Will You Stay Stagnant or Rise Up? with Lia Valencia Key

Episode 33

Lia Valencia Key was in elementary school when an injury kept her mom from being able to work and she ended up in a homeless shelter in Philadelphia. Her mom became concerned when she saw her daughter acting like the culture around her, so she sat Lia down and gave her a plain and hard hitting choice: would Lia keep heading down the path of least resistance and be like everyone around her or would she choose to rise above and be the person she aspires to be.

Years later, Lia is honoring her mom’s legacy and the choice she made to follow her dreams. After graduating college and then getting an MA in Education, becoming a world class cosmetologist and styling on air talent at QVC and around the world, she’s now pursuing her passion to inspire others in a new way. This is Lia’s amazing story of her new inspirational brand of jewelry, Valencia Key.


Transcript

Hey, hey! This is Andrea Wenburg, and I am so glad that you’re here with me today on the Voice of Influence podcast. Today, I have Lia Key with me. And what’s really, really fun about Lia is that she and I met through a mutual friend who styled me. I went out to Philadelphia and I went shopping with Toi Sweeney and then Toi said, let’s do your hair and makeup and she brought in Lia.

I had a blast with Lia, so I’m so excited to get to introduce to you to her because her story and her passion, they really resonate with me and I think they’re going to resonate with you too. So I’m going to start by introducing her.

Lia Valencia Key has been a Dreamer, Believer and Achiever since her very humble beginnings growing up in the inner city of Philadelphia. Always following her inner voice to seek happiness and accomplishments, Lia rose above all inner city stereotypes and statistics by achieving her Masters degree in Education, becoming a Licensed Cosmetology Instructor, landing a styling position at QVC that opened the doors for her to become a personal lead stylist for Incredible Women Founders. CEO of major global beauty brands IT Cosmetics and TATCHA Skin Care. Lia has traveled the world following her heart and passion to marvelous countries such as Dubai, Egypt, China, Morocco, Thailand, Korea, Spain, Paris, Italy, Singapore, and Malaysia absorbing motivation, inspiration, love, light and happiness everywhere she lands. Lia’s next phase of her life journey is to share her empowering message to the world by creating an Inspirational Lifestyle Accessory Brand “VALENCIA KEY.”

 

Andrea: Lia, it is so good to have you on the Voice of Influence podcast!

Lia Key: So happy and excited to have this opportunity. Thank you so much!

Andrea: Yeah, it was really, really fun to meet you. While you were doing my hair and makeup, I basically interviewed you.

Lia Key: Yes. I loved it.

Andrea: Because I love hearing people’s stories and the more we dug in, the more fun it was. So I’m excited to have you here. Let’s start with where you are right now and then we’re going to go back. So tell me about Valencia Key, what is it all about?

Lia Key: So Valencia Key is an inspirational lifestyle brand. And what it means for lifestyle brand is I’ll be bringing these amazing pieces that I’ve dreamed and created or have inspired me throughout my travels around the world. It can come in forms of jewelry, handbags, anything that really excites in the fashion of a physical, addition to your appearance. But the heart of the brand is going to inspire people globally to achieve and believe and follow your journey because that’s what this whole brand is from, me believing and dreaming all of my life and just going after my heart’s desires. This will be a byproduct of another dream and another achievement. I’m just going to produce great physically, eye-attractive pieces for the world but they have special and empowering messages behind them.

Andrea: I love that. I love the deep meaning behind something so beautiful. I enjoyed wearing them. I got to wear necklace and a couple of bracelets and they’re so beautiful. I would love to hear the back story on this, Lia. I heard a little bit when we talked before, but tell me what it was like for you. You mentioned in your bio growing up in the inner city of Philadelphia. So when you were growing up, what was it about your experience that inspired you to reach for your dreams and be an achiever? Tell me about that?

Lia Key: I was blessed to have a support system. My mother, my grandmother, and my aunt who was very clear that just because you live in an environment does not mean you are of the environment. So I was talked to every moment of my life going through this _____ that we had that just because we’re here doesn’t mean that you have to be here and that you have to settle in this. So paired with my innate desire and then these beautiful women who may have dealt a challenge in hand, but they were still encouraging me that you know, “Go for your heart’s desire and follow your dreams.”

I’m so grateful to actually have the opportunity to live in a very low-income environment where, most people only see the environment around them, most people don’t think that they can do anything better than what they see and that I am blessed to have that drive and that mentality that I can. If you can say, I can then you will so I’m so grateful for that.

Andrea: Yeah. I’m wondering what it was like for you? Can you give us a snapshot of your childhood?

Lia Key: Just in my childhood, what I mean of low income I mean sometimes you don’t have food on the table. My mother broke her leg, which caused her severe break to where they had to put plates on her leg, which caused her not to be able to work. When she’s not able to work, she had to get public assistance. I have older sister and an older brother so a single woman with three children and not able to work, not because that she didn’t want to work and I think those are two different types of people, but she couldn’t work given her unfortunate accident that she had.

We were forced on public assistance and public assistance doesn’t give you enough to live totally a healthy life at least back when I was growing up. So we had to live in public housing. There was not enough food. You get the money once a month so it doesn’t stretch long enough, so there’s a week or two at the end of the month where you have literally no food so much that your stomach is churning on itself. You have to go find this lunch where they’re giving out food and get the little rations that they’re able to give you and you walk a mile to get that to the next point of her leg never got better. We weren’t able to pay the rent that we were living in and a decent environment to where we actually went to a homeless shelter.

So four people, there was my mother and the three of us in a square box room. But before you end up to the square box room, there were these open shelters where you go and all the women were on cots with their children. So there’s this mess room of women and cots and just buddied up on top of each other and that’s how you sleep and that’s where you eat. People are coughing and there were germs everywhere in this room and then finally you may elevate to this one box room where it’s no bigger than a closet and that’s where you sleep.

So coming from that journey, the beauty was my mother always encourages us to go to school, always encourages us to do our best in school, and always encourages us to get good grades. That’s really a hard thing to be a young child and experience these visual things, these physical things and then not eating and seeing all these things around you and still have to go to school and be affected. Still I have to go to school and get these grades that the school deems as achievable.

So my mother would always encourage us “You have to do your homework. You have to do this. You have to go.” So the beauty is that motivation was my inspiration. Finally, we were able to get into public housing and so that’s where you get your little home if you will. So you have people like my mother who has this ailment where she literally can’t walk but then you have people that don’t know any better and they don’t want any better, so they are just _____ profanity. They’re _____ with indecent behaviors and that’s all around you. That’s where you go to school with.

I remember going to school and my mother was packing me lunch and I go into the lunch closet and my lunch was stolen and that happened for weeks because I never told her like “I can’t tell my mother my lunch is stolen.” She barely had enough. You know what I mean; I can’t tell her that this is happening to me. And my mother had a talk with me because when you’re young, you’re either go to the path of what you see around you or you’re going to go the path of what you aspire to be.

So I was kind of leaning to where the path of what I see you know starting that talk in class and grades are slipping and I think this was around fifth grade. That elementary, fifth grade or fourth grade is the pinnacle part of development for children because either you have the basics or you don’t, either you know about being successful or achieving or you don’t or you won’t because after that phase is just uphill battle trying to _____ our mind because you’re starting to get into this preadolescence phase, which is we all know as even horrible.

So my mother had this very real talk with me and it was very stern and very hard. But I remember to this day and what I took from that is she said “Either you’re gonna be a follower or you’re gonna be a leader, and either you’re going to sit here and let people pass you by and stay stagnant and look around and be where you are, or you gonna choose to excel and rise above what you’re seeing and whatever you’re going.” And she was like “You basically choose because what you’re choosing now is to be a loser.”

As a fifth grader, you’re still young but that resonated with me so well and from that moment on; I was consistently on honor roll. I was the class president of the school. I went to all of these after school activity programs. I didn’t understand it but it was those very real talks to say “Basically, you decide. You decide your journey, you decide your future and it’s in your hands. Even as a fifth grader, it’s in your hands.” It definitely was in my hands and so I’m grateful for that.

As I carry throughout my life that’s the journey I lived. I believe in Christ who strengthens me but in conjunction with that, I decide. So my brand has a message that “I’m gonna give you these very beautiful pieces, because I think your external infects your internal.” I do believe that how you look and how you feel they’re very correlated and that’s why the message. That’s why it’s so awesome that I do want to bring these really cool pieces for people to wear. Because just put that little nice bag on your shoulder or a great pair of shoes or an awesome necklace on that just sparks a little more confidence in you, but the meaning behind it to me is so much powerful that “Where do you decide in your life?”

Andrea: Oh gosh, Lia, that’s so gorgeous. I love the story. I love your passion.

Lia Key: Oh thank you.

Andrea:   So there’s couple of things that came to my mind while you were talking that I wanted to ask. So first of all when your mom sat you down and told you that, you have this choice, do you think that you knew that ahead of time, you knew that you had a choice or what was it about her offering you that choice? If she would have just said, “Lia, you have to do this,” or you’re going to end up like that or whatever? I mean, if she would have told you, what do you think your inner response would have been?

Lia Key: I don’t think I would have got it. I think those real moments of her really painting the picture of “Here’s the path you’re going, loser. The environment around you, this is where you’re going and you choose which way you want to be.” As a fifth grader, I wasn’t clear that I was getting it that way but I was clear that I didn’t want to be a loser. In that statement, you know, and that harshness if you will versus someone saying “You better get good grades, you better get good grades.” “But why?” I think it would have been about why if it would have just been a straight statement of what you need to do. But the fact that she compared it to a very clear visual image, as a fifth grader, I can understand “I don’t want that.”

Andrea: When you say very clear visual image, was she showing you something or pointing people out?

Lia Key: She was talking about our life, like “Look what you’re in, look what you’re around. You’re around people who haven’t seen anything. You’re around people that are on drugs. You’re around people that have alcohol issues, or you’re around people that have no education that they dropped out of school. This is what you see when you walk out that door.” In our house, it was a safe haven. But as soon as you walk out the door, this is what you’re immersed in, “Do you want to do this? This is what I call a loser.”

She was in that predicament but she was still saying “Unfortunately, you’re moving to the path of what we have to live in at this moment. Do you want to choose that? Is that your choice because I can tell you at this moment that’s where you’re going by your behavior and by your grades, that’s where you’re going? So you decide if you want to be a leader or a follower if you want to excel or either you want to lose.”

That was just so visual to me because I can look around and I maybe young but I knew that this wasn’t good living. I knew that this wasn’t happiness. Maybe, I didn’t know anything different but I knew that this didn’t feel good what I was seeing. You know, children in an environment like that have no discipline. They are just wild and unruly, so you’re sitting in a class with children just yelling above and beyond. “So do you wanna stay back and still be in this environment or do you wanna to push forward and get into a high school that you can kind of choose your environment? What high school do you wanna to get into? You’re not gonna get into a good one if you stay on the path that you’re on.”

So those are very visual for me, and I’m a visual person and I love creating beautiful things. You know, from my education background there’s pedagogies and there’s different ways of teaching and so everyone learns differently. And I think she hit me right in the area where I’m able to learn.

Andrea: Yeah. I think so many of us do too then also just the choice instead of the shame. She wasn’t shaming you, she was saying this is what you’re headed towards if you don’t…yeah, I love that.

Lia Key: Me too. I’m grateful. I’m so grateful. I think my mother had a very challenging life and you know she wasn’t able to get out of it if you will but you’re able, if possible, to try to break cycles and you’re able to try to tell people that are coming up under you differently. My gratefulness is that I was able to hear it and receive it. But just because someone’s telling you something does not mean you’re able to receive it so I am so grateful that I was hearing it and slowly receiving it.

Andrea: Oh man, this is so good. I think that for the person that’s listening right now, the influencer that’s listening; I mean do you hear all this, because this is about real communication. It’s about a message that actually pierces somebody’s heart, and even though it’s harsh, it ends up bringing out life and calling out life. I love this. So Lia, when you think about putting on something, you’ve been talking about putting on this jewelry and sort of making you feel confident and that sort of thing, what kind of things do you remember putting on as a kid after you made that decision “No, I’m gonna be a leader.” How did that become even more visual for you? How did you continue to put on things?

Lia Key: I’ve been creative. If you saw young pictures of me there, it’s quite interesting. I always love to express myself just purely. I never have the drive to follow in the norm and I think it was very pinnacle after fifth grade when I was like “Oh yeah, I’m gonna be me and me wants to succeed. But me just doesn’t wanna succeed, but me wanna do me in all forms of life and me wants to be happy in all forms of life and what that feels like to me.” So externally, me was orange-white shirt or me was neon something.

So I was very nontraditional but that’s how I felt. I felt bright inside. I felt expressive inside and so I would dress and express it. Me was not all black, you know. Me is not conforming to trends of everyone wearing the same sneakers if you will. Me was, oh my God, this _____ thick platform or something that’s very old school. I like that because me was very expressive and so that’s how visually I internalize who I was and just wear it on the outside as well as inside. So when you see me, you pretty much can probably get my energy before I open my mouth.

Andrea: I can attest to that even now.

Lia Key: So for my brand, you know, everyone has an expressive style. Everyone has a light in them. Everyone has some joy in them and so I want to position my pieces. Even if you’re a classy person and you’re not necessarily as visually expressive as I am but you always have a little light and you do always want to have some sort of expression. No want wants to be just bland and black, no one does. Everyone doesn’t know how to accomplish that effectively so they stay safe, right? I appreciate staying safe until you learn how to become effectively expressive.

So I want my pieces to provide that classic person or that safe person away to have just one little piece or two little pieces that in their safe visual moment they can pop on and say “Yeah, there’s my light that I’m putting to the world. Yeah there’s my expression. Yeah, there’s my passion. There’s my energy that I’m putting to the world.” And it’s comfortable enough to just be on a wrist, just lightly be on the neck, or just be over your shoulder, just enough. So you have your form of expression without outshining who you are truly which is a safe, more structured, more routine person. I never want someone to be outside of their box, but I also want someone to be able to tap into all their forms of who they are and that little light and energy is inside of everyone.

Andrea: Yes, I love it. I think that that is really, really wise statement, a wise vision for you to want to give people who like to play at safe a chance to do something small and put on something small that would still tap into who they are and that beauty, that light, and that joy that they have to offer. What do you think it does to somebody when they put it on? What do you think goes on inside of a person?

Lia Key: You know, it does a lot like you can have your favorite necklace on. Let’s say you’re going to an interview, everyone makes interviews a big deal, right? Because that’s when you need to be your strongest because you’re about to go in front of someone who’s going to critique you if you will, so you need all the energy support that you can get. You have your interview _____, right? It’s safe, I’m sure, but you need something because you need confidence in an interview. You need courage in an interview. So you grab your favorite necklace and that favorite necklace is that courage and support, that confidence, and that little piece that says “OK, I’m good” and it will sparkles to myself and to the person that’s looking at me.

So it’s a two-way street with these little visual traits because not only are you energizing yourself with whatever the piece looks like because you know what you put on “Yeah, let’s take that suit right to the next level.” And then by the way, it has a message to it “Yes, I am prosperous. Yes, it’s my divine right to be prosperous. So when I walk into this interview, it’s my divine right to nail it.” So that’s great for you but on the other side of the table, you walk into the interview and yeah you got to say _____ but you have this pretty little piece, very simple. The interviewer whether it’d be a man or woman says “She’s well-put together, and oh that little trinkets something about it, something about her whole construction is very into the theme of what our culture is but she grinds a little more to the table.”

So it’s this amazing two-way street that it’s confidence and assurance to both parties and their unconscious thoughts. No one is going to say that necklace did all of that. No one is going to make that bold statement but the truth is it does. Take the necklace off and have a bare neck and walk into the room bland and so then you have to work harder or you have to push a little more. But if you come in with just a little bit of interest, you’ve already elevated yourself from your personal vision because you looked in the mirror and say “Yes,” to yourself and then to the person at the opposite side that “Uh-huh she knows how to put it together, now let’s say what she has to say.”

A lot of people call it superficial. Visual is not superficial. Visual says that I care. Visual shows the world how I’m feeling today. Visual shows the world where my emotions lie because generally you’re wearing it as much outside as you’re wearing it inside. I think the real smart and strong and powerful people know how to visually make it right to let the world understand who you are even if you’re not feeling that way that day until you get to where you want to feel and that’s the only powerful way you can do that.

Do you ever sense when someone says “Oh you don’t look good today.” Well, that’s probably because you didn’t _____. Just because you don’t feel good inside, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to look good because visually ready externally until you push that internal side to get to the status of where you visually brought it to.

Andrea: This is so deep. I mean, it is so deep because I think that I know that in my story, I really want to keep it real. I got to this point where I was like, and even when I was a kid, I did not want to put on anything visually because I wanted people to respect me for who I was on the inside, not how I look on the outside. But as I have grown and matured and live life more, I’ve realized that actually it does matter what I put on, that what I put on can call out of me something very real.

Lia Key: Yes, exactly. You ever heard the statement; you have to hang around people you want to be. So that statement means, maybe I want to be a CEO of a company, do I hang with secretaries? So if I want to be a CEO, I’ll try to put myself that I’m not a CEO by any means so internally I’m not that but if you put yourself in a place to where you want to be by theory of life, you will get there or darn sure close.

So the same thing with visual is, if I want to be something whatever I want to be, I don’t know. I want to be hippie, I want to be in a corporate, I want to be artsy, or whatever you want to be internally or whatever you want to feel confident, if I’m wearing slouchy, sluggish external appearance clothes or if that’s how I’m coming out to the word, then I only can stay sluggish inside. But if I come out in a poppy little necklace on, a poppy little bracelet on, or a poppy little bag on, I put on a nice but not too extravagant outfit together, now I have to rise to that occasion.

It’s like looking at a fruit, you know how the inside is because of the outside layer, it looks rotten you know. So how about, we polish up the outside and even inside is rotten if my outside is polished, I have to start healing with them.

Andrea: Interesting.

Lia Key: I mean that’s my thing in life. I’ve never claimed to be an expert of anything. I’ve never been one thousand of the best at anything but I decide to be it. I decide to be a master’s graduate and a teacher of algebra. I decided to be that then I decided that I was going to follow passion because I’ve always been artistic and to go into this beauty industry. And I decided that I was going to be in an environment where I can self-taught leaders and game changers. I didn’t start that way but I decided that and so I started from the external deciding it and internally, I started to have to make moves to get to where I want to be.

And all along with journey, visually, I had to bring something out when I decided to put myself in these places even though I had no knowledge when I said “OK, I’m gonna walk into this door of MAC Cosmetics.” Bare Essentials is my first place of makeup and cosmetics, so these are all visual places. I was not a great makeup artist. I was not; probably I would say I was horrible. But visually, I put myself together and probably took three hours to do my make up to make sure that visually when I walk in the door, I look like where my internal wasn’t ready for.

But because I put it together externally, I had to rise to that occasion when I was accepted into that group and make it match and guess what happened, it started to match. So we have to stop creating visual as superficial because it’s not. It’s way more powerful than what we give way to, and my journey is to just add little pieces to help you out on your internal and external journey throughout life.

Andrea: Do you think that your mom, giving you that choice back when you were in fifth grade, it seems to me like it gave you permission to aspire to be more and aspire to do more. I’m going to say that for me with my journey, I think I always look for permission where it might have been expected of me but I was really looking for permission to stand out because I didn’t want to alienate myself, whereas you’re a somebody who really did standout and you did from the beginning and you were okay with doing that visually.

So I think that one of the things that you’re offering people is permission.

Lia Key: Yes, yes! Great! That’s it. My brand is offering you permission to be your best to seek your own happiness and to find what that looks like to you. In my brand, it’s cosigning that it’s OK and if you are already in that place, because some people are already are, to celebrate it and to then inspire others to be. So it can be just continuous journey or permission to be awesome in a very humble, pleasant, gracious, and grateful way.

Andrea: Yes, I love that so much. Goosebumps all over my arms right now. Tell me more about prosperous. You mentioned, one of the things that your brand is communicating is being prosperous. I know that that is really a deep concept for you, so can you tell the influencer listening what that means?

Lia Key: So there’s a lot of inspirational brands out there; accessory brands, jewelry brands. There’s a lot in the market and normally, we choose words like hope. We choose words like faith. You know these safe words that are very obvious, right? They’re very clear and I love those words because you need faith, you need hope. These are very good words but my heart is pushing me to grab these nontraditional words that have so much power to them but have been truly misconstrued in the society.

So my first collection is entitled Prosperity, and that’s a real risky title to give the collection, Prosperity, because most people think of prosperity as money. When you ask people of prosperity, 910 they would say “How much money do you have, how many money did you make? Oh that person is really rich but in money.” I am pushing the statement that prosperity is one of the most powerful words that we can have in use but it’s nothing about money. It’s nothing about finances; it’s all about being rich in fulfillment. It’s all about being rich in achievement. It’s all about finding what your heart desires and moving toward accomplishing it and then accomplishing it and everything in between that takes you want that journey.

Prosperity is a life of joy, a life of happiness. That’s what prosperity is and there’s not one person on this planet that doesn’t desire prosperity. They may think of it as money because we’ve been told that it’s money. But they’re not desiring money, they’re desiring happiness. They’re desiring fulfillness, and they’re desiring joy. So my collection is stating that you have a divine right to be prosperous, everyone. Prosperity is individualized. My prosperity doesn’t look like your prosperity, your prosperity doesn’t look like what your daughter’s prosperity is going to look like, and they all are valid and we all should seek them.

We should all get on the question of mission to be prosperous because when I’m prosperous then I can share the joy of prosperity to you and then we live in this life of fulfillment and happiness in whatever face that looks like. Maybe it looks like love of family to you, maybe it looks like a healthy lifestyle to me, or maybe it looks like abundance and money to another person but we should be sharing this joy and this quest of achieving divine of prosperity so that we can share light and love to everyone that we connect with and help them on their journey.

Andrea: Where all do you want to share your message? I mean, have you thought about going into the schools and talking to kids and that sort of thing?

Lia Key: Oh yes. The beauty is I feel like this brand is just like a jumpstart to a travelling message honestly. So you actually stated exactly my vision. My goal is to encourage and touch as many people as possible be it you were the brand or you don’t. I want the message to travel so I’m interested in talking into schools and doing speaking engagements in groups of people who are already there and want to go further or groups of people who have no clue where to go. Yes, no clue that it’s possible to go anywhere and that my message can push them along.

So hopefully, I can get enough support with the brand and the pieces so that I can take this message to actually speak to as many people as possible that we can encourage a life of growing and greatness.

Andrea: Yeah, I’m excited for those kids, those people who are going to get to hear you speak because you bring an authenticity and energy, a creative visual positive spirit that like I said you’re giving permission. You’re giving people a choice and you’re saying what your mom said to you. You’re saying “Do you want keep hiding behind bland clothing or whatever it might be, and do you want to keep going that direction or do you want to put on the kind of clothing that’s gonna call out who you really are.”

And you know, clothing, jewelry whatever it might be, I’m just really excited for your message and for how you’re going to continue to really make a big difference in the world with your voice of influence. So thank you so much for being here today!

Lia Key: I totally appreciate it. Thank you so much for having me, it was an absolute joy!

 

 

 

END

Find Your Message & Superpower in the Voice of Influence Academy

Episode 29 with Linette Bumford

Do you ever feel like you just know you’re feeling a tug on your heart to offer more of yourself to the world in some way, but you’re not sure what it is? A year ago, Linette Bumford came to the first iteration of the Voice of Influence Academy (at the time called the Core Message Course) with that feeling.

She knew she wanted to write a book but she wasn’t entirely sure of the message. Through her own exploration and with a little assistance from different aspects of the course, she came to truly own the gifts of her personality and gain a clearer sense of her core message and how to use it.

It allowed me to take really difficult things captive and own them and not look at them like scars but swords. And at the end, that little spark will be an unstoppable fire. When I was done with the class, I was unstoppable.

Linette Bumford is a Jesus Follower, Wife, and Mother. She is an ambitious, focused, and determined thought leader. A veteran of the USAF, MBA graduate, trusted advisor in her profession, and author. Linette drives excellence, confidence, and high quality standards to every aspect of her personal and professional life. She is passionate about inspiring others to invite failure to seek wisdom, live with vibrant boldness, and to achieve their dreams and goals through practical and real action.
Linette’s awe-inspiring story of finding humility, unwavering perseverance, and the tenacious determination in spite of overwhelming obstacles is expected to release in 2018 in her book called Getting There: An Inspirational Guide to Navigate Life with Unstoppable Perseverance. She lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter, and their dog Titan.

You can find Linette at www.linettebumford.com.

Sign up for the “How to Focus & Infuse Contagious Passion in your Message as a Personal Brand” Master Class by clicking here.

Learn more about the Voice of Influence Academy here.

Full Transcript

Linette Bumford: For a long time I was trying to figure out what I wanted to say and there’s so much in my history that I thought “Well, do you just start with one thing and maybe do a series and whatever?” But when I was going through the Core Message class and kind of making the transition from working fulltime to part time, I was going through a couple of different things.

I had surgery on my wrist, which stopped me from writing for a little while and everyone just keeps on asking me because there were so much going on. They were like “How are you doing?” How’s your wrist? How’s this and how’s that?” And the words “I’m getting there. I’m getting there and I’m getting.” I think we say that so kind of haphazardly where I was like “Yeah, I’m getting there.” I really start to think about what that means, you know what it that means when you’re getting there.

So I thought, “OK, let me break that down a little bit.” And really I think it’s a couple of different things but for me it’s that journey of life. We all have an ultimate destination but what is getting there really look like. There are these two words, getting there means you’re getting, which is the act of doing something, right? Either obtaining it or moving through, but it’s an actionable word and that was when I think that I was passionate about with my message was having an actionable thing, you know doing something with your faith.

I was talking to my husband this morning and I was like “You know, I think as I prepare to go on a mission trip in January and preparing to do a testimony. And I think “Oh testimony of my life where you’re getting up in a puppet and sharing some crazy story.” But I do really think about what my testimony was and early on in my life, I was a believer but it was until later on in my life that I became a follower of Jesus, you know what I mean?

Andrea: Hmmm

Linette Bumford: And it was kind of breaking all of that down, so it was believing in something with no action but then later on following Jesus which was actually putting my faith and my trust in Jesus to where I can actually do something about it. So “Getting There” to me is a journey of using inspirational stories but also just some practical every day signs to help us navigate through whatever life turning us because the Bible says we’re going to go through stuff. We’re going to be faced with challenges but it’s about navigating through those with the everyday practical signs that God puts in front of us. Yeah, I’m really so excited about it. I know it took me around six to eight months to get to a certain point but it’s just flowing so easily and I’m so excited!

Andrea: Oh good! What do you think it’s taking you to get to that point where you’re in the flow?

Linette Bumford: I think for me, it was trying different things, right? Again, it was going down to a certain path like if I was inspired by something, I was saying “Alright, let me take that. Let me see how that fixed.” I think we had this conversation before; you try different things on to see how they fit. And sometimes we’re like “Huh, this looks good but it’s kind of uncomfortable.”

And so it’s jeans or that outfit where you’re like “Oh this is so cute but really not for me,” or then I would do something else and it was too simple where I was like “Well, this doesn’t really accentuate certain parts of my story.” And it was just continuing to try different things and at the end of the day, I thought you know getting back to that authenticity like “What is it about me?”

I actually started asking people. I was like “Why do you ask me? When you think of me, what goes through your mind?” And sometimes it was asking for that real honesty from people that you trusted and I really appreciate getting that feedback because it gave me things to literally, I would put sticky notes on my wall and I would look back.

Sometimes you have to take a step back and I would look and say “OK.” It would almost form by itself. You know, I pray a lot. I would pray over the words or the feelings and just putting all that out there and asking God, “OK, God, what did you make me for? Why did you make me this way?”

I think one of the key aspects was going through the Fascinate Assessment. I told you this, it was when I took that assessment and I read through that, it put it altogether and I was like “Yup, that’s me, ” and then it forced me to own it. I could no longer look at those characteristics and not completely own them and then it gave me permission. I felt like it gave me permission and then I was like “Alright, this is my outfit.”

It’s like superheroes like Captain America is not Spiderman and Wonder Woman…they are made a certain way. They all have that superhero commonality but they all were given specific gifts. And I think in any of their stories, I think they were confused about what’s happening. We are all are confused by what’s happening to us but it’s when we come into our gifts that I think is when we truly blossom and we can fully be utilized by God with confidence.

That was my biggest thing. You wouldn’t know that probably in my professional life because I had all kinds of confidence over there. But I think in my personal life, I didn’t feel like I have the confidence to own what God had done in my life that it would mean anything. When I say that it would mean anything outside of what it was doing for me, right?

Andrea: Exactly, yes!

Linette Bumford: I was like “Yeah, this is great that God has hold me through so many different things and it has been the fuel that has helped me succeed or helped maybe a couple of people here and there that I could actually be used for a greater good maybe. Because I think sometimes we take our faith and we take our struggles and we put them on a box and we put this puzzle together and we’re like “Oh great, what a beautiful picture. Now, I see what that was all about. OK, put it back on the box and maybe we want something else.”

We don’t really say that “Wait a minute, you can put that puzzle together, you can frame it and other people can be inspired by it.” So I think that just again growing in my faith and really praying about what God wanting me to do. I think I mentioned it to you before this book concept of sharing my story if you will was something I thought about 10 or 12 years ago, but it just sat there. I was like “Yeah, OK, sure.”

But I got to tell you and I’ve said this probably a hundred times, just the cover of your book alone was all it took for me to go like “OK, God, I hear you.” Like I had been frozen in that area of my life for that whole time like God said “You’re gonna do this. But I just wouldn’t let Him thaw that part of me, you know what I mean?

And it was so profound that I told someone recently at work you know and they were like “What made you want to write a book?’ And I said “The fire inside of me and the inspiration if you will of the Holy Spirit was so strong that I felt like if I didn’t that it felt like I’d be doing something wrong.” I almost felt disobedient for not following rather than fearful of not succeeding, you know what I’m saying?

Andrea: Yeah!

Linette Bumford: Don’t you think because they’re like “What if you fail?” I’m like “If I don’t do this it will be a failure.” So it’s not about how successful it will be, it’s about doing what I’ve been called to do out of obedience to what the Lord has done for me. Then it became where I was like “Well, I have to do it. No, turning back now.”

You know, it was holding myself accountable to that for once because sometimes I’ll dream big dreams but I won’t hold myself or let people hold me accountable. But this was the big dream that I said “Alright, this is super real.” I started reading books, “OK, how do I do this?” Because that’s what I do, I’ll go learn. And so one of the first books that I read was You Have to Start Talking About this and Not Shut Up, like you have to talk, talk, and talk and tell anyone who would listen and you tell them because that will keep you from just putting it back on the shelf.

Andrea: Yeah, so who did you talk about it with? Was that a significant part of your accountability then?

Linette Bumford: Yes, absolutely! Neighbors, friends, community group, church and then obviously, I had to make a huge shift at work. I mean, the moment I sit down with boss that’s when it became really real.

Andrea: At what point did you sit down with your boss and what did you tell him?

Linette Bumford: Probably the day after I saw you book cover.

Andrea: Wow!

Linette Bumford: I’m telling you, if I didn’t take action immediately then I don’t know if I would be where I am today. Like it was one of those things that God said “OK, you’ve already gone down these paths where you’ve worked for me and not done anything. You already know what’s gonna happen if you don’t take action immediately.”

So I knew that I had to verbalize it immediately. If it wasn’t the next day, it was definitely within a couple of days that I sat down and I said…I didn’t say I’m going to quit my job but I went to my boss and said “I had such a disturbing, like it was a positive disturbing feeling in my soul.” I was like “I don’t know what this looks like, I will get back to you but I just need to tell you that something is going to change very soon.”

He was receptive and he completely understood and I said “I’ll get back to you in a couple of days but I just wanna let you know that I’m strongly concentrating a change in what I’m doing right now.” After I kind of wrapped my mind around things, you know, I had some good conversation with my husband then we realized that this book and me writing was definitely something God was putting in my heart. It was just too strong to ignore. I think it was a week later when I said “Hey, I can’t do this, what I’m doing fulltime, anymore.”

He was fully prepared I think emotionally to be like “OK, good luck with that.” But God immediately showed up so quickly to be able to work part time. You don’t have to know the whole journey to know what it looks like, you just have to take the next step.

And I think what I try to tell people is you don’t have to know what the whole journey is going to look like; you just have to take the next step. You just have to put one out there. I think I’ve mentioned this once before. There was a scene in a very old movie that I used to watch as a kid called the Labyrinth and they have to get across this really disgusting moat or something and these rocks come up from underneath just as they’re staying, right?

But they had to have faith as they kept moving that those rocks are going continue, otherwise, they could be stuck out there in the middle, right? Or how are they going to do that and I think that’s how we feel, right? I’m going to be stuck out there in the middle with no way out but that’s just how God is. He’s like “Get out of the boat. Don’t worry about the storm. Don’t worry about the waves, just step out of the boat.”

And in those moments, it’s still really hard for me to explain people I’m like “It’s inexplicable.” It literally feels like God is right there. This massive force is just in you and in the moment and I think that’s all the things that we see that’s what inspires us that’s what get us excited.

Andrea: Oh yeah, it’s so empowering. I mean, I that weird vulnerable sense. It’s in your weakness, this is when I’m strong and it’s like that when you are totally vulnerable and you’re totally putting yourself in that place where you’re about ready to fall but you’re stepping out in faith that’s when all of a sudden, you feel so strong. But you know that that power doesn’t come from you which makes it even more reliable.

Linette Bumford: It’s ridiculous. Again, it’s so hard to explain but you did a very good job there. I think our minds and the world and things around us tell us like it’s about finding that self fuel if you will. But I’m like “You don’t have to do that because then you’re relying solely on yourself and that is the limited resource or anything. There’s not enough of you.” And I think it’s in that sense when God shows up and says “You don’t have to do any of this by yourself.”

Andrea: Have you seen Wonder Woman yet?

Linette Bumford: I haven’t.

Andrea: OK, you totally should. You’re going to love it.

Linette Bumford: I know.

Andrea: What I love about it is that it’s not teaching me anything, it’s just giving me imagery for things that I already know to be true. One of those things is that like she knows inside from a very early age. You’ll see it in her eyes when she was a little girl. She knows that she’s meant to do something really big. She’s got it in her.

Linette Bumford: Oh yes!

Andrea: But as she grows up every battle that she fights, she kind of like owns herself a little bit more and realizes her own power a little bit more. And every time and every battle was bigger and it was more intense too as she gets older. I just think of that it’s so incredible. If we don’t get into the fight if we don’t go into battle, we won’t know the kind of power that we have.

Linette Bumford: Right. Again, going through like I bring up the Fascinate Assessment because it really helped me. When I did the assessment and I was the maestro, it talked about this confidence. And I thought “Where does confidence come from? Where do people just know that they can do a thing?” Sometimes it’s practice, something as simple as riding a bike, right? How do kids get that confidence of riding a bike with those training gears? Well, it’s because they’ve done it over and over and over and then they just know. Well, I’ve been there. I’ve done that.

I thought about that, even in that sense this like of kind of conductor, this maestro; more times than not, they’ve been in those seats. They know what those folks are looking for. They know the different parts of the orchestra or they already know how to play multiple instruments themselves or things like that. They’ve experienced what they people who are looking to them for leadership, they’ve been there. They’ve been in their shoes and that confidence comes from, like you said, being in the battle, being a part of those experiences so that you speak form a place of truth.

I’ve seen people, I’ve listened to different speakers, and even some pastors like they speak truth but not from place of experience. And there’s a difference when you can speak to someone with truth and the experience because it brings so much more power. Like I’m not just telling you what the Bible says, I’m not just telling you what these folks said, I’m not just telling you what you already know from the truth, I’m telling you because I have been in that battle, I have done that thing.

When I’m at work and someone asks me to do something like give this speech or presentation and I don’t know the content, I am funky mess out there. You know, I’m scared. I’m nervous. I’m shaking. I’m stumbling and I don’t know what I’m trying to say because I don’t understand the content you know what I mean? I’m like “I don’t know what I’m saying up here. I can’t speak to you confidently about something I know nothing about nor should I be,” you know what I mean?

Andrea: Yeah!

Linette Bumford: About a year ago, I’ve done a presentation and I knew every detail. I knew what the people in the audience were going to think. I knew what they were going through. I knew they were going to think I was crazy. I knew how much work it was, but I was so confident because I was like “We’ve been there. We did that. We went down the wrong roads. We tried everything. This is wherever we came up with.”

After that session, I remember just kind of like walking away and finding a quiet space and I just kind of smile you know like “Did I just do that?” It was that place that said “yes” because you were speaking from a place of confidence. And so again when everything came together after I took the Fascinate Assessment, I realized that God was just asking me to speak from a place of my experience not talk to people about things I could not relate to, you know, maybe that’s for another day. He probably asks more experiences lined up for me and at that time I can speak from that place, but it’s about just owning the battles I’ve already been through and sharing the truth and love, right?

Like in sharing truth and I do have ways sometimes of being a little too forward or direct with people, but at the same time, you know I think that’s why my girlfriend who I asked I said “You know, why do you come to me?” And she said “Because if I really want the real truth, I know you’ll give it to me.” And I was like “OK,” it was a common theme with anyone I spoke to.

Andrea: Oh yeah. The whole point of the Core Message course, the one you took and the academy that I’m trying to make now that I’m excited about, I mean, the whole point is to get down to that, like to get down to that work and say it. Don’t try to talk in generalities, number one. And number two, don’t try to say something…again, we care about a lot of different things. How do you decide what you’re going to actually end up focusing on? I’m so convinced that it has to do with our experience.

Linette Bumford: It does. I absolutely 200% agree with you and I think for me, it was mapping out my experiences. Even that, I told you that it was one of the hardest things I had and I was like “Oh gosh where to start,” you know. And it doesn’t mean like “Oh, if I don’t have dozens and dozens of experiences that I still can speak from that place, you might have one thing that is very important to you that’s OK. You own that one thing and go with it that’s it. You don’t have to have many obstacles. You can have just one.” Like you were saying, you might believe in the broader sense.

Again, going back to the kind of superhero like they all believe in good but how they achieve and support and defines good is in different ways and always that you got to be everything for everybody. And again, it’s going back to what are you? I’ve got good friends, they are the heart. They are the encouragers and sometimes I get jealous because I’m like “I’m so not made that way. I wish I could be like that.”

But then I have to remind myself that they aren’t like me you know what I mean? And they probably in these certain characters speak about me and I tell them I’m like “I wanna do that.” They would probably see the things in reverse so I can admire what God is doing in them and in those gifts and somehow encourage that to them and in turn, it’s kind of like this reciprocation. Their encouragement or their gifts helps me continue to be the way God made me. Once you get that, it’s such a freeing feeling.

There’s no more comparison because I don’t compare myself to that encourager, that heart, or that person who’s always serving. I’m like “God, made me this way so that I can serve in my capacity.” And that’s kind of hard sometimes, we try to do everything and be everything. But even at work, I was realizing that I was only giving about 10% to things and I didn’t feel like I was really doing a very good job even though they were saying I was doing a really good job, I was like “I don’t really feel that way though.”

I know I’m doing a good job when I can really give at least half of myself to something. But to really pour yourself into something that you absolutely passionately believe in, I think is when we really feel what success looks like. You know what does success looks like? Success is a feeling and it’s when you know you really poured your heart and soul into something and then it’s realized.

Andrea: I like that definition of success. Going back to your superhero comparison, the other thing about those superheroes with their suits and stuff, if you see Captain America’s suit and his shield and you know you can rely on him in battle. You see the Black Widow and you know what she’s going to be able to do in battle and what you should, you know how to rely on her in battle. That’s what I see in personal branding.

We throw on that superhero, those suits, anything that’s going to magnify, those characteristics about ourselves that make us you know, “This is what you can come to me for. This is who I am so that you know.” When I first started about hearing branding, immediately my mind went to the mask that we put on trying to be for other people or whatever and I’m like “I’m sure that it can be that, of course it can.” But just like life, I mean if you’re going to be authentic, I mean you can either throw on a mask or you can throw on your superhero suit but it’s an actual magnification of who you are.

Linette Bumford: That’s very true. I think it kind of goes back to what I was saying before, like when you put your mask on, if it’s not your suit, because you can just imagine putting the Hulk in the Captain America, it’s going to be uncomfortable and it’s going to look awkward.

Andrea: And nobody believes you.

Linette Bumford: And nobody believes you. Imagine seeing this you’d be like “Something is just not right here.” You know what I mean? You’re going to feel that. That’s what uncomfortable is for? That’s what those feelings are for. They are a gauge, right? They are a radar for you to be like “Something about this is not right so I’m gonna just not pay attention.” You’re not going to listen what they have to say and so that’s what happens when people are not authentic with you, your heart and your soul know that.

I could see that in other people and then I begin to think “Wow, the reality is I do that too.” I am not authentic with people. I either act the same way or I would say certain things because I thought that’s what they wanted to hear. It’s exhausting. I was tired. I was like “Yeah, I’m not just gonna do this anymore.” It’s just too exhausting. I think of what this saying is but it’s like you know people who lie, they have to keep up with the lie.

Andrea: Yeah. Right, right!

Linette Bumford: You have to keep up with, “What did I tell so and so? Who was I for them? And who was I for…” This is what you get, you know what I mean? I am a work in progress. I did this and I have done this. We all see this but I think we just don’t show it. And I started doing this to other folks at work and saying, “You know what I really don’t like to be angry like that. I’m really sorry, I’m just making it known that that was struggle for me.”

It invited other people to run kind of examine themselves and if they were contributing to my struggle or also hold me accountable. Again, once I started verbalizing those things, it gave me room to grow. It gave me permission to be authentic.

Andrea: Yeah, you didn’t have to be perfect. You weren’t holding yourself to this perfection standard.

Linette Bumford: Exactly! It doesn’t mean that I don’t have a message. You know it doesn’t mean that I can’t still be used. It so easy to just get down on yourself and I’m like “Yeah, actually that’s exactly who I am because if you want to follow perfection, follow Jesus, don’t follow me. I am not perfection. If you wanna see what transformation looks like, if you wanna know what change looks like, if you wanna know what struggle looks like, you can follow me all day.”

Andrea: That is awesome!

Linette Bumford: “If you want to know what it looks like for real give me a call,” you know what I mean? I talked about this a little bit in my book but you know there’s this point in my life in which I really made a significant change. I just said “OK, I’m going to follow, I’m gonna take actions to follow Jesus.” Shortly thereafter, the next chapter is called “Road Work” ahead because there’s a lot of stuff in my life and it is dirty. It’s is ugly. It is bumpy. It is inconvenient, all of that.

But as He does that, He was also laying down new road that’s smoother and easier, you know like He says “My yoke is easy and it’s beautiful and it’s new.” I read a quote not too long ago and it said something like a success and whatever comes from hard work, no excuses. It’s work and if you think it’s not then what you’re after is probably not sustainable and what you’re going to get is not sustainable. I refinished the table recently and I used a lot of analogies, I apologized. But I can’t say, I really refinished it, I just painted over it.

Everyone kind of asked me “Did you strip it? Did you send it and did you do this?” I was like “No, I slashed a page on it.” “Why would I go through all that trouble?” But then I thought about it because the reality is that’s only going to last so long. Eventually, the pain doesn’t have anything to really hold on to you. And then I thought “Well, when I get that point, I’ll just throw it away.” But it did keep me thinking about, sometimes you have to strip it. You have to save it down in order for what you’re going to lay down for it to last and then you have to pull away the olds in order to lay down the new for it to really last the long haul.

Andrea: Totally true. Oh that’s great! I love the picture. I don’t know where you at now and where you headed and what do you need?

Linette Bumford: I need another five hours in the clock, right? Right now, I am in full transition or post-transition. I’m working part time and it’s been an amazing experience. So many people come alongside and just supported and it’s one of those decisions that it was a little scary at first. But the way God showed up through opportunities and connecting me with other people and other writers, I have a coach who is helping me right now. She’s amazing. Her name is Renee Fisher, she’s amazing.

Again, everyone needs kind of guidance like I’m going down this path and it’s something I’ve never done. So she has really helped to keep me motivated. Sometimes we want to do things by ourselves because we’re like “OK, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it alone.” And I read something from, again another great blog, Jeff Goins had put article out and it was about doing this in community. We’re not called to do this alone.

And again, it goes back to the superhero thing. Sometimes, they gather together to fight that battle, right? You got a combined forces and that was a little bit difficult for me. You know, I had my reservations but I trust it that God has been showing up in the process. Anyway, so I’m working on the book actively. We are looking for early spring of 2018, which would be awesome. And I’m probably going to be going into maybe more of like a pre-marketing phase of things. It’s weird but it’s so real because you know it takes time.

Sometimes I think some things happen for people very quickly. You know, I am still at work and it’s interesting. I think you said something the other day or it was only message that you said in the academy you know. Early on in the process, I thought “OK, well, I’m gonna have to completely give up my career in order to do this thing.” And then I thought “Well, maybe I’m doing this for now to help me be better in what I do as a career, or it doesn’t mean you have to always give up one thing to do something else. It maybe you need to slow down in one area in order to build the authenticity of where God is taking you.”

And I see that in a sense of, you know, I was struggling out to really be a leader. I felt like in different ways, I was a manager and I was a leader. I was like hitting the ceiling like almost like an emotional or like a growth ceiling. I met with my mentor and he said to me, “You have to do this. You have to go part time; you have to go follow this dream, this feeling inside of you.” And I was like “What? You’re the same one who mentors to like keep growing.”

And he said “Doing that will make you a better leader if you decide to comeback.” And I thought “Wow, OK.” So I table that and I thought “Well, that’s pretty powerful.” Sometimes you have to step to decide. You have to go and dig up an area in order for all of you to move forward and then he said “And when you get there, you just turnaround and help someone else do things.”

And I thought “OK,” and it was after that conversation that I’d really, really like I made the decisions anyway. I hope that that make sense. But yeah, I think I was excited and open. I think at this point, I don’t have it all figured out but I’m open and initially, I was like “Oh my gosh, I got to learn about social media. I got to learn about this and God said “No, you don’t. Nope, you just need to tell your story and I will help you when the time is right to get to those other points.” I was like “I’m just gonna focus on what God has put on my heart and tell the story that He has done in my life.”

Andrea: Yeah, it’s like that. Going back to your analogy about taking the step like you can’t take all the steps at once.

Linette Bumford: I’m not just the next-step kind of person. I mean, sometimes I do those huge leaps of faith, right? And those are exciting too but you can’t leave that everywhere. You have to say “Just take a step,” and I think this was another thing I heard early on and I was like just the torch bearer, right? We talked about this early on.

When you’re in a dark cave and you have a torch, it doesn’t light up the entire cave or all the ways out, it just gives you enough light to get a few feet ahead. And we just have to trust that that God is that light for us our relationship with Jesus is to have just enough faith to take the next step and not fear the failure.

I think of it like a maze, right? We try to figure out this maze and we go a certain direction and it’s a dead end. Well, things happen along the way, right? So it’s about what you experience along the path and to me that makes the light brighter, like in video games, you go down this level and you gather up you know whether it’s trinkets or whether it’s coin. And then you go down a certain path and you gather things for the rest of your trip.

And then you’ll come across another obstacle where you’re going to another path and you go “OK, I need a hammer for that, you know, I need this little trinket.” I just kind of think about things in that way like that’s what our life is about. We go down certain paths to obtain certain experiences and certain nuggets of wisdom so that it can be used later on in the journey. And it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be there forever, it’s just now you have it, you’re going to need it, right?

I think that’s why they exist; you’re going to need it for something, just hold on to it. And when the time is right, you’ll know when to reach into your little wisdom pouch, pull it out whether it’s for someone else or for you to sustain you through a hard time. That’s really what it’s all about, right?

Andrea: So when you took the Core Message course, it was basically a three-month period. I thought that it would be a 5-week deal but I realized very quickly that you guys were like “Woo, wait a second this is a lot more to process than I have time for in one week at a time and it made total sense as we kept going.”

So I tried to take all of what you guys were saying then I also listened to some other people who know a lot of people say they want to make changes or they want to figure stuff out for themselves. They want to find their things. They want to find their passion but they need accountability and that sort of thing.

I thought all this together seems to me like what people really need is they need bite size things to chew on for a period of time and over a period of time. That’s the reason why I went with 6-month program because I thought what would be the most transformational thing I think would be a coaching program for six months.

And if I could just disseminate the information a month at a time with a module at a time, something for people to focus on for one month and then move on to the next thing that maybe would make more sense. So that’s the reason why you guys and your feedback was so helpful to me in deciding what to do here.

Linette Bumford: Again, it has taken me all this time, but life had to happen. I had to let things call today or culture. I had to let those things happen in order for God to show up like when we want to do the fast diet. Oh well, it’s going to happen but it’s not going to sustain you, you know what I mean? So yeah, I think it’s progress and I think that’s really a good observation on your part.

Andrea: So who do you think should consider doing this program?

Linette Bumford: You know, I don’t want to speak for everybody but what I’ll do is I’ll speak for myself. I knew I had something inside of me. I knew that I was being called to something. The question was what was the thing? What made me me? Not made me different, didn’t make me special, right? I mean, I am different and I am special. We are all different and especial. We are who we are, right? But what was it about me that I needed to own but what was it that made Linette Linette, and it was my experience. It came down to figuring out what it was about my experience and then what was it that I had to say, I guess.

It’s great to just tell people “Yeah, I’ve been through a lot of stuff. You wanna hear about it? Here it goes.” But what was the purpose in all of that and then finding a way to own it? So being creative is sometimes an agonizing process. You taught me about the six stages of creativity, like there’s a very agonizing stuff in there where you’re like “Huh, this is just too hard.” You know, I want to go to the easy thing, the thing that I know how to do right.

But if you look at yourself in the mirror and you’re like “I’m ignoring something. I’m ignoring the gut feeling. I’m ignoring my heart. I’m pushing something aside,” and you are getting frustrated by that and you know that there’s that thing inside of you, take the class. Don’t try to figure out what it is before the class because the course is going to pull it out of you. I’m just saying. It will pull out of you. It pulled it out of me in a way that I just never imagined but don’t try to figure it out.

Again, I’ll plan this out, I’ll figure it out, or I’ll go into the class. I’ll be the superstar. I’ll be the teacher’s pet like that’s all we do, right? We try to over analyze it and I did it. I said “No, I’m just sure; I’ll sign up for that. I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.” I said it from the very beginning. I was like “I haven’t had any clue, but I’m open and that’s all you have to do.”

So if you’re feeling it and your heart flutters when you think about whatever it is and you just have no idea how to wrap your mind around it, take the class. It’s going to help you bring structures to the chaos. It’s going to bring clarity where there’s fog. It will help you own you. I think sometimes we let the story or our experiences own us and take us captive but it allows us to take those things captive.

Andrea: Amen! Oh my gosh that’s the perfect way to put that. Yes, yes, I just got goose bumps all over my body and I’m even crying because that is so what I want for people. That is so what I want for people.

Linette Bumford: I’m telling you that as a student and I love that at the academy, yes, it did that for me.

Andrea: Oh so cool!

Linette Bumford: It allowed me to take really difficult things captive and own them and not look at them like scars but sword and at the end like just that little spark, it will be an unstoppable fire when you’re done. When I was done with the class, I was unstoppable.

Andrea: Yes!

Linette Bumford: I still don’t have any idea what I was doing but I was unstoppable.

Andrea: Exactly! It’s like the internal positioning like that “OK, there are still stuffs to be done but I’m ready to go.”

Linette Bumford: I’m determined and I’m energized and I’m going to keep going. And having that fuel, I want to get there and that is my story. We’re all getting there, right? So yeah, I want to get there. I’m going to do it. You know, people come to me and they’re like “You’re so audacious.” And I’m like “Why not? How do you live with yourself going what if?” I’m like “No, I’m not a what if-er, I’m a why not-ter, because I have a hard time with the what ifs.”

I have more regrets, not with what I did but it’s what I didn’t do. I’ve learned that failure, I almost chase it now. I’m like “Bring it on.” And something that may seem small for us could be huge for someone else. We never know when that’s going to inspire greatness to someone else, right?

Andrea:   Totally!

Linette Bumford: So yeah, if you’re feeling the thing, if you’re feeling anything, if you’re hearing this and you are like “Yes, yes” then take a class, just take it. I had a hard time believing that words are not going to show up and really help you own and take your personality and take whatever your name is and whoever you are, take that captive. And sometimes that’s all you need. You just need to have permission to take your life captive and sort of your life taking you captive.

Andrea: Awesome! Thank you so much for your generous endorsement and for sharing your own story and feedback along the way. And yeah, I’m excited for you and where you’re headed. I have another friend who said to me before “You know, it just seems like we’re not supposed to know where we’re getting to because it could just overwhelm us like we just don’t know and maybe we can’t handle that right now and I think of that with you for sure like who knows. I just don’t know but it’s some place, I’m pretty sure. Some place special.

Linette Bumford: Yeah. I hope I’m going somewhere. I know I am.

Andrea: Yeah, absolutely!

Linette Bumford: And again I write about the goal, the goal, the goal but even through the process, I’ve had to learn to appreciate the journey and pulling over and taking it all in because it’s so easy to get somewhere. I still do this when I’m driving around, like “I gotta go, I gotta go. I’m late, I’m late.” But I was just missing it and I’m still learning. I’m a work in progress but you know I’m learning to just slow down and just enjoy the little things because God is everywhere and He’s everything and He wants us to like the arrival, right? The arrival, the steps along the way, or the “Mile Markers” you want to call them. He wants us to get there but He also wants us to get there happily, does that make sense?

Once you get there gradually, like “God, I finally arrived. What a trip!” How many people have come home like “Oh it was traffic. There was this.” “I’m so sorry that your trip here was so exhausting.” We want to arrive like that. He wants us to arrive happily like “I’m so excited to be here. Let me tell you all these things we didn’t plan but it happened along the way?”

How difference that would make when we interact with people? I thought these amazing things that I just didn’t plan but happens along the way and how awesome it were. Even things like getting a flat tire or bad weather or whatever. If we can just look at them as God’s way of slowing us down and just appreciating those things.

Andrea: Well, thank you, Linette!

Linette Bumford: Welcome! Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to help with the academy. I mean just watching you of what it was about a year now, right? It was last August that I began to see you progressing and succeeding and the fire that you continue to have to help people. I’m excited to see how God continues to move in your abilities to help us find our voice.

 

END

An Open Letter to Multi-Passionate Creatives Stuck in Creative Chaos

Dear fellow Multi-Passionate Creative,

Creative chaos is how I would describe the ideas bouncing around in our heads. It’s a fun place to play but it’s not very helpful when it’s time to make any kind of decision about what path to take with your life or business, is it? Untended, chaos breeds more chaos and pretty soon intelligent, ambitious people spin their wheels so fast they (and everything around them) turns into a muddy mess.

How are you supposed to build a platform or business around confusion, overwhelm and frustration? You can’t. Not a powerfully sustainable one, anyway. If you can’t make up your mind and decide on an idea to pursue, you’ll keep jumping from one passion to another without gaining traction on any of them.

Compounding the problem are all of the voices out there ready to give you the exact plan for this or the perfect blueprint for that. If you just follow their plan, you’ll end up with the results you want.

It sounds great, but who’s plan should you follow? What “proven” tactics are the ones you should use? Should you follow one or synthesize them all? And what if a better option comes along while you’re in the middle of implementing the one you thought you chose?

Whether you’re spinning your wheels trying to decide on an idea to pursue or you’re spinning in circles trying to decide who to listen to, you’re probably not getting anywhere. Fast.

Before you spend the last of your continuing education budget or eek out one more drop of effort to build your platform, please STOP.

This is me, grabbing you by the shoulders, looking you in the eye, saying:

Friend, you are smarter and more capable of making your own decisions than you think you are. I know what it’s like to feel so lost in your own head that you can’t make sense of the cereal box, let alone Facebook’s newest algorithm. I know what it’s like to know you’ve got more to offer the world but you’re so lost in the chaos of choices before you and the chaos of voices yelling from the Internet to see past your own keyboard. It’s time to lift your head above the fog and listen to your own voice.

It was only a few short years ago that I was so lost in my own creative chaos that I was a bottled up mess of ideas and ambition that I verbally exploded from the internal pressure on a regular basis. It took realizing the pain I was causing others to make me stop saying terrible things to myself about being “crazy,” “scattered,” “a mess,” and “a waste.”

If you’re saying terrible things to yourself, please stop for a minute and look me back in the eye and answer me this:

  1. Who do you say that you are?
  2. What message is on your heart to share with others?
  3. What do you want to offer the world?

If you know the answers to these questions, then write them down in big letters and throw them up on the wall behind your computer and use them as your internal compass when you have decisions to make because if you align what you do and what you say with who you are, you will gain traction and make an impact.

However, if you struggle to answer these three questions, it’s time to take a reflective moment in time and figure it out.

October 23-27th I am offering a free 5 Day Challenge to help you nail down these answers in an elevator pitch. And if you think this is just some simple formula you can Google, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice. I know exactly what it’s like to be where you are right now and I do not see your elevator pitch as some simple fill-in-the-blank. You are more beautifully complicated than that. Your multitude of talents, your fierce ambition and your passion to help others deserves to be honored. That’s exactly what we’re going to do in the Nail Your Elevator Pitch 5 Day Challenge. Stop spinning your wheels and sign up NOW (HERE).

You’re talent and message are worth it. I’ll see you inside.

 

Your Voice Matters,

3 Reasons a Killer Elevator Pitch Will Make You More Confident

Networking is hard enough as it is. One night you finally get the courage to go to cocktail hour at the conference you’ve been attending for two days. You throw on the outfit that makes you look powerful and interesting. You stand tall in front of the mirror and give yourself a wink, just before leaving your room. You even find someone to meet you there so it’s not so awkward. But just as you press “L” on the elevator wall, your heart sinks, “My elevator pitch sucks! What am I supposed to say I do?!”

Do you find it difficult to answer the “what do you do” question? Most entrepreneurs and multi-passionate people do. They might have an answer that gets them by, but it doesn’t really represent who they are and what they have to offer. In fact, sometimes that “pitch” that’s supposed to draw people in, pushes people away.

Have you settled for a simple statement about your current job, which gives no real hint of who you really are and what you really have to offer? Isn’t it frustrating to be reduced to your job title when you know you are so much more? Sharing your boring response over and over can be crushing.

But what if you could have a KILLER elevator pitch that intrigues and invites others to get to know you and your business better? What if your answer could be so clear, succinct and powerfully authentic that you magnetize your ideal partners, clients and collaborators?

If you had a killer elevator pitch and you knew just how to deliver it, you’d have a built in engine that builds momentum in your conversations from the get-go. Here are three reasons why:

1. When you know who you are and what you have to bring to the table, you don’t have to worry about looking weak. Your weaknesses will fade into the background as you draw attention to the magnitude of your strengths.

2. Your killer elevator pitch isn’t about getting yourself to FIT IN to a company, industry or relationship. It’s about clearly stating who you are. When you share it, you’ll attract those who want you and what you have to offer like a magnet.

3. When you deliver a killer elevator pitch in YOUR style, over time you’ll develop more and more confidence in your “voice,” making you more likely to speak up clearly when it’s your time to do so.

Are you ready to create and deliver your Killer Elevator Pitch? I’m excited to offer a FREE “Nail Your Elevator Pitch 5-Day Challenge,” October 23-27th, 2017. In just a few minutes a day we’ll take your boring answer to “what do you do?” to a wow-worthy status. I’ll be in the Facebook group every day to guide you through the process and offer strategic feedback, specific to YOU, so by the end of the week, you’ll be ready to rock your next cocktail party.

Don’t miss this free and easy opportunity to take your self-awareness and personal brand to a whole new level! Sign up today.

 

 

How to Find People Who Will Challenge You to be Your Best

Episode 21 with Laurie Hock

Laurie Hock’s coaching credentials through Gallup and the John Maxwell Team define her specialization of helping people stop living life, and start leading it. Through her company, Growing Points, she creates and delivers individual and group growth experiences purposed to “set the caged bird free and empower those already flying to soar higher.

Laurie is a personal friend and one of the many powerful things we discuss on this episode is how we started and developed our own friendship to challenge and encourage one another to be our best.

Find Laurie at www.lauriehock.com and sign up for her monthly video series.

Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Transcript

Hey, hey! It’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast. Today, I have my friend, Laurie Hock on the line. And Laurie is somebody that is really into her calling and who she is kind of continuing to grow and develop her own self as well as the offerings that she makes the to the world.

 

Andrea: So Laurie, I’m so thrilled to have you on the Voice of Influence podcast.

Laurie: Thank you! It’s a total joy to be here with you!

Andrea: Well, Laurie and I have been friends for a couple of years. I don’t know how long have we been friends, maybe about three or four years?

Laurie: Yeah, probably around there.

Andrea: Something like that and she lives in North Platte where I live. A few years ago, we’re in the same bible study, small group kind of thing and Laurie took off on some trip and she came back and was like ready to go with this whole new purpose in her life and it was just amazing. And since then, she has really grown and she has really inspired me to look at what I offer as something that could be done as a business. I don’t know, we just had quite a little journey together, Laurie.

Laurie: That’s right. Yeah, it’s fun to think about as each of us grew individually; we also grew together as well. What a beautiful thing.

Andrea: Yeah. So Laurie, why don’t you tell the Influencers listening what it is that you do right now?

Laurie: Right now, I have found my true sweet spots and some of these will probably be described as our conversation continues, but moving from working with people one-on-one primarily to creating growth experiences. And I’m both a coach, speaker, facilitator; I’d feel probably describes me best as I get to come alongside people in their growth journey and help them really navigate their way from where they are to where they want to be and getting in touch with the core of their true self.

Being able to celebrate what’s great about them and really creating this kind of transformation in the context of community and relationship with others, which is what I think is one of the greatest and most significant aspects and elements of any growth. So I serve people locally. I serve people in different states as well. Much of what I do can be done virtually or in person, so there’s really no geographical limits and there are needs all over the world. It’s a wonderful, wonderful exciting privilege of watching other people really come alive and step into their greatness.

Andrea: And you have a couple of credentials really behind you. That credentials and also these influences tools that these things have offered you which would be like the John Maxwell Team and the Gallup StrengthsFinder. Do you want to tell us just briefly about those?

Laurie: Sure! Yeah, I’m very privileged to be able to be connected with really some of the global experts on the planet in the field of personal development and what really started this journey for me several years ago as becoming a coach and speaker with the John Maxwell Team. John is by far and has been for years the world expert on leadership. He is the number one leadership guru and I get to be affiliated with him. He really has been on a mission in his later years of his career of wanting to leverage his name and his influence to give other speakers and coaches a platform to open opportunities for them.

So he’s been a big influence in my life. I use some of his materials in what I do and his ideas have helped me shape my own ideas around what it means to be a leader. I continue to stay connected with the team on many levels. So there’s that and then also the privilege. The experience you mentioned in the introduction was when I went to Gallup to be trained as a Certified Strengths Coach and that’s really about leveraging their Clifton Strengths Assessment. To help people identify what they do best and their innate talents and strengths that really indicates where their greatest potential lies and how they can develop that to achieve the greatest results and sense of fulfillment and satisfaction and success in their lives.

So I have some really amazing tools that both of those affiliations gave me that the true joy in finding my voice of influence has been, not just in speaking from one of those lanes or the other, but allowing them to marinate and come together within me. And then speaking my truth of how those blend and how I find my own voice and make my own ideas from that foundation of how I can best serve and support clients, friends, peers, family, and all the people in my life.

Andrea: Hmm I love that idea of wanting these other influences and letting them saturate and become like really a synthesis and I guess to come out as your own voice. Yeah, that’s really cool!

Laurie: Yeah, exactly!

Andrea: I know that I you didn’t start out your career path with this particular thing in mind. If you want take us back to what you were doing that moment that you knew that you wanted to move in this direction of finding business and developing your voice of influence in the space where you can really utilize your own strengths and offer that to other people?

Laurie: Yes. I will give you a brief insight into my life in 2007 that’s really where this revelation started and then it’s been a process over the last 10 years. Oh actually, let me go farther back even than that. In sixth grade, I really set my sight and got very clear for some specific reasons that I wanted to be a dietitian, a nutritionist in terms of how I understood it then. So I pressed on with that in pursuing all my educational requirements to be a registered dietitian. And everything that I aspired to do in that, I now see the motivation underneath that is the same thing I am doing now. It was just going to be expressed toward helping people create positive changes in their health and developing healthy lifestyles. What wasn’t correct in that fate was the specific industry that I was applying that in.

And so as passionate as I was to help other people to create positive change, I felt a lot of limitations in that particular career path of being a dietitian that wasn’t going to allow me to do that the most fully and in a way that made me feel most alive and engaged. I had great coworkers and colleagues there but it felt like it wasn’t the right fit. And I came to that revelation in 2008 or so that I needed to really be willing to lay down that part of me and being able to create and new way forward.

That was a really huge identity crisis in every sense of everything I thought I was was no more in the sense that if I lay down that career path, I knew in my heart it wasn’t the right fit anymore. It would be a disservice to stay there knowing that just because I had all my educational investment and requirements met there, it would be a disservice to not only my own destiny but to the lives that my life is purposed to speak into. There were too many limitations and restrictions in that industry for my voice to be most heard.

And so I had to find out who is Laurie Hock without that career. Who’s Laurie on her own? Who’s Laurie without any sort of work-related attachments to it? And I think that’s a question very few people ask themselves and that begin a very deep soul searching journey for me because I didn’t have the answer to that. I knew different things I enjoy and was good at but I’d never thought just who I was at the core of my identity without anything else defining that.

So it took several years to come into that but the biggest decision and that turning point was making the intentional choice to create a new way forward that I could redefine myself. I could find my deeper truth that I didn’t have to stay with what it was or who I had been to that point, but that I could define who I was going to be outside of what I did.

Andrea: Hmmm. Laurie, was there anything in particular that helped you to realize that you didn’t have to stay there, that you could be something new? Do you remember?

Laurie: You know at that point, I didn’t have a lot of community. I didn’t have a coach I was working with. I was totally unaware of this whole personal development industry and all the opportunities of working with people that are experts at this. I remember I started going to the library. We were living in San Antonio at the time and I picked up a few John Maxwell’s books actually.

And I began to feel that there was something greater within me that was begging to be awakened. And through the practice of reading some of these leadership-related materials and paired with journaling to really get in touch with the deeper things going on inside me. This restlessness, this cry for more when I could sit and really allow those feelings from within to be exposed and surfaced and expressed in the form of my nightly journaling, wow, I just heard such a longing in me. That even if I didn’t know what it was and as risky as it felt to lay that other piece down, I knew it was far riskier to stay. And so it was just this light-bulb moment. It’s a combination of all those. Does that make sense?

Andrea: Sure! So really, I mean John Maxwell has a huge impact on you from the get-go.

Laurie: Yeah. I think this is true for all of us that there are certain voices that the spirit within us just clings to and it resonates with us so richly and so deeply even if it’s far beyond that we can’t understand in the moment. It speaks to us and it awakens something inside that knows it’s going to continue to unlock more of our potential and more opportunities for what’s ahead.

Andrea: Yeah that’s cool! Okay, so what happened after you kind of had this light-bulb moment like “Wait a second; I don’t have to go down this path that I was going down. I could choose this other path.”

Laurie: Yeah, it came with a lot of tears. I’ll be honest, I feel a lot of grieving and searching and then from just the decision to find a new way to create a new way, it probably took about five years actually. My husband had a job changed. We relocated back to Nebraska. I sensed heavily then that I wasn’t to look for a position here in North Platte as dietitian. I had left that in the past life and so I had some times. We started a family. I had some years with some kids all the while doing intensive searching within me and that’s a real discipline.

It takes time to truly find who we are but in that, the fruit of that is within over that compounding effort, the voice of influence we carry becomes clear. So yeah, I encourage everyone listening to this to give yourself the space, the time, and the freedom to enjoy the process. This cannot be manufactured overnight. It’s not an overnight success. It is something that really takes consistent commitment. And I believe we find our message when we first find ourselves.

Andrea: Yeah I like that. I really like that! We find our message when we find ourselves and we have to enjoy the process and kind of let it just set it in and keep moving. I love that. Yeah, because five years that’s a long time and it’s hard when you have little kids. That was definitely a struggle for me to try to understand who I was in the middle of having kids. But you were really processing all of that in the midst of that. At what point then did you decide it was time to move forward that you found yourself, you found your message?

Laurie: Yeah, I’d say the awakening really became clear, I was in some other leadership roles in our community but was feeling like in those situations, people were looking to me for the answers and I was wondering who can I look to for the answers. I know I was too young in my journey to have all the answers. I needed someone that could lead me so that I could lead them and that came through this incredible process of then discovering that John Maxwell had a team of people he was training and equipping and credentialing to be leadership coaches and speakers.

So I joined and made the investment in myself to join his team strictly for personal growth. That was back in 2013 with no intentions of it becoming anything more than just me growing as a leader so that I could feel this bigger call in my life, this leadership mandate. Even though I had no idea what’s that look like, I could sense it that I needed to be equipped and grow as a leader to be able to carry out my life’s mission.

So I found out that you can join the Maxwell Team. I did it for personal growth. I went to my first live event in 2014 with John in Orlando and it was rather unexpected but I really looked back at that moment and now see that I received my life calling there in the middle of one particular session.

It just became incredibly clear through a lot of just emotional eruption of joy and gladness and tears and all sorts of things that God was really calling me to make a business that would empower leaders and help them understand and recognize their true potential to be alongside in this journey and developing it. To call out who they really are so they can step forward more boldly and confidently and to fulfill their life’s purpose.

And it was just very clear that this is my time. This is my time and I didn’t have a clue that business was on my radar at all. It was so clear in that moment. Of course, I said yes immediately and everything shifted in that moment. Even before going to that event, I remember sitting out by the pool before the first session and I love to journal my thoughts before going in to some experience like that and just really putting out there “I’m expecting this to change my life. I’m coming to be transformed.”

And I remember just this _____ before going into that first day was that I wrote down in my journal “Your whole life has been leading up to this moment.” So I felt then like “This is my voice” and it’s been a process in the years since of finding what it looks like to do that and to be that but that day changed everything for me.

Andrea: Yeah. I remember you coming back from that experience and coming into this little small group of a number of basically stay-at-home moms and saying “I’m supposed to start a business.” Your joy, your excitement, it was such a clear picture of how affirmed you felt in that decision, in that call.

Laurie: Yeah. It felt like everything had been leading up to that moment and what I thought was _____ so that I can grow others and it can go a pinnacle in receiving that calling and then coming home thinking “I’m doing this no matter what.” It’s so obvious to me even though it’s so unknown. It cannot be bought. It’s so clear and so unknown at the same time. I think so the big picture vision is so clear and how to get there is the unknown but we find that one day at a time.

Andrea: Yes, yes, so true! Yes, I love that because you knew it was ahead but you didn’t know exactly what steps to take, what does it mean to run a business, and all those things. But that vision you had seems to be really motivating you to be able to keep your nose to the grinding and keep figuring that out even if you don’t know what’s next.

Laurie: Because we know the why. See I got my why that day in Orlando. The how is negotiable. The how doesn’t matter in the big picture when we’re connected to that why that’s what drive us forward. That’s what’s drive our influence is the why, our why.

Andrea: Definitely! Then basically you started this business and it’s kind of turned into what it is today over the course of a few years. Do you want to say anything else about that transformation of your business?

Laurie: I think what has been really critical for me in that and this is truly a main message I would love to emphasize to your audience is that it really takes the help and support of other people for us to find our voice however that’s expressed. If it’s in terms of business or personal things in terms of your relationship and the influence you have with other people in your life. I believe we can’t find our voice on our own.

So when things begin to get really clear of what I’m best at and what my business is most effective at doing and how it can meet the needs of the people around me that my voice is called to reach. That clarity all came from the context of being in relationship and connection with other likeminded peers and experiencing the benefit of really feeling support, and I’ll define support in just a moment, for people to help me clarify my own value.

We don’t understand what we’re best at or where we really shine because it’s so familiar to us. The same work I do with strengths. People don’t recognize their strengths or that significant because they’ve always been there. They’re so normal to them. We don’t realize that it’s exceptional to others. And so in the context of me being a participant in several masterminds with my colleagues and peers that are in the same industry really allowed me to get clear on what my voice can best accomplish.

Andrea: So what is that look like for you in terms of finding those other voices, those other people in your life that could give you that kind of feedback?

Laurie: I know. Isn’t that powerful that in order to find our voice, we need the voice of others? I think that’s so perfect of how we’ve been designed to need and really have to depend on one another but it’s a _____ to depend on one another. So what is that look like to find people? I think what that’s really look like for me and what I would encourage your listeners to consider as well is really finding the people that are willing to challenge you. When I began to experience this environment of support, I discovered that supporting one another doesn’t mean agreeing with one another.

Andrea: Hmmm yes!

Laurie: When we think of “Oh I support you in that,” or when we think of people supporting us, we think of kind of people maybe standing and applauding with us or celebrating us in some way and really _____ in a way that means they’re probably agreeing with us, encouraging us, and behind us sort of thing in what we’re pursuing. But what I have found as the strongest support that I can both receive and that I can give is the support that means I stand for your best, I stand for you. I stand with you, for you, and your highest good no matter what it costs me or what it cost you and being willing to really play all in on behalf of the best interest of others.

The support that I found has been instrumental to me really owning my voice of influence is embracing my role as a challenger. I feel like that best describes it where the best way I can support others and I encourage you as you’re looking for what kind of voice that could speak into you and help you define your message and your sphere of influence and your life mission. Who’s going to be willing to disagree with you or to risk your approval to speak your higher truths and speak into you and show you your best assets, your blind spots, and some of the other things that we have to have that outside perspective to do for us.

When I began experiencing that through this peer connection, I begin to grow faster than I ever grown before. It was truly and epic exhilaration of explosive growth when I had people and it’s a handful. It’s not multitudes that are willing to speak with us and be with us in our journey like this; it’s a handful of a select few that are willing to walk that road for us.

But I think in your heart of hearts if you begin to look around and see who you’re naturally drawn to, who inspires you in some way and being able to kind of mind what it is that draws me to them and what I admire in them and show me something I need to grow in in my own life that’s what happened for me is that some people that I admired were exceptional setting boundaries and being very clear and very direct in a loving way.

But that was radically different from what I’ve experienced or really taking a strong stand in letting their voice be expressed no matter how it was received when given from that place of care. But I realized “Wow, I’m admiring that in him because I need more of that in me.”

Andrea: Yeah. This is making me think about how really when we hear, and I’ve seen this in my relationship with you and my relationship with other people but as you have expressed a certain kind of style or voice, tone, or challenge; when you see that in other people and you see that there’s something in you, it almost gives you permission or you start to realize that you can do that too.

It may not be the same as the other person but I’ve noticed that for myself for sure that as I’ve seen that in you and other people, it’s just different things, confidence, whatever it might be that “Gosh, you know what, I could step into my confidence too.” And I think that what you’re saying about being in a community like that in an environment where somebody would be willing to push you and challenge you most certainly I can see how that would help the actual leader that’s involved and that put themselves in that position that they would then get some of those attributes for themselves as well where it awaken those in them.

Laurie: Yes, exactly! I think we all have people in our lives that support us in the traditional sense of love and celebrate who we are and what we do. But the rare jewels are those that are willing to tell us what other people either can’t see or unwilling to say. Those of them are the most meaningful relationships in my life in helping shape my voice in a way that nothing else could of those ones that are really willing to say the hard things and stand with us through that.

Andrea: And you know when someone is in a position of leadership, which I know that you’re working with people who are in positions of leadership, when they’re in that position, it’s very uncommon for other people to feel like they can or want to or want to risk that idea of challenging that leader in any sort of way. I can see how that would be incredibly valuable for that person to find it outside of their normal environment. I guess, by coming to a group like yours or the sort of community that you seem to be talking about.

Laurie: Exactly. I have two distinct programs right now and that’s really the sole purpose that were gathered together to be a group for women, women rising above the lies that limits us and helping us overcome those things that are holding us back from speaking and being our true authentic self and being willing to challenge one another in that. And a group for company leaders called Catalyst where again it’s a community thing. But what I wanted to share just for a bit though is about the process.

I love how you said “we have to give ourselves permission to kind of go there with people.” And I think giving myself permission to really embrace my role as challenger took a while. That was months in the making. It just becomes really clear in the last year. It’s been unfolding over the past year actually of realizing I’d always seen myself and this relates to what I shared a few minutes ago about the traditional way where we understand support.

I’ve always seen myself as the cheerleader and this natural encourager that came so easily for me and people really seem to appreciate and be inspired by how I could really instill belief in them through the encouraging words that just very effortless for me to give but very sincere and genuine. But when I began to recognize that there was a deeper part of me that was waiting to be discovered in this challenge or piece, it felt very unsafe initially.

And I really had to wrestle through “But I’ve always been a cheerleader” like I’m not sure if it’s okay for me to really stand in that place of what seemed to me, to conflict with celebrating and honoring who they were. So I’d always limiting beliefs I had to work out which is true in most cases. That’s why I feel like I’ve gotten very good at identifying limiting beliefs in the people I work with because I’ve gone so much practice on myself. Being able to hear the ways by limiting beliefs and talking about the things that we’re believing either on the conscious or unconscious level, but how I define this are really beliefs that limit our present ability and restrict our future potential.

So this belief I had, “It’s not okay to be a challenger like I am cheerleader. I’m nice. I’m friendly. People call me smiley wherever I go and they have my whole life sort of thing.” This whole persona that I had wrapped around that but was not going to allow me to tap into this challenge or piece of me that’s really the challengers where my true voice of influence is.

Andrea: Oh Laurie that is really cool and I certainly see that. When you talk about a persona that’s the kind of thing that does not come down easily, a persona is something that you know we really construct around ourselves that is there for a reason and can often…I don’t know be really painful to let go of. Did you find that for yourself that it was hard to let go of the ones so that you could embrace the other?

Laurie: It took probably at least six months of working on myself and just a lot of reflection, a lot of writing and processing, and trying to figure out what always going within me. A lot of conversation with my peers and working with my coach, a lot of conversations and really examining how I was showing up in my life and what things indicated where limiting beliefs was hiding or holding me back. But what I realized in that was that I didn’t realize…I thought the smile was me and it is…hear me on that, it is. When I smile, it is sincere. It’s who I am. It’s the expression of my DNA and all that I am.

I didn’t realize how much I was hiding behind it as well that it was actually, yeah to some degree this a mask or this persona that there was deeper truths inside me. But because I felt I had to maintain this smiley demeanor because that was who I am, right? And that’s what people expected me to be that if not Laurie starts poking people from a place of love but still poking them in the sense of calling them to more and saying “I disagree with that. You’re making an excuse for yourself there. You’re lying to yourself. You’re putting below your means,” whatever that looks like.

Yeah, that took a lot of work, internal work I’m talking about to be able to say, you know it’s grounded in care when my voice comes from a stand of love and they can see my heart in that. I have the power. I have the authority. I have the commissioning, the call to speak into those things that my eyes have been gifted to see and call forth the things within them that they can’t see in themselves, to call out those limiting beliefs and help them discover the higher truth. To be able to identify those things and to create new life in them by challenging their perspective or their way of beings so that they can become more and who they’re designed to be.

When I began to see that my heart _____ in that of calling them to do their best and helping develop their potential, it doesn’t always look like nice. But I don’t think any of us want nice more than we want growth and to really sense that someone is willing to advocate for our best no matter what, that’s where the real value is. That’s what my clients experienced with me. They say that means more than anything else. That they don’t find that in other relationships in their lives because most people have too many insecurities to allow them to speak freely and directly and fiercely like that. But you got to hear me; it’s from the grounding of love that allows my true heart to come forth and for it to be able to be received in a place that others see as a gift not a threat.

Andrea: Yeah that’s like the surgeons’ merciful knife. It’s not malicious. It’s what the purpose of destroying of building up and yeah…

Laurie: Yeah, strengthening.

Andrea: And restoring yeah. That’s really refreshing to have somebody come in and say “Hold on a minute.

Laurie: Yes. I think we’re all starving for those voices in our lives whether we realize it or not and that’s why they were so meaningful when I begin to find a few challengers in my life to be able to really experience the value of that and that gave me the courage to really be able to take my stand and own that that’s what my voice says “I am the challenger.” And as terrifying as it felt at first, it feels so free now. I’ve never felt more at peace with myself and more powerful in the sense that this is my purpose.

Andrea: I’ve really appreciated our relationship. I feel like we should share a little bit about just the way that we have interacted a little bit because I think that it could be really beneficial to other people who are looking for other people that they could walk through this journey with. And while I think it’s really beneficial to have a coach, it’s also beneficial to have peers. And so how would you describe our relationship in the way that we have pursued this?

Laurie: You are a priceless gift to me, Andrea. You have brought so much value into my life by you being who you are and freely expressing and generously giving your gifts through our conversation has been really key to me sharpening my voice, my clarity, my stand that I wish that for everybody that they would be able to find a peer, a friend, a true support. And I believe it takes time because I’ve longed for a friendship like this for a long time and someone that could really get me and that could hold all of me.

And you’re big enough, you’re great enough, you’re grand enough and all of your power to be able to hold all of me because for all of these influencers here, man, we have a big call on our life, right? I believe everybody on the planet has unlimited potential but they’re not all accessing it. They’re not all engaging it. They’re not stepping forward in an intentional way to do something truly remarkable, globally remarkable for that matter.

But I believe that’s your thrive, Andrea. That’s the people you’re attracting of this incredible stellar global leaders and I would say, keep your eyes open and be persistent. I’ve had to try on several different relationships to explore and see what space that friendship would allow me to have and I think we all are aware that we have different levels of relationships, different flavors of relationships in our lives.

But for you and I, I think we’re we both come together anytime we’re in a conversation or in experience together. There’s just such mutual respect for one another, such clarity on the great things that are happening now and the bigger things that are to come. There’s not a sense of competition or comparison I think that can sabotage relationships very quickly, but just this expectation that both of us are creating our own unique journey. And it’s going to look so differently even though we’re called to such similar things.

The way it’s going play out, it’s going to be very unique and individualized to us being able to come together to celebrate that and to show each other what one of us can’t see. And being able to just provide both kind of equal measure encouragement and balance, I think that’s truly what makes the recipe for a very fruitful intentional friendship. And wow, being able to also stay consistently engaged with that that it not be something that we know is there but that we’re not intentionally continuing to nurture.

And as you and I tried to be as diligent with getting together and catching up and regrouping and speaking into one another on a regular basis because a lot of life happens in between a week or two or a month. And when we can lose sight on the intricacies of one another’s journey, we have less leveraged to really speak into them because we’re less aware of where they’re at. So yeah, I’ll pause here. What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you too.

Andrea: Yeah, that was such a great description and I want to highlight one of the things that you said the comparison and competition thing because when we first…well, first of all you were the one that initiated the relationship, I would say that. And I think what other people, an influencer listening, what you probably should take away from this is # 1 – you start out with figuring out what you have to offer somebody else because Laurie came to me and she said she had the strengths training that she was going through and she wanted to invite me to participate to take the assessment and to do a little bit of coaching with that and I was like “OK we’ll let’s try that.” So I feel like we’re really kind of started to take the turn, don’t you Laurie?

Laurie: I do and can I go back a little bit further than that?

Andrea: Sure!

Laurie: Sometimes, we really have to be diligent to pursue the people that we want bring into our life and be in relationship with. I observed you speaking at one of the Mocks meeting a few years, can you hear me?

Andrea: Yes!

Laurie: Prior to that, the message you gave spoke to me. And I thought “I need to meet this woman. She speaks my language. We are deep. We are likeminded. I could just feel, even though I probably don’t have all those words in that moment, but I just knew like “Hmm, there’s some rich connection here.” But you had a lot going on in your life and it was a matter of trying to kind of figure out, “How could I initiate some sort of friendship or some level of connection here?”

And it really required me coming to you, kind of on your terms, I guess might be the easiest way to say it. But then in the right time and in the right season, it truly blossomed. So don’t lose heart along the way. If there’s people you’re drawn to that you really feel or to be voice in your life and critical to you developing your voice, don’t lose heart. Keep engaging and yeah, I love how you said figure out what you can offer them instead of wondering what it could bring to you.

Andrea: You know, I remember you’re using that way to describe how you come into me in my terms before. You actually said that to me one time and I was like “What?” You know, I didn’t know what to do with that but basically what that meant was and practically speaking was that you joined my small group, those small groups that I was leading. And in that sense, it was like an opportunity to start cultivating that relationship and then came that moment when you were ready to offer…we had a relationship there but it just wasn’t the same as you know up to the notch, a few notches.

Laurie: Yes that’s true.

Andrea: And really, you came and started speaking into my life at the time when I really desperately needed it because I was in a frustrated mood of being because I knew and I felt that I had more to offer. But I did not know how exactly I was supposed to do that so you brought strength to me at that time and opened my eyes. Maybe the way that I thought that I was maybe wasn’t exactly who I am.

And so just as you found your challenging voice, I found my kind of strategic voice in learning about the StrengthsFinder and what I had to offer and thinking that I was supposed to be mostly empathetic and mostly helping to develop people when I started to realize that “Oh, I actually really able to see the big picture and know which way to head next. That was life changing for me and it also helped release in me the idea and challenge that limiting belief in your words that I couldn’t write. I really didn’t think I could.

You helped call that out of me and I could see that “Oh gosh, you know what, I do have what it takes to make a decision, to make a decision about what I’m going to write about and how to formulate arguments and whatever. I just need the time and space in my head to get it done.” So that was huge for me. I mean, that was the very pivotal time for me and we just kept going and going and going and going and going.

And another thing that really hit me about that was when we were first talking about this “What are we called to?” “What am I called to?” “What are you called to?” “How are we different?” Became one of the questions that I was really interested in answering because I felt like our messages were so similar, but yet I knew that we didn’t need to be competing with one another. So in my head, I knew that but at the same time there’s that like “What do we do with the fact that we’re so similar. What do we do with that?”

And so for me, one of the greatest benefits since then has been to really kind of dissect who we are and see that “Gosh, Laurie is so good at this and I’m good at that.” And the way that this message that’s very similar inside of us is coming out of us has so much to do with who we are in our gifting, in our strengths, in our personalities and that sort of thing, in our experiences and what we’re drawn to. It’s actually coming out in very different forms but yet so similar at the core so that has been super helpful for me.

Laurie: So there again in context of relationship and support of others, we get clear on who we are.

Andrea: Yes. Yes, yes, yes! OK so also practically speaking, I mean we get together maybe once every two or four weeks, I would venture to say. And when we do get together, it’s not for an hour.

Laurie: Yeah, a minimum of three hours.

Andrea: Yeah. And really, I think this is interesting too. We don’t talk a whole lot about our day-to-day lives. We don’t talk a whole lot about our families. We’re really concentrated focus on our personal growth and development of our messages, our voices, and our business which I think is interesting.

Laurie: Yes. It’s not the surface level day-to-day grind stuff. Yeah, I don’t think we really give any attention to that honestly. It’s the deeper things because that’s the rare gift we can give one another. Most other people in our lives don’t want to or unable to relate at that level.

Andrea: Uh-hmm. I think there’s so much value in both of them. I think about different people in my life who… gosh, we have such a different kind of relationship and I love them. I love them all but this is the kind of thing that when it comes to developing your voice of influence, if you’re wanting to do that, this is one of those relationships that you need to be looking for and pursuing like Laurie said and really intentionally pursuing it.

Laurie: Yeah. You can’t wait for it to happen to you. You need to go and create it.

Andrea: Yeah, so true! Do you have any other suggestions for people that are listening for how they could pursue other avenues that would give them those relationships like maybe they have a friend like you and I kind of have this relationship. Maybe they have something like that or maybe they don’t, but what other kinds of ways can people cultivate, find that support, and challenge in their lives?

Laurie: I think you need to enroll whoever is in your life currently with the fact that you want to grow and giving other people access to speak into you. If it’s a sibling, a spouse whatever that looks like or a boss for that matter, but when you can first make yourself available to being open and willing to receive that then you’re giving them permission to be their voice and inviting that to come into your freely.

As we look at our relationships, people probably, I don’t know what percentage of time there actually, honestly reflecting and expressing what’s going on inside of them with us. But if we take away those barriers of “What are they gonna think? Are they gonna upset with me?” Whatever that looks like even friends in a marriage if you’re able to say to your spouse “You know what, will help you see where I’m falling short?” Or “Will help you see the blind spot of where I can’t see that I’m getting in my own way?”

I just had an amazing conversation with my husband last night about that of sharing something I was struggling with and he said, “I tried to tell you that last week but you didn’t hear it you know.” And I said “Stay with me on this.” Sometimes, it’s such a blind spot. We can’t see it and it doesn’t resonate initially. But he persisted. He helped the course and now a week later, I had this incredible revelation that I really needed to be able to move me forward in a bigger way instead of holding myself back.

And so his persistence and then me celebrating that and saying “Keep doing this,” like even if it doesn’t seem in a moment like I get it or that I appreciate it or that it resonates. I mean that. I mean that and now I could see it. So I think we open a great door of opportunity for us and them. We’re open and willing and inviting it from whoever that looks like. Did that kind of answer your question?

Andrea: That was great! I mean, I was really expecting you to say something about finding a coach but that was so wise advice. I love it! You know, it reminded me about what you said earlier that when you went to the John Maxwell event that initial one, you were journaling ahead of time because what you like to do is you like to journal beforehand and expect something significant to happen in your life.

Really, it’s that opening up of your heart, that opening up of your spirit to say, “I’m ready to receive whatever it is that you have to offer,” and that is super powerful. Gosh, I just think that it’s a great way to wrap up what we’ve been discussing here because when you are open to receiving the challenge that somebody else has to offer, you have no idea until you experience it.

Even though it feels so terrifying because it might rock you at the core in the end, like Laurie said, she is standing more confident and free in who she is now more than ever before because she continually put herself in that position. I’m experiencing that as well. Oh man, so good. Love that. So Laurie, where can the listeners find you?

Laurie: My domain name is my name www.lauriehock.com and you can find me there. I am on Facebook as well. I have real joy realizing a great platform for my voice of influence in it’s infancy stage, but it still tons of fun, is making a monthly video where I share my latest class and insights of what’s growing and challenging me. But then I releases tools to be something significant that can challenge the growth in my email communities.

So you can go to my website and if you want to be a part of receiving those monthly videos, just enter your name and email address and I’ll include you in the emails that I sent out, the challenging messages _____ that would be appropriate. Yeah, I just want to celebrate and honor everybody on the line and be able to encourage you that in time you’ll find your voice. And it’s a lifelong process of developing it. I don’t think we ever end that quest. It continues to unfold and develop layers upon layers of more richness.

Andrea: Well, thank you Laurie for being here today. I will make sure that your website is in the show notes. You kind find those at voiceofinfluence.net or if you’re listening on iTunes, you should be able to just click right there in the show notes on iTunes. Remember that if you’re interested in continuing to listen to this podcast, please subscribe to wherever you listen to podcast. I also have an email list and you can subscribe there at voiceofinfluence.net.

I just want to encourage you that wherever you can find community. I tell you, I listen to podcast when I first started getting excited about growing my voice of influence. And for the past two and a half or three years that has been one of the biggest blessings for me and challenging me too. So I just encourage you to keep making your voice matter more.

 

END

Your Mess Can Become Your Message

Episode 16 with Megan Swanson, Miss Nebraska 2014

A 24-year old CEO, Singer, and International Speaker from Omaha, Nebraska, Megan Swanson is a real go-getter.

As a former Miss Nebraska, having represented her state at the Miss America 2015 pageant, Megan is passionate about equipping young individuals. During her year, she traveled 40,000 miles, speaking to tens of thousands of individuals regarding her platform of Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, and Financial Wellness. After her year as Miss Nebraska, Megan realized there was still MUCH work to be done- and her pageant coaching firm “Powerhouse Pageantry” was born, equipping young pageant women all over the United States to win in their interviews and on stage questions.

Megan now travels the country speaking, coaching, and performing her music.

She can be found on all social media outlets @megan_swanson, or at go.mspageantcoach.com

Listen here, on iTunes or Stitcher.

Also, grab the summary of the first 15 podcast guests:

Tips & Strategies for Emerging Thought Leaders and Message-Driven Creatives: Volume 1

 

 

This Is What Keeps Emerging Thought Leaders Up At Night

Four years ago I had an inkling that I should start learning to use Facebook for something more than just sharing about my life. I wasn’t ready to start writing yet, but it made sense that I should start sharing my heart and message more intentionally through social media to practice using my voice online. But it was terrifying! I often wondered what people would think and if certain people would “like” my posts or totally write me off because I was speaking up.

If I share something that could help others, will they think I am just trying to get attention?

Now that I help emerging thought leaders find and refine their message, I see this as a big problem. There is a big green monster keeping these folks up at night and it’s time to turn on the light and scare that bad boy away.

Here’s the truth.

 

Just when I think a creative, empathetic person is close to making a difference in the world with their message they back up and say, “I can’t do it. I don’t want them to think I’m bragging.” They don’t want to admit out loud that they have something that could help others, so they end up shrinking back and holding it in. They want to fly under the radar or have someone else promote their work because if they own up to the value of what they offer, they might just have to share it and look like they are…

gulp

…self-promoting.

But every once in a while someone gets in touch with their calling and joins a few brave souls who come up to the edge of the cliff, day after day, and jump into the great unknown of offering their work to the world.

But the reality is that this leap faith is complicated because…

We are conflicted. We do not want to promote ourselves for the sake of glory, but we recognize that we enjoy having your attention and making an impact on the world.

We are conflicted. We want to be humble and put others before ourselves, but we’ve learned that when we hold back our gifts, we are putting ourselves in front of you because then you can’t benefit from the gifts we have to offer.

We are conflicted. We know that our voice matters and yours does, as well, but we also know that we can make our voices matter more when we develop our message and our communication style.

We are conflicted. We know that we have opinions and an important message to share with the world, but we recognize that we might just be wrong. We want to share our message with conviction and power in our own unique ways, but we recognize that at some point we might change our minds. We might be wrong.

We are conflicted. We wish we could say what we have to say to you face to face, but sometimes those personal interactions and conversations are not the place to share our message. Sometimes it takes art to communicate through pictures and emotion, something that cannot be expressed in a one on one conversation with you.

We are conflicted. We don’t want you to feel like you aren’t doing enough or that you are not enough, simply because you aren’t doing what we are doing. We don’t want you to look down on yourself because we are stepping into our calling and you have a different one.

We are conflicted. Because we don’t want you to look down on us for living large and taking big risks. But at the same time we want you to know that you can take your own risks, that may look totally different than ours.

We are conflicted. We know that if our message touches just one person, it’s worth it. But we also know that settling for reaching one person could be a cop-out for doing the hard work of finding out who our message is really for, developing it, refining it and turning it into a work of art, a masterpiece that resonates with many people.

We are conflicted. Because we also realize that our message isn’t for everyone and when you are ready, you’ll be ready to hear whatever you’re supposed to hear, from whomever is sharing it.

We are conflicted, and yet, we jump anyway because we are convicted – to share our stories, to offer up our voices into the world, to live into the fullness of who we are, to work hard at our craft so that our message will resonate deeply within the hearts of people.

We are convicted. Life is fleeting. Many of us have experienced hardships and grief that put us in a position to realize that we don’t know what this life holds for us. Tomorrow we may not be able to speak clearly, or even have words to say.

We are convicted. Because we know that we are are called to extend our offering. If you reject it, if you ignore it or whatever, we will be ok. Because we’re in place where know our work and our offering isn’t about us.

We are convicted. Our offering is part of who we are but it’s about you. It grieves us when we see you hurting in ways we know we could help. But we also know we will not push you to partake of our offering. We simply invite and wait for you to decide when you are ready and what you are ready for. And we want you to offer your gift in a similar way. We are convicted that you have something to  offer the world and that we are simply one way of offering something. It just happens to be very visible.

And that’s what we want you to understand about our self-promotion. In our most loving position, we are not trying to elevate ourselves. It’s not self-promotion, it’s an invitation to enjoy what we have put hard work and effort into in order to serve you. We don’t want to promote ourselves, we want to share our offering.

We hope that you will be inspired to share yours, as well. That’s why I’ve put together this special PDF of 15 tips and strategies from experts interviewed on the Voice of Influence podcast to encourage, inspire and equip you to make your voice matter more. Read up, listen in and sleep well.

Download it here.

Be Bold. What Do You Have to Lose?

Episode 15 with Tim Moomey

I measured my mind against my dad’s. I watched him make decisions to lead our family with confident precision. And from what I could tell, most of the time the outcome was just what he intended. I wanted to move in the world like that. I wanted to awe and lead others with the confident precision of my mind just like my dad. And for some reason, I believed I could.

~Andrea Joy Wenburg in UNFROZEN: Stop Holding Back and Release the Real You

In this special Father’s Day edition of the Voice of Influence podcast, I interview my dad, Tim Moomey. In this episode we discuss his voice and career, including a few things I didn’t know! There are timeless, inspirational lessons here, so don’t miss this one. Mentioned in the episode:

 

Hey, hey! It’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast. Now, every interview I’ve done in the past and plan to do in the future are all very special to me for different reasons. But a lot of times it has to do with the fact that I actually know the people I’m talking to and I’m very interested in what they have to say.

Well, today it’s an extra special interview and that is because I’m interviewing my dad! It’s Father’s Day weekend and he is definitely a Voice of Influence in my life and in his community, in particular. We’ve had some really good conversations in the past regarding this idea of voice and what it means to be a leader and things like that.

Andrea: So I’m thrilled to have you here on the podcast with me today, Dad!

Tim: Well, it’s good to be here.

Andrea: So this is Tim Moomey. I want to start by letting people know, kind of, what you do. Could you give us a little snippet of what you do for your job?

Tim: For my job? OK. I am a Certified Financial Planner. I help people plan retirement, their social security maximization. I meet with people and help them plan investing in general. We also do other things like long-term care insurance, life insurance, but our focus is on investments and helping people get to a point where they can comfortably retire.

Andrea: And is this something that you’ve always wanted to do? Did you know you wanted to do this as a kid or how did you get involved?

Tim: It evolved. When I was in high school I thought I wanted to be a music teacher. In college I got a teaching degree in music.

 

 

Perhaps It’s Time to Stop “Leading” and Focus on Influencing

Episode 14 with Dr. Neal Schnoor

The concept of leadership is a good one, but is it possible that we’ve turned it into a list of behaviors we “do” in order to get people to do what we think they should do? Dr. Neal Schnoor, Senior Advisor to the Chancellor of UNK, presents an interesting proposition to focus on influence, rather than leadership.

In this interview we discuss:

Connect with Dr. Neal Schnoor here:

 

Listen here, on iTunes or Stitcher

 

Dr. Schnoor provides counsel and assistance to the Chancellor relative to the comprehensive executive portfolio. He is a member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet and Administrative Council and serves as UNK’s chief compliance officer. Previously, Dr. Schnoor served as Dean of the School of Education and Counseling at Wayne State College. For thirteen years prior he was a member of the faculty at UNK, where he held tenure in both the College of Education and College of Fine Arts and Humanities and served as Coordinator of K-12 and Secondary Education and Director of Bands. He has published articles in state and national journals and presented papers at state, national, and international conferences and served as a higher education representative to the Effective Educator 2020 Summit and on Nebraska’s statewide committee for developing state teacher/leader standards. Dr. Schnoor is one of only a few individuals to have been elected President of both the Nebraska Music Educators Association and Nebraska State Bandmasters Association and he continues to present clinics and leadership development sessions for students and educators. Dr. Schnoor earned PhD and MM degrees from the University of Nebraska Lincoln and BFAE from Wayne State College.

 

Hey, it’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence Podcast. I am honored to have Dr. Neal Schnoor with me today. When I first decided that the premis of this podcast would be helping creative leaders develop their message and their voice of influence, there were a few names that immediately came to mind as people I want to interview and Dr. Schnoor was one of them.

I met him at the University of Nebraska, Kearney when I was a music education student and he was the director of bands. And he also taught a secondary education class that I was in and it really felt like that secondary education class felt a lot more like a life leadership kind of class. So I gained so much from his influence and I loved the way that he communicated and it just seems to resonate with me.

 

Andrea: So today, I’m so thrilled to have you with me on the podcast, Dr. Neal Schnoor.

Dr. Schnoor: Well, Andrea it’s just a thrill to catch up with a former student and find the wonderful things you are doing to help people and to see your life unfold. That’s the best part of being a teacher. It’s sort of like being a parent; you get to watch your kids grow up and it’s just a pleasure.

Andrea: Well, thank you. Now, you’re not a director of bands of UNK anymore, what is your position now?

Dr. Neal Schnoor: So currently, I serve as the Senior Adviser to the Chancellor for executive affairs. While I was band directing, I got involved in teacher education and kind of did both of those things and then have the opportunity to go back to my alma mater, Wayne State College and served as the Dean of Education and Counseling and then I’d been back in this role for about five years now.

Andrea: So what all does this mean that you’re a Senior Advisor to the Chancellor, it’s sounds like right hand man king of thing, it’s that kind of description of it?

Dr. Neal Schnoor: It is and it’s a little hard to describe to people because it just sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo. But in general, I work with strategic planning, compliance. Chancellor refers to me as this crisis manager, so I can get some of the sensitive, legal and personnel things, just really trying to help the executive team here function best, and think short term and long term. So every day, is an adventure and that’s what I love the most.

Andrea: Are you in a classroom at all now?

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Not very often, although, I still try to do at least one honor band every year and I’ve probably stayed more active trying to do leadership. I just love working with teenagers and we’ll probably talk as we go on. I’ve almost gotten to where I hate the word ‘leadership.’ I’m really more into influence and helping kids, not to get sidetrack at the beginning, but to help them deal with the anxiety in that process because I’m just seeing them what are college students here, adults or high school students, their level of anxiety are so high. So I try to work that in as well.

Andrea: Oh yeah, we definitely need to get into that. But before we go there, I’m excited about that.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: I sidetrack you are ready, didn’t I?

Andrea: No, not at all. You know, I was thinking today again about how…I just cannot help but go deep fast. I invited you to take the Fascinate Assessment®, which you haven’t heard of before, and you did and it was so fun to find out that you and I are so similar in our voice.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: But it’s really interesting, isn’t it?

Andrea: Yeah, so the two things that come out on top are Innovation and Power and they’re just flipped for you, Power and Innovation which is kind of a language of leadership. But you don’t like that word, so I love that you don’t like that word, you’re ‘going to tell me more about that later. But I suppose, it’s a language of influence then willingness to share your opinions and guide people and then innovation is creativity. So you come out as like the Change Agent as what the thing says and so the archetype is. So I’m wondering what was your impression when you found that out about yourself?

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Well, my first thing is I ran it across my filter, my wife, Theresa, and I showed her those things and I said “Do this described me for better or worse?” And she said “Yeah, most of them. That really is you.” I’ve never gotten too hung up on it but as I read those descriptors, I really did feel like they fit a lot of aspects of what I hope to do. Some of what I do in this job, again for better or for worse is just to ask good questions. I think that just, is there another way to do things? Are we looking at all the information? Are we considering people’s strengths and weaknesses and things like that?

So the word probably caught me, you have to explain it to your listeners better but the word power kind of took me aback because I don’t want to be authoritarian. I think I explained in our class one time, that that’s how I started teaching. I simply was demanding and, kind of my way or the highway, and the kids taught me pretty quickly that there were a lot better ways to engage them. So tell us a little more about power, Andrea, what that means?

Andrea: Yeah, I was definitely taken aback by that word too and that was my exact experience is that I think I have this natural bent towards telling people what to do, which is not a form of real influence. I mean, you can tell people what to do and try to get them to comply with you, but that doesn’t really change who they are in the inside.

So I really struggled with that word as well. But at the same time, I realized that for me, when I looked at it, because I didn’t want that, I pulled back in some ways where I wasn’t sharing as passionately or intensely or whatever as maybe I could in a way that was not. I guess in a way that’s compelling instead of, I don’t know what’s the different word, yeah authoritative.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Yeah, instead of drawing people in, it can kind of turn them off. And so I think sometimes in our passion, some people misread that as maybe even arrogance and so on. So yeah, such fine lines in there.

Andrea: I always considered you to be very powerful. In this more positive way, your voice is that way and when I say voice, I’m talking about your style, your tone whatever. I mean, it’s confident.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Yes. You know, one of the things I was thinking about, Andrea, and again this can go a lot of directions, but you had kind of talked when we initially visited about have we always had this voice, or have I had this voice? It really made me think really hard about something we’ve talked in class as Stephen Covey described to as secondary traits people have a hard time seeing that. And the more I’ve developed, the more I think I’m finally catching up with where we really are, our intellect, our passion, charisma, and communication skills, those were actually all secondary traits.

And I guess one way to understand that as he explained it, those are things you could lose. Say you had a traumatic brain injury, those things would go away. But the essence of who you are is still the same and will hopefully .. a little bit but some people call it the soul or consciousness or those kinds of things. But the real challenge for me is that I think I’ve always been able to use those secondary traits that I had to influence other people, where over the years I’ve tried much harder to get at the “But am I doing it for the right reasons?” Because you know, there have been a lot of leaders who have all these leadership skills that we’ll talk about.

And if you go down as I often talk in my leadership presentations, I’ll ask the students when we set lists who are your leaders and always was positive ones. But I’ll draw them to figures like who are some other leaders that who really had these skills very powerfully and some horrible leaders have had those skills that even Adolf Hitler had all these leadership skills what’s missing? Well, we might argue consciousness. So yeah, have we had this voice? I think so. Have we always used it? Well, that’s another therapy session for me I think.

Andrea: That’s the reason why I love the idea of developing one’s voice. Yes, we have a style or we have these secondary qualities that you’re talking about. We have even a message and things that we’re wanting to share but then it’s really important to take it through a process of development that edits the message and turns the voice into a tone that is compelling, that is drawing in and inviting instead of pressure and that sort of thing. Who have you read or what are some of the things that you have encountered over the years, beside your students that you’ve already mentioned, that have influenced the development then of your voice.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Well, you know, it’s interesting. And we may work into faith but my Christian faith has been strong throughout my life, and yet I think as all people are aware the stronger that is probably the more you question it. And to me that’s always actually a good sign, but it is interesting. I started reading a philosopher, his name is Jacob Needleman, and what attracted to me initially is his efforts to put together Judaism, Christianity. He looked in Hinduism and so he’s looking for some central truths, so to speak. And I just like his voice, his message, and how he looked for rather than differences similarities.

And so that kind of led me looking for things and lately, I’ve really, really found Michael Singer’s work to be powerful, a book called The Untethered Soul. It kind of profoundly moved me to look more at that consciousness. And I’ve shared it with family members, nieces and nephews and they’ve all found it to be compelling. There’s another one called, The Surrender Experiment, The Power of Now is a very strong book and then different things I just looked at these universals and what I’ve gained is somewhat say that’s leading away from Christianity, it’s actually kind of reinforced that stronger.

So I guess digging, you say, you like to dig deep. For me, it has been a real challenge just because of my nature to quite the voice in my head. So I was drawn to your voice because for about the last four or five years, I have tried to really identify with it’s not a false voice, but our thinking minds will think around problem. And if we allow it to do that and where are psyche in it’s kind of overactive, freaked out way to constantly talk in our head.

If we can identify those for what they are and realized where the consciousness within that perceives those voices, that perceives the emotional state where in, then those things quit running our lives and instead, we simply fully experience each moment. And we know that we’re the one watching even though we might be sad, even though we might be happy that’s not us. That’s just something we’re experiencing.

Andrea: How does that tie in to your message about anxiety?

Dr. Neal Schnoor: It’s actually the major point. We really do talk, you know, our psyche to put ourselves in touch with it, that’s what I think Singer talks about it really eloquently which is, you know, for hundreds or thousands or millions of years with these biological creatures for a great period of time, the psyche kept us from – it’s that hair on the back of your neck that told you a bear was coming and you reacted. Most of us don’t have to fear for our physical safety walking to work in the morning, and so we kind of set this psyche, we’ve given in a different job which is to really kind of fuss about how we feel all the time and it just talks to us if you hear it.

The best example I always give to kids is that’s psyche and your thinking mind, if you pass a friend in the hallway and you say hello and they ignore you, just pay attention to that mind “What did I do? I didn’t deserve that. What’s wrong with her today? Oh my God, I’m so stupid. I bet she’s mad because I didn’t call.”

It’s everywhere. If you start listening to it and paying attention to it then you see that it’s not going to solve your problems, it presents every possible option that’s out there. And if you become aware of it and simply watch it, it’s amazing how much power you have to not live in that reactive state.

Andrea: So watching it is the answer. Is that what you’re saying?

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Yeah. Just watch it; do not get involve with it. If you do, it will suck you in. I mean, we’ve all done it before. So for instance, it could seemingly a silly example but we spent 90% of our lives in that silly example. My wife is quiet. My mind starts working. I wonder what I did now. I wonder if she had a bad day. I wonder for something I can do to help. All of those are not bad in and of themselves but that’s just are thinking mind. And if I sit back for a moment and say “Wow and how’s that making me feel and some of those things?” I’m less apt to say, “Well, what’s wrong today?” It’s just amazing how reactive we are, not even fully reading.

So back to the example, then I ask the kids the person passed in the hallway and your mind is going a thousand miles an hour and 15 minute later, your friend comes back up and says “I think I just passed you in the hallway but I get a text and my pet died, I was really busy.” And all of those negative thoughts that we wasted 15 minutes crucifying ourselves didn’t even need to happen.

So much a more proactive responses might even be to give them a little space or simply to follow them and say “Hey, just now I said hello. Is there anything happening with you or something?” You know, it’s just more proactive ways. It’s been a journey for me for five years to see how frequently my perceptions, attitudes, emotions, thoughts, or mood can negatively affect a reaction. It’s not about me. My job here is to solve problems or help others find their solutions to their problems. And the clearer I can be and the more I get my emotions out of it, the more help I can be to them.

Andrea: That is so true. I think there was a time when I realized that…I mean, I’m sure everybody kind of goes this at one point I hope, but when you start to realize that not everything is about you, people’s reactions are not necessarily about you. It’s hard a thing to swallow at first because when you’re a baby, everything is about you.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Yeah!

Andrea: And then as you start to realize that other people are having other experiences that are unseen. And you may never know about, you may never understand what’s going on inside of somebody then the question for me became “What do I have to offer them?” Instead of “What do I need from them? Do I need them to tell me hello? Do I need them to acknowledge me?” Or “Do I have something to offer them instead?”

Dr. Neal Schnoor: You know, Andrea, it’s along those lines reading your book and we could talk about that for an hour. I so enjoyed that, but one key thing that really hit me is that I got to know you better. I realized I was interacting with you every day and had no idea what was going on in your mind. You know, we get so focused on, well it’s a class and…

I perceived whether you might be understanding a concept, or you read your students to see if they have a performance look. But we frequently looked true life either assuming or not paying attention but there’s a whole consciousness in every person we talk to and we’ll get very complex. You know, it hit me very powerfully and wonderful reminder for me.

Andrea: Thank you. I think the other part that’s hard is me knowing that I have so much going on in my head. It’s easy for me to assume that other people have a lot going on inside of them. And I think that one of the hard things for me is to say, it’s okay if I don’t know and to let people just have their experience and not need to be a part of it that inner experience. I don’t know if that’s very common but…

Dr. Neal Schnoor: I think so and the other piece there is you talk about, for instance my work here in this current role and what a slippery slope it can be. I mean my job in some ways is to be problem solver. And so I find a world of difference in a very slippery slope between problem solving and helping people come to their solutions or help them find some that are inevitable. And doing that for the right reason which is to serve or that slippery slope  because 180 degrees worse I derived my value and sense of worth and it strokes my ego to be seen as the problem solver.

It sets a challenge I think in all of our lives that we identify with our roles, and yet, even the most noble “service” we do or the donation we give, do we give it in the spirit of true for giving. The right hand doesn’t know what’s the left is doing, although we do it to stroke our own ego to feel better about ourselves that we’re a “giving” person. I find that to be a dilemma I’ll continue to wrestle with for my life.

Andrea: I agree. I think that that’s something that is, especially for people as we have both described ourselves to be, we care about that motivation. Sometimes, it can be tempting to like you were talking the voice in your head and it can be tempting to analyze that and pick up that part so much that we don’t end up offering what we have to offer them because it feels, am I doing this for the right reasons? And it can become that cycle inside of the head that’s just like “Well then maybe I shouldn’t offer that at all.” What are your thoughts on that?

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Well, that’s interesting. My first reaction there to what you said is absolutely, many of the things that I share aren’t that place of consciousness I’m talking about, it’s my mind. There are wonderful instruments. I hope anyone that listens doesn’t think I’m negative about that or think that “No, that’s the beauty of it.” But our greatest asset can be our worst weapon, and so that constantly thinking, I mean, Singer’s book made me just sits back. And he describes it in this early chapter that he was just sitting there and you started listening to this.

I mean, when you first do it, you will be amazed that it’s just an incessant noise in your head. It is a voice that constantly talks to you and we can so identify with it. Don’t get too involved, just watch it. It’s a notorious flip-flopper like I did the example in the hallway. She did that. He did that. Why is that? I’m so stupid, I mean there’s the self-blame and self-loathing comes in then it would be followed up almost immediately if you watch with “Oh but I have the right to do that.” She’s just unfair. She’s unkind and that’s not right.” It’ll switch to righteous indignation. It’s just everywhere.

So that’s our thinking mind and it’s not bad. It’s not trying overtly to harness it. Honestly, both in The Power of Now, I think that’s where it’s presented and in Singer’s book most directly, I’m sure many, many, many other excellent resources. Just notice it and don’t get involve in its energy and overtime you become quieter inside. And the quieter I can be then I’m tapping into that ability to think beyond my history, my own perceptions.

Honestly, Andrea, I see it in myself and maybe I’m just the scoundrel out there. But we really build up a veritable wall of our mental perceptions how we think the world should be. We even have a belief system and some of those beliefs, we don’t question very often and then we turn around and either judge ourselves or judge others based on not reality, just the reality that we’ve created of how we think the world should go and often how the world should go just to make us happy. It gets really, really complex but my take away and what I’ve tried to do is to be quieter. These things happen and I think we touch the Divine in those moments of quiet.

Andrea: I’ve recently, and when I said recently pretty much since I don’t maybe last few years, and I think that this is part of when I was trying to accomplish with the book has explained this change at least the start of the transformation of me being so in my head starting to realize that I could let that go. I didn’t have to or I guess like what you’re saying engage with it. When I get stressed out now, I think what I end up doing is, I see things that happen. Like the dogs, the dogs get into the trash.

This happens quite frequently at our house and I feel attacked. I’m like “Uh these stupid dogs,” and start to get really frustrated inside and then I start to realize that I’m doing that. “What service is this to me?” Like these dogs could care less what I think about the fact that they got into the trash. Only it’s doing is making me more frustrated, burning these pathways in my brain to negativity and victimization and those sorts of things, which puts me in a position where I end up being more bitter or irritated or whatever. I have less of the things that I really want to offer my family. I have less of that to give.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Yeah, it does. I love that example because we often think of such things and we’re going to change the world, but the dog knocks over the trash is so immediate. I mean, you just nailed it. Why did that hit your stuff so to speak so hard? Well, one reason is because you’re busy, you got something else to do and you got to go clean up that trash. But really, it goes that step further to think for whose mental model thought they could set the world in a place the dog wouldn’t knock over trashcan and that’s what we do.

We, literally every day…we don’t even have control of our own thoughts and emotions many times, and yet we project that and think somehow we can influence and control other people’s thoughts. And there’s a whole a lot of consciousness that work in there, but yeah, what a great example. Those things still suck me up, you know, like “Oh man, I don’t wanna go clean that mess up.”

Andrea: And what’s funny is that Aaron will try to tell me, “Andrea, they’re dogs” and try to tell me that “that’s what happens.” In which actually this makes me think of something that you’ve said before in that class that I ended up writing about a couple of years ago because it was burned in my brain. Well, what you said in class was “don’t you dare yell at the kids in your classroom essentially, don’t you dare yell at them for your lack of classroom management.” So I’m thinking about how Aaron would say to me, “these are dogs. This is what happens and probably we should have let the dogs outside or something instead.” But now, it feels like “Okay, well, I’m gonna look it that way then it’s my fault.”

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Oh I see, yeah.

Andrea: So how do you balance that you know just sort of saying “Well, I could have let them out. I guess, we’ll let them out next time and not let emotion get tied with it,” or what would you do?

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Well, I mean that’s certainly one thing right there because there are four different directions we can go. But if I think about those and I’m going to tell on myself here, so I’ll sound like and might be a little arrogant first but then the next part will come. So one of the things when I do presentations, the best comment I like and especially with the young teachers, one of them come up and say “Oh, it was so good to hear that someone like you had those problems.” They feel like and we often listen to gurus, we seek out all these resources and we think that person has the answers.

So now, to tell on myself, why could I tell the class with such genuineness and honesty and seemingly know-at-all-ness these because I’d screwed it up for three years, because I had gotten mad at students for how they were acting when I realized that had I done my sitting arrangements the first day, so they knew what to sit. Had I spent the first day or week even if needed to be to explain to them what my expectations were or behavior for how to enter the room so that we could maximize…again, the end goals, some people think that’s a power trip. No, I wanted to maximize every possible second of making music, and I didn’t want to waste it scolding a kid or whether they needed to ask for permission to use the restroom.

So all of those discipline problems, that hundreds of thousands of fires I put out every day or simply a matter that at the beginning I didn’t think through of a set of procedures and explain my expectations to those students because I still believe, sure I was a willful child and I broke the rules and did things like that. But in general 85% of kids will do 85% of the things you asked them to do, simply because you clarify and didn’t ask them to do it.

So that really resonates with me but not to miss that fact that how do we know this? I tell my kids all that or “How do you know how to get around there? How do you know not to drive there?” Because I did it and I blew up my tire and I had to learn the hard way. So yeah, part of it, you would go back and say, “You and Aaron must go out and buy a trashcan with a lid on it,” because you might say…you spent this whole psycho analysis of “Why does it bother me so much that the dog knocked over the trashcan and it shouldn’t bother me. Haven’t I grown up that these things don’t hit my stuff or whatever?” And the solution is perhaps, to buy a trashcan with a lid on it, you know. It’s kind of fun.

Andrea: So first of all, it’s such a great advice about the classroom management.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: About trashcans.

Andrea: Yeah and about trashcans. I knew this is going to happen, you know that right? Anyway, it’s a joy to be able to talk with somebody when you do kind of speak the same languages and that sense that we’re talking about before. And I think anybody, no matter what your style is, it’s just easy to have those conversations with people they’re kind of like you. I want to go back to what you said about why you’re able to share that message about classroom management with such conviction. Now, you hesitated, you didn’t want to use the word power, but I would say that was powerful.

When you communicated that we shouldn’t blame kids or yell at kids for our own lack of classroom management, it was an incredibly powerful statement. And I want to suggest that maybe it’s because like you have said, you could speak that because you would experience it. And I would call that a redemptive message. I would call that, you know what, this is something that comes out of your experience of either pain or messing up, whatever it might be.

There was some sort of transformation that occurred that got you to a point where you could say, no that is not the way. And then it comes across so authentic, genuine and powerful because it is born out of that pain and that experience that you had previous. I feel like maybe that is where the power really comes in. And I say power again as we’re talking about before I guess. It’s powerful because it comes from that place.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Yeah, and I think we’re unpacking again that word power, gave us both pause, but I like where you’re going with it. I noticed my power wasn’t being smart and what I knew about classrooms. My power was learning from experience trying different things, being able to share that with you. And I think hopefully the other message that came across is you all have unique gifts and some of what I do may not work for you and some of what you do won’t work for me. And so it’s kind of aligning with those elements of ourselves that are authentic I think.

Andrea: I think it also helps give us permission to not look at those difficulties that we face, the struggles that we’re having with so much, I don’t know and feeling like it’s a catastrophe. Because then when we do experience that pain and that suffering that messing up essentially, hurting other people or messing up yourself that there is potential to turn that into something really beautiful in the end.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Absolutely!

Andrea: And so when we’re in the middle of it, though maybe we need to feel the weight of it, there’s still hope.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Absolutely! I’m so glad and just like you said, I knew that something would come out that we weren’t thinking. And for me is how many times you’ve mentioned and what a great topic that I think we avoid and that’s pain. And in general, and this is very general, we tend to either look at the past and cling to those things which we should not do that led to joy. We want to feel good and we reject or repress pain.

And so it’s a hard step for some people but we should experience pain fully. And when I said to be quiet, I’ll use the phrase, I haven’t use it a lot but I used it a lot is to sit with pain, is to sit with joy, sit with jealousy, just be present with it. Don’t try to change it. Don’t judge yourself. So when I get back of that, I know it’s going to sound freakish to people but the answer is not to try to fix it. They answer is to get quiet simply experience it. And really, most people who have done any kind of meditation, always talking about meditation. Yeah, I am but a lot of people meditate with the purpose of becoming a better person and you’ve missed the point already.

It is a process that can happen and will happen by itself if you’re able to sit with, and I hate to say it but people think “You’ve lost your mind, dude.” But sitting with pain, pain is part of life. I don’t want to not experience part of my life but then to bring in that other piece we talked about, so we start building these mental models. And here how dangerous it gets, people think it’s Muslims versus Christians.

I grew up in a little town of Nebraska and there was literally sort of a philosophical and almost we don’t talk to each other. We certainly don’t date each other between Lutherans and Catholics. We’ll find ways to differ if we allow ourselves to and so sitting with these experiences of pain and not building these walls of our concepts. Because as soon as those walls get hit, we experience discomfort which leads back to that word, anxiety which causes us pain. And if we repress those, it’s not good. So just sitting with it, just recognizing it that this is just something I’m feeling. It’s not me.

So my big message to students, if you looked in the mirror this morning and saw your face and then you had plastic surgery tomorrow that totally transformed that face, would that be the same you in there that’s looking at that image? And they get that. They connect with that. Is it the same you that’s sitting there, that’s experiences pain as well as joy, as well hurt? It is unless we allow our emotions to be us, and then we’re simply bouncing all over the world wishing that would make us happy. It’s tough. It’s really tough to not get involved in that negative energy.

Andrea: I like the idea of… like I don’t want totally separate myself from my emotion. I like the idea that my emotion could still be an indicator of what’s going inside of me or who I am as a person, and yet that I could ground that in something deeper like observe it like you were talking about. But then run it through, you know, ask myself then what do I really believe about this.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Yes. I’m really with you, Andrea, because I think I could negate that. It’s a human endowment. Well, as we talked about with learning, if there’s an emotional tie in, people learn. If it’s a purely academic tie in, they tend not learn as well. So I guess it’s just flipping the onus. It’s the you that experiences all these things, but you are not just what you experienced. There’s a level of control. So here’s the simple one, the next time the dog knocks it over, instead of going right it, my thinking mind kept this and I’ll say “Well, go buy a trashcan with a lid on it.”

You might spend two minutes simply going “What part of me is so bothered by that being knocked over.” It would be an interesting two minutes. I don’t know what you’d come up with. I guess that’s where us going with leadership and not lose that way. We go out and we talk about having charisma, having passion, discipline. What are some other ones, Andrea? Great communication skills.   Those are all secondary traits. Where do we have to go to find that core that allows us to be disciplined?

When I’ve had a disagreement with my wife, it affects my mood. I sure hope people hear when they come to me, don’t think in their mind “Well, don’t go to him today, he’s in a bad mood.” We have to be deeper than how we feel at the moment but that is not negated all of sitting with those emotions and what they teach us. Does that help a little bit because I don’t want to say the emotions are childish and we should get rid of them?

Andrea: Right, I do think so. I think that’s good. So when you were talking about leadership then, you’re saying, we don’t want to…I want you to explain this leadership concept here before we go. I want to understand what your distinction between leadership and influence.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Okay and this is maybe just my hang up, but as soon as something becomes a $10 billion cottage industry, I get fearful. So I’m telling you if you want to make money right now, if you’ve got a shlick thing and you go out there and tell them, you know, great leaders are purpose driven. I have nothing against purpose driven leadership, it’s good. Okay, so the real challenge is finding your purpose because it’s the most searched for. So anyway, that’s just a silly example probably shouldn’t be used because that’s way more in-depth.

But 90% of time when you go to them, they talk about this secondary traits. We have to be more confident. You have to be firm but approachable, communications strategies. They’re all good. But how are you able to come to a place where you’re able to truly open up and listen to what another person’s saying without already trying to solve their problems. So where I’m going with that is, I started thinking less about leadership which implies, you are going to go out and do something that move these other people and try to bring it more inside, “where do I develop that inner sense of right and wrong of consciousness, of awareness of openness to the needs of those people?”

I rarely see those presenters get up and start and say, “what are you hoping to get today? Where are you at your life because it will be all over the place?” And I used the word carefully because I don’t mean to their deep concepts that are quite superficial. If you just tell somebody, “You got to be more positive.” “Oh people say, that’s it the power of positivity.” Well, what is that mean when you just lost your job or your child is sick? There’s another powerful book out there that I didn’t talk about called the Prosperity Gospel. There’s a very dangerous that a lot of people and this happens to be Christianity but I put it in leadership. They go out and say, “If you do these things, you will not only be successful but you’ll be rich.” Not true, not true. I mean, if we take at the core as a Christian, Christ, was he happy all the time? Was he rich? Did he have a nice house?

It so subsumes to me the gospel and what it really means which is to find that internal presence, that connection with the divine moving. It doesn’t matter if you’re sweep on streets or president of the United States, it influences us. I’ve often thought, maybe my role here is not the work I do. Maybe my work was to be a good dad to Graham and Graham is going to do something in the world that’s transformation or maybe he is the transformational figure. And I was simply the support network or the training ground.

So I hope that’s not too vague of an answer, but to me when you go into leadership, too much of it is about do these things and you will be successful, win friends and whatever rather than, you need to get in touch with yourself and be really authentic about that and really think about what success means for you. If it’s having a nice car, nothing wrong with that necessarily but you find out, you buy that new car and a day later, you’re just worried about the payment you got to make. That’s a rumbling answer, I apologize.

Andrea: No, no. You got me thinking. I find that I also tend to shoot for the being of who we are instead of a doing and I’d like to talk about that. I’d like to figure out why we do the things that we do and all those sorts of things. The difficulty I find is that in communicating this message of being an influencer versus doing leadership, it’s easier to communicate how to do leadership. It’s easier to say, this is the path because when you’re talking about becoming an influencer, you’re talking about things that are harder to pin down.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: It really are, and I think too and not in a bad way, but we often project this out in the big thing, changing the world. I’m ever more challenged to be a positive influencer just in my own home and in one-on-one relationships. I find it much easier to go out and say motivate or large crowd and not one-on-one. Sometimes it’s really hard to explain this but I think that’s the importance of your work because all around this, I think I’ve seen it on your website so much, none of this stuff can we give to someone.

We can only hope to inspire them and get them on a path, but for instance when I talk about solitude and taking the time to think to realize this becoming you’re talking about or I might have called it consciousness or awareness or enlightenment as good Buddhist would call it, you have to do it. No one can do it for you and you can’t read it in a book. As a matter of fact, one of the favorite things I’ve heard, her name is Pema Chodron, a Buddhist priest who said “Quit looking at this library of resources, just pick one and do it.”

I think there’s tremendous wisdom. I go to a lot of workshops and good friends of mine “Have you read this? Have you read this? Have you read that?” I’ve actually slowed down my reading in some ways and I tried to pick a few that resonates and go deep and try to really do what they say rather than just being able to go out and say “Here’s what you can do” to experience it myself in some way.

Andrea: Hmmm, because when you experience it then you can offer it in a different way than you could before and then you could if you just learn it.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Absolutely! Well, the other thought Andrea, and I don’t want to interrupt where you’re going as you think through this, but I think we’ve also given ourselves, our mind that says but also our emotions and our sense of who we are. We’ve given ourselves an impossible task. We have said to be authentic, we have said to be open and all those things and yet we’ve given ourselves the impossible task in our mind, we want everyone to like us. And so you want to talk about another one. None of these things I talked about as in either/or.

When I interact with people and I get feedback from them that can lead me to “Oh Neal, you’re being a jerk, you need to stop doing that.” So it’s valuable feedback. At the same time when you’re authentic and you share your voice and you say it very passionately and openly, there will be some that not only dislike you but truly hate you because they disagree so passionately with you. And to be comfortable with the fact which I’m not yet, it still hurts me especially if I offended them in some way.

But we’ve given ourselves the impossible task. We’re going to be a mother or a father and my wife is going to like this because of what we do and people will all like me. There are two different people and they will like and dislike different things. So we struggle with it and if anyone has answer, I’ll be tuning in to your future podcasts. But anyway, we have to surrender to the fact when we thought through well and we’re confident in who we are without offending or judging or hurting other people, simply speaking that truth with our authentic voice is going to make us some enemies or at least cause some people to be aggravated. The best compliment you could ever pay me is when you said I made you think. If I did that, please don’t say “I’m gonna do what he said.”

Andrea: Right and that’s what I look for in their leaders. That’s what I look for people to have influence. They have more influence over me when they get me thinking than if they were to tell me what to do and I went out and did it.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Yeah, yeah. I agree.

Andrea: Yeah because when we really integrate that into who we are and we apply it, we think through it and we decide, we start to become that, you know. Maybe we move in one little step in that direction where the person was trying to lead us. But that’s more powerful than it would be to just put on whatever they told us put and doing it.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Uh-hmm, absolutely and staying open to the influence of others. Obviously, there are some bad ideas out there for people. On the other hand, we are snap judgers. We often look at something that they tell you and say I either like it or dislike it. It’s just what we do. We categorize traits if you think about. Again, let’s take it out of the realm of psychology and the incredibly complex human. We walk down the street and say I like that kind of tree but I don’t like that kind of tree. What’s wrong with just letting the tree be a tree? Why do we have to label it?

Well again, it’s not psychosis but we just have a tendency to build these mental models of how the world should be and that’s our likes and dislikes and even our beliefs. Just to take a step back and say “I can just appreciate that tree,” rather than say “I like the color of its leaves.” Yeah, if you catch yourself doing these simple things, I think you’re on a good path that many traditions have pursued which leads believe it or not to some really, really deep understandings. But if we jump to “How do I solve this problem myself?” And “Why I’m aren’t getting better at this?” Or “Everything is gonna go well.”

I know when I’m near where I can sit quietly for 30 minutes. Sit for three and then tomorrow, it’s four. That’s growth. Many people set health goals. I just experienced it myself. I’ve workout for three weeks because I got this nasty virus and it’s driving me crazy. But if you start a goal and you get sick and then you don’t exercise for a week, often that’s all it took for us not to start. And so we get dissuaded very quickly. So it’s a journey. I just love folks like you for taking the time to help us think through that.

Andrea: Oh yeah, I feel the same way. Okay, so Dr. Schnoor, if anybody wanted to engage you in conversation about this or invite you to come and speak to their teachers, their students to do a band workshop, where could they find you.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Where they can find me at schnoorn.unk.edu or I got a Gmail account, schnoornealatgmail.com, LinkedIn, Facebook. Again, to me it’s that interaction with other people, I would love to talk with folks about this.

Andrea: Awesome! Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking time to do this and this has been just a great conversation for me. I love just the fact that we could dive in so deep, and hopefully, there are people out here, the Influencer listening that maybe even us digging in-depth like this makes them feel less alone, because I think it’s hard to think about things like this and feel like you don’t have anybody to talk to. So thank you for engaging with me and engaging with the listener.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: Well, it’s a pleasure, and Andrea, if you ever get the chance in the future if somebody, I’d love nothing more than somebody call and say, that guy is full of it and I’d love to talk again.

Andrea: Yeah that would be fun.

Dr. Neal Schnoor: This could sound condescending, but I mean it with all good thoughts. I’m just so proud of you, the work you’ve done and to catch up with you and to see the journey you’ve been on since you sat in that classroom. Well, I won’t say how many years ago. We won’t give our age or what, but the work you’re doing is so important and I thank you for it.

Andrea: Thank you!