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.

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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.

How Influencers Can Develop a Vibrant, Happy Voice

Episode 10 with Dr. Jen Riday

Dr. Jen Riday is a Women’s Happiness Expert and mom of 6. After struggling with depression and general dissatisfaction with life after the birth of her 5th child, Jen began a quest to “get happier” and now shares her journey with other women wanting to do the same. Jen lives in the woods just outside of Madison, Wisconsin with her family. Jen loves yoga, meditation, time in nature, and regular moments of quiet reflection.

Mentioned in this episode:

Listen here, on Stitcher or iTunes (Apple Podcasts)

 

 

Transcript

Andrea: Jen, it is great to have you here today.

Jen: Thanks for having me, Andrea. This is fun. It’s Friday, so we can have a little chat together.

Andrea: Yes. You’re in the middle of a big launch right now, I know, and maybe you could tell us a little about it. What are you launching right now?

Jen: Yes. Well, it’s a program called Time Mastery for Women. It’s an A-Z system essentially to help women find more time to do more what they love. To regain control over their time in life because so many of us get to that place where we feel like our life just kind of growing dim. And we kind of forget who that person was that we used to be prior to being busy or having kids or having work and juggling all these things.

And it’s just a way to get a grip on your time and schedule and your beliefs about time, plus producing guilt and shame and perfectionism that like so many women so that you can really feel like you’re in control of your life again. So yeah, it’s a lot of fun and if anyone wants to learn more that’s timemasteryforwomen.com

Andrea: That’s great, and I know that probably when this episode finally airs, I don’t think you’ll have it open at that time but…

Jen: Yes. We’ll have a waitlist for the next time around. We’ll be launching program again in the fall, so people are welcome to jump on the waitlist. It’s a great program and I think it’s a game changer for many women.

Andrea: You have a podcast that’s a really, really powerful podcast called Vibrant Happy Women. I was thrilled to be a guest on your podcast. So Jen’s voice, when I invited her to take the Fascinate Assessment, she came out with power and trust up really high. And that’s really interesting to me because I think that those two things – the ability to lead that language of leadership that you have and the consistency that you bring with the trust, I think are really suited for this topic of Time Mastery. So it makes sense that you would be a really great person to teach that.

Jen: Well, I don’t really know where it came from but I suppose someone told me the term superpowers. They’re these things that you’ve probably always been good at that you even realize were abnormal. And for me, organization and managing time are those things. I didn’t realize it was abnormal until about the hundredth time someone made a comment about this chart on my refrigerator and asking me, “How did you get everything done with six kids?”

And I started to think “Okay, well if we need to know what are talents are or our superpowers, I guess I need to look at what people say I’m good at.” And when I would ask people, they would say “Oh my gosh, you’re so organized.” I finally had to come to terms with “Okay, fine maybe this is something I’m good at.” So when I learned I was the guardian with the power and trust, I guess it makes sense. But I still kind of bristle a little against that because I really imagine I wanted to be Maria from the Sound of Music.

Andrea: Oh I think there’s quite a bit of power entrust in her. That’s really funny though. You know, doesn’t it seem like that when we’re really good at something, it’s really hard to realize if that something we’re actually good at. I mean, especially something like, I would imagine something like being really organized. You just kind of probably a little more naturally bent towards at and it doesn’t necessarily…you don’t realize that not everybody is as organized or whatever it is.

Jen: Yeah. Well that’s so true. So I married the complete opposite and I know it’s true that opposite attracts because physically, we just seemed to be like magnets. There’s just like, not that you want all this too much information, but we just have this massive physical attraction and I wonder if it’s because we are so different.

Andrea: It’s great!

Jen: So anyway, he flies by the seat of his pants, he didn’t even start. He’s a scientist and somehow he managed to get through his life. Only he started to use a digital calendar, maybe three years ago. He thought he could remember it all. It’s true, I didn’t realize that other people don’t think like me, so I found that a little exasperating when people can’t keep track of themselves because it always came so easy for me. But I’ve gotten better at recognizing “Okay, maybe I’m actually a little different here.”

Andrea: Right and that that’s something that you have to offer other people which I think is really cool.

Jen: Right. And I think some people are born with it and love it, but I think there’s a certain level of learning that can happen where people can take what has worked for other women like I have a week at a glance. And I can see everything that’s happening in my week, and people find that so intriguing. And once they get that, they feel like it’s a complete game changer to say “Hey, this is my week. This is where I’m feeling in time for recharging myself. This is where I’m spending time with my kids.”

And another thing is knowing the top four priorities of your life. For me that’s spirituality and self-care, family, health and then my career. And I want to make sure my use of time balances all of those four areas appropriately. So if I’m spending all of my time on career which can be tempting, I don’t feel an alignment and I have to look at my week at a glance and say, “Okay, well I don’t have this right and I’ve got to put back this time for taking care of myself, getting enough sleep, exercising, and spending time with my kids like movies and one-on-one time and a date night with my spouse then I feel really more balanced in life.

Many women feel like they’re kind of lacking that balance. They just want to do it all or when you narrow it down to those four areas that are really most important that’s the game changer part of it, where you can say “I’m gonna do these four things really well.”

Andrea: So you’re focus seems to be on happiness. What it is happiness to you? What do you think that women are really looking for? And you know the podcast here, we’re talking to Influencers who might be women or they might be speaking to women, whether they’re men or women. What is this idea of happiness that you think people are really drawn to and what your messages?

Jen: Well, I think to explain that the best, I need to take you through my low point and what happiness is not.

Andrea: Sure!

Jen: So long ago, I got my PhD in Human Development and Family Studies. I learned all the theories about what it means to a “good mom” and so I chose to be a stay-at-home mom. My husband got a job in Madison, Wisconsin and proceeded to have six kids. And somewhere after my fifth child was born – a daughter, Jane, I kind of hit rock bottom because my whole focus had been on being this “good mom” defined my textbooks that I have studied and defined by society and magazines and TV shows, and I realized I couldn’t do it.

I was making home-made bread. I was doing elaborate birthday parties. I was keeping a pristine house, but it was so exhausting and I was empty, so empty and so tired. So about that time, I actually suffered a miscarriage and it was on Christmas day, in fact, my husband had to drive me to the hospital. We had a big argument the whole way there. It was an hour away because we we’re in a very remote area where my parents live in Iowa and that day was just such an emotional low, like it was the biggest emotional low I had experience up to that time.

And I guess those rock bottoms are really a gift because that’s when I decided “You know, what my life has kind of sucked for a while and I’m tired of this. And I wanna change everything.” And we got back after Christmas back to our own home in Wisconsin and I said to my husband that week “I’m joining a yoga studio. I’ll be going at this in this time and you’ll be in charge of them on those nights, goodbye.” And it was just baby steps from there.

Andrea: How did he take that when you told them that you’re going to be doing that? Was he encouraging or just kind of…yeah, what was his response?

Jen: Well, for a scientist who is very who’s very left-brained, he does seem to have ability to clue into the emotions around him. And he was thrilled because he said “I’m so tired of you being stressed. I’m so tired of you having this look on your face like you want to die and yes, please go to yoga. We got this.” And he has totally stepped up. He’s able to get our kids to do their chores after dinner. He makes them their dinner and it just got better and better as I let go of that control and taking care of me instead of trying to manage everyone else first. I’m happier. They’re happier, everything is better.

So back to your original question – what happiness is not is trying to do “something be the good mom or the good wife” based on who knows where that definition even comes from. And when I started to notice how I felt inside like yoga left me feeling amazing, book club. I came home smiling and happy going for that walk or that hike in the woods. I started to notice my happiness and listening to my feelings and intuition. So that’s what I teach people, they’ve got to listen and have this quiet moments and really know how you feel inside and do those things. It’s scary because you have to define what your life should look like on your own based on your feelings so you have to have a bit of trust in yourself so that’s my definition of happiness.

Andrea: Hmm, that’s an interesting thought. You have to be able to trust yourself. Do you think that people have a hard time doing that? Or that they have a hard time stopping to really listen? What’s the issue?

Jen: Two things, yes. So taking the time to get started and I recommend 10 minutes of meditation each morning. Check in to ask yourself how I’m feeling in my body, how I’m feeling emotionally. What are my thoughts. Just having that self-awareness because when you check in and have quiet meditative time or prayer time or journaling time, they’re all essentially the same thing of getting grounded and centered and knowing yourself then when the stressful moments happen all day, you can remember “Oh, this feels way different then what I felt during that meditation time this morning and I don’t like this feeling. I wanna go back to that calm and sane place, so how I’ll get myself there?”

And then you’ll remember “Hey, okay, yoga, walks, nature, reading, napping; all of these things recharged me and I wanna get back to that feeling.” So that’s one thing, making the time and then having that awareness and now the second thing is going to allude me, what was that? Remind me of your question, Andrea.

Andrea: What do you think that gets in the way of people taking that time or understanding that they can trust themselves?

Jen: Okay, yes that was the first one, taking the time to know how they feel, taking the time to reflect and slow down. And some people find that really scary at first too going in that quiet place because they never been there. So that’s the first thing, it’s just going there. But the second one, I find that women still they want that permission – permission to take care of themselves.

So that’s why they love joining the Vibrant Happy Women Facebook group online because I’m constantly saying, “Oh good for you, you took a nap today.” Or “Awesome, you went on a walk with your kids and you left the dishes filed up.” They just love having a place where they can be praised and have a little bit of validation to start a new way of thinking in doing things. So those would be the two big things.

Andrea: That’s really interesting. I’m wondering about the people, whether be men or women Influencers who are listening right now. It’s sounds to me like what you’re saying is the part of what women in particular might need is that permission to do whatever they need to do to take care of themselves. I’m just wondering like if you’re to give a suggestion to men about how they could speak to women whether it’d be their spouse or other women around them or how they could sort of speak up life-giving kind of message to them, what kind of things do you think women want to hear from them?

Jen: I don’t know about all women, but two stories come to mind. Well, first my own spouse just constantly giving me that kind of permission that I would need that, but I don’t want to leave and go to yoga thinking the world is going to end at home because I left. So to have them say “Go, we want you to be happy.” Huge words so you don’t have them to have any guilt.

So step one, men say to your women, your loved ones, or your daughters, whoever you might be interacting with, “Go, do what makes you happy. I want you to be happy. I want you to be happy.” And repeat it over and over and often. And I guess that would be the main one, but the second one, I’m reminded of a story from someone in one of my groups. She felt like her husband just didn’t really care what she did but then she realized he too just wanted her to be happy.

It was almost like she was preventing herself from the happiness and imagining that he wanted her to be at home taking care of the house and creating these amazing meals. And in reality when she started doing things for herself, he was thrilled and he started doing all the cooking. So she was creating this misery that lasted for over a decade for her which had no truth at all. So I guess, men, communicate really clearly that they want them to be happy and that they don’t need to be doing all of the household tasks or all of the cooking which so many women still hold to this model from the 50’s where that was the case.

Andrea: Yeah, that would really, really helpful. I think that even for me, I know like this week, I taught a class last night at our local community college and the night before that, I needed to work. I had a lot to do and so for two nights in a row, my husband had the kids after work until he put them to bed. And that’s a really big deal for us to kind of make that shift because he had been the one that had been working all the time.

So I was trying to make sure that he didn’t have to constantly feel like he was on and that sort of thing, but it seemed that once I started to have another purpose outside of the family that we all agreed upon, we’re all comfortable with, this is how he sees that he can help me and help that message that I have too.   And that is so freeing to be able to leave and say “Huh, he’s got it. I’m not gonna sit her and wonder if they’re in bed yet. I’m not gonna sit her and wonder what they had for supper, you know. I’m not gonna prepare ahead of time. I don’t have time to do you know for such a thing.” That’s freedom.

Jen: And I think that’s a huge thing for female Influencers. We like to think that we’re empowered, which we are. We like to know hold to the fact that things are getting more and more equal and that’s awesome. But still, if you look at Facebook ads or TV ads, it shows the women doing the laundry. It shows the women doing the dishes. We still have this massive pressures and stereotype which causes all that guilt when we, women want to step up and be Influencers and make a difference. So we have to kind of squash that guilt and give yourself the permission and just say “I’m gonna do this.” I constantly have to that.

Andrea: So let’s go back to the topic of happiness again. When it comes to being an Influencer, why do you think that we should be pursuing our own happiness? How does happiness affect our voice? How does happiness affects our message and what we’re able to communicate to others?

Adrienne: Okay. Well, depending on who you’re influencing. Let’s just start with let’s say the family for starters. We’ll when I hit my low point and was at that emotional rock bottom, I was empty. There’s no way I could be an Influencer for my family because they probably thought “Man, mom is grumpy and impatient and I don’t want to be like her.” And was only when I realized what I wanted my kids to learn, what I wanted them to become that I could start influencing them because I had to model it.

So when I said, I want my kids to be happy and productive then I had to get myself there. I had to know how I felt inside and do those things that made me happy. And you know, I like to imagine that sometimes at the end of my life, I’m on a mountain looking back down at the path of my life and I see my loved ones, my kids, my spouse and asked, where they’re going to remember me for? And I hope that it’s for being vibrant and happy.

Those are my two key words that guide everything I do and I definitely have down moments and mistakes but I want to keep moving forward. Explaining that further, if you’re an Influencer for others then it’s the same thing, what do you want them to learn from your example? So doing those things that you love that light you up and feel amazing inside, maybe it’s writing that book or being a violin teacher or having a message online for people. Whatever it is, you know what you feel passionate about.

And when you follow those feelings, the things that make you feel good inside or probably the things that other people need to hear from you. So pursuing your happiness really comes back to pursuing what you’re passionate about. They’re very connected. And when you’re doing those things that light you up, those that simultaneously makes you happy, and you’re probably doing what you need to do to be an Influencer.

Andrea: Yeah that’s a really great point. Yeah, I think that it seems that…I know when I can think of myself at least when I’m not feeling happy inside or whatever you know balance or feeling like I’m centered and when I’m feeling unhappy if you will, it does seem like my voice ends up projecting this more negative outlook. And yeah, my kids, I know my kids can even see it in me. There are times when my daughter will say “Mom, please don’t do that. Please make sure that you do this because you’re more happy when you do this.” And that’s really interesting. She knows me well enough that I need to get sleep at night, you know. So I told them enough times, you know, “Mom really needs to get to bed so you need to get to bed so that we can have fun tomorrow because it does affect everything.”

Jen: Right. And people could see through you when you’re not practicing what you preach or when you’re operating from that place of empty. The message won’t have power. You’ve got to feel that first and I feel like there’s really an energy that emanates from you whether it’s just through audio or even video or in person, you got to live it first.

Andrea: Why do think that Influencers, people who are wanting to have a voice in the world, wanting to have a voice at home or whatever, why do you think that we don’t pursue happiness? Why do you think that we hold back from doing that?

Jen: I think the biggest one is that idea that we’re fraud, that we’re not good enough or that we’re not worthy of happiness. We all have these stories that we grew up with or that we’ve told ourselves over the years. And essentially we trying to up level our lives when we lived more and more happily but this voice that nagging little voice that hold us back, “You don’t deserve it. You’re not good enough. You’re fraud.” So it’s just really loving yourself and knowing that you are worthy of that happiness and sharing it with others, sharing whatever message you have.

Andrea: Yeah. I think there have been times I know for myself when I feel like I need to take one for the team but it’s not necessarily that. Sometimes, it’s really that martyr, kind of in a negative way that martyr complex where you really feel like you need to feel bad so that you can do something that’s important.

Jen: Oh that’s interesting. I haven’t considered that one before but that make sense just some guilt. Oh that’s interesting, Andrea. I’m going to have to dissect that and think about that for a while.

Andrea: You know, it’s that “I’m just more serious than everybody else, or I’m just more whatever than everybody else so I’m gonna have to bear this burden for everybody else.” You know that sort of thing, I think it can definitely be something that I’ve certainly felt before and I’ve seen that happen before too. But in the end that doesn’t seem to really accomplish the end goal, does it?

Jen: Well, no because if you’re negative, you can’t be an Influencer. I really think Influencers have a bit of charisma. But by charisma if we dissect that a little, it’s an energy and a confidence that only comes from knowing clearly who they are, knowing their worthy, knowing that they have an important message and really, essentially knowing that they have “a calling” to share. And when you have that, you don’t need to feel guilty or to shrink back and feel not good enough because… You know there’s a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert that I’ve watched before. And she said back in the Ancient Greece, I think Greece or Rome, one of two, people believe then what was called a genius which is like a muse and they thought that all creativity comes from their genius.

And so if they’re feeling creative, well they blamed they’re genius and if things we’re going well, they could think they’re genius. But it took all the pressure off of the person and they put it outside of themselves. That’s kind of true for us too if we believe kind of that we have a calling from God or the Universe, then it’s easier. It’s not around things or an assignment and it’s takes some pressure off.

Andrea: Yeah that’s a good point too. Well, Jen, this has been really helpful. I really appreciate the idea that we can organize our lives in such a way that maybe we can actually have some happiness then go ahead to offer to others as well. Do you have any suggestions or references, any resources that you might suggest that we take a look at?

Adrienne: Yes. So my audience is primarily women, so most women might be interested in this. But men, you’re welcome. It is cared through for women, but I have what’s called the self-care tool kit. And it’s a little mini video training with a workbook and some other tools including some guided meditations that just help women to take better care of themselves. So they have a place of energy and positivity to give from and to be that Influencer. So that’s at jenriday.com/selfcare.

Andrea: Alright. So thank you much, Jen. I appreciate you sharing your story and your advice with us today

Jen: Thank you for having me, Andrea. This is great. I love what you’re doing.

END

 

The Terrifying First Step Is Usually the Best One to Take

Voice Studio 09

In this 7 minute Voice Studio episode I talk about the interview with Chad R. Allen in episode 09. He encourages all writers, makers and creators to take the first step and then take it again. In this episode I share about how I got started writing in 2014…taking the first step over and over again until I had a blog, then a book and now a podcast.

Mentioned in this episode:

Episode 09 with Chad R. Allen
Frozen Top Ten (blog post)
UNFROZEN: Stop Holding Back and Release the Real You (book)

Listen on iTunes (Apple Podcasts) here.

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

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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!

 

Dare to Live Outside the Fences

Episode 06 with Terry Weaver

Terry Weaver is a speaker, author, event producer, podcaster, and ideapreneur whose passion is to see others live life alive; whether through helping others see their dreams become reality, traveling around the world challenging students to change the world, leading teams of people to do more together than they could alone, or hanging out with Mickey Mouse.
With a background in the music business, Terry has helped creatives navigate the journey from the garage to the biggest stages in the world. Whether it’s getting to the stage of Grammys®, helping entrepreneurs with a six-figure product launch, or leading conversations with key thought leaders his mission is always the same to help leaders take what they are doing to the next level. Terry and his wife Leslie live outside Nashville, Tennessee with their miniature schnauzer.

Mentioned in this episode:

 

I don’t have a transcript for this interview today, but grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair and listen in by pushing play above or in iTunes (here).

 

How Good Businesses Can Build Influence

Episode 03 of the Voice of Influence Podcast

Mentioned in this episode:

Listen here (press the play button below) or find us on iTunes and Stitcher.

Transcript

(This is an approximate transcript.) Adrienne Dorison is a business consultant, podcast host, and the founder of Good Businesses Do Good, who helps entrepreneurs get focused and strategic so that they can be more profitable and sustainable in way less time. She is a LEAN business expert who believes in generosity, relationship building and doing less, better. Adrienne loves dog, cookies, Crossfit, and long-distance triathlons.

Andrea: Adrienne, it’s so good to have you here on the Voice of Influence Podcast.

Adrienne: Thank you for having me. I love hearing my own bio read back. That’s me!

Andrea: Yeah, I do love those things.

Adrienne: Yeah, I do love cookies and Crossfit and dogs. I’m excited to be here.

Andrea: Do you have any long-distance triathlons that you’re training for right now?

Adrienne: No. I need to sign up for one. It’s one of those things where I don’t just like pay the fees and sign up then I keep putting it off. So I need to pick a race and get training that’s what I need to do. I think it’s like most things in life right? Like we just keep procrastinating or putting it off until we invest and book a date.

Andrea: I agree. I agree. Yeah, my husband is signed up for the Boulder Half Ironman. So I don’t know. Adrienne: That’s hilly, I bet.

Andrea: I think not too bad. Anyway, it will be fun.

Adrienne: Well, I live in Florida so…

Andrea: A little more hilly maybe. It’s kind of on like a flatter ground I think, but it still yeah, it’s kind of fun. So Adrienne, I asked you if you have taken the Fascinate Assessment before and you said you had, so I’m curious when you’ve done that before.

Adrienne: You know, it’s really funny, because I know you know Amy Porterfield, and she had Sally on her podcast and that’s when I first took the assessment, was once I heard Sally on Amy Porterfield podcast and I was like “Oh this is interesting, I’m gonna go to that test.”  I got my responses back, my assessment back and I was like “Maybe my husband watch this video,” He was like “Oh my God!” I’m like “This is me.” He was like “Yeah, that’s exactly you.”

Andrea: So fun and I told you previously, you’re the Ace which is alert plus power which is what my daughter is. Yeah, she’s 10 so I’m like “Oh, I’ve got a picture of what her personality might be like as an adult.”

Adrienne: It’s crazy that like within here now. Did you see change overtime? I’m so curious.

Andrea: I definitely see it in here. Yes and her favorite words are plan and organize. Does that sound familiar?

Adrienne: Yes.

Andrea: A little bit maybe? Well, anyway, it’s fun. So I’m curious about you. Do you feel like your voice in a way that other people perceive you, the way that you interact in the world – are those sorts of things, things that have the way that you are now, do you think that that’s you have been since you were a kid too?

Adrienne: No. I would say that…I had a pretty traumatic experience in my childhood like growing up with my mother at first. She was alcoholic and lived in an abuse at home and so I think that like at aged 10, I probably was not the A’s in terms of how the world perceives me now. I feel like I’ve definitely evolved into being more confident and more comfortable with sharing who I really am and being okay with that as well as like having a voice at all.

Because when I lived in that home, it was not okay to speak up or have thoughts and emotions. And now maybe because of that experience, I’ve actually shifted. I’m like swung to the other side of the pendulum, right? Now, I do have a voice and I’m not going to not talk about these things anymore, right? So I would say I had taken it up that time, it would not have been the Ace. So it’s just interesting like I want to follow back up in 20 years and I’ll ask what your daughter if she’s still that way because I definitely evolved as a person.

And I always wonder the same thing with Myers-Briggs. I am like “Am I still the same personality type as I was 10 years ago?” And I don’t think I am and it’s so interesting. And I think if I’ve taken a couple years from now, I’ll maybe even be a little bit…I don’t know, a little bit more different, possibly evolving in that voice and getting more comfortable and confident in it in who we are as we learn what it is.

Andrea: Right. I think that’s the key is understanding that there is, I don’t like the potential for our voice is different than how far we’ve taken it so far. And as we continue to grow and experience these new areas of our lives that it does seemed to really expand. But I don’t know that it’s necessarily changes who we are in the beginning. Maybe it really does sort of just swell, you know. As we mature, those different parts of us are able to come out in different ways too. But yeah, I do think you can look like a different person for sure. So that’s really interesting!

Adrienne: And maybe it’s more of the peeling back of the layers, which I think I’ve done a lot of. And you’re right like maybe that’s more of a swelling. Maybe it’s more of like the allowing at this point of my life for those things to lead versus suffocating them as I was told to do as a child. And maybe, you know, like most children aren’t told to suffocate those things, which is great like they shouldn’t be, but maybe this was always who I was. And as our influences start to permeate us, we start only saying and using our voice that we think we should use versus what we actually feel and know is our truth.

I know it’s just an interesting time in the world right now. And I think that the political climate can have an environmental and the social climate can have an influence on how you’re using your voice and what layers of that onion are being peeled back and kind of like what knife is being stuck into them that you’re more willing to show the real truth and actually use the voice that you’ve always had but maybe even didn’t know until these things start to trigger it.

Andrea: So when you look back on your life then, do you remember or recall any particular triggers that really started to peel back those layers for you or release that in you?

Adrienne: And I think about like current circumstances right now because that’s like what’s most obvious to me. Like the election, I think definitely shook me a little bit. I think a lot of people, a lot a bit so that’s been something that I’m exploring a lot of my own beliefs a lot more and trying to get educated as long as using my voice in a more powerful way. Because I think in the past, I felt like I didn’t know enough, so I wouldn’t say anything about anything, right?

Andrea: Right.

Adrienne: Then really understanding my not saying anything was real tolerance of the things that I didn’t believe in. And I was like “Oh, I mean not using my voice; I’m actually supporting the other side.” So being more proactive about that has definitely…I feel like there’s more of a sense of urgency right now as well as I’ve built this platform. So I feel the person responsible to use it.

So that’s like a big ownership thing that I feel. As well as like I would say at certain times of my life, I’ve gone through like some religious experiences that caused me to challenge my own thoughts and beliefs and speak up more vocally and use my voice around those things as well as like shapes my voice, right? Because I was actually questioning myself versus taking things at face value, which helps me understands what that voice was even more. I think when we take things at face value, we’re just using societal voice versus our own voice.

And it’s really easy to get trapped up into that especially with how noisy the world is to be like “Oh, is that what want? Is that what I believe? Or is that what’s easy to believe or what someone else told me I should believe. And when I really peel back those layers, it’s not actually what I believe because now I have the energy, the time, and the space and the knowledge to go and search out like what I really believe the truth is or my truth is. I feel like that’s a deep yet, non-specific answer.

Andrea: No, that’s okay. I think that this podcast and I, in general, tends to be a little bit both of those things.

Adrienne: I mean that’s broad but…

Andrea: Yeah, yeah that’s okay. I love this kind of conversation because I think we are all kind of trying to feel our way through it all and to hear how other people are gruffling with their own voice, and how to use their platforms is really important. I think the person listening right now is somebody who does or wants to have more of a Voice of Influence of some kind. And so I’m curious for you and your platforms. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing and your platform is based on?

Adrienne: So my platform specifically is helping people grow their businesses so that they can then give back to the world in more meaningful ways. So I talk about earn more to give more because I think it’s like really unique points in the world right now. There’s global internet economy that we have access to that we can create limitless income for ourselves. We can create our own businesses. There are more entrepreneurs now than there have ever been. By 2020, there will be like this crazy amount – forgot the numbers right on the top of my head.

But there’s going to be a crazy amount of entrepreneurs continuing to enter the world in the economy like leaving corporations, leaving jobs and moving towards starting their own businesses. So we have this potential to earn more money. So #1 – We have to embrace that. We have to be okay with that. There are so many people, women specifically, that are uncomfortable with earning more money and that’s a problem, because if you want to have a major impact in the world, we know that money is a large part of that.

So first of all, we need to get comfortable with earning more money and we need to know how to actually do that, right? So that’s the first piece of what I help people with. It’s like getting comfortable with that wealth creation at a mindset level and then strategically knowing how to do that in people’s businesses. And then to give more peace, so I have this side of my business called Good Businesses Do Good, because I truly believe that good people with good money do good things, right?

So let’s be part of an opportunity that we have to change the world much more quickly than we have ever had the opportunity to do in the past, because we now can control a lot of that money and where it’s going. So let’s use our wealth creation for more good. So instead of just building a business that supports your own personal lifestyle, which you can still have, I have this big calling and mission on my heart to show people that the hunger, the motivation that keeps you going is actually having the cause outside of yourself that impacts the world in a meaningful way.

So giving back generously whether that’s through your financial side of your business or through your time or through your energy or through your gifts, etc, so that we can really change the world much more quickly. But I think that we have to have both sides of the equation like the earning more and then the giving more. And with those powers combined, it sounds like Captain Planet..we really do have, not just an opportunity but like I said, the personal responsibility to use our businesses positively.

There are tons of studies that to show that businesses that actually do good, give back to socially, environmentally, responsible causes, they do better. Like people want to invest their money in those companies, so why not be one of those companies? Why not meet your personal needs in your life and then your lifestyle but then also use your business to support other causes around the world.

And by doing that, you’re actually also helping your customers make a decision to work with you because that’s something that a lot of people use to decide when they’re choosing between Company A, Company B, and Company C; is this company doing good things with the money we’re investing in them? So you get to help them align with their values by also showing what your values are and helping them make a decision because they want to invest their money in good businesses. So let’s be a good business and let’s show the world who is good businesses are.

Andrea: That is really powerful stuff. And I think that for me, it was about a year ago when I started to really kind of shift my own mindset on this. I kind of come from a ministry background so my thought was always, you know, that I would never make any money and that I probably shouldn’t. And because if I was starting to help people that I shouldn’t try to profit from them or whatever, so it’s just never even entered my mind that I was a business woman of any sense. And so I wrote a book and I decided, I needed to sell it in order to get a message out. I actually had to do some marketing.

And what I realized was, I ended up taking BSchool, and what I realized was that actually I could give maybe this message out even further and I was going to have to build a platform. I was going to have to get those email addresses and all those sorts of things that you kind of need to be able to do to get a real message out into the world beyond your kind of immediate location. And so that’s when it started to kind of shift for me that “Wait a second, maybe I have something professional to offer to besides just a message.”

And so I had to be going to do some digging but I think that a lot of people do good in their hearts, you know, they want to do good, they want to help people, they deal with a lot of guilt around this idea of making money. They feel like they shouldn’t. So how do you help people to see beyond that guilt?

Adrienne: Uh-hmm. I mean, it’s a huge emotion and attached to money for some reason, right? Whether that’s from your childhood or from something that someone told you at some point in their life or from religion that you’re part of that or maybe believes that or you’ve just created that assumption from something in your past. But I think that if you really do believe in the work that you do or the message that you have to share and you believe that can serve and support other people, then it is your personal responsibility to share it with more people.

And by you feeling guilty about making more money, you aren’t able to help as many people as you may want to. So there is money rotating around this world, energetically being exchanged between people and wouldn’t you rather that be in the hands of people that are going to do good things with it, right? Because there are people that need the service or the product or the offer that you provide. And if they don’t buy it from you, they’re probably going to go buy it from someone else. So if you feel guilty receiving that money someone else does not. And so that’s why I think the earning more, yes this is important but then the giving more means that now you have c

ontrol to say “Okay, I earned more and now I feel it’s my personal responsibility to go back and do what I really feel is on my heart to change the world in a bigger way.” So that doesn’t mean we need to be directly through product or service that you provide. So many people that I have spoken to, you know, whether it’s related to their business or career, I’ve heard a lot of people like what I used to be really involved in a church felt like they weren’t doing God’s work if they weren’t in ministries. I’m like “What can you do… #1: Given these gifts or you’re selling this product or service for a reason like it does directly help someone in some way.

But then what can you be personally responsible for after that to then do what’s been placed upon your heart, right? Whether that’s investing that money into an organization that you really want to support or to a nonprofit or spending your time and energy with people that need love and caring and whatever it is, there’s no reason to feel guilty about making more money if you truly believe in giving back in a positive ways. And I think that actually freeze you up to give back in more meaningful and positive ways when you are earning more money. And so actually if you’re not doing people a disservice, you should feel guilty about not making more money.

This is how I get my people because they don’t want to feel guilty about not serving, about not giving their gifts to the world. You know, what I always knew is that if I wasn’t paid for the work that I do, I would have to go back to a job. If I’m not paid for the work that I do going back to the job doesn’t help the people that I know I can serve directly through my work, but it also put at risk for this bigger mission of Good Businesses Do Good and how I financially giving back to other causes. I can do that as greatly if I have to get a job, right?

So I need to be paid to do this if I want to continue to do this and if I want to reach more people doing this. So I think that there’s a huge disconnect for people that are feeling guilty with what impact they could be having if they went through some of those emotions and really understood them a little bit better, right? So it’s easy to say on a podcast but really going back and like digging, I’m like “Why do you feel guilty about making more money? What is it about money that has attached guilt to it in making money, right? Do you believe that rich people don’t do good things with money and why? Some of the most wealthy people on the planet are doing some of the greatest, most charitable, most selfless and acts of giving that I’ve ever seen, so why not want to be part of that?

Andrea: Yeah that’s really interesting. I was thinking about the person listening who might have that message that they’re wanting to get out. They might be where I was maybe a year or two ago where it feels like this message is the thing. And this is what I need to do when I need to get this message out by writing or speaking or whatever it might be. But that message of itself may not be something that would make money.

Adrienne: It’s not monetized or monetizable.

Andrea: Right, right. So how did they look at? Is there a way for them to create a business either around that message or do you recommend that people do it outside of the message and that the message is the give back?

Adrienne: I think it depends on looking at a business specifically and saying “Is there really nothing here we could monetize?” I think that’s very rare with a message, and so usually that’s just like a personal block that you’re having that you can’t see it because you’re too close to it. It’s too easy for you which is something that comes up a lot for people when they have a specific gift or skill set or expertise. They don’t see the value as much because it comes so naturally for them, whereas other people would absolutely be willing to pay you for that specific expertise, right?

So that would involve like you or maybe just asking someone else to really give you an outside perspective and someone with much expertise on this, could this be monetizable? How could we monetize this? Get creative with how you monetize this. One of my mentors, Jadah Sellner always talks about the cash project and the heart project, right? So for some people, you have this heart project that really isn’t monetized or don’t want to monetize it at all. And in order for that heart project to be able to be moved forward and have the impact that you want to have, you actually do need to hang on to the cash project.

Whether that is a different business or a different component of your business or a job like whatever those things are that will actually provide you with the financial stability and security that you need to push the heart project forward maybe until you understand how to monetize the heart project. So I would say like don’t throw out that cash project yet until you figure out how to move that heart project forward in a way that have the impact that you wanted to have or you’re able to monetize it in a way that it feels really good. Because again, in this current online technological economy that we live in, people can actually and are just monetizing followers.

So if you’re able to create the impact that you wanted and have a really powerful message to share, you could absolutely monetize it if you work on that heart project piece of just getting people onboard with this idea in creating a large following or a large audience for it that had your back. That’s monetizable, right? Even if you don’t directly see that yet, something that’s like not been available to us before.

Andrea: Right. Yeah, I found myself just being incredibly grateful that I’m where I’m at right now in this time and history, I guess. Because it seems like it’s a pivotal moment in history as well, like you said there’s going to be even more entrepreneurs in the next few years. But right now, there still aren’t, you know, we’re still building on that building the momentum thing. So yeah it really feels exciting.

Adrienne: I mean, when you think about it, because we’re early adaptors, even though entrepreneurship has been a thing and has been a growing trend for probably the last three or four decades.   It still pretty new, because when you think about the majority of your like in real-life circle, if you’ve left a job or if you have a side business, you are the minority, right? And I think that that will start to shift for over the next few to 10 years in a much more drastic way. I mean, even kids were making millions of dollar on YouTube. That’s going to be the new norm in the next 10 years.

Andrea: Yeah, I don’t know how many people would find that normal but I hear what you’re saying.

Adrienne: Yeah, just like entrepreneurship in general, like it’s being more accessible and normal for that to be how people make their living and share a message and monetize their life or their message or the service or expertise that they have. So we are like new and still share that with friends or people at my job “Oh you’re the first?” I’m like “There are few other people that do, but they’re always like super intrigue, right? Like “How do you make money?” Like “What is that look like?” “How did you do that?” Because people don’t like and not in my online circle and when we’re on this online circles, we forget that like “That’s not really normal world yet.”

Andrea: So true. So Adrienne how did you get started then in this online business world.

Adrienne: Yeah, so this is another thing that my mentor  Jadah Sellner asked me. She calls and asked me “What’s your daily drug so I’ll get through the online space.” Because usually because once you find that person, what happens is like you ripple effect to my client this other you know like snowballs and you find that you find these other people. So I started to think back to that when she asked me that question and like “What was my gateway drug?” And my daily drug was actually Dave Ramsey.

But it started with Dave Ramsey because I went to Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University which is how I got out of $48,000 of debt in six months. So that was the turning point for me to start like really cleaning up my financial life and money mindset and really doing that work. And I didn’t have a side business at that time but during that time when I was working through his program, I started the side business just for fun because I felt like suffocated at my job and I was blogging and talking about that. And then I stumbled on to Dave Ramsey to Jon Acuff and I read his book, Quitter, and then I found …

Andrea: Umm good one.

Adrienne: Finally, and then I quit my job and then I stumbled upon Jeff Goins and I read his book The Art of Work, and I interviewed him. And then the ripple effect, the snowball continue to happen and continue to like “Oh you know, Jeff interviews need to, you know, this other person.” And then I was introduced to Chalene Johnson and then I found this person.

So once you stumbled upon like one of those people that can open the gateway, I feel like they’re usually connected to other people and that’s how I kind of found my way to this world. But I started by really trying to get my financial ducks in order and growing the side business and helped me pay off that debt really quickly and helped me really find what I’ve really wanted to do and then I was able to leave my job and start doing this fulltime about six months after I first started.

Andrea: You recently shared an episode on your podcast, you have a couple of different podcasts currently but your main podcast – you shared about a Dear Diary episode where you were discussing the fact that hadn’t been as consistently with your content. You’re taking kind of a sit back, reevaluating, trying to figure out what you want to do for this year. So I’m really interested in the voice aspect of this. How did you decide whether or not to share this process, the fact that you were in process, with your followers rather than maybe faking it until you figured it out and then you start with your new message or you start with your new, you know whatever. Why did you decide to go ahead and be vulnerable, or in a sense vulnerable, and share that you don’t have it all together right now?

Adrienne: Yeah. This is such a good and timely question because I’m still going through this, but I’m sharing the actual process. And I just aired a new episode on The School Self-Mastery, which is the podcast that you’re talking about. I was kind of making follow up to that Dear Diary. It’s a great episode, which I continue to kind of go through this again peeling back the layers like really open book process. And I sent an email to list which was well-received by some people and then I actually gotten some negative feedback around this sharing this process and you sharing this voice.

Andrea: Really?

Adrienne: Yeah, which is why I bring it up because I think it’s a really interesting conversation to have, right? I’m really processing this as you asked this question because I haven’t answered this question before. “Why I’m actually doing this? Why not just air some old content or just power through and do some posts.” I actually have recorded episodes in the drawer like in the bank that I haven’t aired and I’m not airing them. I could be doing that, so why do this instead of that and instead of being silent because there’s been weeks and weeks where I’ve read just silent and then I reappear and say like “Here’s what’s going on.”

And the reason is because it felt so uncomfortable like I felt like I was hiding a secret from my husband or my bestfriends, because I felt such a close relationship with my audience. And because I’ve really made it part of my business and my mission to be an open book with them and to tell them like “Hey, I’m gonna be on this ride with you.” It might be a couple of steps ahead of some people. It might be right next to some people.

Some people might be ahead of me but they just like following me in terms of the content that I put out there. I want to be on this right with you and that means showing up and talking about this even when I don’t know what to say, and even when I’m feeling inconsistent or feeling like I’m not sure with the message is meant to be. Or that I don’t have it all figured out because I just feel like I was trying, like when I would record an episode and I wasn’t saying all those things, I just couldn’t do the episode.

“How do I hide this from them? How do I not talk about this? How do I just keep putting out content that doesn’t really bring the main thing that’s going on for me to the table?” So I almost just feel like I couldn’t escape recording and not sharing what was going on and will I lose followers? Absolutely. But I’ll gain more of the right ones and people I think trust that more and they relate to that because that’s how a lot of people being like “You know what, thanks for saying that because I felt like that too.” Or “I’m not knowing how to express what’s going on.” Or “I felt like it wasn’t okay for me to express that that what’s going on for me because of what I’ve built so far, or what I’ve been talking about so far, so thanks for opening up that door for me, right?

And really what this is is permission to self express and that’s the greatest freedom that we have #1: (I’m American citizen, right?) As American citizen as human beings is that freedom to self express and I think that most people where they want freedom, they say they want freedom. They want financial security of course and that provides some freedom. But really, what we’re saying is we want freedom to express ourselves. We felt so suffocated maybe in this corporate world or all over this place.

And I created a business at a certain point that I wasn’t giving myself permission to self express and I’m like “Well, I’m not doing that that I’m really just creating another job for myself, for my values and freedom and self expression as one of my highest value that I have to open with that conversation.” So yeah there’s been some negative backlash in terms of, you know, what I wrote yesterday saying “I need to be real with you.” And when I got a response back “No, you don’t. You don’t need to be real with us. You need to just keep doing what you do like putting out content, why tell us this.”

And I was just like “Wow, that’s actually maybe something I needed to hear because it fires me up even more that I have [crosstalk] and then I will not and then I will not be suffocated by other people not wanting me to share that story. And this for me comes back to childhood and not being able to use my voice, and not being able to say the things I wanted to say if I was self expressing in a way that I wanted to. And over the past years when my business has gained more popularity and like, you know, I’m searchable online. I’m not like famous or anything. But I’m searchable online and people can find me which means that my biological mother has found me on the inter webs.

Again, from birth having that childlike feeling of someone saying “Don’t share this story. You can’t talk about this.” It completely reminds me of why I need to share the story and why I need to talk about these things and why I do have responsibility to myself and to the people I serve to use that voice and self-express, right? And I think that that just has been coming up for me like so much more clearly that I just felt like I owed it to my audience and it almost felt like a big exhale to talk about it. So that’s kind of like a little bit of the behind-the-scenes on like using that voice in a way that feels a little bit messy right now to be honest.

Andrea: Yeah. You know, Adrienne, you really struck me as someone who longs for authentic connection with other people. Obviously, not just fake but also deep authentic connection and it sounds like what you’re doing by being honest and being both authentic and transparent about your experience right now with your business and with your message, you are sort of offering a filter to people and saying, “Look, this is what I’m really going for here, really wanting this kind of connection with you. So if you’re not interested that’s okay, but this is me and this what I want.”

And I have a feeling that you’re going to find or that most people are going to really appreciate and do really appreciate the transparency that you’re offering because they can relate more to it. And I feel that they can relate to you and then the people who don’t are typically just afraid of their own stuff.

Adrienne: Right and they don’t have to listen. That’s the beauty of me being able to share that message. And I think there’s this just something, you know, we teach what we need to learn. I had a client I was talking to yesterday and she was talking about how it takes hours and hours to write and email to her lists. And I said “You know how long it took me to write my email this morning to my email list?” I said “It took me about 10 minutes.” And I said “You know why, because I wasn’t filtering myself. I just wrote it and I didn’t care.”

The reason it’s taking you so long to write that authentic feeling email because you’re not being authentic, right? She was in tears because she was afraid. She was afraid to talk about the things that she really wants to say. She’s afraid to say the things that are really on her mind right now because of the pressure to make something super valuable. Oh my God like if one more person tells you like “Make sure, you bring out some valuable content, right? Don’t put anything else that’s not valuable.”

And to be honest I’ve said that a million times. And I’m like “Oh my gosh, I have to release that pressure off myself too because who am I to say what some others going to find valuable from this or not. I just need to self-express and the people who are going to need it at that moment or going to get it or people who don’t, will just leave and move on for the day. No worries. But the more we filter, the less we get to self-express and actually the less value we provide because we’re trying to self filter and gauge what other people are going to find valuable or useful. And I’m like “What did you just get something out there?”

Let other people decide what they value and feel it useful because truthfully, I don’t know if this has happened to you, but every time get out there and share a message what I think is going to be the most valuable piece never really is, right? If someone comes back and they’re like “Oh my God, you said this one line that was so impactful for me.” And I’m like “I said that, right? Okay, if that’s what what you got from it, that’s what you were meant to get from it.” But if I continue to filter, they may never get those things because I’m just siding what they need to have as most valuable, right?

Andrea: You know there are two things that makes me think of that. I know we’re kind of running low on time here, but I think #1 – People are valuable inherently and the idea of connecting with another person is invaluable. It is so hard to find that, and so I think that that is valuable for sure. But then the other part is that I think that because you’re taking the time back and you said you stepped away from producing more content and that sort of thing. You were wanting to sort of take a step back and really reevaluate. And I think what that means is that you really know who you are. You’re trying to know who you are.

I think a lot of people don’t already know that, and they don’t take the time to go there. And so then when it comes to just turning on and just figure their heart and just pouring out their 10-minute email, they don’t how because they don’t even know what they want. They don’t know who they are. So Influencer who’s listening, know you are. Take that time back or step back like Adrienne is doing and feel free to be able to do the digging that you need to do so that you’re in touch with who you are and what you think and what you want to say. So that when you do come to that email or that conversation, it’s automatically more authentic because you already are who you are and you’re not having to fake it or try to come up with something.

Adrienne: Uh-huh. And I think a lot of us know who we are and again, we filter that because we’re afraid of what other people would think about who you really are, right?

Andrea: Yeah.

Adrienne: And so it’s like, you’re right taking that set back and say…you know, sometimes just writing for the sake of writing versus writing for a purpose or for someone else can be very really helpful to figure that out. It’s like, “What would you say if no one was going to read it, you just write that out.” And that’s like one of the exercises that I do and another exercise that is super helpful that I have recently picked up from Jess Lively is writing to your intuition and asking your intuition questions and then allowing that intuition to write back to you.

You could ask your intuition like who am I really and just see what comes up for you because it would probably be really insightful and interesting and you just need listen and not try to judge it, because that’s what immediately going to come up. But you just listen and didn’t judge that or didn’t allow the external noise to tell you what you should be or what you should write or what you should do which is very heavy and distracting in online space, so you need to take that time with self to figure that out for sure.

Andrea: So good! Adrienne, I am so glad that you took some time today to be with us and share your story, share your heart, share your message, your voice with us. I’m glad that you’re out there doing that in the world and I hope more and more people do it because of your example.

Adrienne: Well, thank you! It was super fun to be here. This is a really awesome discussion and I think even just thinking them out how to find that voice even more like having discussions, you know, sometimes this is where or some of that comes out and you’re like “Huh, did I just say that that was really good, right?” Like “I never thought about that or that’s a really good question, let me think a moment to think about that.” And so I love doing podcast and this is one of the reasons. It’s like really help me understand what that voice is so this is reciprocated like the value is totally here for me too, so thank you so much!

Andrea: Awesome! All right, will talk to you later Adrienne.

END

How to Create Lightbulb Moments with Espen Klausen, Ph.D.

Episode 01 Podcast & Transcript

We’re here! It’s the very first episode of the Voice of Influence podcast! You can listen to the podcast and read the transcript here. But if you want to help a girl out, head on over to iTunes and Subscribe, Rate and Review the Voice of Influence. It would be so helpful! Thank you!

You can find Espen Klausen at his website http://www.espenklausen.com.

Transcript

Hey, hey! This is Andrea Wenburg and you are listening to the Voice of Influence podcast and this is episode 01. That’s right, this is the very first interview that I’m publishing on this podcast. A
nd Espen is the perfect person to start us off. Espen is excellent at communicating and connecting with his clients and people that he cares about in his relationships, his work life and as a speaker. I think you’re going to find that this interview is something you’re going to want to come back to over and over again. I’ve already listened to it a couple of times and I’ve thought, “I have got to write some of this down, because this is good!” Let’s get to it with Espen.

Espen Klausen, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and speaker based in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. His work in public community mental health includes individuals, couples, and family therapy with clients of all ages and he conducts psychological assessments. He is the lead psychologist for several County programs. He consults for Social Services. As a speaker, he runs seminars on a wide range of subjects for professionals groups, company wellness programs, ministries, County departments, and community groups.

Andrea: Espen Klausen, it is so good to have you with us.

Espen: Thank you. I’m very happy to be with you.

Andrea: This is of course very fun for me because Espen happens to be married to one of my bestfriends from high school, so I’ve known Espen for quite a long time. And through my work in ministry or just in trying to help other people on a one-on-one kind of basis, Espen has often served as somebody that I could come to with questions about different things and sort of like a consultant. I’ve really appreciated your help through the years, not only for attempting to help, but for myself as well, Espen.

Espen: Ah yeah. I believe I show up as a cameo in your book.

Andrea: You do, you do and very important one too because I was really struggling at that time, and I appreciated you and Chris and the way that you guys came around me. I really appreciate that. Anyway, I’m so glad to have you here to talk about Voice of Influence with the Influencers that are listening. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about what you do?

Espen: Wow, what do I do?

Andrea: Right. I know, your bio kind of indicates that you do everything.

Espen: Yeah, and being in community mental health, you have to be ready to do everything. You have to be a generalist. You don’t want to go working for the county and be “Oh, I’m only working with trauma,” because we want to help everyone and you don’t know who’s going to walk through that door and we cover crisis and then certainly you don’t know who’s going to show up and need the help right there. You’d be willing to do everything and work with everyone. That’s also been the training I’ve pursued.

So a lot of general public mental health which is what I wanted in seeking this line is working with a lot of people that underprivileged, underserved people with multiple mental health problems, medical problems, poverty, difficult life situations; and the hardest of cases to deal with where they have few outside resources.

Andrea: Yeah, that sounds like really important work. It occurred to me that the listeners are probably hearing your accent and wondering where you from. And also, how did you get from there to where you’re at right now? Maybe a little overview of why you are doing what you’re doing, how you got this point?

Espen: Yeah, and I know you’re very intrigue with how people are finding the voice and it’s kind of the same story. Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to help people. And as a result from early on, I’ve pursued becoming a medical doctor. In Norway, that’s where my accent is from, you know, I often joked I got it for $1.99 on eBay because nobody else would bid for it, but I got it from Norway that’s where I was born and raised.

So I was pursuing medical school. The way we do things in Norway is in Norway, you start medical schools straight out of high school. There’s no premed college or something like that. Once out from high school, you go for medicine that’s one long education. I studied hard in high school. Got the insane grades that’s needed in Norway to get into medical school, but as it turned out, I didn’t get into the medical school I wanted.

So I decided to wait a year and collect some… we call them “study points,” which would make more qualified to potentially get into medical school I wanted to. So I decided to take the dare to study abroad. And when I said study abroad, that has two meanings – my girlfriend at the time, now my wife, who you know well, was going to college and was an American. So I decided to study at her college for that year.

But then what happened was – I took a psychology course just a few weeks and I’m like “Why in the world am I pursuing medicine?” Yes, helping others is a part of my voice, but my voice is multifaceted and has certainly other elements than that. It is part of that meeting people where they’re at, helping people on a very personal level. And I quickly fell in love with psychology and the opportunities that it had. It was a possible self that until this point I have never even considered.

I actually think that’s one of things that lead to us, having too few mental health workers and people in psychology and related fields is most people just don’t even think about it as a career choice until they happen to take a psychology class. And I just recognized “Wow, yeah this is where my voice is.” Since then, I continue education in psychology, three years of college, graduate school, and now having been a professional in psychology over the last 9 or 10 years.

Just every year, I discover more, more of my voice and refining it within that field. So how I got to America of course then is loving education. And once here, just discovering psychology and choosing to finish my career here and of course, I got married to my wonderful wife too and got established here.

Andrea: So when did you begin speaking then?

Espen: Well, I was probably around 2 years old when I started speaking but okay…

Andrea: You’re very funny.

Espen: Yeah, yeah okay. I usually joke way too much and say “Hey, waited this long to have a joke,” that’s kind of unusual.

Andrea: I was going to say … I think that was part of your voice. This is part of who you are is you’re funny and you’re witty.

Espen: It is. Sometimes people are…oh I sometimes come to a talk because I get to have fun and I might learn something at the same time. You want to keep people entertained particularly in this day and age. Yeah, I guess early start would be in my graduate training. It was research-focused. You’re expected to become a scientist. You’re expected to do research and you’re expected to disseminate research, which means you’re going to do presentations.

Through my research, I was lucky enough to get a lot of opportunities for it. And that picked up interests, which means I was interviewed by radio shows and that was the early beginning to it. But I never thought of that as much of a career or as a society career. Starting to work for the county, people started liking what I was saying; social services, social workers there, and other people started coming to me for advice. They wanted to learn and they like what I had to say and people started asking me to training or “Can you do this talk?”

And the more and more I was doing that, I started recognizing that I had the ability to meet people where they’re at in more than a one-on-one situation or more than a family or a group. I could do it with a bigger audience and that people appreciated what I had to say. I also found that one of the things in the world that I found the most rewarding is seeing people have a light bulb moment. And that also flavored the way I speak, the way I talk, or the way set up main points are in ways that give people light-bulb moments. I speak in such a way that by the time I give them their main points and take-home message, is exactly the same time that their brain is making the same main points.

Andrea: How do you know that that’s what happening? Is it intuition or is it just kind of an observation?

Espen: No. It is observation. And for most people, this is akin to having a baby where you show them something new. They may be looking all around or bubbling or whatever but you show them something new and exciting they’ve never seen before and you just see the face changed. And you knew they were interested. It’s just the sudden change, the sudden dawning on their face.

And for most people when they have a light-bulb moment, actually the face looks much light bulb. And my understanding is, it is probably because it is the same face. It is the same reflex. It’s the brain that’s recognizing something new.

Actually, one of the rewarding things for a person is when we make new sign-ups connections. When our brain makes new connections, it is pleasurable for most people. But it’s pleasurable when their brain is making those connections, not when they’re just being fed information. Or if just being fed information is work that your brain has to focus on and make itself concentrate to put it in the storage banks.

And when our brain can make its own a new connections when…I like to call it, when we can learn when our brain is just putting two and two things together and go like “Ah so that’s how that works.” Or sometimes it create a light-bulb moment where I present things in a way where I just know that what I’m saying is going to connect to their own experiences, where they’re be interpreting what they did experience before. And that’s when I know things they’re thinking in and that’s when I know how things are going to be remembered and put into actions.

It’s one of the reasons I work educating people who have children with certain mental health issues, particularly something like autism or ADHD where very often parents who are new to the diagnosis don’t understand how it works. Now, I can understand certain principles and suddenly there are dozens of life experiences with their child that just in a few flash seconds are getting re-interpreted in seeing in a totally different life. They report this “Oh, there’s so many things that suddenly makes sense now.” And when people have that experience, it’s one of the most rewarding things there is for me.

Andrea: So do you think that you’ve always been pretty good at leading people to these light-bulb moments in a sort of way by allowing them to connect to their own experiences, allowing them to come to their own conclusions. It kind of sounded like you’re saying, you’re sort of putting the two pieces in front of them and letting them add them up. Have you always been good at this or is it something you’ve developed overtime?

Espen: That certainly something I’ve developed overtime. This sharing knowledge, sharing, understanding, it’s something…I have memories of doing this when 5, 6 years old. I was probably labeled as precocious and…

Andrea: Probably huh?

Espen: Yeah, probably. But that was just sharing information and probably whether the person was really interested or not. It was probably the information that was relevant to that person, or now I’m a know-it-all or certainly I was that way in high school in class “Ah there goes Espen, he is raising his hand again.” So that’s something I developed overtime. Certainly something that has been important is a lot of my training in psychology is understanding people psychology, understand how people’s past affect the way they look at things certainly has helped me tuned in to that.

But that really boiled down to…has been my philosophy that has developed over the last decade and a half which is that meeting people where they’re at. And part of this is too much training and acceptance to commitment therapy or other which sometimes called Third Wave CBT. It does look very little like…it might be very different in what people…I’m unfamiliar with first and second wave CBT is, but it goes down to their values and what’ s important for them.

Andrea: Okay so CBT. I don’t know what that…

Espen: Yeah, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Andrea: Thank you.

Espen: I’m going to make an example of meeting people where they’re at and I how your values don’t matter. I guess this is a perfect example where I was at the other end of things. Many years ago, my health was bad. I was 45 pounds heavier than I am now. My cholesterol and triglycerides were really bad. I lost three weeks of work staying home with…we couldn’t figure out what’s going on and we realized, it was bad asthma. Certainly my obesity at the time didn’t help.

So I went out to testing with my pulmonologist. My lungs were tested. My heart was tested and the doctor told me…I have a hard time doing this without going to his heavy accent, which I know coming from me but the doctor said “Dr. Klausen.” “Yes.” “You wanna be healthy, right?” “Fit right?” “Yeah, I do want to. Yeah. Sure, I agree with those values.” And then “Okay, you have to go exercise one hour, five days a week.” “Okay, okay. Yes, I need to do that.” And so I really realized that that was really important. So I went home and I did not do that.

The thing is, like most people, I agree with health and I agree with fitness. But they’re not my core values. A couple of years later, I had a conversation with my daughter. It was more like her having a monologue and she was talking about her life, about she’s going to graduate high school, graduate college…

Andrea: How old was she?

Espen: She must have been 4 years old.

Andrea: And she was talking about graduating.

Espen: Right, you know.

Andrea: Okay, go on. I just want to get some context here.

Espen: Yeah. And okay, one day she’s going to get her masters and she graduated on her PhD. And I said, “If you wanna stop with a masters, it’s okay, but a PhD is fine.” And she said you know, “Okay and getting married.” She was just spluttering on about her coming life. And in the middle of that conversation, I had this realization as I was picturing it that the way my health was going, I might not be there to see that. Now, my daughter matters to me but beyond this, what are my core values?

And one of the things that’s rewarding to me is being a witness to other people’s lives. That’s one of the privileges I had been being a therapist. People share their lives with me and I get to be a witness to their life. And I realized that to the most important person in my life, I might not be there to be a witness to her life. And my diet changed. My exercise changed and I did what my doctor told me. It had to relate back to my core values.

If we speak to someone, if we teach someone, if we try to get people to change or tell them what they should change, it’s irrelevant and it’s not going to do anything unless it meets them where they’re at and it relates to their core values.

Andrea: Such an incredible point, so important. And I love this idea and I certainly want to do that. That’s something I always want to do, but I think it’s kind of hard to figure that out. But what I’m hearing you say is that what we need to do is almost to listen first to understand where their core values are, and what they do care about so that we can get to that point where we can speak to those instead of just throwing information at somebody and expecting it to stick.

Espen: Yeah. Even in Evangelism or spiritual direction, you have to start with what you believe. Or in life and change in general, what’s important to you or what you want in life or what are you missing in life and that’s the starting point. And even if you have this goal mind for them that’s different, the goals you want them to pursue has to be related back to where they’re at and what they want.

Andrea: Ah, that makes a lot of sense.

Espen: It relates to a flipside of this, that relates to that that’s very actionable thing I’ve learned overtime that it both related to my growth but also my relationship for the people I work with. And I do this whenever I do speaking engagements for a company in learning about that company. I do this in a group level, the company level, but I do this in individual therapy level but also with friends.

But a big principle for me is, learn something from every single or every single organization. So every client I have, I learn something from. Every client I meet is on the inside of something, whether it’s how something is actually done on what that requires or what does it entails to actually be doing tattoos. What it’s like to have autism? What it’s like on the inside? What it’s like to actually being social worker removing children from a home when it’s necessary? What it’s like to be a police officer and the various levels of that? What’s the experience of actually being incarcerated?

In every client I see have their own inside experiences which something, and I can learn from that, from someone being on the inside. And that in turn how I can relate to future clients and get a lot of credibility but then I also learned from them. We often feel like we’re in this in a lot of positions in life, particularly one word – the professional, we feel like we have to be the one that knows everything and the other person is the person that has to learn. But people get so much more open to learning when they feel like they taught you something. It’s now two-way street.

Andrea: I’m sitting here like raising my hands going “Yay!” I hear yeah, I do. This is great! This is so true! I mean, I feel like people want to be known and they want to be respected in some way and they don’t want to just be written off. They want their voice to matter. So when their voice matters to you, when you’re able to communicate, you actually care what they’re saying and where they’re at then they can come back with being more open to maybe what you have to offer them as well. And it’s not that sort of top down teaching that you’re talking about, it’s a dialogue which is significant.

Espen: Absolutely, absolutely! And the more educated we are, we will have a tendency to focus on logical thinking and logical arguments, but that definitely has its limits. Our brains have many different learning centers. But two primary areas of our brain are roughly dividing, up here is our outer cortex and it’s our midbrain. Now, the midbrain is a part of the brain that we share with most animals. The outer cortex of the brain is fairly unique to us humans. Dolphins and dogs, they have a little bit of it but nothing like humans.

Now, the outer cortex, it can learn from reading. It can learn from talking. It’s the part of the brain that can put two into together and learn things that technically nobody ever taught you. It’s the intellectual part of the brain and is very deliberate and that part of the brain can adjust quickly. You learn something and then learn you’re wrong and you learn something else and say “Okay.” It adjusts quickly. “Hey, Obama is the President.” “Well, Donald Trump got elected.” “Okay, now my knowledge changes about who’s the current President.” That’s the outer cortex.

Very often when we talk to people and the more we’re academically trained, we tend to do this and that’s the part of the brain we’re talking with, except even more powerfully is our midbrain.

Our midbrain is where our instinctual understanding is. It’s where our emotional understanding is, and it’s where a lot of our automatic thoughts come from. The thoughts we don’t have any control over. You see chocolates and you have a good or negative experience to that – I’m imagining most of your listeners have a good experience to that, good reaction. And my reaction is “Yuck!” I don’t know, I just laughed the credibility of your whole audience but I apologize for that.

But the midbrain only learns from experience. You could talk all you want, it only learns from experience. And that means that for people to learn on that level, you have to give them an experience and you also going to be so much more effective if you can talk about things in ways that it speak with their experience or utilizes their experience; otherwise, you’re only working to change one part of their brain.

Another aspect of that is when things get busy, things get stressful, or things get overwhelmed, our outer cortex tend to shutdown or tends to get overwhelmed and then we tend to leave our decisions to our midbrain. This is one of the reasons why people that are stressed tend to eat unhealthy. So if you’re very busy and your brain, your outer cortex is filled and overwhelmed with all of these other things you have think about and now we have to make a choice about what to eat. With outer cortex is busy, they just going to go with your experience of what taste good and that’s usually not a healthy stuff, so deep change requires experience.

Andrea: Okay, so is that why story is so important? I mean, I hear a lot about telling stories and how important stories and all that. Is this the reason why stories are so important?

Espen: That is a big part of it. And in a way, that’s the strength of a book like yours. There are personally that books I kind of like to read tends to be very academic because I, myself is, kind of an outer cortex person. But if I wanted to influence my life, if I wanted to influence my instincts and my emotions and how I react to things then I probably should have a book that tells us story and a story that gives me an experience where I can feel like I’m in that person’s life. And going through as I’m reading some of what they’re experiencing, that’s kind of has more transformative power on the midbrain level.

Andrea: Because you’re kind of experiencing with them sort of like empathy and so because of empathy you’re able to – it’s feeling like you are also having the experience in the sense?

Espen: Right, you’re providing the person with an experience. A parallel is, sometimes we use Jaws as an example, so most people are afraid of sharks. Intellectually, I can teach a person that out of more than 200 species of sharks, there’s only five that will ever attack a human being and even then they will only attack a human being if they don’t have any better options.

So if you’re in an open water and you see a shark coming your way, you’ll probably still say – and I can give them all education about a shark and they may even agree with me “Okay, I realized now these sharks are safe.” But if they’re down in the water and they see a shark coming their way, they still feel scared because their experiences with sharks still the sharks are dangerous.

And they may tell me “But I’ve never had experiences with sharks.” “Well, have you seen Jaws?” “Well, yes.” “Well then you’ve had experiences with shark.” It may not been real in person but you have that experience. When we read stories or we watched movies, we had the experiences. It’s how they’re set up and that is affecting our emotional reactions through things.

Andrea: Yeah. Okay, so what do we do when we encounter something a story or an emotional experience that is negative or that kind of leads us to make conclusions that might be incorrect or how do we deal with that?

Espen: Yeah, that relates to something that – I think these days there’s actually a problem with American culture. I’m not just picking America. We have at least as big of a problem with this back where I grew up in Norway. There’s a tendency these days to think about “Hey, if I did this or watch this and nobody got hurt then there’s no repercussions of that.” But that’s not true because our midbrain learn from our experiences. Our whole brain learns from our experiences and the automatic thoughts and the feelings we’re going to have in the future are going to be based on the experiences we’re having.

So one example I often use when I speak on this is, if someone watches pornography and we could go into the whole exploitation things of whoever’s involved in pornography. But if we set that aside, the person is “Okay, I’m done watching pornography, nobody was hurt. I had a good time and I will move on and nobody knew about it, so it had no consequences.” Well, that’s not true. It does mean that the person had exposed their midbrain to this experience and the more likely to have sexualized thoughts in the future. It does have effects.

There are plenty of clients I’ve worked with where their brain tends to think too violently. And I have to confront them about “Hey, you need to stop watching violent movies.” I’m not a big prude when it comes to violence and say “Hey, if you don’t have a problem with watching violent movies, but if you’re already having a problem with having too many violent thoughts to begin with, don’t create more.” But it can be negative thinking if someone already has a sense that the work is really dangerous.

Maybe their early life experiences or more recent experiences in a relationships or something like that have a lot of negative experience that people are dangerous, that people are bad, or that only bad things happen in life then they should not be seeking out more experiences through TV, through movies that give them more of that experience.

The midbrain had already had – I was about to say incorrect experiences. They’re not incorrect, they were their experiences but they’re not indicative about the way the world is in general.

Andrea: Uh-huh. How do people know that though? I think of people who might even watched news and almost feels their own anxiety about the world and they continue to go back to it. And even maybe leave it on and it gets sort of keeps fueling that negativity, how do they even know that that’s not wise? We just need to tell them?

Espen: That’s get difficult and that’s getting almost…and this gotten more difficult over the last decade because our news world now tends to be so over saturated. We have news channels; they’re on 24/7. And if someone sees a terrorist attack, if they keep the news channel on, they’re maybe hearing about that terrorist attack for 24 hours. And you don’t hear the stories about the wonderful things that are happening in the world or every town in the world where there was nothing happening.

A big thing that comes to all of these things is being connected, talking with people, and being a witness to other people’s lives. The more our lives get limited, the more our experiences also get biased. It’s usually good for people that have a wide-range of I call it the purviews of someone’s life. If someone’s life is work and home and either work or home starts having difficulties, then half of the world is having difficulties.

Andrea: Right.

Espen: The more activities we have, the more people’s lives were involved with, the more settings, the bigger the purview of our life, the more chance there is of their being stressed in life. That’s one of the reasons some people end up starting to shrink their life because the smaller your life is, the less life there is for them being stressed. However, when they’re now stressed for difficulties then that suddenly fills a huge portion of your life and you may not have safe places in life to go to to deal with the stress.

That it’s why in marital counseling…I’m all for married couples need to have a lot of shared interests and activities. But they do need to have some things in their life that are separate, because any relationship is going to have difficulties. And there are times where they need to step out of their own life or times when they have to step back just so we can recognize when we’re thinking incorrectly or when we’re getting too stuck on things.

But if we have nowhere to step out to to do then we’re not able to get that step back so that we can come back in and having a constructive conversation. It’s not just related to what you’re involved in in your life, but it is also where you find your stress relief. If all your ways of dealing with stress is backed up in your partner then the moment there’s stress in the relationship with that partner, you have no way of dealing with that stress. That means you have no way of getting to a point in a spot where you can calm down with your partner and have those good conversations.

Andrea: Yeah that’s great! I think of actually young moms who have young kids at home maybe and maybe they’re not working. I’m thinking of myself you know a few years ago and how limited my world view was at that point just because I didn’t have connection outside of, you know, just few people around me. And that was because mostly because my time was taken up with little children. I think that definitely set me up for was to, you know, when you’re only with other moms with little kids, they’re also having the same struggles. So it does sort of feed that, I think. So it makes a lot of sense.

Espen: Wait, wait, wait…little kids can be stressful?

Andrea: I know right.

Espen: Huh, okay huh.

Andrea: You know when they wake up at 4 o’clock every morning and you’re getting five hours of sleep every night. You kind of have a limited worldview.

Espen: Yeah, exactly. It’s hard to step away from that.

Andrea: Yeah. I think that’s one of the things that I’ve really appreciated about you know, once my kids did get into school, I kind of sorted to take more long lines of writing and finding a place for my voice. But I think that what you’re saying sounds to me like, it’s wise to find a place for your voice outside of just your own immediate family at times because you kind of need that bigger perspective. And to be tapped into something other than just what’s right here in front of you all the time because that can be awfully stressful.

Espen: Yeah, and a mistake sometimes people make is…it’s nice if that things stepping out is relaxing and fun that’s nice. But people for this day and age have the notion that it has to be. But very often the things that are most useful and helping us to distress or take that step back or get different perspectives, they may not be fun or they may not relaxing.

For some people, getting their husbands or their wives to watch the kids for a couple of hours so they can go on and sit down and write, it may feel like work and it may not be distressing. But it might actually reduce their stress for the rest of the week because their mind was able to go to something else and they also make it easy for them because the brain was able to go to something else. It’s easier to step back into the stressful part of life with a different perspective on it, where were not so stuck in our head and stuck in the stress.

Andrea: Oh man! This has been great, Espen! So many value bombs here. I feel like whoever is listening – the influencer who’s listening is definitely going to go back and listen again and take note if they haven’t already. And I’m pretty sure we’re going to have you back on again sometimes to talk about some other things. But this has been really, really helpful and I love this idea that you know, you’re telling us how we can sort lead people to this light-bulb moments instead of just telling people what to think, because it’s not as effective as when they’re able to put those two and two together and have their own experience of understanding something.

That’s so significant for anybody wanting to have a voice with somebody else. And not only that, you also mentioned this idea of being a witness to somebody else’s life, learning from them, letting that be a dialogue instead of a top down kind of teaching time. Which I think has always for me been the most significant interactions and the most significant learning that I’ve had. So I can certainly attest to that as somebody on that side but then also, I’ve seen it myself as well.

One of the reasons why the book ended up what it was from my book because it was going to be something where I just taught. And then as time went on and as I kept working through it and everything, I felt more and more led to just share my story in a way that would also give people that experience but then allow them to learn something at the same time. And I’m so glad because I do think you’re right. I think all these things are just really important. They’re so valuable to the Influencer that’s listening.

So thank you so much for everything, Espen! Do you have any parting words of wisdom for us?

Espen: When we’re in the presence of someone else, we share one environment. But everyone exists in two environments at the same time. We have an external environment that we share. We may sit in the same room or maybe in the same coffee shop. We may even order the same coffee prepared to Starbucks’ perfectness of consistency, same drink and we share an external environment.

But each of us also exists in a second environment and that’s our internal environment. They have an environment of emotions, of physical states, and of automatic thoughts, that’s a combination of our past experiences running headlong into the external environment that’s around us right now. The result of that is whenever we meet with someone else; we’re not in the same place only in the same external environment, but we’re interacting not just with that person but with their internal environment.

And that internal environment we don’t know unless we listen to them. And they may not even say what an internal environment is. Few people do unless they specifically say “Hey, I feel sad and right now, I’m having this thought popped up.” But it’s not usually how people talk or sometimes we can get to that level. But you hear it on how they talk and what directions they go. How they react through things and that’s the real reality that we are interacting with. It’s also where healing takes place. It’s where pain takes place, but it’s also where close relationships are really being formed. It’s in the interactions between your internal environment and their internal environment and that’s a very precious place.

Andrea: Indeed! Thank you so much, Espen!

Espen: Thank you, Andrea!

 

 

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