circumstances.

We put the blame on 2016 – circumstances – other people – God – whomever. And we say, “It’s your fault that I feel so crummy.” And there is some truth to that because we are effected by one another. But we have a choice about how we’re going to respond to our circumstances.*

There is something really critical about the moment that you realize that you feel oppressed. Because in that moment you can’t be complacent anymore. It’s that moment that you look at yourself in the mirror and say, “Am I going to fall to my circumstances or am I going to rise up? Am I going to let other people tell me who I am or am I going to tell other people – show other people – who I am?!”

Are you going to let other people and tell you that your voice doesn’t matter – that your contribution doesn’t mean anything? Or are you going to look at them and say, “But it does. And I’ll show you how.”

Find Your Grit

Grit says, “Ya, knock me down, but I’m going to get back up and keep going.” You can choose to lay down and give up. I’ve certainly done that before. But the thing is that most of us have a choice. There are people in this world who are seriously oppressed. But that is not most of us. Most of us have choices. Most of us could rise to the occasion. Most of us could get up and look at our circumstances and say, “I’m going to keep going.”

I look at 2017 and I’m nervous. But I’m also excited. I want to keep pressing on and moving forward, no matter how many people pay attention.

What does it mean for you to show grit in 2017? Are you going to blame 2016 for everything negative thing that happened to you and to your ideals? Or are you going to look at 2016 with grit in your teeth and say, “thanks for the experience. It’s time for me to show 2017 WHO I AM.”

Remember who you are. Own it. Keep moving forward and build momentum as you head into 2017. How? Be sure to listen to the voices that help you do so and use discernment to tune out the ones that don’t. Subscribe to this blog, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and/or SoundCloud. I plan on being a voice that helps you remember WHO YOU ARE.

*If you truly have no voice in your circumstances, whatever they may be, I want to encourage you to seek out help from someone who will listen to you and possibly help you move out of them. I know it may be complicated, but know that I’m for you.