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Talk about being unstoppable, wait until you hear our episode with Rosalind Panda. Rosalind lived her first 24 years in India. Her parents by any standard encouraged her to be creative, innovative, and unstoppable. She moved to the United States after receiving degrees in Computer Science and Technology while in India. She went back to school to, as she put it, “refresh her computer knowledge”. Since leaving college Rosalind has formed a number of companies dealing with all aspects of creativity in a variety of industries including computer technology and construction. On top of everything else Rosalind spends, as she says, about 40% of her time being creative as an artist producing mainly oil paintings. Even this work began for her as a child encouraged by her parents. She also is an author as you will learn. As you will see, she keeps busy and totally enjoys life and all she does. She wants to be remembered as someone who is creative and helps humanity. She does this for sure! About the Guest: Rosalind Panda as a Thought leader, Visionary and Change maker is here to inspire others to do what inspires them so that all of us together can make this world a better place. She lives a life with Purpose and optimism serving mankind and benefitting the World through the fundamentals elements of life e.g. Art, Technology, Creative design thinking and Innovation. She is the CEO and Founder of Rosalind Business Group LLC. CEO of Rosalind IT Services, Founder of Rosalind Arts, CEO of Rosalind Constructions, and Founder of ROVA Token. She is a technology Innovator, fine art artist, public Speaker, Author, and influencer. Additionally, she is in the board of members in the non profit organization called River Art Works. She is the Influencer in International Association of Women Organization empowering, encouraging and impacting others' lives. She believes in building a legacy, acting towards her vision, serving the humanity, benefiting the human kind through her contributions and giving back to the community. Ms. Rosalind as the CEO of Rosalind IT Services company established in 2019 works with Clients in building their website design, development, support and upgrade specializing in every industry and in every technology. Her company is a top-notch IT consulting organization across the world, IT staffing, and Recruitment service provider in the United States of America. Her IT Services company specializes in web 2.0 technologies for e.g. Web and Mobile application development and helping clients arounds the world. It is a pioneer in blockchain development. As the Founder of Rosalind Arts Gallery and a well-known global fine art artist living in New York, she is a highly versatile creator with pieces in the realms of abstract, landscape, impressionistic and contemporary, modern. Each of her paintings speaks the language of love towards humanity, inner peace, world peace, Positivity, enthusiasm, and Optimism in life. In addition to her stellar efforts in this capacity, she is serving as the CEO of Rosalind Constructions between 2020 and 2021, with which she utilized CAD-based 3D modeling technology to offer construction companies and architecture firms the tools to visualize complete projects. Newly, into her business space, she added a cryptocurrency called “ROVA” Token. With the base of ROVA, she is building the World's very first utility-based eco-system that pays back to humanity where it spends. For her Incredible Contribution in the community and across the World in the field of Art, Technology Innovation and Creative Design thinking Rosalind Panda/Rosalind Business Group LLC is featured in New York weekly, Yahoo Finance, UK Herald Tribune, American Finance Tribune, CEO weekly, LA Wire, US News, Digital Journal, Yahoo news, Forbes, New York Weekly, Artist Weekly, NY Voyage, Yahoo Finance, Digital Journal, Fox news, Global Reporter Journal, US National Times, CNBC, NBC, ABC news, CBS, The US News, az central, NY WIRE, LA WIRE, NEWS NET How to Connect with Rosalind: Facebook url: https://www.facebook.com/rosalindpanda/ LinkedIn url: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosalindpanda/ Instagram: rosalindpanda5 Twitter: rosajublee TikTok: rosalindpanda1 About the Host: Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog. Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children's Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association's 2012 Hero Dog Awards. https://michaelhingson.com https://www.facebook.com/michael.hingson.author.speaker/ https://twitter.com/mhingson https://www.youtube.com/user/mhingson https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelhingson/ accessiBe Links https://accessibe.com/ https://www.youtube.com/c/accessiBe https://www.linkedin.com/company/accessibe/mycompany/ https://www.facebook.com/accessibe/ Thanks for listening! Thanks so much for listening to our podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the social media buttons on this page. Do you have some feedback or questions about this episode? Leave a comment in the section below! Subscribe to the podcast If you would like to get automatic updates of new podcast episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. You can also subscribe in your favorite podcast app. Leave us an Apple Podcasts review Ratings and reviews from our listeners are extremely valuable to us and greatly appreciated. They help our podcast rank higher on Apple Podcasts, which exposes our show to more awesome listeners like you. If you have a minute, please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts. Transcription Notes Michael Hingson 00:00 Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I'm Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that's a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we're happy to meet you and to have you here with us. Michael Hingson 01:21 Hi, and welcome once again to unstoppable mindset. Glad you're here. Right I really appreciate you coming along with us and joining us. Every time we do an episode for this journey. Today we get to meet and work with and talk to Rosalind Panda. And Rosalind is a person who has got a very diverse background has started a number of companies has continued to make them successful is very involved in art. And I'm not going to tell you a whole lot because she will. She knows her subject better than I do. So thanks very much for being here. We really appreciate you coming on unstoppable mindset. Rosalind Panda 02:00 Thank you so much, Michael, for the wonderful, warm welcome. I'm glad to be here. Michael Hingson 02:06 Well, why don't we start as I love to do and ask that you tell me a little bit about you growing up and so on, where you're from what you did, as a child and all those memorable things that we should know about on the podcast? Rosalind Panda 02:21 Yeah, absolutely. So I think so. So let's start with how I, where I'm coming from, right. So I'm originally from India. And until I'm 2024, I said that I finished my studies, and have visited many places, many cities out there to gain knowledge and having the perspective of having diversity in different states, and through different languages, clothing, and the way of just living, living, right. And then when I am after 24, I came to United States, I continued my studies here as well in computer science. And after due to jobs and projects, I moved around cities to cities. And again continued my journey through gaining experience, understanding the diversity, understanding different culture, people, and the people who are coming from different different countries, bringing their wonderful perspective. So that's how I where I am today. And I'm still learning about humanity. And my greatest passion that I love, in my everyday to real life is serving humanity, because that's my love towards humanity that I learned from life and I would love to continue that as I go. Michael Hingson 03:59 So, when you were growing up in India, you said you visited a lot of cities, did you visit other places outside of India or just around India? Rosalind Panda 04:06 When I was in India, yes, only the cities in different states in India itself is very big. Also, it is a big compared to compared to when things change in in different state. Right away the language changes and you feel like you're a foreigner in a foreign country altogether. And the food is different. The culture, the language is different, the way the other states are living that is totally different. So I just when they're in different states, I moved around. Yeah, well, I was there. Michael Hingson 04:41 When you go from state to state in India, and now you go from state to state in the United States. Do you find that there's as much cultural difference between states in the US as there was an India or not so much. Rosalind Panda 04:59 I feel as though have, for example, in last month, I visited to Las Vegas, I went to Arizona. So I see the difference. When it comes to the culture also the the density of people, for example, in Arizona, there are a lot of people from Mexico. So they're bringing that Spanish culture, you will see a lot of like the food is changing a bit. And also the weather, due to the weather, the businesses around that place the food around that place. It's kind of different, but not too much, because the language stays still stays the same. So on only the culture and food changes, but the length because the language stays the same. You I don't feel a lot of difference in there. And also when I went to Dallas, yeah, there is another state I went to Dallas last month as well. It's a bit different. You see the cowboy, that culture right, though, that is coming. So southern culture that is a bit different than music, the food changes to certain extent, but not too much. So but still there is like diversity around which I enjoy thoroughly. Michael Hingson 06:26 It sounds like differences are a little bit more dramatic in India, especially if language and so on is different from one place to another. Yeah, absolutely. Yes. That's true. Yeah. So you came to the United States and you're, you're traveling around him. And so where do you live? Rosalind Panda 06:47 Staten Island, New York. Michael Hingson 06:49 You are in Staten Island. So have you been to California? Rosalind Panda 06:53 Yeah, I was in California for seven years. Since 2004. Till 2011. I was in California. I did my studies over there and I stayed around ample amount of time, like seven years is a lot. Yeah, Michael Hingson 07:10 it is. So where were you in California. Rosalind Panda 07:15 I was in Mountain View, and Fremont and Union Station. And also the Bay Area. quite a quite a few. Like Barry. I was there. I enjoyed it as well like pretty pretty close to San Francisco. Michael Hingson 07:32 Yeah. What did you study? Rosalind Panda 07:36 I started in Foothill College. It's a college which was nearby my when I was living, there was De Anza as well San Jose, which is on those boats are coming under centers in university. So I did some few like, completed my associates degree over there, because I have my bachelor's degree from India. So I can end my postgraduate as well from India. I just wanted to refresh my my education, the way of how people are studying here just went to have some extra knowledge about Computer Information System how, how how people are adapting to this, the students are learning. And also I did some really fun classes. During my college for example, swimming. I didn't know swimming before. I was so scared of water. I thought about I thought about overcoming my fear, which is swimming. So I finished my swimming lesson now. I'm pretty good swimmer. In three months, I landed. I felt so good. They're like pre a few other classes like music class. And also I learned taekwondo. I did my martial art kickboxing, Taekwondo and California, which was so much fun. So enjoy it thoroughly. The time I lived there. Michael Hingson 09:02 You degrees from India, they were in computer science. Rosalind Panda 09:05 Yeah, they're in computer science, and all computer application system and postgraduate as well. In computer application. Michael Hingson 09:15 Did you get a master's degree out of the postgraduate work? Rosalind Panda 09:19 i Yeah, it is the equivalent to Master's degree. Michael Hingson 09:22 Master's degree. Yep. Yeah. And here you did your AAA degree. Did you go beyond that? Or just get the AAA to kind of see how things were and sort of refresh? Rosalind Panda 09:34 Just to refresh? Exactly. Just to refresh it as degree Associate in Science? Yeah. Because I didn't have to do a lot of studies because I had already done those while I was in India. So just to refresh my memory, there was a gap of, I believe, five to six years between when I finished my studies and here I started so I just thought about bridging that gap. been starting my GED care career crush? Yeah. Yeah, Michael Hingson 10:04 you piqued my interest in talking about swimming and being afraid of water. Tell me more about that. How did you overcome it? Or why did you decide to overcome your fear of water and, and get into to being a swimmer? Rosalind Panda 10:18 Yeah, so that's a really fun story. When I was a kid, during summer vacation, I was when I was in school, during summer vacation, we used to come with my parents to the village like our village, and there was a pond. There are many ponds in our village. So normally we go and have bath in the pond in summer, I was so afraid of water, and we had River as well. But I was so so scared that I wouldn't go too deep into the pond. Because I think, oh my god, what will be there inside though? There will be rocks, and you can see it was pretty deep. So somehow, I had a little fear about what is there in the water, because I can't see much. And also, my mind doesn't work when I'm in water. So it was I was pretty pretty, like I couldn't survive while I was in water. But what my dad did, he was there was everybody family member, they were gather, and they were just doing their thing. They were taking a bath and having fun. But dad wanted me to swim. So what he did is he just put me into the water. And he thought I'm gonna start swimming. I was it was like no lead. I don't know, swimming. Water. Michael Hingson 11:53 So that didn't help your attitude about water at all, did it? No, not Rosalind Panda 11:57 at all. Because the he was thinking, swimming is pretty intuitive. And as soon as somebody gets into the water, they will just know how to survive by making hand or leg movement, which was not pretty intuitive, because I was not open to that at all. So I heard, I had that fear in me. And when I saw I thought I'm never going to be able to swim when it comes to water. And when I came to the United States in California, when I was staying in a apartment, we had a swimming pool as well. I had always swimming pools, and I started going to taekwondo class, the kickboxing class, I used to go to my apartment gym and doing workout every day as well and practice my movements in Taekwondo and learning the things. So while doing those martial arts and kickboxing, I created that resilience and having that full, full determination about overcoming the fear or how practice makes you a do and overcome your fear. Right. So while when I went to school, I saw the swimming pool, it's a really nice swimming pool. And I saw people are learning swimming. So I thought about how about I also learned swimming and overcome my fear. So there were some extra, I believe, a one unit or two unit class, it was there for three months. So I took it I learned. I also played tennis that time. I did pull body flexibility, class, also yoga and music class. And apart from that there was a swimming class. So I had an instructor. I said, Hey, man, I'm pretty scared of water. But I want to really learn. And by the time we are done with the swimming class, this sentence, it is always roaming around my mind that I'm scared of water. It should not be there. In case in case there is a situation when I'm inside the water, I should be able to know doesn't matter if it is a pond, if it is a river, it is an ocean. Instead of my mind going blackout. I should be able to know what to do, at least for certain period of time, I should be able to survive. I'm not talking about ocean. But still, if I'm in the ocean, I should be able to know how to control my breathing and not totally blank out when I'm in the water. So my teacher understand calm and instructor understood about it and he said, I promise that didn't happen. And yours you I will not be scared of water anymore. Since I was very, very confident I was fully determined. I at least made sure that when I'm in the Water is somebody is watching me, and not letting me drown for sure. So with that assurance, I just started learning every day with full determination and full dedication. And in few days, I was so good at it, I was like I was with, with the practice and determination, I started doing my freestyle, as well as the backstroke, I was able to float on my back for the whole 5050 meter swimming pool. And it was I was ecstatic. I was so happy that there is nothing in my life anymore, that I can say I'm scared of, because that was the only thing, though what if it was a practical thing. Michael Hingson 15:50 What is what is interesting, though, is that you made the choice not to be afraid and you whether you totally did it with intent you, you created an environment where you could eliminate the fear, you told your instructor about it, and your instructor, then helped but you made the choice not to be afraid. We did an episode earlier this year was actually on April 13, was our 29th show, we interviewed a gentleman named Matt rock and Matt swims every day or every other day in the Pacific Ocean, off of Dana Point in Southern California. And he talks about his fear, not of swimming, but when he first decided to try to swim in the winter, when it was much colder water, like 55 degrees Fahrenheit in the water. And Matt doesn't use a wetsuit. And he talked about being afraid and again, made the decision, although it was a little bit scary, but he made the decision to jump in the water when he got really close to it. And then within a couple of seconds, he was used to the water and everything was fine. But again, it's a choice. And when he found out that there was really no great reason to be afraid of the water simply because it was cold or for you. You made a decision not to free afraid of the water just because you go in the water and you can sink and bring yourself up and so on. That's really what it's all about, isn't it? Rosalind Panda 17:23 Yeah, absolutely. Because I believe that our mind is everything. And when we decide something in our mind, the mind doesn't control us anymore. But it learns it listens to us, like, okay, she wants to do it. And I don't have any control or fear in it. But rather I should just cooperate. Right? So that's what happens when your intention, your determination overpowers your mind. Because mind can play so many games of fears and make you scared of anything which does not even exist. So I believe in that. And yeah, here I am. Yeah. Michael Hingson 18:07 Okay, so you have done a lot of studying. And you've learned a lot. What did you do with all that knowledge? And did you work while you were studying? Like when you came to the US? Or did you just study or tell us a little bit more about kind of when you got here and went to school and what all you did? Rosalind Panda 18:30 Yeah, so when I went to my school, college, right, and now Foothill College in California. I was, I was so I would say that I was very fascinated by all the classes and the teachers I heard really good teachers. They were, they were coming from different countries like England, and Euro. Australia. Today is a fun college because we in our college there were I believe there are more than 70 countries the students are coming from. So I saw a beautiful acceptance, a beautiful acceptance in everybody and encouragement, which was extremely fun for me. Because I had friends from Mongolia, my best friend, one of my best friend from Brazil, from India from the United States. So I made really wonderful friends were very kind and fun loving and they were approaching me and said Rosalynn will you be our my best friend, but that's how they were so much fun. So it was cool to experience that from from a symbol, you know, innocence that we have as human being when somebody comes and opens up towards you and helps you throughout their journey and makes it even more fun and adventures. So while I was in school, I was also helping my fellow other students learning. So they were struggling in math. And few other classes English, yes. So to write their essays or help them understand there were a few classes, which was hard, like critical thinking and writing. So we had to analyze some movies, right? What were our analysis about the movie, and it was pretty, pretty cool, how the teacher were giving those assignments, and it was helping us think through and express ourselves. That was helping my friends who were coming from different countries, and they were not pretty fluent in English and thinking to and expressing themselves. So I was helping them express, I was helping them, making sure that they were also doing their excellent, their best. You know, so, math, and English, I was hoping others to do as well. And also, while doing the swimming class, also, one person was totally scared of swimming. She, I think she was about she was, she gave up in three days. She said, No, I cannot do this. I am, I am losing my, I'm losing my patience with this. I'm so scared of water. And I cannot do this, she was about to give up. I kept telling her now just just just be patient and go through the process. Trust the process, there is this instructor, she is not letting you drown at all. So and I'm here also, I was because we both were swimming. So when she was feeling like she was drowning, I was getting her hair up. So that was pretty fun. That while it gave me a wonderful lesson in my life as well, while you do your part, you can help others survive and do their best as well. Michael Hingson 22:14 So tell her that you were afraid of water. Yeah, Rosalind Panda 22:17 we started at the same point, she clearly knows that, that I was so scared of water. But in third day, I started having my confidence in myself. But she was literally giving up. But then I kept her going. And she, by the time we finished, she was at a point that she was not afraid of any water anymore. But she she needed more practice. She was a little weak. So she was not that strong, determined, or strong willed. So but I don't know what happened after that. But at least she survived at that time. So those are fun times that we really had. Also the food. They were some some some events in our school that was happening around every year, where all the every cuisine, right, some somebody's coming from fizzy, somebody's coming from China, Thailand, Korean, Indian, American, Brazilian, all the food everybody was specializing in and they will get some food, their authentic food. And we will have in the event those food displayed. And we will go to every stall one by one and try those foods and experience that. Even if we're not going to the country, by ourselves in person. But by having the food and talking to them and how it's made. What are the ingredients to interact with those people who are coming from those countries? It was it was excellent to accept everybody and learn everybody's culture. And you know, to feel more human, not just live in your own bubble, say to his to his excellent experience while I was in school, always vulnerable. Michael Hingson 24:10 So where are you when you were in school? Did you work or did how did you support going to school and all that? Rosalind Panda 24:16 So yeah, I was working. I was doing my computer science, some of the projects as well. I was tutoring some kids who were preparing for math competitive exam. So I was really putting a lot of effort into helping others, like kids who are learning math and computer science projects. Also I was doing I was a math instructor in my school as well. Helping others to in their their classes, which when they are struggling, so that those all those projects I did when I was at school Michael Hingson 24:58 so You were at school and you finally got your Associate of Science degree, then what did you do? Rosalind Panda 25:07 I moved from there to different cities to do. So I started getting projects in different cities like Boston, I came on a project. And after that project was finished, I moved to other cities like Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Washington, and Austin, Texas, a lot of projects I did in different cities. So I have moved around, I believe, seven to eight cities after my schooling. Yeah. Michael Hingson 25:38 Well, how did people learn about you that they asked you to come and deal with different projects, and so on. Rosalind Panda 25:45 I'm a believer, then you'll get a software, software development degree. And you have the platforms like dice CareerBuilder, monster, and you're looking for good projects, and depending on what skill sets you have. And so I was approached, with a lot of projects till now as well. If you learn a good skill set, and you keep, like adapting I was keep, I was always adapting to new technologies, starting from web to 1.0, where we're just dealing with static websites. But as in my era, already 2.0 was introduced. So I was fully learning the new frameworks, the the all the software, like what do you call libraries that we're going to be using with that web application development and software development. So I'm getting those projects based on my skill sets, which were totally in demand. And a lot of big companies, fortune 500 companies, they wanted good, skilled, and people. And also I'm very proactive about moving on, and having a good career learning good things and helping clients helping the organization do well, when whatever projects they are trying to do. So it just kept kept me moving. Michael Hingson 27:17 When you were doing a lot of that coding and dealing with people helping them create whether web applications or websites, did you ever get involved much with accessibility and dealing with making websites available for persons with disabilities? Rosalind Panda 27:34 Absolutely, because a lot of our applications when they're fully mature, and we're using the advanced technology for billions of users to use at a time, we're depending on for enhancing the security, scalability, the user friendly usability and accessibility, because the more and more people are using technology, every genre every from every category of people started using it. So once the application is mature, accessibility was a pretty heavy department that everybody was stressing on. So I was involved in making accessible like healthcare projects, as well as banking applications, some of the insurance applications which the accessible disabled people are using. So we definitely I was involved in those projects as well. Michael Hingson 28:37 If I understand what you're describing, you're saying that the applications would would be created. And then other things were accomplished, such as making the applications accessible or did accessible of the start right from the outset of the application, Rosalind Panda 28:55 the accessibility was also parallely being done, while the application is already being used. We had to use certain libraries and certain code standards, Wk C standards, there are certain libraries to use so that the screen reader can read those HTML code, or all the protocol, the web, the languages, for the screen reader. So as as as HTML five became more semantic, so we wanted to, on top of that, to make the applications accessible, we're implementing the libraries to make it so Michael Hingson 29:39 why is it that we see so many websites today, and also a lot of applications that are still not at all accessible? There? There so many examples one can find, both with websites in just a variety of applications I mean, even voting, although voting electronic likely isn't totally accepted anyway. But why is it that we find a lot of resistance or a lot of lack of attention to making accessibility an integral part of all of that. Rosalind Panda 30:12 And now, the organization's it depends on the culture and the budget they allocate for every project, they maybe they are not stressing on making it accessible. Because every application that is built, a lot of it goes through always user testing, right? User Acceptance Testing, there is a certain number of people, they will do the testing in production environment, and they constantly get user input from the real time user, their customers to make the application even better, where the users are facing challenges. They implement more creative design thinking towards what they what they develop. But it depends always on the organization itself, stressing on considering those points and thinking about the category of people who really want to use the application, but due to it is not accessible, they have to take other people's help, rather than being self sufficient to use application. I believe that's a drawback in the organization, if they're not using those, and making it accessible for those customers, because that's very, very important to do. So. Michael Hingson 31:39 Part of the problem, it seems to me also is that if we would make accessibility a part of the native development and make it so that you can't create, without including access, that would help but for example, the people who make tools that people use to create websites, don't have anything in those tools that mandate accessibility, even though it's pretty well defined today, for example, with the internet, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, 2.1, soon to be three Oh, and so on. But the people who create the tools that build websites, don't have any specific requirements within the tools that says, not publishing the website till it's fully accessible and conforms with the guidelines. Yeah, so native access doesn't happen. Rosalind Panda 32:39 Yeah, no, I agree. Because the frameworks that are being implemented, they focus on internationalization. But accessibility is totally so different libraries and standard all together, that the framework don't consider having that. But I believe it's a very, very, very crucial part essential part to have this included as well, so that nobody can neglect or ignore those scenarios as well. But it's it should be an essential part to be considered, while making the application for normal user, as well as ready for the accessible disabled people as well. Michael Hingson 33:23 Yeah. Basically, the way to probably say it best is accessibility, or what I prefer to say, as inclusion should be part of the cost of doing business, and it just isn't yet for everyone. Rosalind Panda 33:35 Yeah, absolutely. But I believe that there is certain challenges as well. Because when you try to make application accessible, and using those library and standard, there will be certain areas, which need, I believe, a lot more expertise, I would say, but I believe a lot of organizations are facing challenges while doing it. Because even if we try to make it fully accessible, but every applications functionality, their behavior is different. So sometimes the application become extremely complicated or complex, while they think now we don't want to make it accessible because it's not. It's not that simple. For somebody, the screen reader to read everything it might not be so I believe in future, those challenges should be overcome. And we should be thinking about promise solution oriented approach and inclusion, as you mentioned, then those challenges will be overcome day by day. What a Michael Hingson 34:43 lot of the challenges are more perceived than actual though and I think that that's the issue is that people think things are perhaps harder than they need to be. But it is a process and and hopefully, we'll also find more schools include teaching about access and teaching people to make access and inclusion part of what they do as their students so that they will then go out and automatically do when they graduate and go out into the world as as workers. Rosalind Panda 35:17 Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. As you said, human beings are very intelligent they have, they're given the brain right to think and find a solution. And with that specific determination and approach, if we think through and try to find that solution, then we can definitely find find, go somewhere with you, instead of just giving up and thinking about, no, it's pretty difficult, we don't want to do this. And those organizations, every organization, I believe they should allocate, and the project to make their application accessible, that will, that will be like icing on the cake, you're making your application accessible to everyone, which is absolutely wonderful, you know, that will truly appreciate that, that kind of approach from organizations Michael Hingson 36:15 will tell me more about you, you. So you went to work. And along the way, you became certainly a thought leader or a technology innovator and you went into art. Tell me about that, if you would. Rosalind Panda 36:30 Absolutely. Yeah. So I will start with my my childhood time, when we are born with I believe we are all born with creativity, as a tool inside us, the challenge becomes when we don't identify it, right, we just think, Oh, we are not at stake. So I believe and then we start comparing with each other and not nurturing that inside us. Which is opposite in my case, because I have been brought up in a very encouraging family, my parents, my dad and mom, they're extremely encouraging and they they could recognize they could identify that when we give it when we create that environment for for our children, then and also make them understand what they can do with their time, what they can do with their brain, their developing brain, their focus their concentration, then. So I was I was heavily encouraged from a poor my childhood, I was learning I was studying in a school, also where the environment was extremely encouraging. And they were focusing on extracurricular activities, for example, focusing on nurturing your creativity, writing points, learning music, using your time to express on certain mediums like pencil sketches, drawings, paintings, and also game we're playing games, outside outdoor activities, and acting. Acting also I was pretty pretty much open to every form of creativity a human being can do. And while after school when I come from in my house, I love to paint that time. Because that that is the time I can express myself it's a my calm, calm time, right? We express we think about it, and I love colors. So I love to see what I'm creating. So I play outside as well and I have to come back, I create an AI that use pay balance throughout the day. Before I do my homework. I also learn music, I create music, I give lyrics and music and actually harmonium as well and bright points as well I think in front of the whole crowd, my village my school and the whole city so this is all part of my creativity and art is one of them, which I always not sure that to the max. I was participating in many drawing competitions painting exhibitions as well. While I was in school, and my my school my teachers and my parents were having me too. Were giving me those platforms and telling me that no we will create that platform per euros length where you can excel and make us proud now it's not just a as a kid we can understand as Oh, you're making your school proud or your parents proud, but really, essentially, you're truly getting yourself up, you're getting your your own inner creator encouraged more and more, so that it becomes a habit when we land into our adulthood. So that's what happened. I carried out all my habits, what I was doing since my childhood, to my adulthood as well. And as soon as I could afford my canvases, my colors, my oil colors and my time, I just became, like, professionally, I create started creating since last, like I believe for more than four, around 14 years or so I have been creating them professionally. And I loved the oil, medium oil colors on Canvas the best so far. Because like the oil color, the expression, the textures, that comes out, it's out of the world. For me, I believe I can express in those, but I can also do to pencil sketches, watercolor, acrylic, sketch, anything you give me I can create those, for all color is the best one that I do as of now. And when I'm creating art, my purpose behind why I'm creating the bigger purpose behind it. I believe the underlying message that I put in all my paintings are love towards humanity, inner peace, world peace, optimism, and positivity. I believe those are really crucial and foundational principles in human life. Those elements, we those are indispensable in human life. So I put those in my paintings, I also write points around them, so that people can, really because words are good to the soul. So I'll always believe if I'm creating something wonderful, it's we are pasting our eyes. But also we're feeding our soul. We are feeding our weeks I am expressing my heart and soul when I'm creating. But it's it's amazing, such a wonderful energy to the viewer, or the reader through my points when they're reading it and connecting my feelings, which I'm expressing through the points and on Canvas. So it's a beautiful way of expression and consumption conception, and also intake for the viewer. Michael Hingson 42:48 Is that your work today? Or? Well, what what do you do for work? And how does all that fit into it? Rosalind Panda 42:54 I do work otherwise, I'm a professional artist. And as well as I am a business owner where I help clients with software development with any technology, every technology, web 2.0, as well as I do crypto, I'm the founder of the world's first utility based crypto ecosystem robot token. So building those applications as well for to serve the mankind. So I'm pulling a technology person and I believe in innovation. So that's where all my time and energy also go. I have so many clients as well, throughout my day in their web application development as well. Yeah. Michael Hingson 43:39 So you do a lot of web development and web work and so on. Is that kind of where you focus most of your time? Or what do you do most of Rosalind Panda 43:48 I do, as I mentioned, like software development, I do the most and also out it's kind of 60 4060 software, and then party 30 is all the creative things about it. Technology also I put my creativity and when we're building, I'm thinking about the creative ways to coming up with a solution to the clients challenges that are facing. So a new implementation any defects that are arising the applications, I focus on those as well as creating art and writing poems for people. And also I have construction business Roseland constructions is another business I that I also handle and Roma token, which is as I mentioned, that is the world's first crypto based ecosystem. I also put my time into creating those as well. Michael Hingson 44:44 So, what what is Rosalynn panda construction all about? Rosalind Panda 44:48 Rosaline construction company is all about steel detailing, architectural designing, interior designing. So those are the spurts of resilient construction syndrome expanding? Michael Hingson 45:05 Uh huh. So you you're doing this, you're mainly in the designing part of construction, which again gets back to creativity, doesn't it? Rosalind Panda 45:13 Exactly, exactly. All my businesses are revolving around creativity. I, I just love being creative in all my areas. Yeah. Michael Hingson 45:24 So you use CAD systems, I believe and would expect in your construction work? Rosalind Panda 45:31 Yeah, we have, we have certain now like certified people as well. It's not like I am doing directly, right. So I am the CEO, I have my team as well to take care of those days use certain tools and to take care of those specific elements like steel detailing and construction business. It's expanding. And my team is also growing. So there's a lot more to come in future. Yeah. Michael Hingson 46:01 I started a company back in 1985, when I needed to, because I couldn't find a job. And we sold some of the first PC based CAD system. So we use AutoCAD and another one called vs cat, although AutoCAD has become the most famous one and the most widely known, I think, in the in the cat world, we had some other CAD systems. But it was right at the beginning of when people started to recognize that CAD actually could allow someone to be just as creative. Do it in a fraction of the time and still then go on and do more work and get more jobs and hopefully make more money and support their business. Rosalind Panda 46:44 Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that's absolutely right. Michael Hingson 46:49 Yeah, CAD does not stifle or limit your creativity. It gives you another way, in a lot of ways a more effective way to, to, to show it. Rosalind Panda 47:00 Yeah, exactly. You can customize it, you can now use your creativity. And what do you want on top of it, just a basic tool that you can definitely incorporate your creativity to do so. Michael Hingson 47:15 Right? So you're doing a lot of different things, needless to say? And does does there ever happen to be spillover or do things get combined together? You're doing artwork and in any way? Does that get to spill over into your other companies and so on? Or are they really separate? Rosalind Panda 47:38 I believe, as I said that it's a common element where my creativity flows, right? It all my all my businesses are revolving around creativity. I also write books. I have my latest book, I co authored a book called powerful female immigrant, about 24 powerful immigrant women who are making a difference. Despite of the surmountable odds they have faced in life, and there is another book just got launched, which is called Lead self become the leader, which is by me, which is 10 foundational principles to live your life. So that's the book just got launched last week on 12th November. So that is be pretty, like it will be available in few days in Amazon. It's already in the process. And I also speak, I'm a speaker as well, I speak on public platform stages, podcasts. So I believe it's not a spillover, but it's it's a different angle of my my personality. What makes me as a whole song. And I believe in holistic, fulfillment as a human being, rather than just being being one directional. I become diverse, I let my imagination I flow into different angles of me, and making me who I am. It's part of my personality, I let it flow I unleash my imagination, my creativity. When it tries to flow on the canvas, I do through art, what I'm trying to do through words, I write poems, and write a book and what I'm trying to express through my words, I speak on stages and help other players empowering others inspiring them and so that they can do and they can be inspired and empowered to do what they love to do. They can be more of what they want to be. And while in doing the software development, I let my creativity my solution oriented mind, my creative design thinking to in the development I have the applications. So that because I know that the main purpose of letting my creative into different directions is to serve humanity. The intention behind what I do is to serve humanity. So it's going to solve so many users, so many customers and the end, that it gives me that pleasure and that driving force to do so. I'm not just coming up with a solution to do for myself. That's, of course, it's serving me because I'm nourishing my passion, my intentions, my, my day to day activities, for sure. But the end goal, the intention behind it is about about the people about the humanity, of what we are helping what I'm helping through my creativity. So I let it Michael Hingson 50:55 be you. How do you as you're being creative, keep from getting a mental block that blocks being creative? How do you keep going, you know, writers oftentimes talk about getting writer's block, and they can't move forward and, and so on. You sound like that doesn't happen to you. Why is that? Rosalind Panda 51:14 Why is that because, as I mentioned, when we become unidirectional, and just go in one direction, sometimes we feel stuck, because we're not thinking around the edges. And that time, we can take a small break and come out, come up with a fresh mind to move on. Because remember, when to get a momentum in any of our actions, sometimes, we need to take two steps backward. And to come forward with a greater force, or a pool momentum, like the trampoline effect, if you want to jump higher, you, you know that you have to go down in the trampoline to too little beneath, like little below the surface as well. So that's how the mental block happens when we think as if we're really stuck. But we change our perspective, and give us a small break about thinking, Okay, I'm not able to come up with the idea right? Now, how about, just let me take a walk. Or let me just get away, go go away from this thing, what I'm trying to do, in few minutes, I'll be coming back with a fresh mind. And it comes, it really comes. So that's when we have to have our patience with ourselves. To have understanding about how creativity really flows. Do we have to have that understanding? Some so many people call it procrastination. But it is not really procrastination, if you know the story of Leonardo da Vinci, you're the artist who were in the history, they used to do so many things at a time, and they will be coming back to what they're creating a project. If they're not really procrastinating, it's rather, they are they know that if they're working on a big project or something, then sometimes the mind has to think from my perspective, as totally external person, not the person who is creating that other person who is reading. So we have to switch our paradigm switch our prospective, then only the blog, which gets created in the mind, that goes away. For example, if I go ahead, so for example, I shall write if, when a chef is cooking, and when he's cooking, he's gonna appreciate his food, he's gonna be like, Oh, this is tasty, because he's creating it. But if he changes his perspective, and thinks about from a primary customer point of view, or the person who is eating, then he he will be giving a better feedback on that. He can think oh, yeah, my I might need to improve this food a little bit. Because when I'm thinking about it, like a creator, I am appreciating everything. But I'm not thinking from the user perspective, the the person who is eating. So that's how switching the perspective changes the game for me and the people who are having the block blockers in their mind as well. Michael Hingson 54:43 It's all about letting your inner mind take over and not stressing about it. And that's what I thought you would say and that's really what it's all about is the blocks are things that we create ourselves. So you have written and you know, exemplify leadership in a lot of ways, what to you is true leadership and how do you implement it? I believe Rosalind Panda 55:06 that true leadership starts with leading yourself first, before even leading others, positive, we as a human being up can lead ourselves the best. And thinking about having perseverance, patience, persistence, endurance, and having a schedule a discipline and how to how to let our inner creator think, and lead ourselves the best. I believe that's the true leadership. Because if a person when a person, they know how to lead themselves, despite all the chaos, all the stress all the negative environment that can impact their mind state, when they can control they can control or have a wonderful balance in their mind. That time, they they impact others who are in the surrounding, and eventually, they're the world. They create a wonderful ripple Ripple Effect in their own consciousness, which is self consciousness. And when they end afterwards, they impact their community, where they are serving in their day to day life, and in the world, because everything that through leadership reflects through their actions, their words, their, what they're doing in their activities, their intentions. So I believe leading yourself leading ourselves first, as a human being. That's true leadership. It doesn't matter what role you have, what authority you have, what designation you have. But having that mind state, to be happy, to be content, to be, to be the own driving force in your own life is very crucial. Michael Hingson 57:07 How do you want people to remember you, you, you interact with a lot of people, and then you go on and do other things? And so on? What, what do you want people to remember about you? And what kind of effect do you want to have on the world? Rosalind Panda 57:22 Yeah, that's a wonderful question. So when, when I want people to remember me, I believe they will remember me as an artist who love to express herself on the canvas or no matter what medium I'm out writing a book, or speaking or writing. This, remember is me as a creator, who unleashes its own power to create, create that ripple effect to impact other people's lives. I empower others, I inspire others to be their best Excel and improve in their lives. And as a good leader, who knows how to lead myself first in my life, and impacting others as well and empowering others with optimistic approach with a positive approach. And just a positive person, a optimistic person, a true leader, now, who serves the humanity serves the community and believes in giving back to the community through every action. That's what I want and innovator, technology innovator, a futuristic, a visionary, a thought leader, a change maker, who brings wonderful, huge difference into her life, which is me. And also every every person surrounding me, eventually the world. Michael Hingson 58:47 So let me ask you this question. We call this the unstoppable mindset podcast. What does unstoppable mindset mean to you? And what advice do you have for people listening to our episode today? Rosalind Panda 59:04 Unstoppable means no matter what happens in your life, what circumstance or you go through, nobody can break your spirit. You are the person who is leading yourself throughout every situation. And you as a human being, you totally understand the journey of life. Right? We are all doing a journey. We're all experiencing a journey from starting point A to Z, which is from birth to until a we breed, the last on Earth. Unstoppable means you don't stop at any point, no external factor. No external circumstance can break your spirit. No matter what you go through. Everything is an experience. When the experiences leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, you're learning a lesson and grow through it, evolve through it. But never stop, or never get stuck. You are more than your mind. Right? You're more, you're more than your mind. Because the mind is going to play all the games and all the voices, it will start talking to you to stop you from doing some things to stop you from being the leader in your own life. But unstoppable means you are more than your mind. You are controlling your mind. You are the master, you are the captain of your own ship of life. So that's what unstoppable things. Michael Hingson 1:00:47 And the biggest lesson there is that it really is your choice and you don't need to let go different kinds of circumstances. Stop your spirit. You may not have control over everything that happens to you. But you always have control over how you mentally deal with it. Rosalind Panda 1:01:07 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Because as human beings, we all go through so many unwanted circumstances. Nobody's just playing on a better process, right? Life is a journey filled with bitter taste, bitter experience, wonderful experience, happy, sad experiences. But all that matters is we don't change we don't become a negative person. After any experience. We don't just generalize our experiences or people or what we see or experience or not. Because every person is different. Every person is unique. Every experience is unique. So we have to grow through it. No matter what we go through. We spread the wonderful fragrance. In the end, we understand that life is filled with wonderful experiences. We stay optimistic and positive and emit the wonderful energy into the world. Michael Hingson 1:02:11 Oh, Rosalind Panda, this has been wonderful if people want to reach out to you learn more about what you do, maybe in gauge your services or learn about your books and so on. How do they do that? Rosalind Panda 1:02:24 Absolutely. So my website is Rosalindpanda.com that Yeah, absolutely. R O S A L I N D. And my last name is Panda P A N D A.com. Rosalindpanda.com is my website where my socials are also there. Everything is linked to my website, I have my Rosalindarts.com which lists out all my paintings, people can read about it and Rosalinditservices.com is we are where we help clients with their web it all the web technology, related needs and requirements and Rosalynn construction is also where we help clients with their construction businesses through by token is the post utility based crypto ecosystem, all these businesses are all aligned and mentioned inside the Rosalindpanda.com website, all integrated with the my follow other websites in Facebook. I am known by Rosalind Panda, you can search me and also connect with me on I'm also in LinkedIn, Rosalind Panda, and on Instagram. I am Rosalind Panda five. The number 5 Rosalind Panda five, and on Twitter. It is my handle is Rosa Jubilee, which is R O S A J U B L E E. That's my Twitter handle. And also I'm on Tik Tok, which is Rosalind Panda one. So yeah, so I'm on the social media as well, people can connect with me and work with me. I'm not I would love to help others. Michael Hingson 1:04:25 I hope people will do that. And we definitely will stay in touch as well. So thank you for being here. And thank you for listening. I hope that you've enjoyed this. I hope that you've learned from it I have, and I really appreciate the opportunity to talk with Rosalind but also to make this podcast, something for all of us to listen to and grow from. If you'd like to comment on today's podcast, please feel free to email me at Michaelhi at accessibe A C C E S S I B E.com. I'm, or go to my podcast page, Michael hingson.com/podcast. And please, wherever you're listening to this, give us a five star rating. We do appreciate your ratings and your comments very well. So once again, Rosalind Thank you very much for being here. And we look forward to hearing more from you and about you in the future and definitely let us know any way we can help. Rosalind Panda 1:05:25 Thank you so much, Michael. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a pleasure and looking forward to many more. Michael Hingson 1:05:35 You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you'll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you're on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you're there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.
Christine Burns is the CEO and co-founder of the Walt Institute in Melbourne Australia. Originally from New Zealand, she has always been an active individual living life as a hockey player representing her country around the world. She credits her many years in sports and overcoming adversities such as serious leg injuries and a cancer diagnosis for giving her an unstoppable mindset. As you will discover, Christine is an articulate speaker with one of the most positive and vibrant attitudes toward life, I have encountered. Christine will tell you that she works with people to help them develop strategies to “bust through the status quo, be seen, be heard, and be the best version of themselves every single day!”. Our conversation during this episode is far ranging and by all means quite enjoyable. I hope you enjoy what Christine has to say. Please let me know what you think. About the Guest: Christine Burns (BA Psych, PG Dip Sport Bus Mngt, MIPPA) is the CEO and Co-Founder of WALT Institute. She is a New Zealand born lecturer, author and performance coach. She inspires people to take action, stand up for what they believe in and not get stuck in the trivia of life. As a former elite athlete in hockey for New Zealand, she has over 20 years of coaching, sport psychology and performance expertise which she brings to the global arena of Authentic Leadership. Typically, she works with individuals and teams in STEM to provide the strategies to bust through the status quo, be seen, be heard and be the best version of themselves every single day! With a solid achievement in sport, Christine represented New Zealand in indoor hockey and graduated with expertise in psychology, sport psychology, exercise science and business management. Through sport she learned resilience and tenacity which helped her overcome a cancer diagnosis in 2016. She is a dynamic and engaging presenter who will have you experiencing moments of joy and enlightenment. As an author she has recently published her book ‘Igniting Resilience: overcoming the despair of receiving a death sentence', articles in American Reporter, Yahoo finance, Medium, London Daily Post, California Herald and Thrive Global. She teaches people how to rise to any challenge, overcome the tough times and bounce forward with limitless possibilities. How to Connect with Christine: Book Landing Page: https://ignitingresilience.waltinstitute.com/igniting-resilience-book WALT Institute LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethchristinewaltinstitute Christine Burns LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/christineburnsperformancecoach Christine Burns Twitter: https://twitter.com/Christine1Burns Christine Burns Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristineInspires Christine Burns Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christineburns.nz/ Website: https://www.waltinstitute.com/ About the Host: Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog. Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children's Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association's 2012 Hero Dog Awards. https://michaelhingson.com https://www.facebook.com/michael.hingson.author.speaker/ https://twitter.com/mhingson https://www.youtube.com/user/mhingson https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelhingson/ accessiBe Links https://accessibe.com/ https://www.youtube.com/c/accessiBe https://www.linkedin.com/company/accessibe/mycompany/ https://www.facebook.com/accessibe/ Thanks for listening! Thanks so much for listening to our podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the social media buttons on this page. Do you have some feedback or questions about this episode? Leave a comment in the section below! Subscribe to the podcast If you would like to get automatic updates of new podcast episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. You can also subscribe in your favorite podcast app. Leave us an Apple Podcasts review Ratings and reviews from our listeners are extremely valuable to us and greatly appreciated. They help our podcast rank higher on Apple Podcasts, which exposes our show to more awesome listeners like you. If you have a minute, please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts. Transcription Notes Michael Hingson 00:00 Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I'm Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that's a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we're happy to meet you and to have you here with us. Michael Hingson 01:21 Welcome to unstoppable mindset. Today, we get to interview Christine Burns. And of course, I'm your host, Mike Hingson. Glad to be here. And I want to thank you for being here with us. Hopefully you enjoy our episode today. And I want to hear about it afterward. But Christine is Gosh, what can I say about Christine burns, she is a lot of things. She's a New Zealand born lecturer. And I would say that the most important thing to say about Christine, she inspires people to take action stand up for what they believe in and not get stuck in the trivia of life. And just before we started recording, we were talking about all the stuff going on now because it's for all of us as we record this, it's getting close to the holidays, and all the things and all the drama of people dealing with the holidays, and so on. So Christine, love to hear your thoughts on that. But first, welcome to unstoppable mindset. Christine Burns 02:20 Thank you so much, Mike for having me on here. I feel privileged to be here with you. This is this is just awesome. This is amazing. Michael Hingson 02:27 So let's talk about the holidays and everybody preparing and all the crises that everybody is starting to have. Christine Burns 02:34 Yeah, it sounds nice. As we're talking before, I'm just writing a blog for our business world Institute. And just noticing the ramp in I say madness, and craziness of people when the end of year panic and got to have stuff done before the end of year. And then there's all the pressure for the people who you know, doing things around Christmas or holidays or taking breaks. And it's just rising the panic of madness. The craziness is just on the rise. Michael Hingson 03:04 And of course, part of the issue is, if people were more strategic, they might have gotten some of that stuff done earlier in the year. Christine Burns 03:13 Yeah, this and that is I love it. That's exactly one of the points that I brought up in there is that we, you know, we the general week, most people try and squeeze so much into the last two weeks or two months, they get to November, and it's like, oh my gosh, we have to have everything done. And so a whole lot of you know, what could be three or four months worth of work get squeezed into two months? Because haven't planted earlier. So if we'd looked at this before and planned it, it'd be fine. It'd be all sorted. Michael Hingson 03:43 Yeah, I've never been one for making lists. And I try to keep everything in my head. And I do that deliberately. I want to keep off Alzheimer's, you know, but I also, but I actually do Value Lists. And for me, lists now are putting reminders on to my Amazon Echo or things like that. And that way, I get reminded, and I deliberately tell it when I want to know about something. And so I guess I'm planning because what I do is I say remind me on such and such a day about this. And that way, the day does get really organized. So I don't write down list because writing it down is kind of out of sight out of mind if I put it even in Braille on something unless it comes up and I hear something or in your case, if you see something, what good is it so you can put a list on a wall and that's great. And that's important to do. So I guess my alternative to that is using electronic reminders or putting things in my calendar, even if it's just reminders and that works really well but it is important to plan and not get yourself trapped in the end of the year crisis. Christine Burns 04:54 And it is it's it's something that we notice with a lot of the people that we work with And I know that I used to, I used to always turn around and say, you know, golf settings overrated. Writing down lists is overrated and, and the more I've gone through things and realize how important it is to be organized and plan ahead. And that's something that I've really noticed is that the more I've looked at long term rather than short term all the time, then I have my I choose to do list each week. And I have it on a refill pad. And I have that with me all the time. So that it is it's, it's in front of my face whenever I'm sitting down anywhere, and I've got it with me right here right now next to me, so that it helps me do it. It's like planning is it makes life so much simpler and easier? It's just, yeah, I don't know why we don't do more of it. Michael Hingson 05:45 I know, I know, I have reminders in the system that will be brought up at the appropriate time by the echo. But also because I have it all programmed all hear it on my iPhone, if I'm not here or whatever. But I've got things that go out into the middle of next year, just that's the time I choose to deal with a particular thing. And it's all in the plan. Christine Burns 06:09 Yeah, and and it is it's, I mean, it's something I used to put, it's kind of weird, because I used to plan a lot for my hockey stuff. But I didn't plan in my own studies, or I didn't plan initially in our work stuff, because it was like, ah, in a workout, it'll be okay. And I used to just think I'd be able to fly by the seat of my pants. That was something that I'd say to myself a lot, even when I was teaching and lecturing, but I fly by the seat of my pants would be okay. And it never worked as well as when I planned it. Michael Hingson 06:38 Well, I'm used to organizing things in my brain. So the reality is most of those reminders, I'm going to remember anyway, but that's good. It is nice to have a fallback position on what technology does for us, right. Christine Burns 06:52 It's great when it works. And it's diabolical when it doesn't, and we can Michael Hingson 06:57 pick on it. So it's okay. Well tell us a little about you growing up and the early the early World of Christine. Christine Burns 07:06 Christine, I was funny. I was on a podcast the other day. And the lady said to me similar kind of question. And I was like, Oh my gosh, no, I had, I had a great childhood. I'm not one of these ones that can go oh, this happened. And that happened. And this was terrible. And things did I mean, you know, it wasn't all you know, rose tinted glasses. And it wasn't all hunky dory. But the thing was, it was kind of like my mum and dad, a brother both passed away now but they're both from Scotland. And you know, Dad's this six foot four big beast. And Mum was five foot half an inch. And the pair of them were just crazy fun. And it was it was awesome. And I just had a great time growing up, I learnt so many things from them. And I put so many of my learnings from them into everything that I did each day. I loved going to school, I enjoyed school, I was never top of the class I was you know, study hard and work hard and I'd get my 55 or 56%. And, you know, on a good day, I might use 70 something. But I just worked hard at it. And I chose I chose to make things work for me. And I think a lot of that was my learnings from Mum and Dad and and it was growing up in New Zealand was yeah, pretty free and easy. Really it was it was good times and in you know, play on the street and play with the neighbors and it was great fun. Yeah, it was good fun. Michael Hingson 08:31 And you know, that's that's kind of the way a childhood should be of course everybody has different experiences but what do you think you learn what's probably the most important thing or things that you learn from parents said as you said, had a lot of fun you had a lot of fun with them and so on What did you bring away from all that? Christine Burns 08:52 I think the and I've used it all the time is the one liner that my mum used to say often was these always away and and it wasn't you know, dad had his own business and mum did all the books and so it was you know, even when times were getting a little bit tougher, a little bit stretched and mum would be like there's always a way we can work this out. And so to have there's always a way and everything was just fun. It was like you know, it wasn't it wasn't a takeaway or minimize things it was to enjoy the moments. I think those were the definitely those were the key things really Michael Hingson 09:28 well, it's important to figure out a way and all too often we experience or find people who just can't move on or something happens and I don't know how to do with anything with that. I can't do that. I hear it all the time. You know one of my favorite examples of that is I use a guide dog and my eighth guide dog Alamo is down here being bored he's heard me talk on these podcasts before and he says where my bones but I hear so So many people say, Oh, my dog could never do that my dog would never be that well behaved. And I laugh when I hear that. I try not to do it out loud. But I laugh when I hear that to say, well, whose fault is that? Are you saying your dog is dumb? Or don't you understand that really, most dog training is really human training. And your dog could do that, if you would but take the time to teach your dog and to establish rules. Hmm. Christine Burns 10:29 So if I was talking with someone in the park the other day, and that was something you know, it's not about dog training, it's about training us as humans as training us as owners. And, and I and it is, it's all about our mindset. It's, it's what we choose, as our response or reactions to everything. I mean, I've been through similar situations to different people that I'm aware of, and that I know of, and we've had very different outcomes. And it's like, same thing Alamo can sit there and enjoy it and just go, You know what, this is kind of cool. And I'll listen to Mike and see whoever else is around and but you know, see, it's a choice. It's, and that's what I tend to do the same and mostly laugh on the inside when people go, I can't do this or never work out. That hurts me though. And when I hear people say, ouch, out, you poor thing. That is yeah, I almost feel sad in a way. Michael Hingson 11:22 Yeah. Because life is about choices. Christine Burns 11:27 Yes, it is. It's always about choices. And it's, it doesn't matter what happens. We can choose, you know, we always have a choice of and not to put a judgment on it. But it's that thing of what can go well, for us or what's right for us, and what can go against us or what isn't right for us in its itis Yeah, I think it's a tough thing when people allow external situations or allow other people to keep control of their life really, or they disempowered themselves and give it away. Yeah. Michael Hingson 12:02 You have clearly an extremely positive outlook about life and people and so on, which I love. But what is cause you to have such a positive outlook? Was it just your parents or what really brings that positive outlook out for you? Um, Christine Burns 12:19 I suppose it can't totally be my parents, because my sister doesn't have that same view. I think we like to Oregon cheese. I think it was, for me, it was the I played a lot of sport when I was young. And I think I learnt coming through the ranks that you know, like it was even sport, even school, I was like, if I'm going to get anywhere, I'm not going to have to work hard at it. It's that thing of like, when I put in the effort, I get good results, or I get good outcomes. And I noticed that I noticed the effort in the as the energy that I put into something. And then I saw what I got back from an hour I enjoyed it. I just now I don't know, I love learning. And it's like, why not learn more, you know, if I can learn a lesson from something, and then it allows me to move forward, friggin do it. Like it's, I don't know, it's easy to keep positive about it and have an optimistic perspective than get caught up in the BS? Michael Hingson 13:21 Well, I think you really just hit it. When you said you love learning you you worked at learning. And you recognized that there's value in learning and you can grow from it. And we, when we stop learning, then we really are shutting ourselves down because learning is part of everything we do. Christine Burns 13:41 Yeah, it is. It's and I mean, I, I think it's you know, I find it difficult when I'm not difficult or challenging, I suppose when people you know, haven't been involved in learning things or playing sport for me, you know, my first port of call talking about anything is to go back to sports situations and then put it into work situations, because it's my, it's my quickest way to transfer that learning for me. It's like, okay, what would I do on the hockey field? Or what would I've done on the softball, you know, diamond or whatever? And then go, Okay, here's how or here's what I can do now, to take that next level. And it's at the you're not learning, man, you're just I think you're missing out on life. Really. Michael Hingson 14:22 It's not just the learning. It's also putting the knowledge to use. Christine Burns 14:27 Yes, yeah, the implementation of it is is just that that's key to me is that you can have so much knowledge you can you know, I've got a bookcase here, behind me another one upstairs and chock full of books. Now those books don't get it done. Because they're pretty much they've all been written on or got post it notes inside them. And I so often go in and out looking at those and talk to people and ask questions so that I can I can keep implementing it because it's like, well, why have knowledge sitting on a shelf that's pointed Less why? Why just be an information seeker? You know? Michael Hingson 15:04 Yeah. And then hopefully you when you try to share it, find people who are of like mind and and they will absorb. Christine Burns 15:14 Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's like yourself, you know, I mean you you know, you know talking to people and in getting through things yourself and accomplishing a whole lot of things in life, it's, you've got to implement it, you've got to find the people around you that are that are like minded that keep you going as well and in challenging times. And I mean, you know, you're, you're well aware of that. Yeah, Michael Hingson 15:37 yeah. And it isn't necessarily at all just deliberately sharing knowledge, it's being yourself. And then when is when you can share and contribute. That's as good as it gets. And it isn't forcing someone to listen to what you have to say. But rather, it is being like minded and combining knowledges from more than one person, which is always great. Christine Burns 15:59 Yeah, I mean, I love to just sitting down having really, a really solid, always have to be philosophical, but really solid, good, interesting conversations. I'd rather do that than then talk superficial BS and talk about the winner. You know, I love having cool conversations like these. It's it is just brilliant. Yeah. Michael Hingson 16:21 One of the things I think I'm I know, it's not just in this country, but one of the things that that I miss now, especially in later times, is the real art of conversation. I think it's fun to have political debates, for example, to talk about the issues. But so many people now don't want to do that, oh, you can't possibly be right. And they don't open up the opportunity to learn or to explore. And it's not about trying to make anyone change their opinion. For me, the discussions are about learning and understanding more of what what other people's views are. And talking about mine as well, which do we evolve? And, and I would hope that whenever I had, and now, we can't do it as much in the politics world. But when we have discussions, I would hope I learned and I know that over the years, I've changed my views on some things because of conversations that we've had it now we're losing that art of conversation across the board, because of what's going on with politics. And people don't want to think about options, alternatives, or anything else. I'm right, you're wrong. And that's all there is to it. Christine Burns 17:39 Yeah, I was I was laughing because it was, I remember our Christmases, we used to go up Christine Burns 17:46 to family, friends and dad and we used to call it anti knitter. And, and they'd always end up in arguments to do with politics. And it was it was good, though. It wasn't it wasn't like a negative battle. You know, I'm right, you're wrong. It was it was it was an opening of, of, you know, what sort of seemed like an argument, but they had always ended up discussing things really well. And and I think, you know, even today, people do, they're so scared, because it's that thing of going, Oh, what's that person gonna think of me if I say this, or they're not gonna like me, or they won't accept or approve of me? If I say or have this belief, and I just, I struggle with that. Because it's like, like you say, how else do you learn? How else do you have this ability to even be open to other people's ideas? It's just different. It's not right. It's not wrong. It's just different. And I think it's, I think that is one of the things that we are losing these days here. Michael Hingson 18:43 And it isn't even necessarily all that different. If we really communicate like religion. Everybody argues about what religions right or wrong, it seems to me that if you look at the, the major religions in the world saw the same God. Christine Burns 18:57 Exactly, yeah, I remember learning of some of my students, because they had, when I came over here to Australia, I had, it was, you know, for the one to Peter was it was like the League of Nations in my classes. And I was like, Oh my gosh, and so I would just ask them, you know, because I was really curious and interested to find out where these people were from and what their beliefs were, and to find out, and in the end, I was like, hang on a minute. That's pretty much all the same here. There's not a lot of differences. If you start to look at it, some of them were okay with that. And some of them being decided that that wasn't appropriate, but it was the thing, okay. It all comes back down to very similar beliefs. You know, there's, there's not this this big separation that that many people tend to identify. It's quite a narrow focus or a narrow belief really, of where it all comes from. Michael Hingson 19:47 It is indeed and that's what really makes it interesting when people come to that realization. Well, we talked about your Oh, go ahead. Christine Burns 19:59 I was gonna say So it's an interesting thing to have this ability to realize it to notice it to see it, I think it's the intersect, I think is quite cool to to be able to be in an environment where you can actually talk like this and have these conversations is Michael Hingson 20:14 brilliant. Yeah. Well, talking about your positive outlook and so on, or to put it in the parlance of the podcast being unstoppable. What are three things that that you find or that you believe, really helped to create an unstoppable mindset? Christine Burns 20:31 I mean, we've talked about before, I think the first one is to is to learn and learn about self, you know, to really get a self awareness and have this ability to tap insight so that we know, we know who we truly are, it's not this superficial BS or fitting into some box, it's, it's knowing who we truly are. The thing also is to, is to have the ability to, for me, it's kind of weird, because I say to be physically active as well. So I think, to be physically active, kind of helps our our ability to keep moving to keep that momentum going for us, and it helps us change our state. And then it means that, you know, obviously, our mindset flows from there. And I think the third one is to surround yourself with like minded, awesome, amazing people. Michael Hingson 21:22 Yeah, and the, and the and the existing in the in the reality of surrounding yourself with like minded people, doesn't mean that you don't want to have other views like minded people doesn't necessarily mean that they have the same opinions you do. But they have the same philosophies about learning and so on, and they can absolutely have different views. One of my favorite people is the founder of the National Federation of the Blind, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, who founded the National Federation of the Blind here in the United States in 1940. He and his wife were not of the same political party, they were one Democrat and one Republican. Oh, and I never knew him, he died of cancer before I got to meet him, but I knew his wife well. And one of the things that she said is we had very intense arguments and very intense times where we talked, but we talked, and it was fun, to be challenged by somebody else, who understood that it's all about the challenge and all about the discussion. And we both learn from each other. Christine Burns 22:39 Yeah, I just think it's the, it's where I think the self awareness comes in of going, I'm okay, and secure and myself to have a different opinion. And I'm okay. And I'm safe within myself to be able to say something and to also deal with someone having having a difference of opinion. I yeah, I think the privacy before the art of conversation is, is kind of like a dying breed, unfortunately. But it's, it's something that when people have it, it makes stronger relationships, too. It's it's stronger, create stronger connections and stronger relationships with people. Michael Hingson 23:16 Sure. And I think it's also appropriate to say that I'm okay with myself, to the point where if somebody says something that I find makes more sense than what I believe I'm willing to reevaluate and reassess. There's not an absolute. Christine Burns 23:35 Yeah, I love that. Yep, bingo. Yeah. It's, it's a biggie for, for people to admit that to, you know, for people to admit mistakes, or for people to even not even to go that far, but to be in that space to go. Sure. I didn't think of that. Oh, wow. Yeah, quite well. I'm gonna add that to my toolkit, or I'm gonna step into thinking about that now. Yeah, Michael Hingson 24:00 I thought is huge. There you go. Well, you're originally from New Zealand, but I know you're in Australia. Now. When did you move? Christine Burns 24:08 Um, I moved over here in 2011. So I'd always mum and dad had lived. They've come out from Scotland in New Zealand. They had lived here in Melbourne for three years. Man loved it. Dad hated it. So they went back to New Zealand. And then dad died. 2008 Mum died 2011 Then she died in the June and then it was like, what's left in New Zealand? Yeah, not much. And then I've always wanted to go live in Australia. I might do that. Mum loved it. Why does she love it? I'll go and find out. And so I came over here and my partner actually had shifted over here and it was like, Okay, enough of this long distance relationship. Let's sort this out. And over I came and it was just, it was just amazing to I'd always wanted to, to Go somewhere else and to live somewhere else. And so it was Melbourne, you know, why not? It's gonna do it. Yeah. Michael Hingson 25:07 And you must love it, you're still there. And it's now been about 11 years. Christine Burns 25:12 Originally, it was like, Oh, let's see what it's like for a couple of years. It see what a site for two or three years, and then it sort of expanded to five years. And then yeah, 11 years later, I'm still here. And so we've got our business and things and, and it's, it's, I love the city. I love Melbourne as I really enjoy having the option, I live in a suburb, but I do love going into the CBD and just having the bigness and the, the, it's great. It's a great city, it's all like the big city kind of thing. I still miss New Zealand, you know, like New Zealand has always homeless, you know, always in the heart kind of thing. But a couple of times of going hard work being more than a couple few times of going home, it's like, it's almost like New Zealand seems to get smaller and smaller, and just being the difference. That is it. So people used to talk about busy time, it's like these six cars on the road. It's kind of it's become that kind of, you know, they're adopted into a big city person, but it's I love it. The people are different, you know, like there is a difference and how that goes down. I don't don't mind. Australians are different to New Zealanders. I thought they used to be very similar. They're quite different people. So at times, at times, I struggle sometimes with just the different thoughts or the different approaches to life. It is quite different to kiwis, but the city life is awesome. Love it. And it's it's good for our business being here in a bigger country as well. It's helping us to get our country to get our business going as well. Yeah. Michael Hingson 26:44 Does Australia have as many of the earthquakes that New Zealand experiences? Christine Burns 26:52 No, which is good. But we did have I think it was last year it was last year, we had a 6.6 point something and boy that rocks that. Yeah. Yeah, it was a holy crap. Thank goodness it had it was quite deep, because it would have been quite disastrous otherwise, because Australia is not used to that kind of stuff. You know, we had earthquakes all the time in New Zealand. And one of the places I used to live in APA hat, I was right, the back of the place that I lived in was right on the back of the hill. And that was a fault line. So that was very much shifting and moving. And that was that was okay. And then came here. And it was like yay, no earthquakes. And it was one not long after I arrived. And then there was another big one last year. So that was that was pretty freaky. Making you Michael Hingson 27:42 feel at home. I grew up on the San Andreas Fault. And a couple of weeks ago, I was actually up in the northern part of the state. And I was there for some speaking engagements. And I was sitting at a desk in a hotel room when suddenly I felt the ground start to move and it wasn't too bad. It was only a 5.4. So it was a baby. That's right. Yeah. But by the same token, I noticed it. And it was it was interesting. And I'm going oh, okay, an earthquake. The two, three years ago, we had one. But 100 miles from our home here in Victorville. And if I recall, right, that one was about 6.5, or 6.6. And that afternoon, or actually, the next day, I was traveling to Las Vegas for a convention. And I went in the hotel to a place to eat that night. And the ground started to move. So I immediately called my wife and it moved pretty significantly. So I called my wife. And she said, yeah, it just happened here. And it was like 6.9 on the same fault that we felt the other one from. So I'm very glad that our house is only six years old, and is kind of made to those standards to be able to cope with it. But we did and there wasn't damage in our home. And apparently there wasn't much damage to any of the homes around us. But they do happen in this part of the world. And I always laugh when the people in the eastern part of the country say Well, I wouldn't want to live out there with all the earthquakes. And as I point out to them, you guys are killing off a whole lot more people with hurricanes and tornadoes and explosions of frozen pipes in the winter than we ever do. Michael Hingson 29:34 Oh, you know, what do you do it? Nature is as it is and we go on? Well, I know in your in your life. Have you had much experience or much exposure to any kind of adversity? Because I would think that there have been some things that maybe happened that made you stronger. Just a couple of things. Oh, there you go. Christine Burns 29:58 Well, yeah, I mean, it's I think probably when I was growing up playing sports and stuff, I had injuries and things and, and that was that was okay. And I had one of the biggest ones that I had as I had both my Achilles debrided. So I had scar tissue on both my Achilles and they were really bumpy. And the surgeon said to me, Look, the only way that we're going to be able to sort this out is if we if you have surgery on both at the same time, and I was like, You're kidding me. And she was like, yeah, and then they're both going into plastic to make sure that you can't run around and move. And I was like, okay, because she knew me quite well. And so that was pretty tough. Like that was the surgery went well. And then I was on plaster casts on both legs. So that was full lower league plasters on both, I could put weight on one very slightly. And that was about eight weeks of not being able to do much and that really liked that test of me i that really got inside my head, and I am was definitely not the person I am now of course not. But I didn't even have anywhere near half the skills or abilities that I have now at back then I just like didn't cope well with it. And it tested me. And really, it really pushed me in the sense of working out what I wanted to do who I wanted to be. And the coolest thing was, is that six months later, I was in Canada playing indoor hockey representing New Zealand. So I again, I saw the thing of going through the tough time dealing with it and coping with it. It relatively okay, I wouldn't say I did it well, but I did it. Okay. And then I got myself back on deck. And the other thing more recently, I mean, it's been a few things. But you know, probably the biggest things is in 2016, I had a cancer diagnosis, which came out of the blue, I certainly didn't expect that at all. And so then I had to go through the whole treatment thing for for cancer diagnosis. And BF So then finally, I think was last year yeah, in the what was beginning of December last year, I got the all clear. So got picked out of the of the oncology unit, which was quite nice and kicked off the list. So that was all good and got the all clear. And that. I mean, that prompted me I wrote a book that came out of it as well. But that was that was a scary moment getting that phone call of going, hey, you know, we got the pathology results back and you've got endometrial cancer. And here's the deal. And I stood the if I remember standing in the kitchen of the place where I used to live, and I just stood there and I swore profusely for the first 30 seconds when I was on the phone with the surgeon. And then after that I just was like, right, and I made a decision right then and there. And when you guys do your thing medically, and I'll do my thing mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, and it's, I practice what I preach, basically, and, and came through it pretty well. Yeah, came out the other end pretty well. Michael Hingson 32:59 And that's the real issue, isn't it that you decided to do what you need to do mentally to move on? And yeah, that helped, I would think prepare you for whatever happened medically. Christine Burns 33:11 Yeah, and it did. And it was it was really cool. Because they, you know, I had I had such an awesome team that my radiation oncologist she is I was still in touch with her yesterday, actually. She's She legendary. She's just the most amazing person. The people that I had my surgeons were amazing. Just everybody that I had around me was was just awesome, really cool people, you know, and that was, I mean, a lot of it obviously, is my attitude to them, and, you know, brought the best of myself out every single day it was they said, Look, you know, we want to do chemo, we want to do this, we want to do that. And I said, right, tell me what and why and how. And they will make a decision. And when I spoke with purely their radiation oncologist, she said, here's what we want to do it. Here's the protocol. I was like if we got anything else on offer, and she was like, well, we could do this and just have radiation. And here's what what the plan is because she had just been involved in our research project dealing with that particular protocol. And she said, here's the outcomes that we're getting. And here's the other stuff we've done alongside it. So I said hey, let's let's give that one a go. And so we went for it, and it was it. I committed to showing up every day as my best self and it really it was like they did to even even down to the mean i that the radiation therapists and things like that, that were in the receptionist, everybody, it was just every connection I had was was really awesome. Yeah. Michael Hingson 34:41 Who would you say are role models for you today are people who influenced you and kind of made you who you are. Because you you've got a lot of conviction. You've made a lot of very solid decisions. And although mental makeup is is a wonderful thing, I would think that You've had some people who influenced you to help you shape those positions. Christine Burns 35:05 Yeah. I mean, I'd say, you know, my mom sounds like a superhero, I think she has, I think my mom made a big impact on me the whole way through, and it was even things I fall off my bike, and I'd hear mom from somewhere down the street or somewhere, somehow, even if it was inside my head, going, can't get back up on you go get on with it. And I'd be like, Oh, shit, okay. And it was just that thing to get up and go again. And that really made an impression on me. So I think mom was a massive impact in there. And she, you know, she was she was a five foot half an inch Pocket Rocket, you know, it was like, if she can wear six, six inch heels and run across gravel, then, you know, it's pretty good to see. A she Yeah, she had a massive impact. And my coach as well that I've had for quite a few years now as Linda bellshill, Busan, and she, she lives in Norway. She's a French Canadian, and her her ability to call me on my BS. And, and she just taps in real fast, you know, like I, she's, she's the most amazing, wrong English. But question asker that I have ever come across? She just, yeah, taps inside, and it's like, wow, where the hell did that come from? And, and the challenge and growth that I've got from that experience with her is just amazing. And I think he is. I mean, there's, there's lots of people along the way that definitely the two that I could go background, you know, definitely those two people is, there's lots of people around the place that I've picked up things they've seen, or I've seen stuff. Yeah, I don't know, if I'd be able to specifically name a third, there's, there's many people here that I've seen heard read stuff, that kind of thing. Michael Hingson 36:57 You know, a lot of people, I suspect probably haven't been in some ways for both of us as fortunate as we were in that we had people who challenged us. For me, I agree with you, parents are more important than my, my parents were both very positive. And although not necessarily always, in visible ways, but mentally certainly pushed me. Because they said, you know, no matter what people tell you, you may be blind, you happen to be blind, but you can do whatever you choose to do. And we're gonna give you the opportunities. And I think the only way I could have disappointed them is if I didn't take advantage of the opportunities, because that's what it's really about. And so I hear exactly what you're saying. And there are so many people who say, well, but that's the way it is, you can't really go beyond it. That's just that's just life. And my reaction as I can tell yours already is well, it isn't just that's the way it is isn't. Christine Burns 38:04 Yeah, it's a thing of whatever you want it to be. I mean, and that's one of the things that I see here, those kinds of things that you're gonna have, you know, what do you mean, like, so if you want to, you know, whoever you want to be, friggin be it, that it's like, you can create whatever you want to create. And there's, you know, I often love the things when people say, you know, no one's coming to no one's coming to save you, and in, you know, whatever belief or thought people take out of that, and in a way, I totally believe it's true. It's like, you know, the person that's going to make the difference in this life as us individually, it's, it's, you know, we're the ones who can make our own life worth living, or we can make our life hell and it's our choice to do that. And I just think it's like, whatever you want, get on with it, man, and go and do it. Michael Hingson 38:54 All and the reality is, I think there are a lot of people who come can come along and save you in a lot of different ways. It depends on what you define as safe, because there's a lot of community around all of us if we would take advantage of that, and respected. It amazes me that people who always just go, why, and, you know, my response always to that is, why not 39:22 love it? It's Michael Hingson 39:25 so important, but you know, we, we really need to recognize that. opportunities are limitless if we choose. And you said it earlier. And I think it's a very important part of this. It's all about choice, isn't it? Christine Burns 39:41 Yeah, it is. It's it is always about choice. I mean, I look at the difference between myself and my sister and I mean, she's been on the wrong side of of the law and all these kinds of things and you know, that she's done it. And we grew up in the same same environment, you know, and we chose There's different pathways. I've got friends that I grew up with, and they've chose different ways of living chose, you know, they've chosen different pathways for them, their families, or whatever it is. And it's, we always have a choice. I think, you know, so many people wouldn't even our clients go, No, you don't, you know, sometimes we don't have a choice, right? Well, you actually do, it's always a choice, even though there's always that choice not to choose. So it's, it's still a choice. Yeah. Michael Hingson 40:30 One of, for me, the most significant examples of that, of course, is the World Trade Center and being in the World Trade Center on September 11. And escaping. And, you know, people said, Well, you didn't have a choice, you were there, you're just lucky you got out. And the response is, no, there are a lot of choices. And the fact is, I could have chosen different jobs and not been in the World Trade Center. But I chose the life path that I had. And I was in the World Trade Center. And I correct, I didn't have any choice about the terrorists attacking the buildings. And I didn't have any choice about what happened directly to the buildings, there is I can tell. But even though I couldn't control so many things, if nothing else, I can control my own mindset. And so I am a firm believer in Don't worry about the things that you can't control, focus on the things that you really can't control, and the rest will take care of itself. And the one thing we always have control over, no matter how bad circumstances become, we always have control over our mind and how we mentally deal with things, which is what you talked about with cancer. Christine Burns 41:44 Yeah, yeah, it is. I mean, and that's one of the things there that I always say is, you know, control the controllables. And, and exactly like you say, it's we've got control over our mindset, we can, we can choose how we show up, we can choose what our thoughts are going to be, we can choose our response, our reaction to things and it's, I think that's, that's, that's one of the key things is it makes the difference between the people that and carry on and can get through adversity or can get through even the most exciting and amazing times as well is to go and you know, what I choose to savor this moment I choose to, I choose to be present, and I choose to enjoy this moment, instead of running off worrying about what maybe kind of would, you know, could have happened. It's we choose to be in those moments. And it is it's, you know, control the controllables, which is for me, I always say it's your top six inches kind of thing. It's like you control your thoughts, which makes a massive difference. Michael Hingson 42:41 Well, you know, we may, for example, rent a home, and the landlord comes, says you got to be out by the end of the month, don't have any control over that, right. But we do have control over how we deal with it. And it's may be very frustrating. There may be so many things that happen. But by the same token, it's still a question of how we deal with it. My wife passed away this past Saturday, I didn't have any control over that. But I realized all the more and more since that happened, how much I have control over how I choose to deal with it. And I know, after almost 40 years of marriage, what it what it means to love someone that deeply and she's always going to be missed by me. And I will deliberately make sure that she's always missed by me. But still, it's time to move forward, in in whatever way is possible to move because I didn't have control over what happened to her directly. But I know what I can do. Christine Burns 43:45 Yeah, yeah. And like you say, it's the choice. And it's, I mean, the coolest thing that I remember talking about with my coach Flinders, you know, it's this thing of like, we feel grief, or we feel sadness, because we'd love so much. And I think that when you're when you're talking, it was like it to feel the feels, you know that that's what helps to make us human, that's what helps to allow us to grow and develop as when we feel all the fields and in to be self aware and choose to allow ourselves to do that. Because that that's what I mean, that's, that's what makes us well helps to have us being you know, such a well evolved being kind of thing and when we can feel the feels and talk about things and, you know, share that and talk about it. I think it's that's what allows us to be able to move forward as well. Because if we try and hold on to stuff and shove it down and and deny it or, you know, say that, you know, no, no, no, it's all okay. It's all okay, which is BS. When we share that that true feeling of who we are. That's That's what I think it really allows us to keep moving forward. Michael Hingson 44:50 Well, you went to school, went to college. Christine Burns 44:54 Yes, I did. Yep. Michael Hingson 44:56 Yeah. And then what did you do? So I went to Christine Burns 44:59 school. So I went to university. And then I Michael Hingson 45:05 did you get a degree in? Both Christine Burns 45:07 did psychology and I am laughing because I did psychology because I thought it would be easy. And that way I could still get my student allowance and I can keep playing hockey and I was like, Yeah, that was just what it was. And so I went there, and I ended up staying at University for about six years. So I did, I did psychology, and then I got a scholarship to go to another university still within Palmerston North, in New Zealand, and, and do exercise science. And then from there, I carried on doing sports psychology as well. And so I just sort of stayed at university because it allowed me to have money and play hockey, which was great. And I never thought anything of it, because I was like, I don't want to be a psychologist, I don't want to I remember talking to one of the girls in our team and the hockey team. And she was a psychologist, and she was like, ah, burnsy Because it was when that can get busy. I don't think you know, being a clinical psychologist is really for you. So she told me about some of the stuff she was doing. And I was like, yeah, now that's not made me I'm not doing it. And then I wish I went in got a job at one of the gyms in Palmerston North side. So I used my exercise science degree with that one. And then, because I was still playing so much hockey, I was playing for Wellington, which was a different province. So I was traveling two hours, you know, like four or five times a week, and it was just crazy. And they said, like, you know, burnsy Why don't you just get a job down here and shift and I was like, I here's a good idea as you're traveling, let's let's do that. Lift and Wellington got a job. They're teaching and Exercise Science. And then I'm already doing it, then I became program manager of the program. And yeah, it was just me. And so we incorporated positive psychology with exercise science. And it was just Yes, that's kind of evolved. Really? Michael Hingson 47:00 Yeah. playing hockey all the time. Christine Burns 47:04 Yes. And so I would often miss the beginning of the year with the students because I'd be away overseas for indoor hockey. So you know, when students would arrive, they'd do all the normal, you know, early stuff and getting to know everybody. And I totally would always miss that because I'd be away somewhere. And then I'd come back and then you know, go for it. But it kind of made it easier. Because I could say, you know where I've been and what I've been doing and Exercise Science students thought that was pretty awesome. So it kind of kind of made it easy to get back on track with being really clear. Michael Hingson 47:36 So you were doing hockey sort of professionally, while you were doing other things as well. Christine Burns 47:42 Well, I saw I was doing it nearly full time. It wasn't professionally because we didn't get paid for it back. Michael Hingson 47:48 So you paid hockey team. No, Christine Burns 47:51 I mean, we even the The tough thing was sometimes we would even pay it. I mean we'd pay for our flights, accommodation. A lot of the times we weren't even paying out for the shirt that we were playing. You know, New Zealand hockey would pay for some of our staff at subsidized bits and pieces, but definitely got nothing anywhere near the funding that people get nowadays. We were Yeah, that I mean, so we were raising money making pizzas and all sorts of stuff to be able to travel. Michael Hingson 48:23 So were there professional hockey teams, or were you kind of what would be today a professional hockey team and player. Christine Burns 48:31 I would probably the relative now would probably be be a professional player. Yeah. For who we were and what we were doing back then. Yeah, yeah. Michael Hingson 48:39 Cool. Well, you obviously enjoyed it and had a lot of fun with it, and so on. And what caused you finally to stop doing it? Or have you really stopped playing hockey? Christine Burns 48:51 Yeah, I have stopped. I was actually I was playing an outdoor game, actually one of the times back home and in Wellington, and I don't know, it was just weird. And it was an outdoor game. And I was hitting in to the turf to play and I was like, this might be my last game. And I was like, what Where did that come from? So we the royal we in my head had the conversation of like, oh my gosh, what where that come from? And I was like, I need to keep doing this. This is crazy. And I drove into. So it takes about 45 minutes to get to the turf and Wellington from where I was. And I drove in. We won our game. I never touched the ball because I played in goal and I never touched the ball at all that game and I was bored. And I came off the turf. I took my gear off and I zipped up my bag and I went that's it no more. I'm not playing outdoor. I'm not playing indoor and I was like, Whoa, that's pretty freaky. Because it was it was my whole identity of who I was. That was you know, that was that was the abre thing. And then came over here to Australia and I when I was teaching Monash University, I spoke to someone there and they were like oh I could come and coach him colleagues and I was like, Yeah, okay, that's easy. So I did that I did some coaching over here for a while but yeah, didn't didn't carry on playing and I, I kind of miss it but I also done it. Yeah. Michael Hingson 50:13 Kind of one of those kind of do kind of don't bittersweet things. Christine Burns 50:17 It's I love that I miss the bar kind of whatever word that is, you know the the aggression the competition the the challenge of it by I miss that. But I don't miss the the continual practices and trainings and sacrifice. I mean, I played I think there was a span of about I mean, I played longer than I only played 13 years because I only started playing hockey and my last year of school, but I I played a span of 10 years where I just went indoor outdoor hockey the whole time, and I didn't actually take to be honest, I didn't take time off. I was training and playing across those 10 years of just going indoor outdoor the full time and it was that I don't miss Yeah, that was that was the stuff I'm I'm okay to let that go. Michael Hingson 51:10 So it sounds like it was time now. Was your partner a hockey player? Christine Burns 51:14 Um, no, no, she was a musician and did a lot of singing as well. And but she wasn't really a sports person. But she's, yeah, she she enjoys workouts, and she enjoys doing things like that. But yeah, is definitely more of the musician and the singer kind of thing. Yeah, yeah. Michael Hingson 51:31 So did she play at the Games? Christine Burns 51:34 Um, no, no. Michael Hingson 51:39 Just checking. But still, that's that's cool that that Yeah. You. You you had a relationship. So was was your Was she an influence in any way of you deciding not to play hockey? So you could spend more time together? I mean, that Christine Burns 52:00 night? Yeah, totally. You just decide. Yeah, yeah, I just decided it was. It was weird. And I got, I must admit, I did get a fright because it was like the thought just was just random. Because I couldn't even think of you know exactly where I was standing. When I had that that thought it was it kind of shocked me that I was like, Oh my gosh, I never saw. I never saw that time ending. Like I never, I never thought I didn't even think about it, to be honest, of not being a hockey player. You know, which, even sharing the fear as their identity was quite strong as I just never saw myself as not doing it. Yeah. Michael Hingson 52:38 Sounds like God came along and said, Okay, other things to do now. Yeah, Christine Burns 52:43 I certainly got the right royal invisible kick in the pants. And we Whoa, that's that one God, like Shoosh Okay, cool. Now what? You survived? I did. And that's what I think is fun thing. It's like, you know, all these things happen. And I mean, you know, that yourself. It's like, we experience all these different things. And it's like, well, we're still here. We made it through so we survived that one too. So that's okay. Next, you know, it's yeah, there's always always new things to learn always new things to step into. Michael Hingson 53:13 Well, being a hockey player and active athlete and doing all of that for so many years, must have taught you things that you put into your life lessons today, what what probably is the most important or are the most important things that you learned that you took away from all of that Christine Burns 53:31 the first thing that pops in my head is never give up. And and for me, it was that thing of, you know, just, yeah, just to keep going. It's like tweaking change, keep going tweaking change, keep going, you know, it's it's, it's that there's, you can always make a difference, you can always make an impact and if you keep going with it and and tweak and change and learn on the way through your you'll get across you'll you'll get through it, there's literally there is always a way in that sense here. Michael Hingson 54:01 Well, you What do you do today? You've you've obviously moved on from hockey and you're surviving, you went to Australia? What do you do today? Christine Burns 54:10 Um, today, I am co founder and CEO of Walt Institute. So we've got our own business, which is woman Authentic Leadership Training Institute. And so we work with women in STEM, so science, technology, engineering, math and medicine. And we we do a lot of authentic leadership training with them. So our whole focus is on the person and their own leadership of themselves first. So it's not your traditional leadership. It's that kind of thing is to empower people so they can have more confidence, more self awareness, self regulation, and jump into that whole thing of being the best version of themselves every single day. So it's fun. I love it. It's yeah, it's not a job. It's, it's just what I do each day. Michael Hingson 54:56 Which which is always something that makes it a lot of fun. Isn't it? Christine Burns 55:00 Ah, it is. And it's, I mean, you know, even for now it's sight to be able to get up by 730 is not that early in the morning, but it's, you know, to get up and be on here with you at 7:30am, we had training that we took the other night with our inner circle, and that didn't finish till 7pm At night, and just, it doesn't matter. You know, it's these kinds of things as I don't care about the hours of those things, because I just love I love what I do so much. Michael Hingson 55:30 So what is your mission in life? What is it you want to accomplish? Christine Burns 55:33 By saying, I mean, the thing that I want to do is, which sounds a bit weird, but I want people to be able to experience no feel enjoy all those kind of things that that I've not specific, not the exact same things that I've experienced, but to experience that kind of level of, of fun and excitement and enjoyment in their own lives. And more. Just so that people can, can, you know, be present and enjoy life and have a good time doing it? Now. Michael Hingson 56:03 So you as a as a person who gets up in the morning, mostly, I would think get up and you're positive, you move on. I guess my question is, how do you set yourself up each day to do that and to thrive and go forward? Christine Burns 56:20 I smile is the first thing I do when I wake up is I smile every single morning. And when I first started doing it when I was going through treatment, and and it's just become an automatic thing. So as soon as I start waking up, and I realized that I'll start you know, put a big smile on my dial. Sometimes I can feel that that rush of all the happy chemicals flowed through me. Sometimes I don't, but I still smile anyway. And then I always ask myself of who I choose to be today. And that's, you know, who do I choose to be and that can be anything from curious, excited to, you know, to be focused and energized or whatever it is, whatever that stuff is that pops into my into my head and then each each day or five out of seven days, I will get up, do meditation go into a workout or exercise of some sort. And then more often than not, I'll have a green smoothie and then carry on my merry way. Yeah. Michael Hingson 57:16 When I get up in the morning, I have a cat who now homeless smashes right up next to me. And the dog is on the floor and the cat is right up against me probably trying to stay warm in part but when I say it's time to get up, she's up. And the first thing and it's so funny that I have to do is to go over and pet her while she eats breakfast. She will not eat unless I am petting her and giving her back rubs. What a crazy thing but if that doesn't start your day off in a fun way I don't know what does. Christine Burns 57:52 That was gorgeous to barely warm fuzzies and give you everything you need to kick off the day. That's brilliant. I love it. Michael Hingson 57:59 And the dog sits there and watches and Alamo the guide dog goes down well if you gotta but I always come back and talk to Christine Burns 58:07 you about Miko. You got to pet me as well. Michael Hingson 58:12 Yeah, exactly right. And he just suffers in silence until he gets petted to but stitch stitch the cat insists. And during the day when she decides she's hungry, she yells until I come in and pet her vocal about it. It's so funny. Christine Burns 58:30 Because it was a waste to have a Siamese cat when I was that with few that our first time is cat that I can remember we used to call it a minute or her name was midfield. Mandy, she had a big long family history. And she used to sit on the bench with mum. So when Mum was doing the veggies and things that care and mum would sit there and have a conversation and a cat would have all these different ranges of sheep now and all these different ways and, and mum and the cat will have this conversation. And I just love it. I think it was brilliant. It was Michael Hingson 59:00 so much fun. Tell us about your book. Christine Burns 59:03 So my book, it's called igniting resilience, overcoming the desperate despair or receiving a death sentence. And I I started writing it just in the sense of just minimize it by just in the beginning was this thing of like, I want people to kind of know that there's a different way that you could approach these kinds of things. And then it kind of turned into this whole thing of practicing what I preach. It's a yes, there's my story of going through the whole cancer journey. But what I've done is made it so that there's a lot of strategies and there's basically everything that we teach, that's what I practiced and there's a whole lot of those strategies within the book as well. And it's there's a lot of learnings and things that I took through so it's not just the which sounds really bad but while our why story of it all. It's it's a teaching memoir is what Xander vs that's it's pretty Yeah, it's pretty cool. I think it's pretty cool. Yeah. Michael Hingson 1:00:04 Did you have people who tried to bring you down naysayers who said, Oh, none of the strategies makes any sense or is any good? Christine Burns 1:00:13 Yeah, I had a lot of people like, Oh, why are you writing about that? No must know about that. I was like, oh, okay, thanks. For you know, people were like, those strategies just can't be like that all the time. That's just dumb, you know, and it was like, you can. And so I was like, the every now and again, little bits of it didn't get in when they when they kind of said, Oh, that just doesn't work. And there's just no way that's going to work for me. I was like, hang on a minute. That's the choice to choose that arco. That's why that's where they're at. Because I was practicing what I teach. And I was seeing other people who were doing different parts similar to that. And it was working for them, their their journeys, even getting through any type of adversity was different, because they were implementing the strategy. So I was like, You know what, you can take your BS, you can take your poor, what was me, you know, little comments and take them wherever you like. Michael Hingson 1:01:07 Or why don't you try it and just see how well it works for you. And then let's talk Christine Burns 1:01:12 exactly, yes, they were the odd ones of those. And some people were like, Ah, I okay. Yeah, yeah. Well, what are some of that works? I'm not so so tell me about that. But yeah, then there was many others that were like not nesters booklet. And I was like, okay, cool. So Michael Hingson 1:01:29 yeah, so many people just say, well, this won't work. This can't work. And it's like, people, people, so many people fear the whole concept of blindness. And what's amazing is how many people say they're experts on blindness, although they've never tried it. Yeah, exactly. This. Christine Burns 1:01:50 You experienced it. Let's just calm down. Yeah, yeah. Michael Hingson 1:01:
Meet Stacy Wells. Stacy has worked throughout her adult life to promote diversity and equity especially concerning addressing race issues in America. Among other accomplishments, she is the co-creator and facilitator of Write On Race to Be Right on Race, (WOR). Want to know more, I hope you will listen to this episode. Clearly, Stacy's teaching and communications skills appear for us. She is a good and engaging storyteller both about her personal life as well as the work she continues to do. During this episode, I had the opportunity to steer our conversation a bit away from race to a discussion concerning the concept of disabilities and how diversity has left out so many in America and throughout the world. Stacy, in addition to teaching and telling stories, shows that she has a curious mind that is willing to absorb new ideas and concepts. This interview was the most fun I think for both Stacy and me. I hope you enjoy it as well. About the Guest: Stacy Wells is a person-centered educator and equity thought leader with a variety of professional experiences, including DEI leadership in the public and private sector; public school teacher and district wide administrator; higher education faculty, and consultant. Her areas of specialty include leadership development and coaching embedded in cultural competence, organizational alignment with DEI strategies, community development to advance racial justice, curriculum writing, and teacher preparation. She is the co-creator and facilitator of WRITE On RACE To Be RIGHT On RACE (WOR) Community Engagement series and co-author of the WRITE on RACE to be RIGHT on RACE: Resource Journaling Guide. Stacy is currently the Director of Communications for Mankato Area Public Schools. She earned her B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from Drake University, and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction and education policy from the University of St. Thomas. Stacy currently resides with her family in Minneapolis, MN. She began her professional career working in broadcast production and occasionally appearing on-air. Her interest in working with young people begin while she was employed at the local public television station. Stacy was a part of creating and airing a new teen centered talk show entitled, “Don't Believe the Hype.” This was an opportunity for young people to get television production training and mentorship as well as share their opinions about current events. This experience was part of the reason she decided to transition her career into education. She taught elementary and middle school in Minneapolis Public Schools for 5 years. Although she left the classroom, she decided to stay in education by moving into teacher preparation and was an adjunct professor at several twin cities area colleges and universities. Her focus was and continues to be, helping educators learn to meet the needs of all students. Of particular importance is creating better educational experiences for Black children, which is where Minnesota and the nation continues to see the biggest gap. Her professional career also includes leading diversity, equity, inclusion, and racial justice work for school districts and other organizations as well as her consulting work across the state and nationally. As a consultant Stacy has worked with several organizations to advance their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Paramount to this is the WRITE on RACE effort. Participants are challenged to critically journal about race and the impact it has on their lives. History and current events are used to consider the challenging dynamics of race, racism, white privilege, and white supremacy. The structure helps participants to be in relationship across race, practicing how to talk about the issues that we often try to avoid. There are currently WOR cohorts being created across Minnesota. All the most important things about Stacy are from the loving upbringing her parents provided her and her four older brothers. Stacy believes family is very important. Her mother bravely fought cancer for three years before passing away in August of 2018. Her life and death continue to have a very profound impact on Stacy. About the Host: Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog. Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children's Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association's 2012 Hero Dog Awards. https://michaelhingson.com https://www.facebook.com/michael.hingson.author.speaker/ https://twitter.com/mhingson https://www.youtube.com/user/mhingson https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelhingson/ accessiBe Links https://accessibe.com/ https://www.youtube.com/c/accessiBe https://www.linkedin.com/company/accessibe/mycompany/ https://www.facebook.com/accessibe/ Thanks for listening! Thanks so much for listening to our podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the social media buttons on this page. Do you have some feedback or questions about this episode? Leave a comment in the section below! Subscribe to the podcast If you would like to get automatic updates of new podcast episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. You can also subscribe in your favorite podcast app. Leave us an Apple Podcasts review Ratings and reviews from our listeners are extremely valuable to us and greatly appreciated. They help our podcast rank higher on Apple Podcasts, which exposes our show to more awesome listeners like you. If you have a minute, please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts. Transcription Notes Michael Hingson 00:00 Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I'm Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that's a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we're happy to meet you and to have you here with us. Michael Hingson 01:20 Well, Hi, and welcome to unstoppable mindset. I'm your host, Mike hingson. So wherever you are, thanks for being here. And thanks for listening to us. Or watching us if you're observing it on YouTube. Today, we get to talk to Stacy Wells. And Stacy has a lot of experience in the Diversity Equity and Inclusion world and is the CO creator and very involved in a process called right on race to be right on race. The first right is with a W and the second one is right is an ri ght. We're going to learn about that. So I'm not going to give much away or talk about it because I think it'll be more fun for Stacey to do that. least that's the plan. Right, Stacy? That's all right. So welcome to unstoppable mindset. How are you? Stacy Wells 02:08 Thank you so much, Michael. I'm doing well. Yeah, thank you. Great. Michael Hingson 02:11 Well, let's start like, as I always like to do tell me a little about your growing up and some of that kind of stuff. So let's start at the beginning as they say, Stacy Wells 02:22 yes. So born and raised in Minneapolis. On the south side, some people will know that reference. I, my parents had five children, four boys, and then a girl. And they told me the story so many times of how when my mom was pregnant, the the fifth and final time that the doctor said it's probably going to be a girl and she did not believe it. And so whenever my dad did, he was like, Yes, this is this is it, and they would go shopping and he'd put in girls clothes, or you know, at that time, it was all about like pink and yellow for girls. And my mom would promptly take it out of the basket and put in, you know, boy sorts of things because she was like, I don't believe it. It's not gonna happen, I don't believe. And then there was. So really just sort of a, I guess, fun, normal upbringing. Often, I tried to hang out with my brothers. And they were like, no, go away. Not because they didn't love me, but because, you know, they were boys. And they were doing what they thought were boy things and there's, you know, between myself and my brother, who's the closest there's about two and a half years, but for him he he was still big brother. And so that was I was just always a little sister. So Michael Hingson 03:44 you had four brothers to protect you. Stacy Wells 03:47 Exactly. Yes. And that they did and still do. Michael Hingson 03:52 They still do. Stacy Wells 03:54 You know, even when I didn't want them to write. But yeah, it was funny. It's funny because I actually have a lot of had a lot of boys growing up in my family. So my mom was an only child. And then my dad didn't have any sisters. He had five brothers. And there was only one other girl like a girl cousin in that family. And so I just there was so many boys all the time that whenever you know I was with, say my grandpa, my dad's father. It was very special because he was always dealing with boys from his sons to his other to his grandsons. And then he finally got a granddaughter. So that was that was exciting for him. Michael Hingson 04:40 But he knew to spoil Stacy Wells 04:42 Exactly, yes. So yeah, I went to college in Atlanta to Spelman College, which is an HBCU. It's an all female college. I went there for a year and then I decided to transfer to Drake University which is an Iowa and And Michael Hingson 05:00 then where you were when were you at Drake? Stacy Wells 05:03 I was at Drake from Oh, goodness, let me let me thank you. So I graduated from high school in 86. And so I was at Spelman 8687. And then Drake 87 to 90, Michael Hingson 05:16 I worked on a project for the National Federation of the Blind in starting in 1976. But in 1977, as part of it, I spent several months at the Iowa Commission for the Blind. And I remember there was some sort of parade that went down the street and a lot of it was related to Drake University. So I'm, I know about Drake. Okay. Stacy Wells 05:39 You know, if it was in the spring, and in April, it was maybe related to Drake Relays. That was a big twin. It was, yep. So it's still every year they have the relays. And in the Midwest, I think it's one of the only places that has a big track and field event that rivals like the Penn relays or something. But it draws people from around the country, but particularly in the Upper Midwest, to the relays every year in April. So it's always a good time for students on campus, but also for guests. So Michael Hingson 06:10 yeah, well, I very much enjoyed the the parade that morning was around 10 o'clock or so I was staying in a hotel on Fourth Street. And all of a sudden, I heard a band outside. So I went downstairs and learned that what was going on and just stood there and watched it for about a half hour 45 minutes until it was over. But it was a lot of fun. Stacy Wells 06:34 Oh, yeah. Yep. Gotta love afraid. Michael Hingson 06:38 Oh, absolutely. So for you growing up, what's your favorite childhood memory, you must have lots of fond memories, and maybe that aren't so much with Big Brothers, but nevertheless. Stacy Wells 06:51 So you know, one of my I have two really fond memories. So one is it's really simple. I just, we just grew up in a house of music. So not not like anyone playing and I played instruments, but but my, my mom really liked music. So we all did. And so she would, you know, play albums at that time. And we might be in the backyard or sitting we lived on a corner. And so we had steps on the side of the house, technically, and then of course, the front. And we use the side door more often, which came in into the kitchen. And then like you went to the left and to the kitchen into the right into like a formal dining room. So anyways, we would maybe sit on the side steps more more than we would the front. But you could hear the music outside. And so just kind of sitting out there watching the neighbors go past and if my dad was maybe outside doing some yard work, or if we were, you know, if they were cooking in the backyard, people, you know, my parents were really established in the neighborhood. And so they just knew everybody in it. At that time, people lived in that neighborhood for a long time and really got to know one another. So it was just fun to say hi to people and people would stop by and see what was happening. And especially in this not in the winter. But in the summer in the in the spring. It was just a kind of I think for the spring it kind of marked sort of the summer ritual of just being outside and kind of hanging out. But the other thing is that I really remember fondly I mentioned my my grandpa's already my dad's father. And every weekend, either Saturday or Sunday, he would either pick me up or my parents would drop me off and I'd spend the entire day at his house. And part of that time he might be he loved westerns and he loves baseball. So he might be watching a baseball game or watching a Western or reading a restaurant Western. And I'd be sitting at this I so vividly remember this sitting at a desk and pretending that I was doing something right. So we had like notepads and staples and tape and all this. And I would just be I could sit at that desk for hours and write and doodle and just kind of be there. But before and then his friend because my grandmother did my my grandfather's so and my father from Oklahoma. And when my grandfather moved to Minnesota to take a job at General Mills, my grandmother was like, I'm not moving to Minnesota, she had no interest whatsoever. So she stayed in Oklahoma. And he moved up here and his sons eventually followed him for school. And but anyways, a friend of his would, she'd come by and she'd make sugar cookies were sort of her specialty. So sometimes I help her with that. Or sometimes she just bring them by. But before our time together was done. We'd always stop by the store and I would get a new Barbie something so it could be a girl. It could be some doll clothes. It could be a Barbie house. You know, it just depended on the weekend and so I had all the Barbie stuff as you can imagine. But that was just you know, it's such a fond memory. I'm not not so much because of we, because we went in and bought the Barbie stuff, but because I just had that time with him every almost every weekend unless we were on vacation or he was busy. And so I also got to meet other relatives, they would come by and see him. And so I got to know my family and just a different way, I think. So those are a couple of things that I just remember so fondly, and they all really kind of revolve around family, right? And just spending that time. So I don't, you know, I don't know, if you spent a lot of time with, you know, either grandparents or, you know, if you have siblings, if you have those kinds of memories about growing up, but it was just like so carefree when I think about it. Michael Hingson 10:46 Some of those memories, not so much with grandparents. But I had a brother and my parents and so on, of course, here's the real burning question. Did your grandfather convinced you to like Westerns or baseball? Stacy Wells 10:58 Oh, well, you know, kind of baseball because we would also, he also liked to go to the games occasionally. And so I would I kind of liked going to the games, I'm pretty sure that now in hindsight, that was just because of the the caramel corn. Yeah, but you know, I got to learn the game a little bit. And the usually if we went to a game, it was with maybe a couple of my brothers or a couple of my cousins or something. So just kind of hanging out with them. Westerns not as much as much, no, and my dad like them too. But you know, what I did get another thing I got from him was just the joy of reading, because well into his you know, he died when he was 80. I think 86. He, he would read every day. And so I mean, I read a lot at home, but I'd always bring a book with me over there or might just read something he had like, the Farmers Almanac and I was just like, so curious about this Farmers Almanac. And so just the joy of reading, or like casual reading, I think that some of that was probably instilled with but because of the time that I spent with him, Michael Hingson 12:08 well, that, you know, reading is extremely important. And I very much value reading, I do a lot of listening. But I also read books in braille. And there's a difference between those two techniques, because Braille is really like you're reading, whereas we both can listen to audiobooks, which, in a sense, is a little bit less of a dimension, because you're viewing it through the interpretation of the narrator, but still, just having access to a lot of books is extremely important. Yes, and valuing what, what people say, exactly. And the reality is, whether it's fiction or nonfiction, because a lot of writers of fiction are really trying to put their life experiences into the fiction that they write. And there are so many incredible fiction writers that, that do some things that we should value too. But both fiction and nonfiction are important. Stacy Wells 13:12 I think that that fiction piece, you know, sort of that ability to escape to another world, right? is really important. But I think about there's just so much wonderful children's literature that's out. Yes. Right. Just not only the illustrations, but the storytelling and the creativity that is in them. I I have a daughter who's now 18 But that was one of our favorite things was in my my mom did this with my siblings and myself was going to the library at least once a week. And then also buying books, but just to even look at the, you know, picture books and read them and just kind of then create an another story off of what we read in a book. So yeah, that was that's always fun. Michael Hingson 14:05 So when you went to college, what did you major in? Stacy Wells 14:08 So when I went to Spelman, I majored in English. And you know, it was so I applied to a few schools in Spelman and Drake word schools that I applied to and gotten accepted to. But one of the reasons that I chose Spelman honestly was less about the major but about the experience to be at historically black college and university and honestly to be in a all girl Women's Environment. So for me, those two things were really they turned out to be very critical to who I am as a person now even though I was only there for a year. It was just so affirming and empowering. And I met some really wonderful people. So my major there was English, but ultimately I really wanted to major in communications broadcast journalism. And so that's how I ended up at Drake. I did transfer after that first year and end up at Drake. And, you know, sometimes in hindsight, I'm like, Oh, maybe I should have stayed at Spelman, but I can't undo that. So I'm glad for the I'm really grateful for the experience. But Drake was great, too. I met there two of my very best friends to this day, and had a really fun and fun time and a great education. So I can't say that I love living in Iowa, but it was okay. And it wasn't as difficult for me as it was some for some because it was the Midwest again. And so I was more familiar with it than some people that came to that campus. So But Drake is a great school so Spelman, so I feel honored to be alumni of both. And then I did my masters work here in the Twin Cities at the University of St. Thomas. So Michael Hingson 15:55 moved around well, is was Drake, a better school or a school with a more established broadcast journalism program? Was that the reason? Stacy Wells 16:05 Yeah, they have a College of Journalism. And so I was able to really, you know, still take some other courses, because of liberal arts, but really focus on that broadcast journalism piece and do some internships, and then a radio studio, I was a DJ for a semester. That's pretty cool. And a late night show that did more kind of like slow music, and that was really fun, and was able to work on some studio productions, and all of those sorts of things. So got some really great experiences being there. Michael Hingson 16:40 So what did you do after you graduated them from Drake? And then did you go straight into masters? Stacy Wells 16:47 I didn't, I went to work. I worked at a television studio here in the Twin Cities, our local PBS station. And I worked on a program called Newton's apple, if you're familiar with that, it's a science program, mostly for young people. And so I was doing more production sorts of things. But every once in a while, they needed some on screen talent, and in particular, folks color and so I would do some of the onscreen things just to be like an extra in an experiment, or do some things like that, which was was kind of fun, too. And did that for a few years. And then I did. So that was more truly, you know, broadcast journalism. And then I did some things in marketing and promotion. All of which I enjoyed. But what I realized is one, that, you know, I just I really enjoy school and learning. And so I wanted to pursue an advanced degree. And when I looked at what that would be for related to communications, technically, there really isn't anything I could have done, you know, maybe something in marketing, like an MBA, I didn't really have any interest in that. I'm a really purpose driven sort of person, I realized. And so I want the work that I do to have a greater impact bigger than me, and it's not about me being you know, sort of famous or the center of attention, I just really want to make the world a better place and sort of leave an imprint in that way. And so, I did some research and kind of looked around. And another thing I was always interested in was teaching just because I really enjoy young people. One of the other things I did when I was at the Public TV station was working on a new program with young people specifically. And so I think that that really got me excited about teaching and so that's the direction I went to next I was accepted into a program for an alternative teaching license. And then I finished my master's after that, so I got my teaching license and taught for five years and then kind of started into my down the path of my career of education and diversity inclusion and equity work and in have come full circle to be working back and communications but within a K 12 system. So kind of, you know, putting those things together and I still do a lot of diversity, equity and inclusion work as a consultant. So I feel like I you know, have been able to kind of finesse a lot of my experience. And you know, I guess my education into doing some professional work that I enjoy. Michael Hingson 19:31 It's fun when you can bring your experiences back in and fit into what you're doing. So you get to not be a round peg in a square hole. You either change the shape of the hole or the change the shape of the peg, but you make it work. Stacy Wells 19:44 Exactly. And you know, I just what I found is that I'm not and for, for better or for worse, especially as I get older. I'm not really afraid to learn something new and kind of try something different, maybe even a little bit of reinvent In short of myself, like, I feel like that's just growth. And as long as it's logical, and it sort of builds on what I already know, then I'm like, Well, why not? So I'm willing to, I'm pretty good with like transition and change. And so I'm willing to try out new things. And I know for some people, that's really scary. And it can be a little scary. But I, I feel like if I don't, then I might always wonder why, you know, what about? So I take sort of calculated risks, I guess, still? Michael Hingson 20:35 Well, how did you get to the point of doing right on race to be right on race? Where did that come from? I'd love to learn more about the whole program and what that's all about. Stacy Wells 20:45 Yeah. Well, so I, that I do that work with a colleague, a partner. And we had just met, when I was working at one of the school districts leading the equity work there, someone had connected us, for me to come out and speak to a group that he was facilitating. And so we be became friends and, you know, discovered that a lot of the work that we did was very similar. And we had similar sort of passions around doing the work and complementary styles. And so we started doing that work together, kind of consulting work going, in particular to school districts. And so at the time, he was actually in Mankato. His name was bukata. Hayes, and living there and working there. And I was in the Twin Cities. But we would do a lot of work out in, you know, more rural or outstate, Minnesota, but also in the cities. So after doing several, a couple of years in several different facilitation sessions with businesses and schools, we were thinking about, you know, what, are we really having an impact in doing sort of one off types of farming, maybe even coming back two or three times? Like, what? Where are we making the changes that we really hope to, and we didn't think that we were while we thought we were doing good work, it wasn't sort of moving the needle, so to speak. And we sometimes did this work with another gentleman, Reggie. And so the three of us had been talking about some different sort of innovative things that we could do. And this idea of using a journal to help people sort of process their, their thoughts, in this case around race was kind of was germinated really, in some conversations the two of them have had had, and then they brought me in, and we started talking about what that could look like. And, you know, how would we shape that? Then they eventually, Reggie, the third person, he had to step away because of his some other work he was doing, but we kept doing it. And so what what happened was, we decided we were going to put this together. And we decided it was going to be a two year process. So we were asking people to really commit, we opened it up to the entire community of Mankato, so anyone who wanted to come there was no cost or anything. And we were going to gather quarterly. And in between those quarters, we were going to send them information, what we called prompts for them to take a look at and to, in their journal respond to them. We had some questions that they could respond to, or they could just kind of write or draw or whatever they needed to do, to process what they were seeing, reading, experiencing. And then when we came together, every quarter, they would be more prepared to have deeper, more meaningful conversations and sort of build relationships, to have greater understanding about, you know, basically, some of the issues that we have around the disparities that we have that are related. In this case, we were talking specifically about race, and much of our audience was white people. And that's okay, because there's, you know, we didn't say that that's what it needs to be. But that's just what it turned out to be. And if we think about the work that we have to do around, you know, cultural competency, it really is everyone's work. And it's going to be most effective if we all come together. And so for two years, we had probably 75 people or so turn up every quarter to have these conversations. And I think on our listserv, we had maybe upwards of 250 300 people that were receiving our prompts every two weeks. And so we just went through, we started talking about sort of the impact of race and yes, it's a social construct and it's it's very much made up, but it has real impacts every day on people's lives and livelihood. And then we kind of drew a line through race and criminal justice, race and education, race in health and wellness, race in housing and income. And then at the end, at the end of the, the effort, we asked them to come up with solutions for their community like so you've learned all these sort of historical things and some present day things. You've examined some data, you've heard some from some experts at our quarterly sessions, we'd invite in some experts to talk about it. Whatever topic we were on, and then we said, so what does this mean for you know, not only you but your community? Are there things that you would like to see changed? And how would you go about doing that, you know, you've got people here from the business sector, or from education, from health, from health care, how would you all come together to solve some of these issues in your community, and be prepared in case anything happened, which, you know, things are likely to happen. And so this started in 2016. And we went through 2018. And it was a great process. People really, really committed and they enjoyed it, it was a journey. We had tears, and we had celebrations, and we have people angry, and we have people happy. And butt off. You know, I think we really tried to challenge people and push them but care for them at the same time. We did, you know, sort of a lot of research as we went. And because it was just the two of us, we were able to be nimble enough to say, you know, I think we need to maybe change this a little bit, maybe we're sending out too much information or not enough, or something happened today, right in the news, and in or this week, and we need to make sure we talk about that with this group. And so we were able to keep it sort of current. And then when it was all said and done, we kind of sat back for like six months. And we were like, wow, we learned so much about ourselves and about the process and about this work that. And we have a useful process that we really believe in that we we want to we decided to write a book about it. And that's where the book came from was after. So it's, it's a bit of a reflection of the entire process. But it's also sort of a workbook that anyone can use on their own or with a group perhaps, and we've had other groups use it, we've done this process with other groups, other organizations. But you know, it's really, it was really a just, it was like a labor of love. Like we really believe in this process. And we want people we want some people to have a tool, right? There's a lot of people doing this work. And there's a lot of ways to go about it. And we don't think we're the only way we think the work that we are doing can complement many other things. And so we just want it to be accessible to people and for people to kind of continue learning so that we can make some changes in this world that we live in. You know, and we talk specifically about race, because that was our experience. But we've also thought about how how it's someone from other communities, like other intersecting things, take the same process with their expertise and use it to help people grow in learning about other areas of cultural diversity. So Michael Hingson 28:34 that, of course, is a question that that logically comes up. And of course, for me personally, it involves the whole issue of disabilities. We hear constantly when people talk about diversity, equity in education, we hear about race, we hear about gender, we hear about sexual orientation. And we incredibly, very rarely ever hear about disabilities. And that's especially amazing since the disabilities community or the community of persons with disabilities is the largest community in the country by far. Yet it is the current part of the community in the world that is least included and involved. How do we change that? Stacy Wells 29:22 Yeah, I think that's a great question. And you know, this is for me, I just want to share an example about how even though you can be doing this work, you you are always learning so I was working for the Department of Human Services for a couple of years and the administration that I worked in community sports included behavioral health, and it had Disability Services, deaf and hard of hearing. A couple of other areas, and I realized we were planning like a quarterly meeting for employees. So you know, like something On and we had a part of one of the divisions included folks that represented indigenous populations. And there was someone who was willing to do some kind of ceremonial drumming. And I was like, Oh, that would be wonderful, you know, but then I was like, Oh, if someone is, you know, I was like, Are we being inclusive? Because we have deaf and hard of hearing and a lot of people, not only did they serve the people of Minnesota that were a part of that, but they, many of the people on staff were identified themselves having that as a different disability. And so I was like, Well, no, that, you know, like, maybe we shouldn't do that, because they won't be able to hear it. And so I went, and I asked, because how else do I know? And in one of the people I talked to, it's like, well, no, we can see it's fine to do it, we can still feel it. And actually, particularly if it's, you know, drums, percussion, we can feel that. So yeah, that's fine. And so just the assumption that I made, right, and what I realized is that, because I didn't have anyone in, in my kind of close circle that was deaf or hard of hearing, it's not something that came front of mind all the time. And I'm thinking that I'm trying to be inclusive, right? I'm thinking about what are when I'm preparing a document, especially, that's going to be shared, if it's accessible, and all those other sorts of things. But that isn't, that was an area that was sort of a blind spot for me, right. And so even though I've been doing this work a really long time, I was like, Oh, I've got to learn more about this, and I need to be more mindful about it. But also, to your point, I feel like it's just an area that people for whatever reasons, sort of overlook. And I think what we need to remind people is one, I mean, you know, there are, obviously visible disabilities, but there's a lot of invisible ones. And we should just be, we need to always be mindful of it. Because even if we don't know, we can't see it, it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. And if we're not finding ways to make sure that we are being inclusive of that as well, then we're really leaving out a whole swath of people. And of course, like many other things, disability is one of those is, is a part of the intersectionality, right? So there's just layers for people. And I just remember, you know, for example, at the height of COVID, the disability community, it was like, Hey, we are being disproportionately affected by COVID, and no one is talking about it, you're talking about elderly people, you might be talking about it by race, all those things are really important, but it's important for us as well. And so I think we just have to keep sort of making it a part of the conversation. And again, like many things, it's it's often the people that are part of that community that are doing sort of the most, they are the ones that have to always seem to bring it up in I would like that to change. I mean, of course, they're going to advocate for themselves. But I want other people to advocate for them. In case they're not there at the table so that we can say, we need to make sure that we're getting that information, we see it happen somewhat in K 12. A bit more because of you know, special ed, but I think it we we tend to lose it. If people don't feel like they know anyone that has a disability. And it just isn't something that comes to mind. So we just we have to keep, we have to make sure that we keep asking about it and are curious about it and make it as important as any other area of diversity that we're talking Michael Hingson 33:56 about. It comes up some, but there's still so many challenges. So for example, dealing with blindness, we see all the time in the educational system. People say, Well, you don't need Braille anymore, because books are recorded, or you can listen to them on computers. And so the result is that today less than 10% of all people who can read Braille. And of course, the the downside of that is they don't learn to spell they don't learn to write, they grow up functionally illiterate, and the educational system to a very large degree supports that. Yeah, they don't think through that. The reality is that Braille is the means of reading and writing that blind people should use. Now I also in addition to that would point out that blindness from the definition that I use is not just total lack of eyesight, but if you get to the point where your eyesight is diminished to the level where you can't use your eyes to accomplish everything and you have to use alternatives. You want to be learning the techniques and the technologies that blind people use, including totally blind people, because it's the only way you're going to be as effective. If you can read large print, or you can use magnifiers to read or closed circuit televisions, it's great, except your reading speed will be slow. And you won't be able to read for long periods of time without getting headaches. Whereas a person who learns Braille and who is encouraged to learn to use and read Braille. In addition, if they have eyesight to learning, the ability to read print as they can, they'll be a much more efficient and much better reader color all along the line. And I've heard so many people growing up who said I'm on partial that as I've got some eyesight, and they wouldn't let me learn braille. And I didn't know any better. And I grew up not being able to read nearly as well as I could. So the educational system has a lot of growing to do. And we've got to recognize that Braille is a true alternative to print. And I'm on a little bit of a soapbox here, but I'm also doing it to try to educate people to the fact that the reality is what you think about blindness, blind people or anyone with disabilities is not necessarily all there is to it. And it's important to go further. Stacy Wells 36:25 Yeah, I'm so glad that you mentioned that about Braille, because I didn't realize that people were saying that, that it didn't need to be taught or that it or that people didn't need to learn anymore. And I think that that's, that's ridiculous. Because I mean, to me, I kind of equate it to another language. First of all, and but I have noticed that you don't see things in Braille all the time, right. And I feel like when I was growing up, it was much more common to see it. Now that I there often places where I don't see it at all. And I would imagine, obviously, like you're saying, if people aren't learning it, then people aren't creating it, right? It just sort of fades away. And that's not okay. Michael Hingson 37:09 It's so much easier to produce it today than it used to be. There's so much in an electronic format. And I hear what you're saying about viewing it as another language, I can see you doing that. But see, I don't view it as another language because it is it is the it's, it's a true alternative to reading print, so is print another language. You know, I got to look at it the same way. The reality is Braille is another way of representing the same things that you see through reading. And I see through reading braille, because as we know, c does not necessarily mean with the eyes except for like dependent bigots who think that the only way to see is with eyes, fun to pick up. And, you know, it's it's an also another way of saying as I love to do on some of the podcasts, everyone in this world has a disability, most of you are light dependent, you don't do well in the dark, it doesn't mean that it isn't a disability. And we should really recognize that we all have challenges and we have gifts. Braille really isn't another language. It's another method of representing the same stuff that you get by reading. Stacy Wells 38:19 Okay, that's interesting. So it's not necessarily a way of communicating, it's a way of receiving information. Well, it Michael Hingson 38:25 is a way of communicating as well. I take notes in Braille, I might pass braille to other blind people who do read Braille. It's a true way of communicating every bit as much as you using a pen or pencil and paper. And then the other part about it is of course, we all in theory should learn to use keyboards and communicate through computers. But a computer and you typing on a keyboard isn't a different language, it's a different way of doing the same thing. Stacy Wells 38:55 Okay, okay. And so there's a an actual, is there an actual machine that you use to create the Braille? Let your, Michael Hingson 39:06 there's several ways to do it. There are several ways there are machines that do it. I can create a file on a computer and transmitted to a machine that will then provide it as a representation in Braille. So the thing is that you really just have to look at Braille as a true alternative, not substitute or substitution. It's a true alternative to print. It's another way of doing the same thing. And the reality is good Braille readers will read every bit as good as most good print readers because we learn to do it. Sure. Well, that's Stacy Wells 39:44 interesting. See, I love learning new things. So I think one, two, back to your question about how do we sort of how do we, you know, make the conversation about disability bigger is that we just have the conversation right? If you Have someone like yourself to talk to and ask questions and you're obviously willing to answer the questions and like inform. That's how we learn more and become more mindful. And we just don't do that enough. Sometimes we're afraid to ask the questions or we don't know anyone, or, you know, you don't want to engage in the conversation. But that's, that's a really simple but very important way of, because once you hear and learn about these things, you can't really like, not think about them or pay attention to them, I don't think, I think then starts to really, you think about it, and it should inform your, you know, change your behavior or inform decisions that you make moving forward. So I appreciate you sharing that with me. Michael Hingson 40:44 It is it's a true way of another way of doing the same thing that that you do. I think that the reason Personally, I believe that the biggest reason that disabilities aren't included is we're taught to fear them. We're taught to fear disabilities, oh, my gosh, you could, you could become our I could become a disabled person tomorrow. And we, we grew up with things like the Bible that truly have not represented disabilities well, but more important, in general. We teach our children to fear, real difference, and disabilities are one of the biggest differences that we tend to really teach children to be afraid of. I mean, look at race race was certainly feared. And it still is, in so many quarters. It's, it's a process, it's slowly evolving. But disabilities is nowhere near there. And you're right. It's all about the conversation. And we need to just become more proactive, including in the conversation. Stacy Wells 41:54 Right, exactly. Yeah, that's so true. I feel like um, and I the other thing, and you couldn't and I guess I'd be curious about your opinion about this, too, is that sometimes there's this tendency, especially if it's a, you know, a more visual disability to the first tendency is that people feel this sort of pity for someone, right, without knowing anything about what's happening. And it's, and I think that's part of fear, and and that's why people don't say anything, or they like try to avoid it. It's like, Oh, I'm so sorry for them. I know, right? Something bad happened to them, right? Like, well, how do you know, Michael Hingson 42:32 it's what it is, it is what we're taught. For many years, the Gallup polling organization and surveying people's fears, said that blindness was one of the top five fears in the country, not even persons with disabilities. But blindness. Because sighted children grow up believing eyesight, it's the only game in town, and they carry that forward. And it's not like I said, The problem for all of you is that your light dependent, so your eyesight is great until there's a power failure unless you happen to be or where there's a flashlight, or you can turn your iPhone on, or your your cell phone in general and have a flashlight. But the bottom line is you still need to turn on that technology to get light without light, you don't function very well. And so why should it be different for you than for me, and we just haven't gotten to the point of truly evolving the conversation to recognize that we all have challenges. We all have gifts, and we can all use different kinds of technologies to accomplish the tasks. Stacy Wells 43:39 Yeah, that's great. Well, I mean, I think about people who turn 40 something and they all of a sudden need like reading glasses, right? And for some people, that is a big transition, it's like, oh, my gosh, I need reading glasses. Michael Hingson 43:54 Like or more important, they fear turning 40 Yes. And then a lot of them turn 40. And discover wasn't a big deal after all, or 50. All right. So it's it's an interesting world, we live in a dichotomy of a lot of different kinds of attitudes. Stacy Wells 44:12 It is, yeah, we have. I mean, you know, in some ways, we have a lot of work to do around it, but it doesn't have to be you know, it could if we can have conversations with people and be open to learning, then it doesn't have to be hard. It can be uncomfortable, but it should lead to a better place. Right? Michael Hingson 44:35 Oh, sure. Well, for you with right on race being right on race, did you hold more community engagements and so on after 2018? I would have thought that certainly with the whole thing with the George Floyd situation so on that was an opportunistic time for real discussion. Stacy Wells 44:55 Yeah, we did. You know, it's been really well received. It's been used in a couple of the book itself has been used in a couple of graduate classes. And we've we haven't been able to get anyone to do another two year engagement. But we've done things like three months or six months. So we've done with a lot of with some nonprofits, and some higher ed organizations, we've done it with a couple of for profit. During COVID, we did a special COVID Obviously online session for I think it was six or eight weeks where we talk specifically about some of the issues around COVID. And we are currently working with the Minnesota Humanity Center to do a statewide, statewide project in kind of form outstate metro areas. And so we've done one of those, which is in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and then we are going to be starting another one this fall. And then there's two more, so it's gonna be you know, it'll be a few years, but those efforts are lasting about six to eight months, too. So, again, you know, it's really more about helping, just providing another way for people to have these conversations with one another. build community. And I think one of the things you mentioned, George Floyd, and one of the things that I think that revealed, among so many things, is that in Minnesota, in particular, we have some real challenges and a state that, you know, in some ways, considers itself very liberal and, you know, sore wood, kind of, above the fray, we really aren't, we're having the same issues in Minnesota, and sometimes worse than they are in any other place in the nation. And so, for people that weren't aware, for a number of reasons, it really made some people stop in and think about what they didn't know about what was happening. And, and so, you know, not only our work, but others work really, in Minnesota was very important and vital. And some of that work continues and some of it has waned, unfortunately. But it was, you know, an opportunity for some people to realize, okay, maybe Minnesota is not this utopia. Of course, it's not right. But like, oh, yeah, okay, so disappointing. Michael Hingson 47:19 Yeah, right. Stacy Wells 47:21 I'm living comfortable. And I didn't know these things are happening, but they certainly are happening. And so yes, it's been really a helpful tool. And we have enjoyed meeting lots of people and helping them to engage in these conversations using the process, and just happy that they're having the conversation. But again, there's much work to be done in many needs to be involved in that. So Michael Hingson 47:47 well, being A Prairie Home Companion fan, I have to ask, have you started a program yet? And Lake Wobegon? Stacy Wells 47:53 We have not. Well, we should probably look at that. Michael Hingson 47:57 You should I would think that you, you could get them to think they're pretty closed in a lot of ways. But you could get them to think and grow. That might be interesting. I might be Yeah. Ice fishing. Yeah. Exactly. over some hot dish over Yeah. Right. You know, go to the fist home, and the church can sponsor many things. That's right. So for you, you're, you're doing a lot, what's something you're not good at? Just to ask, just to be spiteful, and Stacy Wells 48:35 a lot of things you know. So one of the things and this is this is kind of joking and thinking about like engaging with people. I'm not good at like, hiding my emotions and like holding my face. Like if I'm really curious about something or I don't like it, I have an immediate reaction. So actually, having to wear a mask all the time during COVID was probably good for me because I was able to react without people necessarily know and if you know me, well, then you can, even when I'm trying to hide it, you can you know that I'm thinking something or I'm reacting to something. But that's, that's just something kind of silly, but, you know, I mean, I think there's just so much I am a really curious person, and I like to learn things. I wish that I had skills like around carpentry, I would love to be able to create something with my hands in that way. I'm I, there's I would love to learn another language. I try to learn French and I know a little bit of Spanish, but I guess I haven't committed myself enough other than taking some classes in college. So I would love to do that. I think. Yeah, there's just there's a lot of things that I could learn or do better. You know, I think we can always just be better people. I I tried to be a really good person, but I tried to be to learn every day about, you know, I, this conversation with you about blindness has really already got me thinking and so I, you know, I'm always like, okay, there's always something that we can do better. And I don't think of that as a negative thing, I just think that we grow and change all the time as people and so, you know, we shouldn't get stuck and we should always be willing to improve ourselves in in most of the time, but they're in smaller ways not necessarily in big life changing ways. So, you know, I can I could find a number of things that I'm not very good at, that's not a problem for me, because, you know, we're always our worst critics. Michael Hingson 50:47 Well, so during COVID, did you win more poker hands, because you had to wear a mask? Stacy Wells 50:53 I did. I want to learn how to see. We, you know, our school district was plagued with those school board meetings that were, you know, had people showing up throwing around conspiracy theories and accusations, we had all of it taping us and appearing our district appearing on Fox News a couple of times. And so I'm a member of the cabinet, which is the leadership team and we we have to sit kind of not in front where the school board sits, we're kind of off to the side all together. And when some of the people will come to the front to speak and make accusations and sometimes personal, having a mask on allowed me to say a lot of things under my breath. That would not have been appropriate. If I didn't have it on, but it allowed me to stay in the meeting. And be able to, I won't say tolerate but be able to sit there, do my duty. Without like, losing my my mind and like, responding right in, in time to some of the things that they were saying. So a mask was a good thing. For a lot of reasons. Michael Hingson 52:10 I understand the fairly well, i i play cards not often anymore, but I learned to try to kind of keep my face straight when I was was playing. But I understand exactly what you're saying. And certainly with a mask. It makes it it would make it a lot easier. No question. Stacy Wells 52:30 Right? Yes. Just then you have to learn how to like use your eyes, right? Because they're very, you know, full of expression to sometimes. What kind of what did you play? Did you play poker? Or did you Michael Hingson 52:41 um, poker a little bit and then my parents my in laws played a game called Liverpool, which is kind of a, I think of rummy oriented game. Okay, fun. We always said that my mother in law cheats, because she usually one. We always said she cheats. She didn't really but it was so much fun to tease her because she, she was just good at it. It was it was a lot of fun. Well, you work with a consulting group called lug love and struggle. Tell me more about that, if you would. Stacy Wells 53:13 Yeah. So, you know, again, this is all related to the right, Andre. So we started all that before we formed the company. But then we realized that once we were going to write the book, and then use the format in other places, hopefully at the time, we were hope hopeful around that, then we decided to come up with the the actual company, or LLC so that we could do some of that work, as you know, formal consultants, because people would be asking for that. But the name love and struggle comes from my colleagues, Father, actually, he was a part of a lot of the work in the Milwaukee area, when he was a young man, and part of the struggle, and it's really sort of speaking to the fact that, you know, doing at that time, really what was more about, like kind of the Black Power movement. It was that there is going to be struggle to try to get some equality, but that, you know, it comes from a love for all people, especially your own people, but other people as well, and how important it was to always kind of keep that balance and keep that in mind in order to to make some strides with the work that they were trying to do. And so it still seems appropriate at this time. In many ways that you know, it's really about how do we, in general for the most part, the things that we're talking about when we talk about race and racism is not about any one individual person. I mean, we see some of that occasionally, that's not the biggest concern. It's really more about the systemic and institutional racism. So, you know, like, this work is not about dividing people, it's really about coming together. And so we're going to struggle through some things, but we're going to do it with some love. So that hopefully, when we get out on the other side, we're going to be whole. And, and so that's kind of the approach that we take, like, you know, when we work with groups, people, we are not trying to, again, we want them to be uncomfortable for that growth, but we're not trying to tear anyone down, we want them to, to be effective and to you know, be a part of making this world just a better place. So that's really kind of where it comes from, and speaks to the approach that we try to have, when we do the work that we do. Michael Hingson 55:51 You think that there are a lot more efforts to kind of tear down that sort of a concept and not promote love as much as we should? I mean, when we look at all the stuff going on in politics, and everything else, it seems like there's a lot of places where love and trust and such are under attack, it does seem Stacy Wells 56:09 like it right, even sometimes from the religious space were like, wait a minute, I thought religion and in, you know, for some people, Jesus, or whoever their their sort of their god or savior is like that's supposed to be about loving and caring for people. And sometimes it's used in a different sort of way. But, you know, I'm sure that they wouldn't say that that's what they're doing. But that's sure how it feels when you hear them talk and see the actions that they take. And, you know, we just don't, that's really unfortunate, because we don't have time for that. Because, you know, whether it is race, or gender, or disability, or a whole host of you know, we have, there's no shortage of things that we could be talking about. What people generally need is just more, we all just kind of need more, sort of caring for and some grace, right? Because it's hard out here for people, most people, almost everyone I would venture to say, is struggling about something and having a hard time and you just don't know what people are experiencing. And so, you know, you're asking them maybe to do one more thing, or to learn something, or to undo some beliefs and values that they were taught as young people and it can feel really hard and scary, and they're fearful. And so if you can do that without, you know, being mean, and feeling like people have to hate one another, then I think it's just so much more effective and healthy. But I yeah, there's a lot happening right now that feels really horrible and ugly, and hurtful. So Michael Hingson 57:52 either there is and it's it's so unfortunate, I think you you really raise some good points about that. And we really need to work harder at stopping the hate stopping promoting the hate. And as you said, churches made then people at churches may say that's not what we're doing, although it feels like that's what they're doing. And if it feels like that's what they're doing, then they need to listen and recognize maybe that is in fact what they're doing. Or enough people feel that way that the messaging is all wrong. Stacy Wells 58:24 Exactly. Right. Because it doesn't, you know, it's sort of that intent versus impact thing. If, if that's the feedback that you're getting, and that's how people are feeling, then that's important, because that's what that's the lasting impression on them. So you might want to reevaluate what you're doing, if you really care, if that's really not what you're trying to do. And I'm not convinced that that's not what they're trying to do sometimes. But, you know, that's what they'll they most won't admit that. But I but I also feel like there's more people that will admit that nowadays for, you know, a number of reasons there's sort of a new, embolden pneus around being hateful. And it's, to me, that feels very scary, because it's like, okay, well, then what, what, what happens next, right. And so, and I try not to really live and think that way, but I also am not. I also try to be realistic, too. So, Michael Hingson 59:21 and that's fair. And that is certainly something that we have to do. You know, I was just thinking about the conversation we had and the whole idea of having conversations about disabilities. And if I were to sum up part of what we need to do in one sentence, it would be we have to get people to understand that since we're changing words and definitions all the time, disability has to stop meaning not able or a lack of ability because it has nothing to do with a lack of ability. So there's a thought to think about but we've got to really, you know, move forward Stacy Wells 1:00:01 What do you think about the term? I've heard this used? You know, people will try out different terminology or or names but differently abled is what I've heard people try to use some time. Do you feel like that's more appropriate or Michael Hingson 1:00:14 low? I think it's absolutely a gross term. How am I differently abled? The abilities? Right? Yeah, the, the ability is the same. Again, it gets back to using different techniques to do the same thing. But women oftentimes do things using a different way or a different technology than men. Left handed people do things in a different way than right handed people do. But we don't call them differently abled. The fact is that we've got to stop dancing around the fear. And the reality is, disability doesn't mean a lack of ability. All it means is, we may do things in a different way. And again, I think it's important that we all recognize that everyone has a disability, I still stick with the light dependence idea, because the fact is, you don't do well without light, which means Thomas Edison came along and gave you a light bulb, so that you could see in the dark, but until then it was a lot harder. And now technology makes that even easier, doesn't change the fact that that's still what's going on. So the disability for you is as real as the disability for me, except that yours gets covered up because there's a whole lot more technology, because there's a whole lot more of all y'all than there are of Me, does. It doesn't change, though, the fact. And so we've got to stop trying to make up terms that really don't help the problem at all. Yeah, and Stacy Wells 1:01:45 better to be more specific about what we're talking about write? Michael Hingson 1:01:49 Well, and the fact is that again, it goes back to everyone and so we really need to be just learned to be more inclusive. Yeah, what's what's one thing you'd like people to remember about you? Stacy Wells 1:02:00 Oh, you know, I, there's a saying I don't remember who says it. And maybe there's a number of I've read it in a number of different ways. But that notion about people will remember how you made them feel like not what you said to them, but how you made them feel. And so I try to really kind of live in that way I want. I don't even pretend that everyone is always going to like me, but I don't ever, ever want anyone to sort of engage with me, or encounter me in in feel like I treated them badly. Right? Or was even dismissive of them, even if it's brief, just trying to be respectful of people and kind. And so I think that's what I like to always leave people with, even if whether it's a short sort of encounter or, you know, a longer more established, you know, relationship, whether it be around work or whatever. I just think that that's really important. And more than anything, is we just again, I mean, I feel like I've said this a few times, but it really is how we take care of one another. And so I'm a bit of an empath. And so I want other people to be happy, especially if I care about them. But just in general, and I, I am, I like to feel good. And so I want other people, however, they need to feel good. I tried to be a part of that rather than being creating more chaos or problems or stress for them. So Michael Hingson 1:03:39 cool. I think that's as good as it gets. Well, if people want to reach out to you or learn more about you, or any of the programs that you're dealing with, how do they do that? Stacy Wells 1:03:51 You know, probably the best I mean, I am on social media. So I'm on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter for the time being. But probably the best way is to reach me by email. And we could probably share that out some way. But it's pretty simple. It's Swellmn like the abbreviation for Minnesota. So firstname.lastname@example.org. That's probably the best way but otherwise on social media as well. Michael Hingson 1:04:23 And where's the book available? Stacy Wells 1:04:25 The Oh, so we do have a website? Or if you just Google right on race to be right on race or Google love and struggle, can purchase the book right online Michael Hingson 1:04:38 and then publish it or did you have a publisher do it or what? Yeah, we Stacy Wells 1:04:42 did self published it. So we put it all together. And we did it in about probably about three months. We kind of took all of the information we had compiled for the effort and then we wrote some intro pieces updated some things wrote a closure, put it all together and self published through a very small printing press in Minnesota here and put it online. Michael Hingson 1:05:11 So you should available electro
Sabin Becker was born in Germany in January, 1962. Her mother had been given thalidomide during her pregnancy. The drug was touted as the wonder cure for morning sickness, anxiety and other pregnancy-related issues. Only two months before Sabin's birth, governments including Germany finally recognized that the major effect of thalidomide was to cause serious birth defects in the children born to mothers who were given the drug. As you will hear in our episode, Sabin was born with extremely short arms and only two fingers on each hand. If you ever wish to hear a story of someone who grew to be unstoppable, listen to Sabin and her story. She grew up and learned how to use alternative techniques to accomplish what most of us do with two fully formed hands. Along the way, Sabin, her husband and their five-year-old son moved to America. Sabin thrives today even after suffering a major stroke in 2012. She determined after the stroke that she would “persevere until success happens” and success indeed happened for her. She walks and fully thrives today. In fact, in 2019 Sabin ran a full Los Angeles marathon. Sabin's interview to me is one of the most inspirational and inciteful ones I have had the honor to conduct. “Persevere Until Success Happens, (PUSH)” is the coaching program Sabin started after recovering from her stroke. I am sure you will come away from this episode inspired and motivated to become more unstoppable yourself. About the Guest: German-born Sabine Becker is an award-winning inspirational speaker. She has appeared on PBS and the Oprah Winfrey Network because she was born with very short arms and lives a fully independent life using her feet for daily living tasks. After a near-death experience, she developed the acronym P.U.S.H. ~Persevere until Success Happens~ Utilizing the diverse lessons, she has learned from the inside out, she is helping audiences worldwide to P.U.S.H. through challenges to create a purposeful and thriving life regardless of their circumstances. How to connect with Kim: LinkedIn YouTube My Website Instagram Book website Buy the book About the Host: Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog. Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children's Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association's 2012 Hero Dog Awards. https://michaelhingson.com https://www.facebook.com/michael.hingson.author.speaker/ https://twitter.com/mhingson https://www.youtube.com/user/mhingson https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelhingson/ accessiBe Links https://accessibe.com/ https://www.youtube.com/c/accessiBe https://www.linkedin.com/company/accessibe/mycompany/ https://www.facebook.com/accessibe/ Thanks for listening! Thanks so much for listening to our podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the social media buttons on this page. Do you have some feedback or questions about this episode? Leave a comment in the section below! Subscribe to the podcast If you would like to get automatic updates of new podcast episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. You can also subscribe in your favorite podcast app. Leave us an Apple Podcasts review Ratings and reviews from our listeners are extremely valuable to us and greatly appreciated. They help our podcast rank higher on Apple Podcasts, which exposes our show to more awesome listeners like you. If you have a minute, please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts. Transcription Notes 00:00 Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I'm Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that's a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we're happy to meet you and to have you here with us. 01:20 Well, hi, once again, I am Michael Hingson, your host on unstoppable mindset. We're inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet, and anything else that might come on? Oh, I guess that comes under unexpected. Thanks for listening to us wherever you happen to be today. This is all for you, to help you. And others realize that we can be more unstoppable than we think we can. And our guest today Sabin Becker is as close to demonstrating unstop ability as it gets. She's German born. And but But she'll she'll not do German for us too much, I hope. But no good. But she was born with very short arms. And we're going to talk about that she's been a keynote speaker. She's been on Oprah. She's been on PBS, are we jealous or what? And after a new near death experience, she developed a program called PUSH: perseverance until a success happens that I'm really interested in. And I hope all of you will be as well. And you know, we'll see where all the questions take us today. As usual. It's all about having a conversation. So Sabin, welcome to unstoppable mindset. We're glad you're here. 02:35 Well, Michael, thank you so much for having me at the unstoppable mindset. This is awesome to be here. I'm so excited. And we're gonna have a great conversation. 02:46 I hope so. Well, why don't we start as, as often people say at the beginning, why don't you tell us a little bit about you as you were growing up? You were born in Germany. And as I said, and one of the things you told me with very short arms. What does that mean? short arms? Yeah. 03:07 Great, great question, Mike. Like I said, I was born in Germany in the early 1960s. And as you already said, I was born with short arms. Now, what does that mean? My arms are not fully developed there. Maybe? I don't know, I still have problems with interest in America, then maybe you could do centimeters. They I get confused too. So my arms. So what does short mean? I think that's a good question. About six to eight inches, and I only have two fingers at each hand. And the reason why that happened is because in the late 1950s, early 1960s, specifically in Germany, but also in Great Britain and Australia, and some other countries, but Germany, Great Britain, Australia, were the hardest hit the pharmaceutical complex going into decided to develop a med medication, which called watch called Thalidomide . And they told pregnant women or the doctors told pregnant women, it would be okay to take that medication in the beginning of their pregnancy, it would not harm the fetus. And of course history knows it. It turned out to be the worst pharmaceutical disaster in history. Because 20,000 Babies imagine that number that's that's humongous number of babies 20,000 Babies were born was abbreviated RM somewhere even born with abbreviated legs and you know, I do have completely normal legs. Others were were born with disabilities and 60 plus sent Micah 60% of a third of my babies never saw their first birthday. So it was truly one of it or no, it is considered the worst catastrophe in pharmaceutical catastrophe in history. And as some 05:22 Thalidomide was very visible here, too. I remember it growing up and hearing all about it and all the controversy. So 05:28 yeah, I think so. I mean, I wasn't around, but yet in America, but, but what happened here in America, which makes America really very unique, is the General Surgeon General. Dr. Francis calci. She saw what happened overseas, and she did not allow the medication for Thalidomide here in this country. And that's why thankfully, America has not had that, that many, so little mite affected children. Most of our children are like me, they are coming from a different country. They were born in, you know, Germany, Great Britain, and maybe to American parents, or they immigrated here to this country like I did to, so that it's very rare to find, I mean, there are there the specially what I hear from a lot of my friends, their parents were overseas in the in the military. And that's how they got the mother got exposed to this hello to my drug. 06:40 Well, what was it supposed to accomplish what was full and full and why supposed to be? 06:46 Well, it was being set. Number one, it was being said it is as safe as a sugar pill. And it will help the pregnant woman to cope with anxiety, insomnia, and especially morning sickness. So then, and you know why that was so popular. I just understood this, this these last few years, because I have done a lot of research. Why this bag it became so popular in Europe, because people were still very anxious because of World War Two, World War Two, just you know, can't was years ago it you know, it, people still remember the trauma of award war. So it was just a society that still dealt with PTSD. And there can the wonder drug, the sugar pill that was going to take everything away, just take away the anxiety, take away the insomnia. And that's why so many people went for it. And these poor mothers never knew that it would harm there. Yeah, 08:03 well, so you were born. And so how did it go for you growing up? 08:10 Well, believe it or not, I really, it's really crazy. Believe it or not. I really never realized that I was disabled. Because because I was, I was never treated as a person or a child at the time was a disability. My parents were very strict with me. And they were strict with my brother, too. We had the same chores in the house out, I had to vacuum vacuum clean, my brother had to back him clean. I had to do the show to do the dishes, my brother had to do the dishes. And that was unheard of in the mid 60s Towards the end of his 60s in Germany. Because in general, German, German society still thought of people with disability as less. Again, that's kind of the leftovers from the war. Because that's a terrible story with people who have disabilities during World War Two. I don't want to get into it. But the the idea was still there. People with disabilities are less. But my parents they fought that. And they fought it very successfully. And they also fought for that I had a physical and occupational therapist, who was able to teach me how to use my feet as my hands. So as a tiny little kid, maybe I don't really remember three, three years maybe old. As a tiny kid. I learned over many years, how to use my feet as my hands which included getting dressed, brushing my hair at The time drawing little pictures then lay down when I was old enough to ride, riding with my left foot, everything you and your listeners and the viewers do, I do with my feet. And that even today includes driving a non modified car. So I grew up not having any notion of that I was different. Because I didn't think of myself as different. The kids I played with, didn't think I was different sometimes. Oh, what happened to your arms? But then I said, Oh, I was born this way. And the kids. Okay, let's play. It was not a big affair. I was not. You know, I had my little roller skates. I had skis. Gosh, what did I do as a kid? I did so much. I even climbed a tree. Believe it or not with tiny little hands. I hung on somehow. No, I didn't. But I distinctly remember that cherry tree I climbed up on. I did everything like other kids. 11:08 You're saying you are not really a great fan of trying to climb a tree today? Is that what I've 11:12 you know, maybe not. The smartest thing to do. But I was fearless. Mike. 11:23 Was your brother a Thalidomide ? Baby? 11:25 No, no, he was born three years later. And the German government forced gluing and tie the manufacturer of Valetta made forced green attire to take when the dial of the market and that was in November 1961. And I was born in January of 1962. So I had a done this a year before that. I would today have regular arms. It was just they knew going into I knew about it. And that's the the other tragedy Yeah, that's that's a big issue. And they wanted to make as much profit as possible to their finally work hard. And hey, the it has to be put out of the market. And so many kids like myself, we could have been saved from real hardship because I make it easy. But I think for my parents, it was extraordinarily difficult to raise a child with such as severe disability, and dealing with a society that the mental attitude of society at the time, specifically in Germany, I don't talk about America at all, but specifically in Germany, and I the are the obstacles they had to jump over. Because there was no support, there was no, no help for those parents. They just try to organize themselves and basically look what they are going to do. And many parents, they were so frustrated and just depressed some some parents, and they gave their children up. So they were raised in homes for the disabled, because it was a true feat to raise a child with such an unusual disability. 13:29 But you bring up some some really interesting points. And with my life, there are a lot of similarities. First of all, the way our parents treated us, and the view that they took of us as human beings, we were not considered less. I won't say that my parents wouldn't say that I was different. Or would they they knew I was blind. But I was I was supposed to, according to doctors be put in a home because no line child could ever grow up to do anything. And my parents rejected that. And they also brought me up. As you that is we were supposed to do all the chores and things like that. And my brother, who was two years older and sighted and I were treated the same as as it should be. And so I never even really thought much about being blind as being different. I just thought it's the way I am. And I knew that other kids weren't blind, but it goes back to what our parents decided. And that set the tone because like you there was no bitterness. And we grew up with primarily kids and in environments where we were not treated as less. And my I had some teachers that helped along the way too, just because of things that I was required to doing. class that other kids weren't required to do. Like, when we had spelling tests, I would say the words out loud when the tests were being graded. So my test was spelling the words out loud, which I love to say, also got me prepared for being able to do public speaking. But, you know, I was not really viewed as, as less or different. I know, I didn't necessarily appear in all the same social environments as other kids. I didn't go to a lot of the dances and things like that when we were in high school and all that. But by the same token, I wasn't viewed as an obstacle or less than other kids. And I think that's the way it ought to be. I think that the schools where I grew up, eventually started getting materials in and a teacher to help with from you learning Braille and other things like that. But it's, it's all part of really having a mindset that says, We're all people that have gifts, and we shouldn't be diminished, because our guests are different than others. 16:05 I love that. We have our gifts. Absolutely. And they're different. And you and I have talked before this podcast, and we definitely have a lot of similarities in our lives. And I'm so glad to see you're here to you interview me. And it's such an incredible to somebody like like minded mind, some word. Oh, my gosh, my English sometimes. 16:34 Not you're you're absolutely doing fine. There's no problem at all. So you you went to school, did you? Did you go to college in Germany? 16:45 No, what I did, I graduated high school in Germany. And then again, that was a feat, because normally, disabled children were put in Sundar Shulin, which means special schools, special schools, that's the translation. And my parents did that for a couple of years, because it just didn't know any different. But then my mother said, You know what, I'm not going to accept that because I do not want to have less for my daughter, because it was less I just had it, there were all kinds of disabilities. I was thrown into classes with people who had learning disabilities. It just, it just didn't work for me. And so my mother realized that and she said, I'm not going to accept that Sabine is going to go to a regular school. I went to a regular Elementary School in the fourth grade. So I did stay for three years. Yeah, because my first grade, first, fourth grade was my first year in a regular mainstream school. And because we didn't have an integration we have, we have today, it just was unheard of. And, and then I continued to high school and it was a Catholic High School in Germany. And I remember the nuns, the principal, a nun, what is it called the head? Yes, mother subcarrier. She told me, Sabine, you want to go to school here, you're going to do everything like everybody else. We will not make exceptions. And I said, Sure, of course. So I had to do a PE, I had to do a sewing, I had to learn how to sew with my feet. It just what was that called household management. I don't even know what those classes were. And yes, thank you, thank you, you and your you call it different here in America. But that's what I had to do. And what that taught me again. And that reinforced, I was not different from anybody else, I might have to do things differently. But I did it. And that mindset has followed me throughout my life. 19:09 And that says it should be it doesn't mean that you, you won't need some tools to allow you to do the same things that other people do. Which means as you said, you might do them differently. But it doesn't mean you can't do them. And I think that that's one of the key points that so many people miss about the whole issue of disabilities. First of all, disability doesn't mean that we're not able it doesn't mean that and it shouldn't mean that. We've got to get away from that. That kind of an attitude and mindset. But what it does mean is that we're different, but so is everyone else. There are a lot of people who are left handed their therapy, people who are bald, who don't have hair, they lose it or whatever. That makes them different and they have to accommodate that in some ways, but the reality is we're all different. And there's nothing wrong with that. I one of my favorite speeches by the founder of the National Federation of the Blind Dr. Jacobus, Tim Brook, who is a blind constitutional law scholar actually not a speech, but an article is called a preference for equality. And one of the things that he said is, in the article, essentially, that equality doesn't mean you do things exactly the same way. It means that you get what you need to be able to accomplish the same task. But equality doesn't mean doing it the same way. equality means that you have the tools that you need to have to do it. And I think all too often people say, Well, if you want equality, then you got to be able to sit down and and use the same tools everybody else does. Wrong answer. That is not what it should mean. That's not what it was me. I remember being in kindergarten in Palmdale, I had when I grew up there. We have moved from Chicago when I was five. And I remember my parents having a very strong, viciously furious argument with a school principal who wanted me to be sent to the School for the Blind in Northern California. And my parents said, Absolutely not. We want him to go to a regular public school. Now what I've been able to thrive with the School for the Blind, yes, at that time, the academic standards were good. But my parents said, there's no reason that he can't go here. And we're not going to allow it. And they were shouting at each other, I remember. But they prevailed. And I went to public school. And there were some challenges for a while until Braille came along for me to be able to use because the school didn't know how to get it. But we, we need to all recognize that in reality, just because we do things differently, it doesn't mean we can't do them. 21:59 Exactly. And that's something I've run into my into in my life on many, many times, because we know that and many of your listeners us know that. But not everybody knows that. Sometimes I'm sure you too. You just meet people who just assume because you're different, I'm different, that we can't do something. And that is something I've been literally fighting against all my life. I've tried to educate because I was a social worker, psychologist, before I started my public speaking. And I tried to educate and we have made many, many strides. Since I've been a kid, especially goodness, it's a world of difference. But there still needs to be education that 22:58 So what did you do after high school? 23:02 After high school, I was a free spirit. And I said, Oh, yeah, no, still today. After high school, I just decided that I will move to Paris, France. And why Paris France because I thought I could be just the new Picasso. I could be the new van Gogh, I could be. Whatever was because I loved art. I still love art to this day, I learned how to draw with my feet. In a way I might say so myself. It was good. I mean, it was not Picasso. But I just enjoyed it. And I wanted to study art. But guess what? My parents said no, absolutely not. Kind of a, you know, a starving artist type thing. But I still went to Paris. But in the end, I decided against studying art. I studied social work and then psychology. And that probably was a good idea. Because otherwise I might be a starving artist. 24:12 You could have taken up cooking you know? Yeah. 24:17 Yeah, well, yeah. I mean, there were so many routes I could have gone. But I had love for art. I still have a love for it to this day, but earning a living one of the foot artists and they do okay, I think what I know of some of them they do okay. But I think it was a good route because the other thing I'm very passionate about is helping others helping people to, to use that adversity and turn them into really meaningful opportunities. And because that's what I had to do, and I can't Come up with a push P U S H survival guide who push it stands for you already said it earlier, persevere until success happens. And I came up with it after my life or during a near death experience. I see 25:20 if you would Yeah. Oh 25:21 my goodness. Yeah. This is jumping a lot of hedge, because there were so many things still between my college education and my life altering event. Can I just say, I have a son Nicola was born in 1983. And I think that's, that's what I'm so proud of my beautiful son grew up in a beautiful young man, who is almost 40 years old today. And that was a tough time. Because again, I had no clue. What do I do? Was this the 1010 pound baby or eight pounds? I don't know, what you do is persuade. What do you do when you do? Well, I have small arms, I have some use of my small arms. So what do you do, and I had to literally push until I figured out how to change his diapers, how to dress, how to modify his clothes. I modified them by having Velcro on his gloves, and how to get them in and out of his bed. So there's how to carry him. There's so many things, I just had to come up with different ways of doing things. And again, I was married at the time, my husband is diseased now. He died when Nicola was five years old. And so I was after that time, a single single mom with a disability. And that there was there, those were tough times. I mean, you just like every difficult journey really starts with we're putting one foot in front of the other. And that's what I had today to do. Day by day by day, I couldn't even think about where I wanted to go. I just wanted to get through the day was Mykola. So he would not have a disadvantage because his mother is disabled. 27:38 Well, and of course, the issue is going back to what is really disabled, right? Yeah. And of course, we're not in in the reality of it all. We again have this concept of a disability, but it's so does everyone. So you, you made the decision, that you were going to find ways to accomplish the tasks that you needed to. And I would assume that if there was something that you really had difficulty doing that you would enlist some help to get that done. But your goal was to make sure that you could do all the tasks that you needed to do. 28:14 Absolutely. And I really love what you just said, I made the decision. And that's it. Life is about choices. We're not just being thrown into life and allow the current version of our circumstances to decide for us. No, we make the choices. Because that is so important. I see so many people, especially when I was a social worker, so many people just allowed circumstances to determine their life, their quality of life. So I made the decision. I mean, and I've loved my son, and I would have done everything to this day I will do anything for him. And if it means I have to come up with innovative waves. I did have some help from for some reason. I remember she was a sister like a Catholic type sister, who prep little meals for Nicola who have maybe was a household choice who took a put a give him a bath. But that didn't really didn't last very long. Maybe Nicola. When he was one year old, I was in with my husband at the time. We were we're pretty much on our own. But I had a good reason I had it figured out because, again, push. That's just what we have to do. We have to take the decision to push. 29:46 Now where were your parents in all of this at that time. All my 29:50 parents were in Germany, and my father was a handful. He was brilliant scientist, but my mother I had to take care of him like, some hobbies, brilliant people. So she had her hands forward, my dad and my brothers still lived at home at the time. And they came to visit of course, but they just were not. They're just right next door to help. 30:21 Yeah, I kind of figured that they stayed in Germany from the way you were describing it. On the other hand, they were grandma and grandpa. Did they spoil grandchild when they had the chance? 30:30 Oh, my gosh, yeah. I'm telling you, it's a real point to the point of saying, Mom, no. 30:42 Parents are supposed to do 30:43 absolutely. And today I'm a grandparent, and I do exactly the same thing. You know, they see it they like it a grandma, can you buy it for us? Guy's 30:57 so you, you did that? And, you know, but But it went on? Well, how did Nicola deal with? Or did he ever come to the conclusion? Mom's different? And did you ever have discussions about that? 31:13 No, you're not. That's interesting. Because, I mean, he grew up with me. And so he saw me ever from the first day of his life, he saw me every day. And I watched this different do that, because I talked to him with my legs instead of with my arms. And he, he felt as a baby, I'm talking now that his dad helped him differently. But so it was not a big deal for him. And later on, in my life, in his life, I should say, when he was maybe a teenager, diva when we met people, and people say, oh, you know, your mom is so amazing. And as a teenager, he rolls his eyes and say, Yeah, whatever. She is just my mom stuff. It was not a big deal. He was you know, I'm just mom. So it's that's how my mom is no big deal. But, 32:12 but but he but he never came to you and said something like, Mom, you use your feet so much. How come you're not a very famous soccer player and earning us lots of money? 32:22 Maybe that would have been my kid. 32:24 You see, now you know, now we're getting to it? Well, again, that's great. 32:29 That's my career paths vary are 32:33 a new new thing to explore. It's not too late. The other thing is, though, that once again, it comes down to how you approached it. Right? You You didn't make it a big deal. Not that you didn't do things the same way your husband or later other people did. And your son recognize that and I'm sure still clearly today does. 32:59 Absolutely no, I didn't make a big deal. When I raised Nicola, I was, oh my gosh, I was actually young mother 21. And so I just didn't, I didn't think about it, all I wanted to do is raise my son, check that he has enough to eat and, you know, love, of course, first food to drink that he has everything that he goes to kindergarten, that goes to elementary school and so on. I was so busy, so focused. And then I was also a full time working mom, I was so focused on those things. I didn't even think for the longest time ever had that, that I'm different, that my life definitely is different. I didn't have the time to think that. 33:51 So you you approached life that way, which makes perfect sense. And so now is he in the US today? Or is he still in Europe or what? 34:03 You're so we came to America when he was five years? Yeah. When we were? We were? He was five years old. And there was a free spirit. I was a free spirit. Oh, yeah. And you know, I didn't even want to stay in America. It just kind of was kind of an accidental thing. 34:23 1988 Yeah. And then 34:25 I just happened, you know, circumstances on top of those circumstances. I fell in love here in America because my husband had died at the time. And so we just stayed and that was not planned. And we came to love America and we still love it to this day, so much that I became a US citizen in 2002. And my son just a one year later, in 2001. And my son is active duty minute Jerry today he is in the army. He was, gosh, how do you call these people? Protective Services for? My gosh, I'm just matters what, uh, Jim Mattis. General Mattis. He was a security detail for him. And on top, he never protected Donald Trump. But because he didn't have that clearance, but he was state as Secretary of State. And as Secretary of Defense, so ever several of them, they rotated in and out at that time, quite a bit. And now he's working for the CID, which is the military. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And he's, you know, I mean, you're a viewer see me, I'm a very small person. And blonde long hair, kind of hippie type. Still. I don't know how that happened that my son is in the army. And but I'm proud of him. He took the path he thinks is working for him. And it seems to work for him. He is Officer now and Officer now in the military, in the army, and I couldn't be proud of them. 36:27 That is super. Well, how did you say you came to America in 1988? And so you, what were you doing for work once you came here? 36:41 Oh, yeah, that's a good question. Once I had that famous green card, I was allowed to work. Yeah. But I got it. I got it. I was allowed to work. I worked as a social worker mainly mainly was children who couldn't fit into mainstream school. It was through Job Corps. And also I worked for a very special in the arts, that's an organization that allows that gives the means to people with disability, diverse disabilities to produce art project and to keep them engaged. And that was a wonderful place to work. And I work for access Alaska, because we used to live in Alaska at the time, access Alaska that provided outdoor opportunities again for people with disabilities. I love that work and I hope I made a difference in there. 37:43 So you, you found things to do now, where do you live today? 37:47 Today, I just live outside of San Diego and Southern California was nice and warm. What town Temecula Temecula didn't make. Wine Country? Yeah, the wind 38:02 contract in California game country. 38:05 It's so beautiful. Today actually, we have a little bit cold day and we actually did see some rain this morning. Ah, like oh my gosh, my mom. Yeah, there's a little bit rain. Yeah. 38:17 Where I live in Victorville. So we're about 130 125 miles from you. We're having rain. And it's supposed to. Oh, it does. Sometimes. It's up on the desert, but it does rain sometimes. 38:32 So I think I drove through there went back. I know where Victorville as I was just going to say, isn't that high desert? 38:40 Yes. On the way to Las Vegas is what most people would remember victory. 38:44 Exactly. That's how I remember Joe. We even 38:48 occasionally gets snow. Mostly we don't we're in a valley. So the snow goes around us. But still we get some. But it's supposed to get up to 58 Fahrenheit today. So you guys have a warmer down there. We lived in Vista for six years and love it. 39:04 Oh, yeah. 39:07 So you So you worked and what kind of things happened in your life? You mentioned something about I think mace it wasn't may 17 2012. 39:22 Yeah, May 17 2012. Because I will always remember that date. What happened on May 17 22? Have I had a near death experience and age really truly, I mean, I just barely survived it was I suffered a massive stroke while I was driving my car, and massive stroke is terrible. But while you are driving your car, it's probably one of them was places you can have a stroke and not that there is ever a good place to have a stroke but as that's what was happening into me, and only to the grace of our higher power, I survived, because I had a passenger that day with me. And that passenger never really rides with me. So that day I had a passenger with me who grabbed in the last second the steering wheel. And that's the reason why we didn't crash through the guardrail into the Rio Grande River. It happened in North northern New Mexico, and very isolated mountain road. And that in itself was very challenging. And that's why my stroke, the damage of my stroke was so extensive, because there was no cell phone reception. And it was very, very hard to get help, and a barely, barely, barely made to the Life Flight down to Albuquerque, where they finally almost three hours later, could give me the drug TPA, which is a blood clot busting drug, I was just barely still in that window, because I think there used to be a window of three hours. I just barely qualified for it. But my brain suffered pretty extensive, extensive damage. 41:25 Did you basically completely recover from that? Or is there still 41:29 Yes. Yeah, there's still a little bit damage. I couldn't walk, I could not talk, could not use my left foot for all daily tasks. And it took me one year of physical, occupational, and speech therapy. And it was, yeah, thankfully, I knew what push means, persevere, until I took that first step. That first step was such a monumental victory. And that first word, you don't hear anything anymore. Once in a while, I stumble over a word very rarely. But I had to really work on my speech with a speech therapist for the longest time. But thanks to God therapists and my own stubbornness, I am fully independent again, and I'm still driving my non modified car 42:30 pool. My wife is a paraplegic in a wheelchair. So our car is modified, it has hand controls. But she drives well, so yeah, like that helps. They won't let me drive and I'm really offended. Given the way most people drive around here, I don't see a problem. But you know, 42:51 that true, come down to Temecula area, you really have seen some monkeys on the stand and steering wheel? I mean, does they just pass gonna regardless, even on the right on their shoulder whenever 43:06 they do it up here? Or that clock until you move out of their way? And driving has not become very courteous anymore? No, no, definitely not. So you tell me more about push the concept and what you've done with it, and so on? 43:24 And that's a really good question. That's the essence of my coaching program. That's the essence of my when I'm keynote speaker. Because after my stroke, I realized what an incredible second chance I have been offered here that I have to make my life definitely count. And I want to help people to push through the adversity and use that adversity. As you know, reframe the adversity into meaningful opportunities. Because I believe that everybody in unto themselves has the opportunity to rebuild their lives, regardless of what adversity is. And he said, it's a while earlier, it is a choice to rebuild your life. When you fall down. You get up and that's what push hopefully teaches people I built a push Survival Guide. And in that survival guide, there's six push survival skills. And that's what I teach is a step by step program I walk people through because I believe that every single journey start with one step and you know what it starts with before even the one step. It starts with hope. Because if you do not have hope, you cannot take that first step. And I remember what my thinking was once I realized I cannot walk anymore on My gosh, you know, I was always so super active, various boards oriented, and I cannot walk again. But I was definitely, absolutely dedicated to take that one step because I had hope that one day, I will walk again. 45:19 And then you had the hope and did what 45:23 I took the first step. And that's what I tell people that this was a stroke recovery. But it's also it can serve as whatever adversity you see you have in your life you have, once you found the hope that you will recover from that you will turn it into a meaningful opportunity. You take that first step one, one thing I have, I've really thought a lot about and it's part of my push program, is we really have to watch that voice inside of our head. Because it is our chatter to you, it won't happen, it can't happen. I never I'm going to be to be able to do that I'm bad at this, we really have to watch our inner voice, our inner talk, because we are the most influential voice in our lives. Because we become it you know that we become what we believe. And I'm, if I believe I'm never going to be a good runner, I'm running. Also, if I believe I'm not a good runner, well, guess what? What's going to happen? So I'm really talking a lot about watching that in the inner voice. And as I said earlier, decisions, not your conditions or circumstances or ultimately determine your destiny. Well, of course, that's how I would work with people to really put them on that way. And one of the things also, I help people to figure out their why. Because if you don't know your why, all your efforts, I kind of just out in the world, just going left, right, straight up, down, up and down sideways. You really have to figure out your why. My way, my why, why I wanted to recover. Of course, the obvious reasons I wanted to talk again, I want to walk again. But I really took the stroke experience as a wake up call that I need to make a difference and assists people and changing their lives. And that was my why my motivator to work extraordinarily hard. 47:52 course there is, you mentioned the voice that's always discouraging you the other voice is there if we let it come through, which is the one that gives you hope or encourages hope. And then also says yes, you can. 48:07 Absolutely, absolutely. But you know, I don't know if you talked about that before. I'm a member of a toasted cup, a couple of clubs, we are, you know, a program for leadership and just speaking, giving better speech communication. And you wouldn't believe how often I hear well, I can't give a speech. I can't because I'm not a good speaker. Now we need to turn that thinking about, maybe I'm not a good speaker yet. Maybe I cannot give yet that excellent keynote speech. And it just takes its mindset. It's, like you said, an unstoppable, unstoppable mindset. And that really ties in with your show. That's why I was so compelled to come on your show. Because I like that unstoppable mindset. 49:03 I've had a number of people who have indicated an interest in being guests on unstoppable mindset, but they say I'm not a speaker, I wouldn't be a good guest because I'm not a speaker. And it's so hard to get them to understand. I don't care and our listeners don't care if you're a good speaker or not. The issue is do you have a story? And are you willing to tell it? Because if you're talking about the things you know about your speaking is going to be excellent anyway. And that's what really matters. I think that all too often we're taught not to have confidence. And that's the real problem. I know that many times I read in here about one of the biggest fears of all time is public speaking and yeah, for me, it hasn't been and I realized I Think about it that it's a problem for most people, because they've been conditioned to believe that way rather than recognizing that in reality, they're probably talking a lot better than they think they are. 50:11 Yeah, I think so. Do we have to look at here being on your podcast? I mean, we're kind of having coffee. It feels like you have your coffee over there and Victorville have my coffee over here, and to make law, and it's like, chatting over coffee. It's it's not, it's not a big deal. And yeah, I don't know what else to say. When we convinced ourselves we can. For the longest time I was walking around, saying, oh, Ma, I'm really bad at maths, oh, I cannot add two and two. Well, guess what? That's what happened. I'm not good at math, because I just believed I can't do it today. If I really have to add stuff up, I really can. It just, you know, make the choice to believe in yourself, and turn off that inner voice which sits on your shoulder and says, It won't happen, that can't happen. And that's really so 51:12 important. And you just said it, right? Turn off that voice and hand it off, you have the control over whether that voice is allowed to be a part of your life or not. And it doesn't need to be. Were you a coach before your stroke? What did you do before having the stroke? 51:29 I was a social work and psychology. So in a lot of ways I was a coach. But not formally, not not like a now I mean, I have my credentials as a social worker, and especially in psychology. But I mean, I coach people, of course, every single day I did, but I didn't see it as a coach. And i My love this was speaking everybody can hear I love to speak. And my love is full of speaking but I also love helping people Chang Chang Chang, oh my gosh, my English, change their lives. With the tools I give them through the bad six, six steps, survival tips and the poor Survival Guide. And there's so many things, the survival tips. They consist of hope, positive mindset of reframing, courage, resilience, and guest work, perseverance. And that's what I'm coaching people in. 52:41 Were you when you had the stroke and so on, and you had a lot of challenges. Were you afraid? Did you exhibit or experience a lot of fear? 52:50 No, no, I did not. Because I was on lala land. They i For the longest time for a week I was in the neuro Intensive Care Unit, which is a long time and the neuro Intensive Care Unit. No, I wasn't afraid. Things loaded by me 53:08 about or when you when you started to wake up and realize I can't walk and I can't talk and so on. 53:14 I was more surprised. I think I was more surprised. Because I was the sounds the person 50 to 50 year old person. And how can I go from this healthy very sporty person to and who eats well, who eats organic? Who does all the right things to somebody who cannot walk? Okay, no talk, I was more surprised. The reason why I was not afraid maybe there were moments of fear once in a while here and there. But the reason why I was not particularly fearful was because I knew I would recover. That was just not if I recover it was when it was a question of when. 53:58 And that was the leap. You know, I? I asked the question because I see fear all around us in so many ways. So many people are afraid. And as I say it, they become blinded by fear. And I know that for me, being in the World Trade Center. I had created as I've said on this podcast, and in speeches I've given I created and didn't even know it at first a mindset about what to do in the case of an emergency in the World Trade Center. Because I got training, I trained myself and I learned what I needed to do. I've never taught people to deal with fear, even though it's all around us. And we had so many examples of it. And we can see so many examples of it. So we're now writing a new book. It'll be out probably not next year, but the year after we're, I'm going through the first draft of it now. Yeah, it will be all about talking about the subject of being afraid. And the reality is that you can learn to control fear and make it a positive influence. In your life, not something that tears you down. So it goes back to that same, which voice Do you want to listen to? 55:07 Correct? Yeah. And I love that. And it really comes down to choices. Do I want to hear or listen to that voice which sits on my left shoulder telling me all kinds of crazy stuff? Or do I just want to listen to my voice who says, Sabine, this might be difficult. Some people might say you can't. But who cares? Really quick, because I know, we really have to end here pretty soon, on the seventh anniversary of my stroke survivor date, I decided to be part of the Los Angeles marathon. And for your listeners and viewers who don't know how long a marathon is crazy, long, 26.2 miles. That's an enormous amount of back, guess what I trained? Because I really wanted to show that even somebody who recovered from Ostrog, who does not have RMS believes in herself, that I can finish the Los Angeles marathon. And in March of 2019, I finished the Los Angeles marathon. 56:16 How long did it take? Ah, 56:18 you don't want to know, I think six hours or something? 56:21 Look, I've talked to people who took a lot longer than that. 56:24 Yeah, it was kind of a trot. It was not a run because it's you have to pace yourself on such a long distance. And I still ran a couple of more half marathon switches does 13 miles. And to this day, I'm still training running and spinning, you know, the stationary bikes? And because it just will I run out another marathon probably would surprise me. But I just believe in just exploring where our boundaries even are aware of what what can we do in life, because I believe all of us can do so much more than we think we can. And in the end as a closing swabbed, I think, what I, what I have discovered on this journey, is really, I would like to encourage your listeners to think, what is the legacy we leave behind? What is the legacy for our children, grandchildren? Or people who are close to us? How do you want them to remember us? And that's, I want to be remembered as a person who could push through adversity, who made a lot of difference in other people's lives. That's what I want to be remembered. But when one day I'm gone. My son hopefully remembers that. And my grandchildren. 57:54 How old are your grandchildren by the way? Oh, 57:57 there's three, six and nine years old. Oh, Ma? Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Actually, my little little guy. Kiwi. His name is Kiwi like the fruit. Kiwi. He turns for tomorrow. November 3, yay. 58:18 I'm happy birthday for us. Are you today live? 58:22 No, unfortunately, not being a military is my son have sent anywhere in everywhere. But now they're at the East Coast in North Carolina. But I spent five or six weeks with them this summer. And my son is hoping to be stationed in Europe, Germany, Belgium. So I'm kind of hoping that although it's a long ways of life, for me, but you know, Europe is always in my heart. And I go over to Europe as often as I possibly can. 58:56 If you can run a marathon, you can fly to Europe. Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, you talked a lot about push, tell us maybe some tips that our listeners can use to push through their own adversities and deal with challenges they have in their lives if you would. 59:14 Absolutely. And I think I mentioned them throughout the program, but I will summarize them again, that I believe every single difficult journey starts with hope. If you don't have hope, then it is kind of difficult to start a journey. And then you take the first step. Even if it's a baby step like the marathon, where do you start 26.2 miles, you start with one single step. You put the one foot in front of the other, though, that's what we start on. And then the voice we talked a lot about that nasty, nagging voice what what, what you can do and what can't happen to in that voice off, and it's, it's a habit, I still sometimes hear this crazy wise, where Sabine you really can do it, you can do it, you know, shut up. That's what I literally say, See, see, actually the stop sign the red red stop sign, I stopped, and I see in front of my eyes the stop sign. And that really helps, because visualizing stop is really helpful. And then of course, discover your why. And how you do that. Think about what are you passionate about? What what are you good at? And how do you want to contribute to other people? Don't think so much about the money? How am I how much money can I make? It was a third of Sure, sure, money is important. But think, How can you change people's lives? How can you contribute to humankind? And that is your why. And you know, I'm I have the gift off talk. So I use my gift to make a difference in other people. And then of course, I already brought it up, I am really, really very set on the legacy, the legacy we're leaving behind. And what I have done, this is crazy. And I have I have helped other people to do it is write my own eulogy. And that sounds kind of like oh, why do you write your own eulogy? The reason why when I write, I want people to read that when I'm dead. And there's still so many things in there like writing a book. So I better get off my butt to write that book, I find writing our own eulogy, very inspiring. So we can live up to that image people will read about at our funeral oh well, celebration of life, I prefer that. And so it's very inspiring to Butte people to do that. So they really see where they still need to change things in their lives. That's 1:02:16 I was just gonna ask you if you've written a book, so that is something for you to work on. And let us know about when it gets written and published. 1:02:23 Absolutely, absolutely. I'm working very hard on and I'm writing and myself but also with the assistance of some people who who know what they're doing, because that's one of my secrets. Get help when you need help. Writing. I love writing. I think I'm fairly good at it. But I know I need some help with that. So I surround myself with people who can give me that help. And that's very important. That's one of the big steps in you really need to realize your weaknesses and then surround yourself with people who you know who can help you literally. 1:03:07 Well, I absolutely agree with that and wholeheartedly endorse it and believe that it's all about teaming and there's nothing wrong with absolute teaming with other people to get things done. How can people reach out to you and learn more about your coaching program and maybe reach out to you to see how you may be able to work with them and help them 1:03:30 absolutely. So my website is SabinBeckerspeaks SabinBeckerspeaks.com And you can go on, Sabin is yes, s a b i n, B like boy, B e c k e r speaks s p e a k s.com. speaks sabinbeckerspeaks.com. If you are Don't type in Sabin Becker, or no arms probably would come up with that any easier. Even Sabin, you know, I googled myself, just to see how I come up. I think I googled myself, Sabin, no arms, and I came up fairly on the top of a Google search. And if you go, I have a free gift for your viewers and listeners. If you go on that website, there's a button which says Download Free, free like capitalized three survived the push Survival Guide, and it gives you an overview of a six push survival skills. And then I would like to offer that to your listeners. Because I think it's so important to take the choices to really reframe our adversity into beautiful opportunities, 1:04:57 and how can people take advantage of you're coaching program, is there a way they can sign up and reach out to you? 1:05:03 Yes, good question. There's another button, a couple of buttons. And it is really highly visible. They're like gold code type patterns big big. It says, schedule a free 30 minute call with Sabin and as again, totally free. You can sign up for discovery cards, we can see how I can help you best reaching your personal goals in life. 1:05:32 There you go. Yeah, Sabin I want to thank you very much for being here with us today. A lot of inspiration, a lot of interesting things to think about. And I do have one more question, what do you do every day to keep your, your mindset active? Do you analyze what you do at the end of the day or anything like that? Do you meditate or anything like that, to reinforce what you do? 1:05:55 You know, I'm probably should meditate. Like, there's very, very focused person. But you know, just a little bit over a year ago, I, I almost wanted to learn Italian ever since I was in high school, because I travel every year to Italy, and I never know the language. So last year, I started to use a to learn Italian. And now I'm considered an intermediate speaker. And because I do it every day, and I have groups I can practice with through Duolingo. And that gives me kind of the relax I that I need from this constant business is constantly on a camera that's constant research, is constant networking. I love to learn a new lesson and a new language. And that keeps the mind active like nothing else can learning something new. 1:06:52 Learning is always cool. And it's good to learn new things. And also one of the things that we're putting in our book about fear is step back, at least at the end of the day and look at the day and what went well, what didn't go well. And what went well, how do you make it better? what didn't go well, don't be angry or upset about it. How do you move forward from it, which is as 1:07:17 much? Absolutely. And that's what I'm thinking. Don't beat yourself up because some some things just won't turn out. Sometimes I go to these meetings and I don't get a contact or I do I say something wrong, whatever. It happens to me too. And I don't beat myself up. It's just a learning experience. And we need to move forward. Don't listen to that ugly voice in your head, move forward, step by step and have hope. 1:07:47 Absolutely. Well, Sabin, again, thank you for being here. And I want to thank you for listening you out there and we really appreciate it. I hope you've enjoyed what Sabine has to say I have, but I'm prejudiced. I get to do the interviews, but I hope that you have and Sabine for you and you listening. If you have any guests that you think we ought to talk with, please let us know. Reach out, we'd love to hear from you. And I'd love to hear your thoughts about today's episode. You can reach me at Michaelhi m i c h a e l h i at accessibe a c c e s s i b e.com. Or visit WWW dot Michael hingson h i n g s o n.com/podcast. And wherever you're listening, please give us a five star rating. We really appreciate the ratings that you give, especially when they're nice ones, but we want your input either way. And I'd love it if you'd email me and let me know your thoughts. So we hope that you'll do that. And I didn't ask Sabin, do you have a podcast? 1:08:51 Not yet. That's a one of a cause of things. I still going to that on the book. Those are the big ones. Definitely, definitely. But every day step by step and put off hope. 1:09:07 Absolutely. Well, Sabin, thank you once again for being with us. And we want you to come back whenever you want. And let's continue the discussions. 1:09:18 Wonderful. Thank you so much, Mike. This was awesome. I love that unstoppable mindset of yours. And you that Michael is a cool 1:09:36 You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you'll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you're on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you're there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.
Kim Clark, our guest on this episode, focuses her work on the communicator and content creator's role in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We talk about what Kim means by being a “communicator”. She discusses the concepts of being an internal communicator and/or an external communicator. Much of Kim's commentaries talk about what corporations can and should do to be more inclusive. As our discussions proceed, we talk a great deal about the ideas around “inclusion” especially where disabilities are concerned. While, as always, I asked Kim to provide me with questions and conversation topics she wanted to discuss we get to delve a lot into how the world treats, or not, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups. Kim is the coauthor of the #1 Amazon bestselling book, The Conscious Communicator: The fine art of not saying stupid sh*t, or as we say during the podcast, “The Conscious Communicator: The fine art of not saying stupid stuff”. You get the idea. I believe this was one of the most fun and, at the same time, informative and pertinent podcast episodes I have experienced. I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know your thoughts. About the Guest: Kim Clark (she/her) focuses her work on the communicator and content creator's role in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). She is the co-author of The Conscious Communicator: The fine art of not saying stupid sh*t, an Amazon #1 bestseller and is a leading voice on DEI communications and social justice messaging for brands. Her career spans documentary filmmaking, agency partnerships with the Discovery Channel, teaching at San Jose State University, and leading global internal communication teams at KLA, PayPal, GoDaddy, and GitHub. She is known for her ability to facilitate sensitive yet urgent conversations to make meaningful progress in creating inclusive workplaces. She speaks at conferences, designs custom workshops, writes inclusive communications guides, and consults with companies on all things related to diversity, equity, and inclusion communications. How to connect with Kim: LinkedIn YouTube My Website Instagram Book website Buy the book About the Host: Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog. Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children's Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association's 2012 Hero Dog Awards. https://michaelhingson.com https://www.facebook.com/michael.hingson.author.speaker/ https://twitter.com/mhingson https://www.youtube.com/user/mhingson https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelhingson/ accessiBe Links https://accessibe.com/ https://www.youtube.com/c/accessiBe https://www.linkedin.com/company/accessibe/mycompany/ https://www.facebook.com/accessibe/ Thanks for listening! Thanks so much for listening to our podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the social media buttons on this page. Do you have some feedback or questions about this episode? Leave a comment in the section below! Subscribe to the podcast If you would like to get automatic updates of new podcast episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. You can also subscribe in your favorite podcast app. Leave us an Apple Podcasts review Ratings and reviews from our listeners are extremely valuable to us and greatly appreciated. They help our podcast rank higher on Apple Podcasts, which exposes our show to more awesome listeners like you. If you have a minute, please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts. Transcription Notes Michael Hingson 00:00 Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I'm Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that's a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we're happy to meet you and to have you here with us. Michael Hingson 01:21 Welcome once again to unstoppable mindset. Yeah, I get to say that every time we do an episode, it is kind of fun. We've now been doing these podcasts in September of last year, they're very enjoyable. And today we get to talk with Kim Clark, who is a conscious communicator, a knowledgeable person dealing with diversity, equity and inclusion. She is a co author of a book called The conscious communicator and she'll tell us more about that. And all sorts of other stuff, dealing with diversity and so on. We're gonna have fun with this, because although most of the time when you deal with diversity, especially you don't deal with disabilities, we're going to have to talk about that a little bit and see what kind of fun we can have. But we'll be nice about it. Right. Anyway, Kim, welcome to unstoppable mindset. Kim Clark 02:06 It's really a pleasure. Thank you for having me, Michael. And I'm an aspiring conscious communicator. I just want to clarify having a arrived. I'm not enlightened, but I'm a farther along than a lot of other people. Is this Michael Hingson 02:19 sort of like, is this sort of like when you're a lawyer, you're in a law practice. You're always practicing. And Kim Clark 02:24 you're always? I'm a DI communications practitioner. Yes. Michael Hingson 02:29 So So you have a dei practice or something like that? Kim Clark 02:33 Yes. Communication, specifically as my lane. Yes. Michael Hingson 02:37 Well, that's fair. That's fair. We can we can live with that. Well, I really appreciate you coming on board. And looking forward to having a great chat. Let's start like I usually like to do and again, it's something I've been doing almost from the beginning. And it just seems to me that kind of fun way to lighten the load and start the process. Tell us a little bit about you growing up and sort of where you came from, and how you got into this and all that stuff. For a general question, I Kim Clark 03:05 love it. I love it. Michael, thank you very much for helping set the context of how I got to be where I am today. I grew up in a conservative Christian kind of environment from a religious standpoint in Oregon, Washington, and then coming down to California. And I've been in California ever since I was 12 years old. But I'm still an Oregonian at heart. In Oregon, you're either a beaver or duck doesn't even matter if you went to those schools. And we are ducks in our family. So just to clarify that for any Oregonians that are listening. And I had a very interesting coming out in my late 20s. And from that experience, I I produced a documentary called God and gays bridging the gap. And that was basically putting a face and voice to people who were becoming political pawns at the time and still are. And to talk about the benefits and consequences of coming out. When you say coming out You mean as as LGBTQ plus okay, great, just making sure. And then bringing in, you know, pastors and people who are, you know, a part of Christian or Jewish traditions and bringing in that perspective. And so I spent a lot of time showing that movie around all over the place for a few years. And that really catapulted me into how do I tie in social justice issues. Equity. In my work, work, no matter where I am, shortly after the documentary, which was my happiest time and my poorest time. So I got into corporate communications, specifically internal or employee communications. And that's where you spend your time working with leaders sending out emails doing intranet work. So you're talking to the employees about what's going on in the company, you're setting up the company meetings, working with employee resource groups on setting up, you know, speakers and those kinds of things. And at that same time, I started to bring in a mentor who became my teacher and coach, and I've worked with her for almost 20 years now. And she has been a diversity trainer for 40 years. And so while I'm learning and coaching with this mentor over these years, she's constantly talking about diversity, equity and inclusion in the, the corporate space. And so I start pulling when I'm learning into my communication strategies, I'm like, Okay, well, what is the role of a communicator and content creator in this diversity, equity and inclusion space. And so I started implementing that, and building the infrastructure of relationships externally, with grassroots community organizations, as well as employee resource groups, etc. And it was tested, when the pulse tragedy happened in 2016, in Charlottesville, where employees came to me and said, We can't focus, we need support, can we do something for employees. And so I, in within a few hours, got together a virtual vigil. And I brought in my mentor, she's on speed dial, everybody should have somebody on speed dial for these kinds of things. I'm on lots of clients is speed dial, but my mentor was my speed dial. And I brought her in, and we held a virtual vigil over resume in 2016. And I saw, without knowing anything like this, whatever occur at the time, I saw the importance and the urgency that communicators needed to be in a strong position to handle these kinds of social crisis situations, but also being proactive around diversity, equity and inclusion communications from a cultural moment, like Pride Month, proactively and consistent, strategic, meaningful, transformative versus performative. And I just started going out and talking about it. I did a lot of talks, conferences, you know, speaking opportunities, I did a lot of teaching while I was in house, and then in 2019, I went out on my own, and I'm, that's what I do full time now is I help answer, what is the role of the communicator and content creator when it comes to diversity and equity and inclusion efforts. And so much, Michael, you've seen this of de ai efforts, including accessibility, especially accessibility is based in language and communications, channels, how accessible our channels are, that's all the role of the communicator. And so I'm honored to be a part of this work. And since the summer of 2020, when so many companies were put were posting social media, statements of solidarity with the Black and African American community, I got really pissed off, because I knew coming from the position and the experience that I had had for over a decade in corporate communications, I knew what was happening. It was a Keeping Up with the Joneses, it was, you know, not wanting to be left out, but they did not understand the work that is behind those statements. And so I knew they were performative, for the most part, even with commitments of donations, etc, etc, I knew they didn't truly understand and that we're not equipped and resourced, whether it's people or funding to live up to what those statements meant. And so I saw those statements as using communicators, my people, my community, as being performative. They were that we were being used, and we were participating in this performative system. And I'm, I just, it just fired me up to say, I want to write a book about this, which led to the co authoring of a book called The conscious communicator, the fine art, I'm not saying stupid stuff stuff. Michael Hingson 09:44 Yeah, I thought you were gonna do it. Yeah. Kim Clark 09:47 And my co author is Janet Stovall, who's a TED speaker. And so she's worked with CEOs of UPS. She's an executive speech writer. So she knows that external part of communications, I know the internal part. of communication. So we partnered up to write this book, specifically for content creators and communicators, for them to understand their role and name, shall I say their responsibility in this work to become to EI, social change agents in their organizations? Michael Hingson 10:15 Let me ask this, you said something that prompts the thought. We talked about diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, that really misses the mark as What does accessibility mean, we still don't deal with disabilities, as a society as a race. That is the human race in general. We don't recognize yet that disability does not mean a lack of ability. And the fact of the matter is that when we say D, EI and EI, it doesn't mean a lot. Because what does accessibility mean? Do we talk about, for example, websites, a website can conform, for example, even from from a disability standpoint and an accessibility standpoint, it can conform to the guidelines set by the World Wide Web Consortium, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, it doesn't make the website usable, even though it conforms, there are things that that one can show where that doesn't always happen. Accessibility really misses the mark, because we really got to get to the point. And this is something that someone said, a few years ago, a gentleman named Suman, conda, Dante who developed a product for blind people called IRA, that he looks forward to the day when accessibility is eliminated from and is not used in the in the English language or in human language anymore, when we don't deal with that. And the reality is, it's not accessibility, it truly should be inclusion, and, and disabilities, for that matter. And until we change, and we should change how we view disability because disability, as I said, doesn't mean a lack of ability. It's a characteristic pure and simple. And also it is the second largest minority if we consider women, a minority, although numbers wise, all y'all are on a larger group than men. But we'll just go in with a standard typical definition. Persons who happen to have a disability are the second largest minority, and the minority that is absolutely totally 100% discussed the least, we didn't discuss at all National Disability Awareness Day here in this country. Earlier this month, we didn't discuss an October National Disability Employment Awareness Month, you don't see it discussed on television, as a minority, although we have a lot of sub characteristics 100 we don't discuss it, we don't deal with disabilities at all. And I am not picking on you. I'm making an observation that somehow we have to change the conversation to make that truly happen, and that we truly get included. And that's what I'm curious to see how we can really change that dynamic and get people to recognize that we're being excluded no matter what anyone says. Kim Clark 13:17 You are not Yeah, the world isn't designed for people with disabilities, including communication channels. Right. And that's something that I talk about in my trainings quite often is the whole idea of the curb cut effect, if you want to talk about and set context for the curb cut effect, and then I'm happy to pile on as far as like what the role of the communicator is. Sure, go ahead. So the curb cut effect is the idea of especially if you're in the US, the curbs sidewalks out in public, were cut down very purposely, and then add you know, painted yellow in the middle and then dots. I don't know what the actual name of the dots are. But there's there's dots, Michael Hingson 14:01 truncated domes, but anyway, go ahead. Okay. Kim Clark 14:04 Thank you. Thank you. And so they were specifically built for blind, low vision, wheelchair users, etc. People with disability then, but here's the thing, the effect of Curb cuts while they are designed specifically for people, you know, with disabilities, the effect is we all benefits. Sure people who are not wheelchair users, people who are sighted. We all benefit people with you know, luggage, people who use canes who have had strokes. People who have baby carriages, people who are cyclists, you know, who will have bikes in all of its forms. People who use carts, you know, who are pulling a wagon, you know, out to the park, or whatever it is. So everybody is benefiting. Nobody has to step off a curb, you know? And, uh huh. Michael Hingson 15:11 Take a person in a wheelchair who rolls down a ramp and goes over those truncated domes. My wife who I was married to until she passed away last month, almost 40 years. hated those as a number of people I know in wheelchairs did hate them because they get bounced all over the place. It's like riding over cobblestones. Yeah, and, and the other problem is, although some blind people really pushed for them, how much do they benefit blind people, if you're truly walking at a fast pace? Your cane, if you're using a cane may hit the dots, or the strips aren't that why do you might even go all the way over the dot the the plate of dots. And without hitting it, the reality is we still are missing the point, it's more important that blind people detect the ramp. And the dots don't necessarily do a lot to help that for a lot of us. And some people said, Well, what about a subway station to keep you from going off the edge. That's what a cane is for. That's what a dog is for. And the dots may or may not add value. And then the plates of dots at a subway platform are not very wide anyway. So I only bring that up to say they they were installed and they benefit wine people and so on. Yeah, sorta kinda. And then you can talk about the curb cut effect and the way where you have some curbs and there are some places like in Sacramento, and other places where it isn't just a curb cut, the the sidewalk gradually goes down to the street so that it's really a flat exit from the sidewalk onto the street. So you can't even tell there's a curb cut. Some people can make the case that the dots may help there. And I'm still not convinced of that having been around Sacramento, there are other mobility tools that we need. But I hear what you're saying. And look, I can make that case in other ways. The phones today smartphones have the ability to verbalize what's on the screen and so on. Although the companies don't really require, especially Apple, whether it's Apple police who supervised whatever goes into the App Store. The app developers are not required to do anything to make their apps accessible or usable by persons with a disability necessarily, but voiceover for example, on the iPhone is there. It's on every iPhone that exists in the world ever since the iPhone 3g. But why is it that we don't see more mainstreaming of using that voice? Why is it that in Tesla's rather than using a touchscreen? People are given more audio inputs? Why is it that people in a vehicle aren't encouraged to use the voice technology and Apple Push the voice technology more so that rather than looking to see who calls you, you turn on a voice that allows you to hear without ever discussing with the phone? Who is it but the reality is we're still not being included in the conversations because people say oh, that was for blind people or for for people who can't read the screen. It shouldn't be that way. You know, the electric lights and other example that covers up your disability of being light dependent, but make no mistake, you have a disability. Because if the lights go out, you have a power failure or whatever. The first thing you do is go look for a flashlight. And we've made light technology, light emitting technology incredibly available to people who can see but it doesn't change the fact that you still have to use it to cover up a disability. And still, we do that rather than changing the conversation. Kim Clark 19:09 I love it. I love it. Your apps, of course you're right. And I and I love learning from you continually. And the whole idea of that curb cut effect is is to your point is there is a difference between intent versus impact to your point. But the intent is like okay, if we can design the world more specifically for folks that have been left out of design. We're actually going to get everybody else but just like the disability movements mantra from the late 60s, nothing about us without us, which is my one of my favorite mottos, which can also be applied to other communities situations. We have to work as communicators, with people not about or For people, it has to be in collaboration and co creative space. It's like, so me, as an internal communicator, I can own the channels. But I have to work with folks who are looking for those channels to be more inclusive of their experience. Because the whole point, Michael of communications and communicators, our whole goal should be connection. It should be connection. So if I'm putting out an email or a meeting, or an event or a social post, and I'm cutting out, like, what's the percentage, I mean, billions of people around the world I'm cutting out without getting trained and working in collaboration with people who have the answers. They know what needs to be done, we have to listen. And we have to do what they say. Michael Hingson 20:54 We Yeah, the according to the CDC, for example, 25% of all persons have a disability of some sort. Now, the challenge is that a lot of the needs and issues that blind people face are different than the issues and needs of a person in a wheelchair, or a person who is dyslexic or a person who is deaf or hard of hearing. But yet, we all still have the same basic situation, the same basic characteristic in that we're not included. And it's difficult sometimes for different subgroups to get beyond individual needs to recognize that, but it is still where we have to go. We are we are dealing with so many different things. Just this year, the Department of Justice finally said that title two of the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act applies to the internet. Why did it take 31 years from the time the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted? For them to say that, in reality, the internet is a place of business as a place of reasonable accommodation. And websites need to be made accessible. Now, my belief is that as people, even today, especially today, start to look at that the reason for making your website inclusive shouldn't be because you're going to get sued, although it's there. And we can't ignore that. But we should do it because it's the right thing to do. We we include as a result, up to 25% more people than we would otherwise have. But we don't tend to look at the fact that the cost of doing business should be inclusive of persons with disabilities. Kim Clark 22:50 And it's it's not it's not acceptable, you know, and we need to really, you know, make sure that we understand that in all kinds of fields of communications, that is completely unacceptable. Our internal websites or external websites, you know, or, or social platforms, it's completely unacceptable. I have a son and a daughter, and my son is autistic, and low verbal skills, and epilepsy. My daughter is dyslexic. And it wasn't really figured out that she was dyslexic until about second grade. And I know some people don't even know you know that they're dyslexic to college, for example, or college age. And I'm seeing especially my daughter, because she is she has more communication abilities than my son, I can hear from her. I've just like her view of the world is like this, this world, this school system, you know, these books, etc, are not built for somebody like me, I have to figure out a way to create my experience, given what the world has left me out of in designing. And so between the two of them and watching them trying to navigate the world is part of my motivation of trying to create more inclusive work spaces and places to set them up for success because my son from an autistic experience, he's just he sees the world differently. And he is experiencing the world different than what I can understand. And there is no to your point, lack of ability with either of them. They are still perfect, whole and complete. So what do I need to do as a dominant culture as a white person, as a woman, as educated, college educated, like lots of privileges, and I have this platform and this gift to teach, what can I do? What is my role? So I've turned this into my purpose. This is absolutely my purpose. have just like what is the inclusivity look like that we need to turn our, you know, turn our design paradigms, we have to flip the script, we have to flip the script and understand that we need to be designing from a completely different way than what has been done before, in order to achieve what we say that we want. And that turns communications channels as well as messaging from performative to transformative to where we can see the evidence of it. That's something my teacher mentor talks about all the time. It's like, okay, you talk about you want inclusion, you that you're an inclusive culture. Well, what's the evidence of that? So that's where I'm coming from to is like, evidence action? What is, you know, show me, show me, you know, and that's especially rare in the kind of communications world because we're all like, let me tell you about it. Let's talk about it. And I'm like, yeah, uh huh. Uh huh. And there's the say do gap. So you say that you have di e IA. So diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility. So lots of, you know, companies are adopting that kind of acronym right to be inclusive of accessibility. But are you funding that across your organization? Not just an employee resource group, as an advisory board, or whatever it may be? But are you funding them? And are you for hiring folks in your sales department, in your marketing department, in your IT department, in your communications department, hiring them? It's, you know, you have to have evidence behind what you say, to close that gap between what you say, and what you do. And then what you do, we get to say, so it's this nice, you know, relationship, but we've gotten too comfortable with this wide gap. And that's an acceptable, Michael Hingson 27:00 well, and I go back to D EIA, my concern about a is it doesn't really address the issue of disabilities necessarily at all. And it doesn't need to be there, it should come under inclusion. Diversity should include disabilities, but it doesn't everyone has thrown disabilities out of the concept of diversity. You don't hear Hollywood talking about blind directors, we did see a film when the Best Picture award and some some good representation representation for deaf and hard of hearing this year at the Oscars, and that is great. But whether it really changes the dynamic, in the long run, is another story. And again, if we're going to talk about inclusion, you either are or you're not. This this is my my opinion and my definition of it. But you can't say well, yeah, we include some people, yeah, we're still working on others, and you're not inclusive yet. It's a quantum leap. As far as I am concerned, I probably am in a minority for saying that. But you know what, everyone else has screwed up diversity, so I can have my opinion. If we're truly an inclusive society, then there's no need to do anything else about disabilities. It's automatic. But we haven't grown to do that. And another example that I would give you is, and I've talked to deaf people about this, why is it that persons who are deaf or hard of hearing prefer deaf and or hard of hearing and not deaf or hearing impaired, there's a great reason for it? The great reason is, because when you start to use hearing impaired, you're still comparing yourself to a person who has what you might call perfect hearing. And the concept of impaired means you're less, we haven't changed that dynamic for blind people. I actually had a discussion with someone in a speech I gave in October, because I discussed the concept of blind and visually impaired and I said there are two problems with the word visually or the concept of visually impaired one. Visually, I'm not different simply because I'm blind. Now there might be something about my particular eyes or anyone's particular eyes, but blindness doesn't cause visual differences. And then you've got impaired, I'm not impaired, and we need to get the language changed. So blind and low vision is the equivalent I think, to blind to deaf and hard of hearing. And I respect deaf and hard of hearing. And when I had a discussion with someone and I use the word hearing impaired, they explained it and I said I absolutely appreciate it and you're absolutely right. But I think it's just as true for blind and low vision to be adopted. But again, diversity, equity inclusion and accessibility doesn't deal with the issue. Not at all, what does accessibility mean? For whom. And so, really, it's all about or ought to be all about inclusion, to truly make it, something that works. And we need to get society to recognize what inclusion really ought to mean. And then you know, and then deal with it accordingly. But you had mentioned that you are more of an internal communicator and your co author of the book, and I want to get to the book is more involved in external communications. Tell me more about that, if you would? Kim Clark 30:48 Well, your your point is, so I really want people to hear what your point is around this. And a lot of it does come back to language, it comes back to narrative. What are communicators and content creators, creating around the term accessibility? How are they defining in their organizations, the term inclusion? And how are we doing follow up communications around the evidence of inclusion, that's all communications. That's why it's so critical for communicators and content creators. To truly understand this work. It's not something you just write and throw over the fence. Because we're creating the perception, the stereotypes, what is being emphasized, and what is being de emphasized. So we're emphasis emphasizing certain parts of inclusion, but we're de emphasizing to your point, you know, people with disabilities in inclusion, and we also have to own the paradigm shift around inclusion is is less about how do we accommodate others and more about how it is the dominant power within our corporate spaces, recognize itself and make room? You know, Michael Hingson 32:05 and you're absolutely right. And again, that's why I mentioned the problems and concerns I have with the term accessibility, it's meaningless. It doesn't at all necessarily mean, disabilities, we're not putting any true emphasis on that. Someone created that. And they've come up with other terms like differently abled, which is balderdash. Because I'm not differently abled, I may use different techniques, or special needs, yeah, I may use different techniques, but so does a left handed person from a right handed person, so does a very short person as opposed to a very tall person. The reality is that none of that deals with the issue. And in to your point, I know that's what communicators really need to do, which is to create that language. And then the real issue is you can communicate it all day long. But how do we get people to accept it. Kim Clark 33:03 And that's the beauty of communications, because we have a responsibility and a superpower an opportunity to drive accountability with our visibility, visibility drives accountability. So we can shine the light, right, we can focus on those areas where the work really needs to be done, and then demonstrate and share out the evidence of that work. So something that I do for clients is inclusive communications guides. And so this kind of shared language within an organization, every organization needs to have an inclusive communications guide. It sits between your employee handbook and your brand guidelines. And it makes it real it's it's it ladders into your diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. When it comes to language. So you're delivering it's, it's part of your evidence of your dei work. And in in my version of this d of these inclusive communications guides, I have a specific section on people with disabilities, I know you're going to be reviewing my section to ensure that it is accurate, but this whole idea of the language that we use when we are a part of the community, when we're not part of the community. How do we handle those cultural moments and those opportunities? Were those external like internal International Day of disabilities that we were talking about in October? Like how do we do storytelling that is authentic and transformative and meaningful? So that's part of the work, which it was part of that motivation of why I did the book is because we needed to clearly define the role of communications as communicators within nonprofits, corporate, any kind of institutions, whether communications is in your title officially or not. People managers are communicators. They're communicating their, to their teams. And they're the least equipped to handle social justice issues, for example. And so that's the that was how I approached Janet Stovall and said, Would you write this book with me because we need to help communicators come up with a framework to be able to have a strategic conversation on how to be proactive and transformative instead of performative. When it comes to inclusion, when it comes to equity and diversity, what do we actually mean by that? And especially handling social justice crisis situations? Michael Hingson 35:42 So what are some of the words or phrases that people communicators and others should stop using when it comes to dealing or addressing or referring to persons with disabilities? And what would more inclusive language be like? Kim Clark 35:59 Well, there's a lot of there are, there are some terms out there that are not like we were talking about special needs. You know, that was a that was a term that the community did not come up for itself. And we find this in a lot of historically marginalized communities is terms, phrases that have been created by people who are not part of the community that has been labeled on communities. And so the inclusive communications guide is created by the communities themselves in the language that they use to identify themselves. And I always go to people who are part of the community to gut check and vet the guides to ensure that it is representative of their experience. And it's, it's driven by terms and explanations that they say for themselves that, that they have the mic, it's not something, you know, for the Black and African American community in the US, it's not me for a white person to be saying, you know, this is what we call you in the census from the government state status, you know, and it's like, well, are the Latino, you know, Latino community, that is, so the diaspora just like people with disabilities, it's like the diaspora is, so why the range of experience is so wide so and yet we try to find these labels just to say, you know, as if they're all one people, or, you know, like, you know, people, you know, from Asia, and it's like, Do you know how many countries and languages and customs and traditions you're trying to like, lob into like one category, it really, it really erases people. And I think that happens with, you know, people with disabilities community as well, it really erases the variety of, of experiences and talent and expertise and knowledge that the community comes for us. So now, the first kind of step that I've learned from, from the community is to ensure that we're using language that doesn't demean or reinforce that stereotype and that narrative that disability is a lack, you know, a lesser than in comparison to someone who can see, for example, but actually reframing and helping people understand everything that you said it supports everything that you that you said is that it's just another experience of the world. And so but to put the value on sighted people and say, oh, and we've talked about this, Michael about, like, you know, accommodations and Manat people, managers being fearful of bringing somebody in and having to, you know, have accommodations and think that it's gonna be harder to work with somebody with somebody who's already created their, their way of getting through the world, and they know how to do it. And it's like, just let me do it. You know, what, let me do it the way I know that I'm set up for success and support me in that. Michael Hingson 39:00 Is there a difference between dei communications and inclusive communications? Kim Clark 39:07 Well, you know, diversity is its own thing. Equity is its own thing. And inclusion is its own thing, but you can't do one without the other. And there's others like justice, you know, people like to, you know, add, some people like to throw in the J, which, you know, if you use that acronym in a smart way, you come up with Jedi, right? Yeah, there you go. That's kind of cool. Yeah, so some people will put inclusion and diversity, you know, just so it's basically this declaration or proclamation of where their focus is. And you need all of it, you know. And they're all outcomes as well. So, in order for us to have a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace, it has to be a part of the process. It doesn't magically happen by continuing to do what we have been doing, and then we get it a dei of outcome, we get differences in hit our measurements that does that doesn't exist. If you want the AI, as a result, it has to be a part of our process. So diversity in all the ways that it shows up inclusive of people with disabilities and a variety of disabilities, right. And there's, but you have to have that, like I was talking about earlier, you have to have people with disabilities in your marketing team and your sales team, you have to, they have to be hired, and they have to be, you know, retained, and grown. Right, listen to given autonomy and a voice. You know, and, and that's the role of psychological safety and team environment. So you can get those innovative solutions. But there needs to be equitable standards and systems access, removing the obstacles, providing whatever kind of, you know, I don't know, if you use the word accommodations, maybe it's just like, this is the kind of setup that I need. So it's, you know, like, you know, I might have a bad back. So I should have some sort of way that I am set up for success with my workstation. So what like why, let's, let's set that standard, to your point, like this should just be a given on any individual level. Michael Hingson 41:23 So the the, we'll go ahead. And then, Kim Clark 41:27 you know, so equitable access, so you're removing any kind of barriers, you're setting people up for success. You're compensating people, you know, equitable levels, promotions, sponsorship, opportunities, etc. So you're not holding people back. So equity, and then that inclusion is this ongoing verb, it's an ongoing action, it's minute by minute, moment by moment, paying attention, looking around to say, who's not here, who should be here? How are we designing this program? Are we leaving anybody out? Why do I Why do I not have representatives from that community as part of this conversation, so I can make informed decisions? Why am I not learning more directly from that community, so I can be an advocate for them in rooms and spaces where they may not be. So it's an ongoing thing that happens. So when you embedded in your systems and within your teams, and you're in, you've got it in your processes, whether it's from an organization as well as your team environment is how you operate within your team, that impacts the content, the calendar, the impact of your work, the words that you use, the visuals that you choose. And therefore you're going to start having evidence of that work showing up which is going to lead to those outcomes. Michael Hingson 42:51 It's, it's interesting to, to think about all this, and I recognize the value of communications. And what you do is extremely important. But we are not seeing tremendous yet paradigm shifts in attitudes. So for example, I mentioned that in reality for persons with disabilities, when companies think about us, which they often don't, but when they do, or, as the discussions occur, it should be part of the cost of doing business to make an inclusive environment for all. So company, companies, for example, provide windows for you, for sighted people to look out. They also provide windows to be open to cool or allow heat in or whatever. companies provide fancy coffee machines to give their employees something that that they like and the company's value, providing that stuff, to a large degree, companies provide lights, for all of you to be able to see to walk around to look at your monitors and so on. In fact, companies provide computers and monitors, and will spend a great deal of money doing that. But if a blind person comes in, for example, and says, I need screen reader software to be able to access the computer you provide immediately, resistance goes up. Why is going to be? Yeah, because we're not yet valued sufficiently. And people can say that's not true. But the reality is it is otherwise they would recognize that the cost of doing business ought to include us. Those coffee machines, for example, are often touchscreen, which makes them harder to use. Now there is a way for me to be able to use a touchscreen device by accessing someone who can read the screen and there are services that do that. Then you get resistance again about even using those. We still have not come anywhere. Close to recognizing that persons with disabilities have the same or ought to have the same equal rights. Or I think as Jacobus tenBroek, the original founder of the National Federation of the Blind, a constitutional law scholar would put it, we have the same right to live in the world as everyone else. But I don't think that this society has gotten to that point yet. And we can communicate, and what you do helps. But again, it comes down to how do we truly make a major shift in attitudes? Kim Clark 45:35 I would say it's the role of the communicator and the content creator, how are we telling their stories? How are we deferring and handing the mic over? What kind of videos are we producing? What you know, we have to be proactive in this and helping people understand what the opportunities are. So it's communication, it's telling stories, it's getting giving visibility, and, you know, driving that accountability, you know, starting with our own channels, but you know, we, especially for those of us who are internal communicators, we have access to HR, these are our stakeholders and business partners, we have access to it, we have access to customer care, we have access to facilities, you know, I've had many situations where, you know, I'll, I'll be working with a client, and they're like, We are renovating our offices, and I said, Are you working with various, you know, people with disabilities and your design of your office spaces, there's racism and how seating charts are decided, you know, you know, in facilities, layouts, that's something that has to be addressed. People who are wheelchair users cannot reach the mugs in the cabinet in the cupboard. That's not okay. You know, putting power strips under desks, where women with skirts, you know, have to climb underneath the desks in order to plug in their charger, you know, so, we have to understand and there is a wonderful research report that I refer to in the book, the conscious communicator book from Korn Ferry, talking about the, you know, kind of design of what they use it first, the crash test dummy, as the reference, the reference for all, you know, crash tests that do not take into account women's bodies, or pregnant people, you know, etc. And it in it spawns out from there, not just in crash tests. But I highly recommend people to read that research report, and just talk about this reference man leaves most of us out. And so in the design of our facilities of our seating, the design of our communications channels, how we are communicating when the words that we're using the visuals that we're using, we that is the power of communications and setting up narratives and setting standards of the shared language and how we are going to address you know what we've been so oblivious, to dealing with, up until this point, the opportunity, the potential of flipping through communications is exponential. Michael Hingson 48:28 I was watching the news this morning. And yes, I use the word watch. I have no problem doing that. Because as we know from the dictionary, the word to to see is in part described us to perceive. It doesn't necessarily mean with the eyes. Anyway, I was watching TV this morning. And listening to a report about the Orion spacecraft that was launched, traveled around the moon came back successfully, really super. And a discussion of the fact that maybe by 2025, we'll have the first woman and or the first person of color to walk on the moon. Why not a person with a disability? Why not a blind person? Why not a person in a wheelchair? Why not a person who happens to be deaf? Why not all three, I haven't seen Jeff Bezos in any of his launches. I may have missed something. But in the rockets in the people who took into space, I haven't seen that there were any persons with disabilities and Branson sort of the same way. The fact of the matter is that there is so much yet to be done. And we have and should not take the approach of violence and I know that that has happened with with race to a large degree look at things like the George Floyd thing which should never have happened, but at the same time, somewhere along the line We have to have a major attitudinal shift. And that people need to recognize that we are as valuable. And as you pointed out with the whole curb cut effect. And as I mentioned with VoiceOver, for example, on the iPhone, it can be such a tremendous tool to aid in so many ways so that people could focus more on watching the road rather and listening, rather than what we do today. But we haven't got there yet. Which is, which is truly unfortunate. Kim Clark 50:35 And I and I, I fault paradigms, over generations, where, you know, people with disabilities have always been among population, but that value of economic viability has taken precedence and priority over human experience, and leveraging leveraging all the beautiful differences, you know, and taking advantage of the talent and the expertise of how, however people have come to be. And that's a paradigm shift. It's a story and a stereotype and a narrative that has continued and been unquestioned, which is part of its intent is to not question it. And that's the paradigm we have to question I used to teach a, I still teach at San Jose State University, but a class that I used to teach was going back to my point earlier of what's being emphasized and what is being de emphasized. So when, when we are looking at our dei communication strategy, when we are looking at narrative, we have to be looking at who's been left out historically. And question that and say, No, that's unacceptable. That's not That's not how we roll. That's not where we're going to be like moving forward. And truly bringing in that, you know, because one of the things that I that I constantly have to work communicators through is the tokenizing. of folks. So you're mentioning Jeff Bezos hasn't had a wheelchair user in his rockets. I should have? Well, but I could foresee that there could be a tokenization of someone with disabilities, sure photo opportunity for a PR opportunity, right? We fall into that trap as communicators, like, oh, well, we need to have in this photo, we need somebody you know, who's different, you know, different skin color, you know, gay, you know, a woman, you know, those kinds of things, somebody with disabilities have physical disability, we need to have physical disability versus neurodiversity. Because we can't see that in the images and make our point, that we're a diverse group, right? So what we end up airings, we end up on the tokenizing side of the spectrum. And we need to provide more understanding and context around the people who are involved in whatever it may be riding in a rocket. Why the and the value that they bring to that experience? So what you know what, what kind of feedback, what are we going to learn from a wheelchair user who's going up in a rocket? What are we going to learn from that person, not just from that identity, but all that they can bring to the table of who they are. Michael Hingson 53:24 Until we truly recognize that there is that kind of opportunity, and that people who are different than us are not less than us, it will be very difficult for us to move forward, whoever we are. And so I agree with you that the the immediate reaction wouldn't be tokenism. And that's what we have to avoid. But I think we can get there. But it is just a process. And it is something that we really need to do more to make happen. And I and I do hope we'll get there. But we do have a long way to go. And as I said, What makes it doubly frustrated is disabilities are the second largest minority in our country. And yet it is the most ignored minority by far. And so it is a mitten issue. Um, you mentioned your diet, your documentary early on, is that available where people can see it? Kim Clark 54:27 It is online that you can rent it for like $1.99 because this was 2006. And, you know, don't judge me for my hair and my clothing choices at that. But yes, it's online. It's called God and gays bridging the gap. Michael Hingson 54:44 Cool. And I think that I hope people will watch it. I think that will be kind of fun. Well, you wrote a book and we've talked about it. We've referred to it a bunch and we've also talked Talk about the fact that you wrote it with someone. But it was a number one Amazon bestseller, which is really cool Kim Clark 55:05 in all three formats. So I'm very grateful for people who had been following us all year in 2022. We launched it in September, but our following just built more and more throughout the year. And they really showed up on the day that we launched it. And we are so so grateful. And it continues to show up around the world, people writing me and my co author Janet Stovall with you know, they're, you know, this is what I'm doing with it, I heard from a graduate student, who has said, I've come up with an assignment for the class, I'm teaching based on your book, which is wonderful, because as a San Jose State University lecturer over the last 20 years, I am building a course based on the book four year universities, colleges and junior colleges to have a course that's actually I'm going to be teaching, teaching a version of it, but I'm also going to make it available for educators. So it's available for corporate communicators currently. Now, anyone who does any kind of content creation, also people managers, it is very helpful. Can an individual take what the model the depth Model D PTH? That's our framework. That's kind of the secret sauce of the book. Can they apply it to themselves? Absolutely, absolutely. But we are making it available as well to universities, because we want communicators who are coming up, you know, and, you know, not everyone is going to go to universities and colleges, I recognize that. So it's available for others, I will have online courses available, I will have a book club and a conscious communicator community that I'm launching. So there's all kinds of different ways to access the content and practice it with other folks. Because that's, that's, you remember that I am, I'm about action, I am about evidence. So this, you know, everything that I'm going to be rolling out, aligned with the book, but also within the course, etc. is all about accessing the content, practicing it together and being in a community that is being very intentional about this work. Michael Hingson 57:17 So what kinds of things do you teach? To help people understand not to say stupid? What's the word? Oh, yeah, stuff. That's it. That is not really what you wrote for the original title, but it serves the Kim Clark 57:29 purpose. No, yeah. And that, that shows like The conscious communicator, part of the tighter title that was me. And then Janet had the second half, you know, you know, I'm not saying stupid stuff. Michael Hingson 57:45 People are wondering what we're laughing about. The actual first two letters are sh and we'll leave the rest alone. Yeah, Kim Clark 57:50 there you go. It has an asterix in there just for to be family friendly. But yeah, so it's it's been so the kinds of things that I'm most asked to speak about. I do workshops as well, but I do a lot of speaking engagements and consulting. Specifically around the most popular topic is from unconscious bias to conscious communication. So it's that the role of unconscious bias in Korea it that impact of bias in our communications, which can end up showing up like performative communications, it ends up looking like microaggressions. And so understanding ally ship and advocacy as an as a communicator and content creator, what's our role there? There's also a concept called majority coding, C O D ing coding. And that is about making sure that the dominant narrative is sussed out from our communication. So we are not reinforcing status quo unintentionally. Where do we disrupt that status quo in our narrative, you know, to the points that we've made over and over again, you know, during our talk today, being disruptive in that and so cultural appropriation, you know, when we're supporting events, and we have pictures of employees with culturally appropriate attire during Cinco de mio or Native American Heritage Month, you know, like really making sure that we're educating our employees that we are, you know, not reinforcing any kind of negative stereotypes around particular communities. So that's where we start my call. That's just that all that that I just said is where we start. So this is a practical application kind of lab experience whenever I do a speaking as well as workshops, and then there's the whole work around the book itself of the depth Model D PTH. What does it stand for? So, so depth The whole point is, you'll see this on the cover of the book is helping communicators bring depth to their organizations. So it's an acronym though it is D is for deliberate. E is for educated. T is for tailored. Sorry, I've got the P. P is for purposeful. T is for tailored, and H is for habitual. So it's a framework to be strategic and proactive. So you're no longer knee jerk reactions. When a social justice, you know, issue happens. You have the infrastructure, you have the relationships, you have your content, you have the people in place, you have the funding, you have everything that you need to be proactive. And we tackle things like, let's literally talk about PACs, political action committees, and what those what the companies that we work for are giving money to legislation, people will say, let's leave politics out of the workplace. Well, I'm sorry, but yeah, yeah, that we need to talk about that we need to have that kind of exposure to understand that companies are entirely making so many business decisions based on political situations, legislative support, tax, you know, benefits. That's why, you know, moving people to Texas, and I'm like, Oh, my God, Roe v. Wade, you know, you know, that kind of thing. So, we have to talk about those kinds of things and help communicators understand where the system has been designed to be performative. That's what we're hired for, rewarded and recognized for and how to disrupt it. And what do we need need to do to go backwards into the systems and processes to ensure that we are actually transformative, and that's what we're rewarded and recognized for, to help because there's, there's no doubt in my mind and, and 1000s of other people's minds that D AI is the transformation of the business going on right now. And if you do not do this as the business, you will be irrelevant within the next five years, just like digital transformation, if you didn't get on board, you're not here anymore. The same thing is happening with Dei. And we need to understand this is that strategic business transformation of the business, and communicators play an exceptionally important role in this work. Michael Hingson 1:02:36 I was talking to some people yesterday about podcasts and their people, roughly my age. And so I'm 72. I admit it right. And they said, We've never listened to podcasts. Tell us about podcasts. And, you know, we're kind of old. We don't deal with that technology. And my, my immediate reaction was, that's a great excuse. But why do you put up the barrier to make it more difficult than it needs to be? And by the time we were done, they were going to go off and listen to unstoppable mindset, which I'm preparing. Everybody should? Everybody should? Yes, that's right. But the reality is that we all need to practice keeping up. And it challenges our minds, when we work at keeping up with whatever it is, whether it's podcasts and doing something like this, or just dealing with iPhones, I know any number of blind people who I see on lists who say, I need someone to tell me how to use this, or use this iPhone or use this technology. No, but what they don't do is go research it, they don't go look for it themselves, and do more to stretch and grow by learning to do it. And I understand there come times when it's necessary to have some help because a lot of times when I go research how to do something. When I go search to search for it on say Google, I see links to tons of videos and I ignore the videos mostly because they don't describe very well what they're doing in the video and they don't give me information. It's an easy way but it doesn't really help everything. So I go past the the videos to get to the other information stuff. And most of the time I can find enough information to tell me what I need to know. But we we really work as a society. It being often too lazy and not learning to research and not learning to keep myself constantly growing. When my wife passed away, the first thing or one of the things I started to say is you know I have to move on and it took me a few days to realize why I was uncomfortable saying that. And the reason I'm uncomfortable saying it is because I'm not moving on. She's with me. She'll continue to be with me, but I will move forward It should, we should all move forward, we should always work to move forward. Kim Clark 1:05:04 Wow. Thank you for sharing that. And absolutely, there's, you know, there, there's chatter amongst the DI practitioner world that talks about, all right, well, if you learn to how to use a phone, because you feel like you have to, and there's so many other experiences that we that we can refer to, in addition to the phone, you know, being racist, or sexist, or, you know, etc, ableist, you know, it's just a matter of just doing it, just do it, you can you can learn a phone, you can learn to be anti racist, it's, it's a matter of being allowed, allowing yourself to learn, and make room and space, you know, for that learning, and seeing people with disabilities for their, you know, humanity, and what we have in common, and how needed unnecessary. Everyone is in society in this work, and to move forward in that work to your point, it's, it's necessary, and it's just basically required as a citizen of the global Earth. Really, you know, it's just like, this is just who we are. And this is what we're about. And this is, this is part of, you know, leading a very meaningful life is, is is doing that learning, no matter how uncomfortable it can be. It's the benefits are way outweigh the risks. Michael Hingson 1:06:33 You mentioned politics and all that. And one of the things I've read on a number of occasions, or articles or commentaries about conversation, and that in our world where we have become such a fractured country, when it comes to political views, especially in the previous administration, according to the people who write some of the things that I've read, we've lost the art of conversation. Do you think that's true that we've really lost the art of conversation? How do we get that back? How do we learn to step back and say, Hey, talking about differences in different views isn't a bad thing, as long as we keep it in perspective, that everyone has the right to an opinion. But we do need to have a moral standard that we go by as well? Kim Clark 1:07:24 Well, if we think about the workplace, and it comes from, you know, the environment that we grew up in, and then we bring that environment, to the workplace, and what what we do not have, or any kind of decent role models around having conversations outside of our comfort zone, because whatever environment that we we were raised in, whatever what was rewarded in the environment that we were raised in, and, you know, what we're bringing into the workplace culture is afraid to say the wrong thing. We don't have, it's not only that we don't have any role models on how to foster a learning environment. It's, you know, it's, it's, we have terrible examples, not just that we don't have any we have, and then the ones that we have are terrible examples. You know, like, we only see that the options are calling out, you know, for example, when there's a lot of options that we actually have on our tool, but to have to look at valuing a relationship with a colleague, in a way that we can have productive, maybe even healing conversations, but we don't, we're so rewarded within a capitalist corporate environment of getting it right the first time, you know, part of the bias of professionalism, which is an excellent article by Stanford innovation review, talking about the bias, they did the curb cut effect as well. But you know, talking about the bias, professionalism, it shows up in perfection, for example, perfectionism. And so there's the status quo, that is in the subtext of our corporate cultures that actually prohibits the the learning capacity, the curiosity, the willingness, the permission to explore these conversations amongst colleagues in a healthy productive way. So first order of business, go do your own research. Don't lean on somebody, like I shouldn't be only tapping into you on things that I could Google, right. But do I want to hear about your specific experience? And how communications and channels can be, you know, connect more with you? Yes, I do want that input. But are there things that I could go and learn on my own? Absolutely. Now, but I have to check myself and make sure that I'm in a place of listening and learning And then I shut the crap up, you know, and that it's not that I am in that place of humility, and, and valuing your specific experience. But, you know, I'm not rewarded for that in a corporate environment, I'm rewarded for having all the answers for getting it right the first time for being extroverted for you know, pushing things and making things go fast, and least resistance, you know, allowing bias to inform my decision making. And you know, what, we'll fix it later, or, okay, well, it doesn't work for, you know, blind folks. But you know, we'll do that in the next round. And then we never get to it because our budget got cut, you know, so it's like, these are the things that we need to challenge and and understand that we don't have role models, and we have terrible role models. And so looking at what that bias of professionalism is actually keeping us oblivious, and keeping us from growing beyond what has been allowed before to the point of really honoring, and learning and keeping our egos in check. That's really key in order for us to foster that learning environment, especially in the workplace. So we can begin to do the real work. Michael Hingson 1:11:27 Well, the the, the comment about, well, we'll get to it in the next round immediately, puts a value on one thing over another, rather than truly being inclusive. And, you know, as far as this whole concept of, we have our role models, whatever they are, we have our own experiences, and so on, I feel so blessed with doing this podcast, because I get to hear a lot of different viewpoints, and brought that on myself. But every person I get
Talk about a particular event shaping your life, while earning a degree in photography, Marlana Semenza stepped onto a tour bus and began an adventure and a career. In this Unstoppable Mindset episode, you get to hear from Marlana about how she was hired by WWE as a photographer and suddenly found herself on a bus going to different wrestling events as a photographer. She always liked the camera and taking pictures, but with her new WWE, (World Wrestling Entertainment), a position she took her dreams to a whole new level. On this episode we get to experience from Marlana her many adventures and experiences not only just taking pictures, but also how she evolved her camera knowledge into telling visual stories. For me, this episode is extremely fascinating since, as a blind person, I don't really do pictures. However, Marlena's exciting and commitment rub off and I very much enjoyed hearing what she has to say. I hope you do as well. About the Guest: While earning a degree in photography, Marlana Semenza stepped on to a tour bus and began an adventure and a career. She uses her unique background that includes storytelling, advertising, set design and location scouting to tell her client's stories in their most powerful way. An international photographer and visual strategist, Marlana's client base has included athletes, celebrities, WWE Superstars and public figures including Miss North Carolina. She photographs clients in person and now virtually through her service 'Photographer In Your Pocket.' She is also the host of the podcast Your Iconic Image. How to connect with Marlana: Website: https://www.marlanasemenza.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marlana.semenza.photo/ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marlanasemenza/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063107685069 About the Host: Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog. Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children's Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association's 2012 Hero Dog Awards. https://michaelhingson.com https://www.facebook.com/michael.hingson.author.speaker/ https://twitter.com/mhingson https://www.youtube.com/user/mhingson https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelhingson/ accessiBe Links https://accessibe.com/ https://www.youtube.com/c/accessiBe https://www.linkedin.com/company/accessibe/mycompany/ https://www.facebook.com/accessibe/ Thanks for listening! Thanks so much for listening to our podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the social media buttons on this page. Do you have some feedback or questions about this episode? Leave a comment in the section below! Subscribe to the podcast If you would like to get automatic updates of new podcast episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. You can also subscribe in your favorite podcast app. Leave us an Apple Podcasts review Ratings and reviews from our listeners are extremely valuable to us and greatly appreciated. They help our podcast rank higher on Apple Podcasts, which exposes our show to more awesome listeners like you. If you have a minute, please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts. Transcription Notes Michael Hingson 00:00 Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I'm Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that's a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we're happy to meet you and to have you here with us. Michael Hingson 01:20 Hi, once again, I am Mike hingson, your host and welcome to unstoppable mindset today we get to interview Marlana Semenza, who is a professional photographer and I think has some very interesting and clever things about photography that she wants to talk about. She has photographed celebrities, WW II, events and people and so on. And I don't know what all being blind Do I look at pictures? No, not necessarily, but I appreciate them. Although my favorite joke is although people say a picture is worth 1000 words, I would point out that it takes up a whole lot more memory. So do it that much. But welcome to unstoppable mindset. How are you? Marlana Semenza 02:01 I'm well thank you so much for having me. Michael Hingson 02:03 Well, thanks for being here. And Marlena also has her own podcast and we will get to that and talk about that as we go forward. I'm sure why don't we start a little bit by maybe you telling us just about you growing up and kind of some of the the early things, you know, to sort of set the stage for what you did with your life. Marlana Semenza 02:21 Well, I was actually born in New Jersey, and then my mother transplanted me to Connecticut when I was about 10. We're in New Jersey. I was born in Morristown, New Jersey. Okay. Then, when we got to Connecticut, it was in Fairfield County, Connecticut, I was in New Fairfield, which is about an hour north of Fairfield. But it was great because I never really lived more than an hour outside of New York City for most of my life. So that's a very rich culture. And you have access to a lot of a lot of things. My grandfather, who I adored, put a camera in my hand when I was a kid. And that was his hobby. And I because I idolized him and wanted to do everything he was doing. Then it became my hobby, and then later on became my profession. Michael Hingson 03:18 I was reading your bio, and it said that you stepped on a tour bus and began a speaking career. What's that about? Marlana Semenza 03:26 Well, not a speaking career. I've Michael Hingson 03:27 not a speaking career but a career. Yeah, adventure. Marlana Semenza 03:32 I graduated from college with a degree in photography. And before I went to Western Connecticut State in Danbury, Connecticut. Originally, I was going to go to Fordham for law. And what happened was, I didn't really want to have all the college debt. So I thought, Okay, well, I'm gonna go locally, somewhere for a year and get some common core under my belt. And I don't know why. I never, it never occurred to me that you could make a living in the arts, I don't know where I thought all of the photos in magazines and things came from. But once I realized that you could actually do it for a living that hobby then became what I wanted to do. But about, oh, six months or so before I graduated, a friend of mine was working for WWE, which actually at the time was WWF and Stamford, Connecticut. And he worked in the graphic design department. And they were looking for somebody to work in photo editing. So I went down to apply for the job in photo editing. And my soon to be boss came into the interview. And by the end of the interview, he said to me, do you have a problem with airplanes? And I said, Well, no. And he said, That's good, because instead of photo editing, you're going to be my assistant and I was given the time to meet, which was in the evening. I stepped on a tour bus. I was they pointed and said this is your bunk it was me and I think it was six guys And I had never watched wrestling in my life. I knew nothing about wrestling. And the next morning, I stepped off the bus, walked backstage at the arena and looked around and went, What have I done? But it's, yeah, it was, once I got past the initial shock of it all, it was actually an amazing, amazing experience that I'm eternally grateful for. Yeah. Michael Hingson 05:27 So you, you started a career and certainly an adventure. No, no question about it. I had some experience with photographers after September 11. I was contacted by I don't even remember who but it had to do with the fact that I think PepsiCo had been involved in a campaign to raise funds for the families of people who perished on September 11. And they wanted people who had become visible. And I certainly had in the one of the things that they wanted to do was to put pictures of people into ads in USA Today. And so one November day, and I lived in New Jersey at the time, we lived in Westfield, but one November day, in 2001, I went into New York and went to the photographs photography studio of Richard Avedon. Oh, and of course, Richard Avedon, with the time was probably the most famous photographer in the world. Anyway, we, he took a picture of me and Roselle, it took about 45 minutes all together, and it was done. It was very enjoyable time very pleasurable to spend some time with him. And there we were, and I still have that picture to this day, which is great, because he sent me a copy. Marlana Semenza 06:54 I love that. And that. As soon as you said his name, several images of his just flashed through my head. Like, yeah, oh, well, um, there's one of a woman jumping off the sidewalk, I believe that's his image with a umbrella. And I remember, I think there was another one that he shot of, I want to say it was Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller. But anyway, there's, there's several different images that I that popped into my head. Michael Hingson 07:33 It was a very, as I said, pleasurable experience. And he was a person who clearly knew what what he was doing. And, you know, a lot of people said, Oh, you're going to be there all afternoon, because photographers take a long time. And clearly, it wasn't that way. He knew what he was about. He got the shot set up that he wanted, and we were done. Marlana Semenza 07:55 Yeah. And, you know, it's interesting that you say that, because I've had people say to me, you know, do you work with assistants? And what kind of equipment do you bring with you to various sessions and things like that. And maybe it was all the years that I spent in studios, and lugging all kinds of gear around and things like that. But if I can't carry it on my person than in my head, I don't need it. And I think part of that also came from because I photograph weddings for a brief period of time in my life. And it's just that being free to kind of run and gun and, and use whatever you see and had the fluidity and the flexibility. And also to i i don't like a whole lot of people on set. I like it to be whoever I'm photographing and me because this is what we're going to make together. Michael Hingson 08:49 You talking about. This just reminds me of the times after September 11. For me, when people started wanting to come in interview me the press heard the story. They got a hold of it, especially after appearing on Larry King Live. And literally we had hundreds of people, over a few months come to our home. And we had a number of television stations from around the world. And we had everything from one or two people from one station who came set up, did their interview and so on. All the way up to 14 people from one Italian station, who came in it took 14 People they felt to do the interviews, which was amazing. A couple of people just stood around and directed and didn't really do anything. And they had a number of camera people and it was just incredible. The number of people who came for that interview and we always wondered why but everyone is different. Marlana Semenza 09:46 Yeah, you know, I sometimes wonder when people do that why? And you know, I have to say all of the photographer's that took the images from 911 because I lived up in Connecticut at the time You're right across the river really? Right? Um, I would not have been one of those photographers, because I know me and I would have been running and it would not have been a matter of, oh, let me capture this. And no, I would have been running, Michael Hingson 10:18 as opposed to the two French photographers of the French people who actually recorded and had the first real recordings of that day, having seen the first plane go into the building, and they were there covering one of the fire stations, but they got probably the best early coverage of everything that eventually went into a documentary. Marlana Semenza 10:40 Yeah, yeah, I give them all credit. But I would not have been wondering, yeah. Michael Hingson 10:46 Well, I don't know you've done pretty well tell us more about WWE. So they showed you where your bunk was. And there you were. So tell us about that. Marlana Semenza 10:54 Yeah. And I didn't even go away to college. So for me to climb on that bus and be a part of this. And for the first, I don't know, several months or so, it was showering in the arenas and get climbing back on the bus and going to the next place. And the job was held for me while I went back and finished my last semester at school. But, you know, then after that I graduated there were only maybe, I don't know, a handful of women on the road at that point. And so one of the producers and I, once they, once they decided, you know, I didn't have to ride the bus with the guys anymore. I got to go actually in a rental car and sleep in a hotel, like a, like a big girl. Christina and I traveled together a lot. And so that was nice, too. Because what that also allowed I was young, I was, you know, very, very early 20s. So that allowed me to be able to sometimes fly into a location early or out of a location later, if I wanted and be able to see a lot of the country. I saw 32 states and three years and a lot of them more than once. Michael Hingson 12:09 What was it like being on the bus with with those guys, it had to be a little bit intimidating. If for no other reason being a woman or not, there are a whole lot bigger, and they're wrestlers. And you're not? Marlana Semenza 12:21 Well, the fortunate thing is I didn't have to be on the bus with the wrestlers. That the bus that I was on, we were all of the people that had to be first at the arena. So it was my boss who was the head of production for for all the live events, my boss, the sound guys, the the riggers, things like that, that had to get the lighting, all set in the arena. So that's who I traveled with the wrestlers. The funny thing about it is most of them became almost like Big Brother ish to me. I am not a big girl. So I literally came up to most of their chest. And, you know, it was, it was just an amazing time and an amazing experience. And a lot of them were friends of mine up until, unfortunately, most of them are deceased. Now, the people that I worked with, but it was just a great time, it was a really, really great time. Michael Hingson 13:29 But they valued you and they respected you. And do you think that they treated the other people all the other people that you rode with sort of the same way? Or were you special to them? Because you weren't, Marlana Semenza 13:44 I mean, you know, you always have guys that are going to push it and and see, you know if they can get a rise out of you or, or, or try and review or something like that. And you know, we were no different. But at the end of the day. A lot of the things that other people may have experienced and I don't know what other people's experience was. But I know for me, I didn't have I wasn't put in bad positions. I wasn't put in, you know, they were they were good to me. Michael Hingson 14:19 What great memories, huh? Yeah, that's cool. And then you got to go. Not on the same bus. Why did that happen? Just because you rose through the ranks and became kind of more of a of a higher end person or what? Oh, God, Marlana Semenza 14:34 no. Just checking. I think it was just, you know, let's give the girl a break. Get her off the bus. You know, and I didn't really have to be there. At the time that everybody else has rode that bus had to be there. So I think it was just a kindness on my boss's part. Michael Hingson 14:57 me recognize that you could be more efficient doing other things rather than just sitting around or sitting around waiting. Marlana Semenza 15:02 Yeah, that can very well be the case. Well, well, Michael Hingson 15:06 well think good thoughts. Yeah. How long did you do that for WWE for years? Well, then what did you Marlana Semenza 15:15 do? I've always been freelance my whole life. So from there, I actually got off the road and did a bunch of work for a cartooning and animation company also. Because I had a minor in illustration. So I, that company we did the monsters comic book and the Tom and Jerry comic strip and animation sells for various places that were limited edition. And from there, I got to go out to Comic Con in San Diego with them, which Oh, boy. Yeah, I'll tell you. You think wrestling is crazy. Go to Comic Con. Tell us a whole nother experience for me. Michael Hingson 15:55 I've never been to Comic Con. I've heard about it, you know a lot. But I'd love to hear some of your experiences. Marlana Semenza 16:01 Um, once again, I was surrounded by people from people in Halloween costumes, pretty much in a dressing up as this superhero or that superhero. And when we went out there, it was when we were doing the monsters comic book. So we had Pat priest who was Maryland monster and Butch Patrick, who had played any monster out signing autographs and signing the comic books. And so, you know, we got to spend some time with them. And, you know, comic book artists are amazing artists, also. So, but there was a little bit of Have you ever seen the Big Bang Theory? Oh, lots. Yeah. Okay. I'm convinced. I saw lots of Shelton's and Leonard's and Rogers and Howard's walking around. Any pennies? I'm very, very, very think that. Yeah, I think the pennies were mostly the actresses that were paid to be the superheroes. Michael Hingson 17:11 Got it. But you But you saw lots of the other characters? Marlana Semenza 17:15 Oh, yes. Without a doubt, without a doubt. Michael Hingson 17:18 Did you ever were any of the actual actors ever? There were like Jim Parsons, or any of them today? Marlana Semenza 17:26 No. The only other than Pat Preston. Which Patrick the only other celebrity that I recall seeing there was Lou Ferrigno. Michael Hingson 17:35 Oh, the Hulk. Marlana Semenza 17:39 The original Hulk, Michael Hingson 17:40 who original? Well, not the original one, but because it goes back before the cartoons. Yes. But original series. Yeah. Well, Marlana Semenza 17:47 I guess what I'm getting at is that dates me but that's okay. I saw that hook. And then I used to also work with the other Hulk in wrestling. So yeah, yeah. Yeah. Michael Hingson 17:57 Yeah. I mean, for a while original one. Yeah, he Well, there you go. See? Well, when hoax can can protect the body so it's okay. So, what did you do at Comic Con, you took pictures? Marlana Semenza 18:10 No, actually, because when I worked for the cartooning and animation company was called animated arts. I was actually an artist assistant. So backgrounds and things like that the reason why they took me out to ComiCon was, so I could help be talent relations, because of my background with wrestling, and working with all of them. So that was mostly why I was. So what do you mean by that? I'm just getting people where they need to be when they needed to be there, making sure that they had what they needed. That type of thing. Michael Hingson 18:49 So I know COVID has affected Comicon. Needless to say, but at the same time, I think we had ComiCon this year. Have you been Marlana Semenza 18:57 back? No, I have not. I haven't been in years. Michael Hingson 19:02 Do you want to go back? Marlana Semenza 19:05 I would go back to work it again. I'm not a good I'm good in production. I'm not so good in the stance. Michael Hingson 19:18 Not a good tourist. I'm not like rather than working. Marlana Semenza 19:23 Yeah. Let me get my hands into it. And I'm better. Michael Hingson 19:29 Cool. Well, so as a as a photographer, you must feel you do things that that make you stand out or make you different from other people so that people want to hire you what makes you different? What do you think makes you different than other photographers in the world? Marlana Semenza 19:51 I think part of it is background. But I would also say another part of it is at the end of the day, I'm really not in the photography business. I'm in reputation business. So, because of that, it's, you know, photography is obviously the vessel that I use to help people tell their stories and stand out and create a reputation. But that's really the business that I'm in, not so much the image taking for the image taking sick. Michael Hingson 20:21 So you want to tell stories, Marlana Semenza 20:24 I want to tell stories, but I also, my job is to take what makes you valuable and unique. And relay that to the people that need to know it in a way that will connect. So it's, yeah, it's it's more than just the capturing of an image, there's a lot of strategy that goes into it. There's a lot of, okay, well, how can we make this effective? How can we, how can we make it connect these images connect and unique for the person that they're being created for? Michael Hingson 21:01 So you have to develop a good, strong relationship with the clients, the people that you're working with? And I guess there's, in a sense, there's kind of two levels of clients, they're the people who may hire you, who may not actually be the people that you interact with, but then they're also the people that you interact with. And so there must be a lot of trust and teamwork involved and all that. Marlana Semenza 21:26 Oh, absolutely. I think, especially as I was saying earlier, I like to be one on one with my clients, whenever possible. And because of that, I think that helps establish a level of trust, because it can be just us. And we, we know that we're in it together. And that I value their input, I think trust is essential in because I That's it goes back to working one on one with people. And because this is our creation together, so I value not just the person, but also their input and what we can make together. And, you know, there are a lot of people that just aren't comfortable in front of a camera, they become self conscious, or they don't know how to pose or how to act or how to be. And when you develop that level of trust that I've got you. And that's the whole thing that my clients know is I've got you. I guess it's much, much easier. Michael Hingson 22:36 I think that's probably what impressed me now that I think back about it about Richard Avedon, because what he really did was very quickly established a level of trust, even if not saying anything, just his attitude and the way he worked. He did spend time wanting to learn about me. And I think that helped him to him deciding what he was going to do and how he was going to do it. But it was all about trust. And I think that no matter what we do, it's really all about trust, when people take the time to develop trust in and gain that trust, it doesn't get any better than that. Marlana Semenza 23:11 Right. And you know, when I photograph someone, by the time we get to that point where I actually pressed the button, we have had several conversations. And we have, really, because the first thing that I do is there's a large questionnaire that they fill out. And then we dive into that in a meeting. And I've had clients cry during that process, I've had them you know, and what you uncover, just even at that point, develops a relationship that transcends just photographer, subject. And I just think that's really important. Because the better that I can understand you, the better that I can know You, the better these images are going to be, because they will then be more tailored to you and more unique to you. Michael Hingson 24:09 So what do you actually go through to get people to trust you? What, what's your process? Marlana Semenza 24:16 Um, like I said, there, there is a questionnaire. It's also it's a large level of honesty on my part, too, because am I fit for everyone? No. And that's okay. The goal is for them to have the best photographer for them. And if I am not that, then I think I need I would be doing them a disservice to not say that. And also, I know enough photographers that I can probably point you in the direction of somebody that will be a better fit for you. Doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with either one of us. It just means that there's somebody else better designed to tell your story and create those images with you than me. And I think it's that level of honesty He too. Michael Hingson 25:02 So that is part of what you have to do to make sure that you do the best job for your client, which is something that ought to be true in, in general. Trust, it seems to me is so much under attack today in so many different ways, don't you think? Marlana Semenza 25:18 Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think the other thing, too, that that's under attack a lot, too, is humility. I look at humility as a beautiful thing, because it doesn't mean that you think less of yourself, it just means that you are teachable. And that you you think of others before you. And I think that that goes a long way also. Michael Hingson 25:45 So now, how long have you been doing photography and doing the work that you do? Marlana Semenza 25:51 I've been a photographer for probably 25 years doing this kind of work, personal brand, things like that. I'm probably about five Wow. Michael Hingson 26:04 So what did what did you do? So you did the cartoon work? And ComiCon as you said years ago, what did you then go do Marlana Semenza 26:12 I also have this next for you. Next after that is I went to do some freelance work for the photo department at Ethan Allen. And because I was in Danbury, Connecticut, and that's where their headquarters is and then from there I started to do set styling and design work for them I got to work on their New York Times ads and their style books and their training videos for their designers and their their magazines, things like that. So all of these things the the storytelling that I learned in wrestling and the creating of personas, the the thinking outside the box when it comes to cartooning and animation and creating something from scratch, the set styling and design, the location scouting, all it all of those things come together and that's what I can pull from to tell somebody story now. Michael Hingson 27:12 So you've said that you don't work with everyone how quickly usually do you discover the you may not be the best fit for someone today, Marlana Semenza 27:22 um, I can usually tell by one conversation and also combing their social media, Michael Hingson 27:33 what kinds of things become cues or, or messages that somebody might be the right person for you to work with, as opposed to somebody who isn't? Marlana Semenza 27:46 If they are the right person, usually, it's funny because the women that I tend to work with have what I refer to as the lashes and Lu batons factor, usually somewhere in in their story or somewhere in there. Their brand, is a bit of fashion is a bit of that beauty angle. But not always, but usually, that's an easy key for me, it's easier to tell who's not a fit. I have one client who has pushed me way out of my comfort zone. And normally he would not have been a good fit for me, he has done Naked and Afraid four times. And I'm just not an outdoorsy girl. I'm not a hiker, I'm not all those things. So normally somebody like that, I have a friend of mine who also does what I do, and she is a hiker, and will you know climb mountains and all those kinds of things. That would have been somebody I would probably have, you know, introduced to her as a better fit. But it turns out he and I want to be in a good fit so far. Even though the first snake I see I might be out of there. I can't guarantee Michael Hingson 29:09 what what made you decide, though, that that you guys did click, Marlana Semenza 29:14 um, personality. And there's a lot of trust on his end for me. And I also trust that on his end, when we are in situations that I'm uncomfortable that he's got my back. So I think it goes back to like you said, there's a lot of trust involved. Michael Hingson 29:39 And you've been able to develop that. So of course, one of the natural things it's tempting to ask is Who are some celebrities that you've worked with over the years that people might have heard of, Marlana Semenza 29:52 um, most of them would be in the wrestling vein. I've also had The opportunity. One of the first women that I worked with in the pageant community was a woman named Chesley Crist. And a lot of people would know her name at this point, too. She went on to be Miss USA, she went on to be a correspondent for extra TV. And she was just an amazing, amazing woman. Michael Hingson 30:23 Well, tell us more, if you would, um, Marlana Semenza 30:27 Chesley. When you met Chesley, she's the was a person that you never forgot. Whenever once you met her or spent any amount of time with her. I remember, when I first walked into the room with her the first time I met her. It was like, even the air turns turned into its attention to her. She was that captivating. She was that type of a presence. And she like I said she went on to be she was Miss North Carolina, USA, then she went on to be Miss USA. Then she went on to I think she finished in the top five or 10 at Miss Universe. I want to say five. And then she went on to be a correspondent for extra TV. And she unfortunately, in January of 2022, was in the news. Because at 30 years old, she committed suicide, she jumped off the 29th floor of her Manhattan high rise. And that opened up a lot for a lot of people. Because in the pageant industry, the pageant world that I knew, and the girls that I work with Chesley was the gold standard. And so for this to happen, it sent a lot of people reeling. Plus also, if you knew Chesley when I remember, when I first saw it in the news, I thought it had to be a mistake. But what it has fortunately done, I'm hoping and I'm seeing is that it's opening up a dialogue, that it's okay to say you're not okay. And for you know, the other thing that was so sad to me, because it's a bigger commentary that I think needs to be addressed is when she was 29. She did a an article for a law magazine. And in that article, she made the statement that she felt like she was running out of time to matter in society's eyes. And unfortunately for women, I think that that becomes a burden that men don't seem to face. We are are faced with this aging. And it is thrown up at us more so than it's thrown up at men. And we feel like we're on more of a timeline or a time crunch than a lot of men, unfortunately. And I'm hoping that that starts a dialogue around that. And hopefully that can change as well. Michael Hingson 33:06 Yeah, it's it's a significant issue that that is always I think, in a sense been part of society. And maybe we should be fair and say plagued society that you got to look good. And if you don't, you're getting too old or whatever. And you're right, that doesn't tend to pressure men nearly as much as it does with women even so called sexy man. You never hear the same discussion about them that you do about women. Marlana Semenza 33:38 Right? Here men, you know, oh my gosh, look at how distinguished he looks. Meanwhile, for us, it's good hold she looks. So yeah, that will at least start discussions. Michael Hingson 33:50 Even if they try to make it a compliment she ages Well, still, it's the same thing. Yeah, exactly. Which is, which is really unfortunate. Well, so for you, you. Most of your business has been in what you do traveling, or do you do most of it from a particular place? How does that work for you? Marlana Semenza 34:13 Um, I am currently situated just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina. So a lot of my clients actually traveled to me only because I have everything that you could want here as far as backgrounds go, and things like that, if you need something specific. I have traveled to clients. But, you know, during COVID, when we all got thrown into captivity, mostly photography is a face to face. Sport, you know, and it could no longer be so I had to do a real shift. And my friend Claire that I mentioned earlier happened to see a lot of photographers doing photography on using FaceTime. So she's like, let's try this out. So we tried it out and In. Most photographers seem to be doing it for fun. And I thought this is a business model. So I've since then found an app that seems to work really well. And it allows me to take over the camera on your phone. So now I can photograph people remotely all over the world. Michael Hingson 35:16 Tell me more about that, how does that work? Marlana Semenza 35:20 I connect, I go through the same process, get to know them, and all that type of thing. So we know what kinds of images they need to create the, and then when we decide that we're going to connect, I connect from my computer to their phone, it'll like I said, it allows me to take over the camera on their phone, and I can still direct them, I can still capture the image, the images come to me so I can edit them. And the plus side is you can have content from anywhere. You don't have to worry about even if you're on vacation, and you decide you want photos, you don't have to worry about finding a photographer because you literally have one in your pocket. And the but the downside to it is if you're looking for images that are going to be on a billboard, or on the cover of a book, or any of those those types of things, this wouldn't be the right platform for that only because it the capture isn't large enough for that. But for social media, or any kind of you can even put them on a website if you needed to, or something like that. But definitely for social media, it's perfect. And a lot of people that's the content that they need. They need to to keep generating. And this way, you don't have to rely on selfies, because I got you. Michael Hingson 36:39 How does it? Well, that's, that's fair, I think to ask how does that work as opposed to a selfie? What? What's the difference? Marlana Semenza 36:47 Um, I'm actually doing the photo. So I'm still taking the shot. So all's they have to do is if they, you can do it one of two ways. You can either put your phone on a tripod, you can prop it up on something I've had people stick it in their shoe, if they're out on a beach. And this way, I can just direct and shoot. Michael Hingson 37:13 So when you get the shot you want you take it. Exactly, exactly. So as long as people have a good phone connection or a good internet connection, Marlana Semenza 37:22 it it helps to have to be connected to Wi Fi. But you do not have to be you do not have to be when the images download, I kind of need you to be on Wi Fi. But but you don't necessarily have to be for me to take them. Michael Hingson 37:38 So what kinds of environments or scenes have you taken pictures in using this app? So I've done some interesting things. Marlana Semenza 37:48 I've done photos for a couple on a beach in Kennebunkport, I've done photos for a woman who is a business coach at her home in Mexico, I've done some photos at a NASCAR event, a realtor out in California. So it's, it can be anywhere, it really can. Michael Hingson 38:10 Do you find it more difficult in any way to if you will take the picture remotely in terms of setting the scene getting things the way you want, then if you were actually there, Marlana Semenza 38:23 what becomes more difficult is you have to be more than the photographer, you have to be very clear about direction. And because I have to kind of teach the person on the other end to be me, as well as be in the scene. So what has been helpful too is if I can get somebody on their end, that becomes what are referred to as the voice activated tripod, which all they do is hold the phone and they go up down left, right if I ask them to. And that just makes things go faster. But the app allows me to depending on the make and model of your phone to zoom in and out and really utilize the different features of your camera, which makes it fun. Michael Hingson 39:11 And you do all that part of it. I do? Yes. Because you can control that from the app. Marlana Semenza 39:16 What's that called? It's called shutter app. Michael Hingson 39:20 And the whole idea is using the app that someone else actually takes the picture and becomes the photographer and the the active person and setting up the shot. Yeah. And then the person who has the phone is, is well are rather the person whose phone it is that you put the app on who you want to take a picture of is is still the subject but you get to still do the active things that you want to do to set. Marlana Semenza 39:47 Exactly, exactly. And you know, there are things that it helps to have a professional do even even in a case like that because when it comes to posing and things like that. I know how to pose you, I know how to pose you quickly. I know how, you know if, and one of the things I usually ask women especially is, are there any areas of your body that you want to highlight or hide? And if, if they say, you know, well, yeah, I want to look thinner, which seems to be an ongoing thing. There are poses just little tweaks in your body that I can make, that will make you look better on camera, Michael Hingson 40:31 is that more in adjustments that you make, or how you position the camera, or what Marlana Semenza 40:37 it depends in, in real life, or in face to face, some of it is positioning, some of it is lens choice, stuff like that, when it comes to the phone, some of it is zooming in and out with the lens if I had that ability, but a lot of it too, is just making tweaks and of how to position your body Michael Hingson 41:02 with a camera. photographers taking pictures have the opportunity to put different lenses on depending on what they want to do. Is any of that available for phones where you can depend on Marlana Semenza 41:15 the model? Well, it depends on the model of your phone, too. I haven't had anyone that has any external lenses, or any of that kind of thing that they can hook onto there. But for example, the iPhone does give you the opportunity to go wide angle, and to zoom in and things like that. So it really just depends on the make and model of your phone. What's available to me. Michael Hingson 41:39 But there aren't additional hardware options that you can can add or have to It's my Marlana Semenza 41:44 it's my understanding, I think there are attachments that you can get for the phone. But I'm, I'm uncertain as to what all those are. Because most of the time I'm hauling around a mirrorless full frame camera. So right, yeah. Michael Hingson 42:06 Well, what is next for you. So you've, you have made changes in what you do with COVID. And you use shutter app and you're able to do a lot via the phone now. What's next, Marlana Semenza 42:19 I just want to continue to work with people and make them stand out and shine. That's what makes me happy. I don't like to be the it's never about me. It's always about the people that I'm working with. And I just want to see them succeed. And I want to see them be everything that they want to be and dream about being. And so if I can help them get there, then that makes me very happy. Michael Hingson 42:44 Which also is part of the whole trust thing. Because if you can get people to understand this is an ego for you. But that you love doing what you do, and it's all about doing the best thing for them. That's gotta Marlana Semenza 42:58 help. Yeah, yeah, it's never about me, which is cool. Michael Hingson 43:02 What made you end up in Raleigh from being in Connecticut? Well, Marlana Semenza 43:07 from growing up in Connecticut, the year before we moved, I have photos of my husband out shoveling the snow that was waist deep. And I had enough. I had had enough of that. You know, when winter strikes when you're up in New England, you know that you're gonna buckle up and you're in for about six months and misery. And so I wanted a more temperate climate. My grandmother had been out in the Arizona area. And that wasn't really my thing. I really liked the East Coast. So he started applying for jobs. He got a job down here. And that was the end of that. What does he do? He's in sales. Michael Hingson 43:55 So what kind of interesting shots well, so let me do this first. Have you had much snow in Raleigh, then do you get snow there? Marlana Semenza 44:03 We get snow. It's not a whole lot of snow, at least not since I've lived here. And it's funny because it does turn to ice very quickly. But for the most part, when we get snow, it's gone in a day, maybe two days. I remember the first time that we had just bought our house. And it snowed, maybe about three inches, and for lack of something to do my husband and I were out with a dirt shovel shoveling the driveway. And my neighbor came out and she stroked my arm and she said we just let that melt here. Michael Hingson 44:37 And you kind of had this epiphany. Marlana Semenza 44:39 Yeah, but it's nice because it's pretty. And it stays pretty. Because it never gets to be that. Michael Hingson 44:48 Frozen that Marlana Semenza 44:49 exactly and that that brown and you know, gray snow that has all the salt in it and things like that. It just doesn't get to that point. Michael Hingson 44:58 Right which is pretty cool. All, huh? Have you had any interesting pictures or shots around North Carolina, Marlana Semenza 45:06 I have actually, I just, I had been wanting to use this one location. And I'm still searching for locations here. Because I, I feel like there's so much and so much that I don't know about. And I also love taking photos, and doing kind of like a juxtaposition of something beautiful in the middle of chaos or things like that. So for example, there was a shot that I did for a dress designer a few years back. And the way the dress was, it was this denim dress. But I felt like it needed to be shot in just a warehouse or something like that. Well, instead, we wound up going to a scrap metal yard. And we had the best time got some amazing images of distress in the scrap metal yard. And just about a week or so ago, there's an location that I'd been wanting to use for years. And it's the remains of an old hospital. And it's fenced in, and it's on the campus of St. Augustine University in Raleigh. And fortunately, because my relationship with the Miss North Carolina organization, I was going to photograph Miss North Carolina and and I said, How about that, and they called and made it happen. And it was, it was the most amazing place. But I love things like that, just these gems of places. And that's why I like to shoot on location. Michael Hingson 46:39 What's the most interesting or unique location where you ever done a shot? Marlana Semenza 46:44 I didn't know that scrap metal yard was pretty, pretty interesting. The interesting it was because when we first got there, the gentleman that owned the property, we got the the lowdown on we'll stay at that area over there, because that's where the rats are and, and don't go over here and and like I said, I'm not, I'm not a critter kind of girl, I don't like critters. So that was an eye opener for me. But they were so lovely. And so wonderful. And by about halfway through the session, the manager came out and he's like, do you want us to move anything around for you or help you out with anything? And they were they were fantastic. They're fantastic to work with? Michael Hingson 47:25 Is there any place that's kind of on your bucket list that you want to do a shoot that you no matter can think of? Marlana Semenza 47:34 I don't know. Um, a lot of them as I find them, I'm, I'm slowly being able to check them off. I also came out of wedding retirement a few years back to do a wedding over at the Biltmore, which was pretty amazing to that. That's quite a place. Michael Hingson 47:55 Well, if people want to learn more about you and reach out to you, whether it's to see if you're a good fit, or just learn about what you do, how do they do that? Marlana Semenza 48:05 The best thing is to just go to my website, which is Marlenasemenza.com. Michael Hingson 48:09 Can you spell it please, Marlana Semenza 48:10 it's M a, r l a n a. S e m e n z a.com. And you can see all my social media links are on there. There's a way to to reach me on their contact forms. There's all kinds of things on there. But that's, that's the hub. Michael Hingson 48:28 And we're also putting that into the notes and into all the descriptions that go with the podcast. So it will be there as well. And we hope that people will reach out. Yeah, I Marlana Semenza 48:40 hope so. Well, 48:42 I want to thank you once again. And thank you for listening. I hope that you found this interesting this for me, it's been fascinating. It's an area that I don't directly know a lot about and don't do a lot with pictures myself being blind, but I'm always interested to learn so it's it's fascinating to hear what Marlena has to say. I hope that you found it. So as well. Love to hear your thoughts. Please reach out to us at Michaelhi at accessibe.com A C C E S S I B E or go to our podcast page, Michaelhingson h i n g s o n.com/podcast. And we'd love to hear from you either way, please give us a five star rating. We appreciate your ratings. And the five star ratings are of course what we want. We love to get love to hear your thoughts, anything that you think we ought to have as far as a an idea for a podcast want to hear from you about it. Marlena goes for you as well. If you know of any one or any other thoughts of things that we should have for a podcast, I'd love to hear from you about it. But again, I want to thank you for being here and for coming on unstoppable mindset today and I know that we talked about coming on your podcast Actually, why don't you tell us briefly about that? Marlana Semenza 49:56 Yeah, my show is called your iconic image and it is As tools, tips, information and inspiration to help you grow a Brand on Purpose, and Michael is going to be a guest. Michael Hingson 50:07 And how do people learn about the podcast? Marlana Semenza 50:11 Once again, there's a link to it on my website, or you can find it anywhere you listen to podcasts. Michael Hingson 50:18 Anywhere podcasts are sold. Marlana Semenza 50:20 Yeah, exactly. And also to if you would prefer to watch it, any of those people that would prefer to watch it, you can also find it on my YouTube channel. Michael Hingson 50:30 And we've done that with unstoppable mindset for those who may not have looked or noticed unstoppable mindset is up on our YouTube channel as well. So find us love to hear from you. And again, we appreciate your five star ratings and Marlena one last time. Thank you very much for being here with us and for giving us your time today. Marlana Semenza 50:49 Thank you so very much. I appreciate you. Michael Hingson 50:57 You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you'll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you're on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you're there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.
As you know, this podcast is entitled “Unstoppable Mindset” with the tag line “where Inclusion, Diversity and the unexpected meet”. This episodes represents for me one of the most unexpected sessions I have done. I first heard from Tanja Milojevic through LinkedIn. I did not know at the time she was a person who happened to be blind due to the same circumstances that befell me. I discovered this and so much more about Tanja when we finally met to discuss her coming on Unstoppable Mindset. Tanja was born in Serbia as a premature birth. She was given too much Oxygen that effected her eyes and lead to her being blind. She permanently relocated with her family to the U.S. at the age of five. You get to hear her whole story including how she learned to function successfully in high school, college and beyond. Our discussions in this episode include much about her life and successes. We also get to talk about one of my favorite subjects, audio drama. Tanja's insights will help you learn not only much about blindness, but about life in general. I hope you enjoy Tanja's stories, observations, and thoughts. About the Guest: Tanja Milojevic Biography I was born in Serbia as a premature baby. I had retinal detachment as a result of the incubators and was diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity at the age of one. I then had several surgeries on both eyes to restore some vision which were partially successful. These surgeries took place in the United States. I permanently came to live in the U.S. at the age of five when I was diagnosed with open and close angle glaucoma in both eyes. My medical visa helped me make a permanent home with my family near Boston where I began my mainstream public education. Advocacy is important to me. I attended public school all my life and that required learning my rights and advocating on my own behalf along with my family. I wanted to learn braille at a young age even though I was able to limp along by struggling with print on my video magnifier. I was aware at that time that my vision would deteriorate over time and I'd lose all of it later in life; thus learning braille and mobility were early self-imposed goals in preparing myself for the gradual transition. I pushed the school system to take a dual learning approach and provide me print/braille materials. My supportive family helped me advocate from a young age and I got involved in my IEP meetings as a teen, which proved invaluable. I advocated in high school and college to improve the experiences for other students who were blind or visually impaired coming into those institutions. My former TVI tells me these students' lives were much easier after I left because of I urged the school to buy braille translation software, the JAWS screen reader, scanning software, and an embosser. My use of JAWS from eighth grade onward gave me the technology skills I needed later in life and I believe future students should have that early opportunity as well. I received my guide dog Wendell just before entering college. He was from the Seeing Eye and was a golden lab. Wendell and I were best friends and everyone I met fell in love with him, he was so human-like. My puppy was always a magnet for people and I had no trouble making friends and getting places safely, night or day, rain or shine. Wendell accompanied me while I attended Simmons College, where I thrived and enjoyed the supportive community, clubs and events. My communications professor pushed me to pursue working at the college radio station where I improved my audio production and on-air skills. He saw audio potential in me--the perfectionist who always strived for improvement. The creativity was flowing and I began to make my own radio dramas. My podcast Lightning Bolt Theater of the Mind was born at that time and thrives today. My love of radio drama stemmed from an accidental discovery of the radio drama Pet Cemetery on tape back in high school. Making the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired easier and better are objectives that continue to be part of my life. My internship at the Constituent Services Office under Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was challenging and taught me a lot about issues families were facing across the state. I provided feedback on audio description quality during my WGBH Media Access Group internship and learned about ACB's Audio Description Project at that time. My Easter Seals internship provided me the opportunity to take part in the Thrive program, where I mentored a teenager with visual impairment and provided her with transition resources, confidence, and guidance. I shadowed advocates at the Disabled Persons Protection Commission when I interned there and compassionately assisted vulnerable clients. Individuals with disabilities oftentimes face financial control and abuse in many cases and DPPC helps them take the steps they need to stay safe and resume their lives in a better situation. These experiences stuck with me as I advocated to take radio communications in college and learned the skills to become a professional voiceover talent. I graduated from Simmons College in 2012 with a double minor in Radio Communications/Special Education Moderate Disabilities and a BA in English Writing. I moved on to UMASS Boston where I had the opportunity to work with the Carroll Center for the Blind and Perkins School for the Blind, to teach adults with visual impairments how to be more independent. I taught these students how to cook, clean, access technology, organize, launder clothes, read braille, learn about needed resources, and take part in leisure activities. The best part was seeing their confidence grow and the self-doubt lessen. I made their lives easier and better by increasing their self-image, confidence, advocacy skills, and independence. However, while attending graduate school, I had some accessibility challenges, but I pursued my Master's degree anyway. I struggled through the process by working with professors to complete my courses with high grades and finally graduated with a Master's in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy from UMASS Boston's Vision Studies Program. My work at the Perkins Library has been outlined by Ted Reinstein on The Chronicle documentary TV program. It follows my braille production work at Perkins and my voiceover endeavors. I had seven years of experience providing braille and large print to a wide variety of organizations and individuals. Perkins offered many opportunities which I utilize to network: I try new devices when demonstrated, input ideas to MIT students for new technologies, and tested websites/software for various Perkins Solutions clients. My voice over freelance work allowed me to meet many friends and producers which organically lead me to the path of audio description narration work. I now work with X Tracks, International Digital Center and audio Eyes to name a few. Giving back to the blindness community by bringing more quality audio description to the ear is personally rewarding and I'm honored to be able to help advocate further in this field of access. Further enriching my life experience, my current guide dog, a yellow lab named Nabu, and I were partnered in February, 2017. It didn't take long for our bond to form, and now she and I travel together everywhere. She's a beautiful and loving dog and it's no trouble meeting people with her participating in my adventures. We work closely every day and she rarely leaves my side. That brings me to the present. In June of 2022, my partner and I founded GetBraille.com, a braille production company where we produce literary braille, large print, and audio materials to all who need them. This on-demand service will make it easier for schools, organizations, restaurants, and individuals to request quality braille at affordable prices. We always provide quotes and project consults at no cost. Our future goals include developing multi-sensory educational materials and assistive technologies for those with print disabilities that we wish had been available to us. Offering work to others who are blind and visually impaired is important to us as we grow; we look forward to the bright future a How to connect with Tanja: Email me at email@example.com Visit our Get Braille website at: https://getbraille.com/ Visit my voiceover website at https://www.tanjamvoice.com/ Find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tanja.milojevic.37 Check out my linked in profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tanja-milojevic-94104726/ About the Host: Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog. Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children's Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association's 2012 Hero Dog Awards. https://michaelhingson.com https://www.facebook.com/michael.hingson.author.speaker/ https://twitter.com/mhingson https://www.youtube.com/user/mhingson https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelhingson/ accessiBe Links https://accessibe.com/ https://www.youtube.com/c/accessiBe https://www.linkedin.com/company/accessibe/mycompany/ https://www.facebook.com/accessibe/ Thanks for listening! Thanks so much for listening to our podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the social media buttons on this page. Do you have some feedback or questions about this episode? Leave a comment in the section below! Subscribe to the podcast If you would like to get automatic updates of new podcast episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. You can also subscribe in your favorite podcast app. Leave us an Apple Podcasts review Ratings and reviews from our listeners are extremely valuable to us and greatly appreciated. They help our podcast rank higher on Apple Podcasts, which exposes our show to more awesome listeners like you. If you have a minute, please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts. Transcription Notes Michael Hingson 00:00 Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I'm Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that's a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we're happy to meet you and to have you here with us. Michael Hingson 01:20 Welcome once again, we're glad you're with us. And you have in case you're wondering, reached unstoppable mindset, the podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meat. I'm Mike Hinkson, your host and today we're interviewing Tanja Milojevic. And Tanja has a varied background. She is involved with a company called Get Braille. She's a voice actress. And she's going to tell us about the rest. I looked at her bio, and it's a nice long bio. So there's a lot of data there. So rather than putting all of that here in the podcast, Tanja gets to talk about it. How about that? Anyway, Tanja, welcome to unstoppable mindset. How are you? Tanja Milojevic 02:01 I'm doing well, Michael, thank you so much. And it's Tanja. But Tanja a lot of people think that I think it's Michael Hingson 02:09 well once again, like I should have asked because like with with Milojevic. I, I just listened to what Josh said. And it said, Tanja, so Tanja. Tanja Milojevic 02:20 Yeah. Thank you so much for having me on the show. I'm really excited. And of course, with your story being so inspiring, too. I, you know, I look forward to helping the community itself and in many different ways, including providing Braille access, and easier Braille access, more affordable, quality, all that fun stuff, and of course, contributing to the world of voiceover and AI voice cloning. Michael Hingson 02:46 Well, let's start with kind of your history. Tell us about growing up and where you were born and all of that stuff. Tanja Milojevic 02:54 So I was born in Serbia, I came here to the US at the age of five and a half, because I needed some various surgeries. Honestly, when I was born, I was a preemie premature baby and I had run off the prematurity. So we needed to perform surgery right away, to see if we could reattach the retinas. They had been detached due to the oxygen, the incubator. So my mother was able to gather enough money, fundraise and bring me here to the US at the age of one, we had the surgery that was very successful. And then we came back to the US periodically to get eyedrops medication and check in. By the age of five, these checkups were so frequent that we decided to settle in the US, it made a lot more sense to do that a lot more cost effective. So that's what we did. And I went to public school here, I have the fortune of getting all of my schooling here in the US, and then many other opportunities as life went along its journey. So I was a dual learner in school, I did large print Braille. And then of course, when screen reading technology was more easily obtainable. A lot of audio, JAWS, voiceover all that fun stuff. And I'd say my vision, Michael Hingson 04:14 able to do much but give your age away. But when were you born what year Tanja Milojevic 04:18 1989. Michael Hingson 04:19 So by that time, by that time, ROP was pretty well known. So there was no choice but to put you in an incubator with pure oxygen or what? Tanja Milojevic 04:34 Well, I mean, you're looking at not a third world country, but but definitely a country that was economically struggling with the war going on and such. And the care really wasn't equal access to everyone and it's sort of like, what you could get into, you know, what opportunities were available to you. And at the time, they had all these premature babies in incubators, that was just the way it was done. They didn't have enough They have to really monitor and I sort of question whether or not much of the staff really cared all that much about it. It's not like you could go to court and sue them and really get anywhere because they would lock you out of the courtroom. So with limited opportunities, you kind of took what you could get. Michael Hingson 05:18 Yeah. Well, having been born in 1950, when ROP or at that time, rLf was not nearly as well known or certainly not accepted. Although it had been offered as a reasonable issue dealing with premature babies. It still wasn't totally accepted by the medical profession. And I've heard that there were people born around that time who like 30 and 40 years later sued and won. And I always felt, why would I want to do that? If the doctor didn't really know, or wasn't that well known? What are we gonna do by filing lawsuits other than destroying lives, which doesn't make any sense because my life was not destroyed, it just went a different way. Tanja Milojevic 06:03 Right? I mean, that's a great way to look at it. And I see it as a blessing in disguise, because it was a great opportunity to bring my family over one at a time close family and get them jobs here. Well, not that I got them jobs, but they were able to have the opportunity to better themselves, their situations, and so on and have family here, which is a much more attractive alternative than being in a country that's economically struggling, war torn, etc. At the time, we got out of that conflict, just just in time, because it gotten worse from there, obviously. So having the opportunities to have public education here. All of the various services that were offered here, at the time was just unheard of. The School for the Blind that existed in Serbia was very 1800s, maybe 1950s style, institutional, like dark rooms dirty, just not a place you want to be. So yeah, it's a great, great opportunity for us. So I That's how I see it, instead of worrying about lawsuits and trying to get revenge or whatever. Michael Hingson 07:14 Which makes perfect sense. Which makes perfect sense. Do you Do you have siblings? Tanja Milojevic 07:19 I do I have an older sister. We're 17 years apart. So kind of the running joke is she's my mom. Sometimes, you know, state, we go to the certain know your mother can help you with this. Like, this is my older sister. But don't say that to her. She'll be offended. Michael Hingson 07:36 Your big sister. Tanja Milojevic 07:38 My big sister. Michael Hingson 07:39 Yeah. Yeah, that works better. Yeah. So you say you did get some eyesight back from the operations? And yeah, how did that work for you in school? Tanja Milojevic 07:52 I it was, in a way, it sort of got me into trouble. Not that I wasn't grateful for having the vision, it was just that my teachers were like, well, she can read large print, you know, and if we magnify them enough, and give her the video magnifier, or they call it a CCTV of CCTV, as it's called the video magnifier, but they gave me access to one of those like, well, she doesn't need Braille. Because first of all, we have to pay a whole ton more, we got to pay another person to come in here and work on Braille. And whenever she can give, just get by with large print. And it was a struggle, because after 45 minutes of trying to see the larger text, it hurt my you know, I get a headache, my eyes would start tearing, I might neck, shoulders all that you'd get uncomfortable sitting in in such a weird position for that long. So we had to fight with the school to get them the public school to get them to agree to get me Braille services, so that I learned braille and print and had both in my toolbox, if you will. But also, I would argue that the language barrier was just as much of a hindrance as maybe the lack of understanding of, hey, this is a dual learner. Because when I first started first grade, they put me in a school that was like more special ed versus some teaching someone who's blind, it was more like they had kids with various disabilities. And so the teaching style wasn't a good fit for me. I did learn English and like grade one Braille, which is for anyone that's listening that may not know, is uncontracted Braille. It's long form, you write everything out a letter at a time versus using contractions and the lead condensed bro, which saves a lot more space. So I knew that but it wasn't a great fit because I wasn't being challenged enough. And one of my teachers found that out first grade, and they pushed for me to get moved to a different public school, where it was more of a general ed system. So So I had a year where I was kind of like, stuck in first grade for two years. In a way that was good because I had a chance to learn more of the language and Braille at the same time. And then I was more prepared to move on with the curriculum. But in a way, it also sort of held me back and was a little bit awkward for me, because I was like, Wow, I'm older than these kids here in my class. So a couple of different challenges. But the way that I like to look at it is that the more skills you can gain from tough spots, you're put in, the better problem solving skills you might have or advocacy for yourself later in life, especially if you see that. It's just simply a matter of miscommunication. And as long as you explain things to to folks around you correctly, in a way that resonates with them, it's got to resonate with them, it can't just make sense. They've got to sort of personally understand what it is that you mean, and see the struggle, I guess, if you will, then you're better off doing it that way, then Michael Hingson 11:01 what do you what do you mean? What do you mean by that? Can you kind of explain I I'm not sure I follow totally. Tanja Milojevic 11:07 So a general education teacher is busy, they don't have the time to stay after school every day with you and work on extra things. If you can prove to them that giving you an assignment ahead of time, or giving you the notes on the board, or maybe even expressing to them what's confusing about you and setting a time that works for them, you're going out of your way to show that you're dedicated to their class, they personally need to show that their students are succeeding, or they're going to have to explain why it is that that they've got so many struggling students. They're responsible for many kids all at once, and you're just adding more stress. So the more solutions you can provide to them, the easier their life is, and their job is. And the faster they can get out the door because we all have lives and families and yeah. So proving to the school through anecdotal evidence that this is hiring someone else is just going to present their teachers with less obstacles is the way to go. At least for me, from my experience, well, showing effort showing evidence, and it worked. Yeah, yeah, eventually. Michael Hingson 12:23 Well, how did the teachers react as you started to explain, I would assume that that helped. Tanja Milojevic 12:29 It did help. I did run into some other snags where the teacher of the visually impaired I was working with at the time, had a lot of her own issues in her own life, day to day. So you for math and science, and so on, I was writing my showing my work writing a lot of the answers in Braille, leaving some space, so double spacing everything so that she could interline it with print, which means writing the print above the Braille line. So then the teacher could go ahead and read it, it was an extremely antiquated way to do it at the time, that was the option. Now, of course, we've got all kinds of technology and Google shirt, you know, Google Sheets, and whatever, all this other more efficient ways to do it. But the point is that it took her a couple of weeks to get these assignments back to my general education, math teacher, for example. And that slowed me down. Because I'd fall behind, I'd be maybe a chapter behind everybody else, I'd still have to pay attention in class, but they were well ahead of where I was. So you know, I was I was having a hard time keeping up. This was like for fifth grade. But it was just another exercise in workarounds and figuring out how else we can do this, I'd show my work and print on the CCTV instead of the Braille, I would find ways to print out material that I wrote off of my something called a Braille note or a Braille light at the time, which is just like a small computer, essentially, that has a Braille display, you can feel one line of brela at once. It's electronic, it stores files, you can change the file format, and I print out my stuff. So I came up with a couple of faster ways to do it. Michael Hingson 14:19 And what it's what it's actually called as a refreshable Braille display because as new lines display, or new lines are called for the dots pop up representing those lines. So the display constantly refreshes for those who don't understand that. So it's a way of now producing Braille in a much more portable way. That one disadvantages is Tanya's describing it. You only get one line at a time because it's a very expensive process. The displays are not inexpensive to do so. Over time, hopefully we will find that someone will develop a really good full page braille display but that's a waste is off. Tanja Milojevic 15:01 Yeah, it's still pricey technology. I really there get away from sins? Michael Hingson 15:08 Yeah, we need to do something different than we do. Tanja Milojevic 15:12 Definitely the pins get dirty Rogen, etc stuck, and it's very expensive to replace them. Yeah, that's part of the hindrance there. Michael Hingson 15:21 But it is still a lot more portable than carrying a number of volumes of Braille books. I remember when I was in school, when I was in school I we ordered a catalog case from Sears the catalog case literally was a case where you would put catalogs and carry them around, if you were selling things, you could take catalogs to people, you could put a bunch of catalogs in this case, in my situation, we used to, to so that when I went school, I can carry some Braille books. And I got three or four volumes of Braille. So that carry Braille for a few subjects. But, of course, very bulky, very complicated, not easy to do, and certainly not refreshable. Tanja Milojevic 16:06 Not at all, I did that for math, science history, especially a lot of the charts. The way that they did it was they'd have thermoform charts, and all the rest of the text was done in Braille. And so you had like not only the volume of the chapter, rail text, if you will, but you also have a separate volume you're carrying, that has all the reference figures associated with that chapter. So you're carrying two volumes, as opposed to where you could just have 213234 Sometimes, Michael Hingson 16:38 and for those objects. And for those who don't know what thermoform is thermoform is a process where you create an original of something, whether it be drawings, or even documents on paper, and then you buy a machine called a thermoform machine, you put a blank piece of plastic in the machine, lying on top of the Braille sheet, the original Braille sheet, you activate it, and a vacuum pulls down the two sheets together the Braille with plastic on top of it, while it heats them. And the plastic then takes on the shape of the Braille document below it. So it's a way of relatively quickly producing a number of copies of a braille book or, as Tonya said, that, in her case, the diagrams and so on, of course, it's still not inexpensive. And thermoform isn't like using your fingers to read Braille pages, the plastic feels different in it, it's a little more awkward to use. But still, it was a fast way to get Braille comparatively speaking. Tanja Milojevic 17:43 That's definitely true. The main issue with thermal warm is your fingers eventually go numb, because it's a glossy type paper. And if your hands are sweating, it can inhibit your ability to run your fingers across the page. So that makes your hands go numb faster. So sometimes putting some sort of powder on your hands can help. But well, the drawback to that is it dries your skin out. So there's always positives, and not so much to that process. But it is a more inexpensive way to produce tactile graphics. Michael Hingson 18:21 See you sighted people think that you have problems in dark rooms trying to read stuff. You're not the only ones who have reading problems. We all have our challenges, don't we? Tanja Milojevic 18:32 Oh, for sure. All sorts of creative challenges that we constantly iterate on to improve. Michael Hingson 18:39 And we do iterate and we do improve, which is of course the real point of the whole process. So you went off and you went through school, when Where were you living in Boston or where? Tanja Milojevic 18:53 So we were living in initially when came to the US. We lived in South Boston for a bit. Then we moved to Chelsea, we were there for about 10 years than ever. And then now I live in Peabody, but relatively same area Michael Hingson 19:05 of the country spent. I spent three years in Winthrop. Oh, East Boston. So nice. Yeah, that's a nice area. Yeah. It's fun to be there. Well, then you you went on from school to college? Tanja Milojevic 19:21 Yeah. I went to Sundance for my undergrad. And I studied communication, special ed and writing literature specifically. So that was a great experience. Their disabilities office was extremely helpful. I initially before applying to various colleges. I did a couple of interviews with their disability center. Couple of phone calls, I wanted to get an idea for myself of what their process was, and how willing they were to talk to me about it. So the fact that Simmons was not only transparent about their process, but also willing to answer any questions And when I'm not even a prospective student, yeah, told me a lot. So yeah, I did have a good experience. Michael Hingson 20:06 So what did they do or say that caused you to like their office in their process, compared to other places that you observed? Tanja Milojevic 20:16 Well, I mean, for one, it wasn't some email that was automated, or, like, a, I don't know, now, now, I guess you could joke and say, they're gonna send you to a half an hour recording that you have to watch. It wasn't anything like that, where they were just trying to automate everything. I spoke with the, one of the directors of the Disability Center there at the time. And I asked all kinds of questions like how far in advance, would you need these books, if, if that process falls through, if the professor changes the books or a new professor comes into the class, because these things happen all the time, you know, depending on what happens in life. They told me, Well, that's, that's okay. If the book changes, we can work with you, the publisher, or you can try to purchase the book, Online used. And then we can just scan a chapter at a time, if the crunch time is on. And you've already started the semester, get it to you within a week, as long as we have a syllabus, and we know what the timeline looks like for these chapters. And then we bring in the professor and make sure they understand there's a Letter of Accommodation, the professor has to sign that and understand what they're reading. And then if they cause trouble later, you can point to the letter and say, I'm not making this stuff up. There's evidence to support that I need this accommodation for this reason you signed off on it, can we work together on this, and it cuts that cumbersome, miscommunication down quite a bit when you do it that way. So the fact that there are several processes in place made me feel a lot better. I'm a kind of person that likes to have plan A through like E or F, just in case, as, as we know, with tech issues nowadays, we gotta have multiple options. One of the things, the confidence, there was really what drew me to, you know, they knew what they were doing, they were confidently able to answer my questions. They understood why I was asking them, they weren't getting annoyed that I had 50 questions. And that's really what sold me on it, if Michael Hingson 22:25 you will. One of the things that I experienced when I was at UC Irvine, was our office basically said, we're here to help you and be the muscle and power if you get a lack of cooperation from professors and so on. But if you need material transcribed, or whatever this is, of course, long before offices became more organized, but you'll probably need to be the person to find the appropriate transcribers. Well, I worked with the California Department of Rehabilitation, we found transcribers and we found people to do that work, because the office didn't do it. But what the office basically said was, you need to learn to do this stuff anyway. Because we're not here and other offices and facilities aren't here, when you go out on the job, Tanja Milojevic 23:21 right? That's a huge consideration is whether or not you're able to easily find people that can transcribe, especially if it's like a math class. So I'll tell you, in college, I avoided languages math, hardcore, because after high school, I had lost, you know, like, you don't just have that library available to just order from the Ames library, which is a common library that school systems use to borrow various textbooks for students. Once you hit college, you're kind of on your own in terms of finding out how you're going to accommodate these tougher classes. I math wasn't my favorite subject. So I tried to avoid that in high school, I took Spanish in German for languages. And because I had done that, there was a possibility for me to take multicultural electives in that place in place of that. And I took a test to opt out of like, the generally because my, my major didn't require math. So I opted out of that by taking a math test. And then I took an intro to computer science class. And I worked a lot with partners on certain tasks that were non visual network, or excuse me that were, it was usually visual, yes. Because there was just no other like you get into the class, you don't have a lot of time to figure out how you're going to make it happen. Transcription takes a while, as you know, so unless you have this well in advance, it's going to be a scramble, and you'll likely get the book later. into the semester. And then it's also a question of who's going to pay for it. It's quite a bit of money. Does the maths commission pay for it in this case? Does the school pay for it? And I didn't want the headache to cheat off to be frank about it. So I avoided it. Michael Hingson 25:15 Well understand how did you find partners to help with different projects like that? Tanja Milojevic 25:21 A lot of the time, that professor would just assign somebody in the class. But a couple of the classes I got on with a few of the students sitting near me, maybe all of us were pretty well introverted. So we didn't have a whole lot of people we talked to, and also Simmons is a school that has adult students, it's got, you've got, you know, people in the master's program taking maybe some other electives that are also available to undergrads. So that nice mix of culture really gives you more of a mature group to work with. So partnering with students wasn't too hard at all. Michael Hingson 26:04 The operative part of that, though, is that you did the work to find a partner. And I know there are some times Yeah, well, what I'm getting at is like, there are colleges, where offices for disabled students says, oh, we'll find you those people. But then you have to work by whatever their rules are. And you learn how to do that yourself. Tanja Milojevic 26:22 They did have that available. For example, if you needed a note taker, which in my case, I didn't. But if a student wanted a note taker, they could request that some some student say that sign up for work, study job, fill that position, that student would go to your class with you take the notes, send them to you, whatever it is that that they got to do. Sometimes there would be a reader that you could get access to same kind of deal, work study position, the student would work with you for maybe two to three hours a week, and then get paid for it. But the problem with that was you sort of had to coordinate your schedule with their schedule, if your class wasn't in a spot that in a space in their schedule that was open, they could work with you that day. So it was more of a hassle than it was worth. And I didn't need a reader at the time I scanned a lot of my stuff in and would work with a professor or ask if I wasn't clear on something. So yeah, that to Michael Hingson 27:27 you, you did a lot of it. That is you did the work to to make it happen. In other words, you learned the skills that would help you later on once you got out of college. Tanja Milojevic 27:36 I am grateful for that. Because when you get into the world of work, it's nothing but figuring out how you're going to make something happen and make your boss happy. So it's a good skill set to have. Michael Hingson 27:47 So what did you do for Siemens? Tanja Milojevic 27:50 So I went to UMass Boston, which was a program was mostly remote. We went in a couple of times for intro classes and law labs and things like that. So I initially started in the TDI program, which is future of the visually impaired. Then I switched to VR T vision rehab therapy, which is the differences that TBI works with students up to age 22. And sometimes they can work with adult learners to if they're working for permission or a blindness center. If you're a VRT, you're working mostly with adult students, teaching them daily, basically, daily living skills, where else skills a little bit, recreational, etc. So I switched to that program midway through. And so I was at UMass Boston for five years, and then got my Master's there. And that was, like I said, mostly remote. There are a couple of things that I liked about that. And a couple of drawbacks, for example, you didn't really get that same class feel when it was all remote as I'm sure everyone can attest with COVID than being on Zoom and does zoom PowerPoint by zoom right? PowerPoint deck, but by the boys. Yeah, I had a lot of experience in person asking the professor questions right there. And then with remote, you really couldn't do that as much. And I ran into some more accessibility standards, like test taking, getting the software not to timeout on me or jump my focus around the page. So I worked around those and we made everything work. But the main the main thing was now with labs coming in, getting a partner to work with was a little bit tougher at that point. Because that relationship that you build when you're in person in school wasn't a thing. You're posting online, you're replying to people's comments, and posts, but it's not really the same thing. It's, you're just kind of doing a lot of work on your own. So you feel isolated. And then when you're there in person in a lab, you're like well now I have to work with these people. Get enough information from them. And there will be no you. So it's a lot more communication that has to happen. And the only thing that I'll say that I wish was a little bit longer is some of these labs, we had a little bit more time to do them. Other than that, you know, did run into some accessibility issues, their disability center was a lot more slower and had a lot more red tape around it, their processes were a little unclear and ever changing. So I did have a struggle with that in a few cases. But hey, long story short, I graduated, so I'm happy Michael Hingson 30:36 when you were growing up before you got into college, and so on, did you have a career goal in mind? What did you want to do when you grew up? Tanja Milojevic 30:46 Ha, that's a that's a great question. I think a lot of the time, I wasn't really sure I was kind of bouncing from various things. I've always enjoyed acting ever since I was a kid, you know, I really admired good actors or who I considered good actors, performances. And like the genuine attea that they brought, maybe not all films are meant to be genuine. Like, you can think of anime or cartoon they're over the top. But when something is very believable that you get in touch with a character, you feel like they're real. That's the kind of thing I wanted to emulate, and also just living vicariously through them. So when I discovered that voice, acting was a thing. In high school, I was like, Oh, this is exactly what I want to do. I'd always been interested in it since I was kid like, enjoyed making home movies recording, I used to have a tape recorder when I was a kid, bring it around everywhere and annoy the crap out of everybody in my family. Ask them questions, record little stories, it was just creative, fun. But I always thought if I could have this creative vision or creativity be part of my job, I'd be very happy, never enjoyed the idea or prospect of being a drone. Not that everyone working in an office is a drone. But I just found the idea of sitting behind a desk doing the same thing over and over and over again. Absolutely. You know, no freedom to make any decision about anything was was completely suffocating to me the idea of that, I always wanted something where I could move around, work with different people enjoy it, really challenge myself and work in a team to make something awesome. Like art. That's not really a career, per se, it's a hobby that turned into a side gig, that now with working with resemble AI, it's a embedded more so into my day to day job, where I'm recording different voices for them, and so on. It started as like one of those, this would be cool if I could do this. And then this is fun. I'm going to do this as much as I can and kind of more and more experienced networking. And then otherwise. Oh, sorry, go ahead. No, go ahead. I was just gonna say otherwise, I really wanted to give back to the community because I had always been a consumer of audio description and Braille services and these, like the mask mission and my various Braille teachers and mobility instructors, who made lessons a lot of fun in high school, they didn't just make it boring. Gold went across the same street every single week, there was like, No, we're gonna go to the store. And we're gonna learn how to solicit persistence and whatever we're going to forget about these cardinal directions for which I got sick of. But the point is, I enjoyed so much, I couldn't be the person I am today without the services that I've taken advantage of my whole life. So just the idea of giving back, and helping other people making their day a little bit brighter, and helping them understand that we're all gonna have bad days, that's never gonna go away. The grief, if you've lost your sight is never gonna go away. Grief never does. But you know that it's going to be better. If you're feeling bad one day, you know, it can't be like that forever. Something will surprise you. And if you put it out there enough, things are gonna are gonna improve universe always seems to put out with what you expect eventually. Not in the way you expect. But it will happen some somewhere somehow. And those two things I feel like now I'm finally at the point where I've gotten both of them to be a reality. Michael Hingson 34:33 So the big question of the podcast is, you made all those recordings when you were growing up? Did you keep them? Tanja Milojevic 34:42 Some of them? I have some of the tapes. It's some of them are so terrible and overdramatic, but it's amusing. It's like just you can tell I was just having fun. And then the recordings through the years as I got better with voice acting kind of took part in different shows. I did save all of those just because you you would be surprised. Maybe not. Maybe you wouldn't be surprised. But a lot of producers will lose things. They'll put something on the backburner, like a project. And then three years later, oh my god, I'm trying to work on this project. I have a lot more time now life got a little less busy. I don't have the recordings anymore. My computer harddrive died. Do you have have not? You know, that happens a lot. And then data, it's easy to just keep a bunch of it. A bunch of data. Michael Hingson 35:30 As I recall, if I remember the story, right? The movie Lawrence of Arabia, starring Peter O'Toole Academy Award winner, but somewhere along the line, the master was lost. And somehow it was recovered. But even an Academy Award film, things things happen. Tanja Milojevic 35:53 Exactly. They do. So that's why I'm backup hard drives. I've like two or three of them. back everything up. I usually drama, so I collect those. Michael Hingson 36:03 Yeah. What's your favorite? Tanja Milojevic 36:07 Oh, that's top like, I don't know, I don't even know. Michael Hingson 36:10 Tell me some of the audio dramas you like? Tanja Milojevic 36:14 So is there a genre you're thinking? Do you are you thinking modern or not? So that's a really hard question to answer. I decided to go based on categories. But there is a version of lock and key that was done on location and main locking key. Of course, anyone listening will? Well, if you're a Netflix person, you'll know that it's an original series on Netflix. But there are books that were written by I believe it's Stephen King's son, and Stephen King. And I'm a huge Stephen King fan. So they wrote this, I think it's a series might be three partners, quote, honestly don't quote me on that. But there are books, it was written as a radio drama and adapted by someone called Fred Fred Greenhalgh from Maine and they recorded on location that a couple of days they did this, it's a six part audio drama, it's available on Audible. It is so good. Michael Hingson 37:09 The audible copy. And it is, I didn't even know what it was going to be like, when I got it. But it is it is so well done. Tanja Milojevic 37:21 It's way better than the Netflix series. Michael Hingson 37:25 I collect old radio shows, I collect old radio shows as a hobby, and I've been doing that for a long time. And you you see all sorts anything from good to bad. But that is a lot of that has spoiled me for some of the acting that I've seen in more modern dramas, because the same level of emotion, isn't there people, a lot of people today don't know really, how to act and produce an audio drama that conveys I think what the author originally intended in the book or the way it was done with a radio. We just sometimes we don't see the same quality, but I remember locking key and it does. Tanja Milojevic 38:09 That is true, that it's not always the same quality. I think that we're trying, we're really have a couple of different avenues where we're trying to fix that, like there is something called the audio verse awards. They happen every year. There are different, obviously, iterations of this out there. But the audio verse awards really strives not to make it a popularity contest. Yeah, the crowd voting system, people go in, they listened to various things, you got awards for sound design, and acting and writing and music production. Everybody gets recognized, which is important. You can't just recognize the writer or the actor, because that's, that's just a tiny piece of the pie. So it's a good place, I'll say if you don't know where to start, when it comes to listening to good audio drama, or at least vetted audio drama. It gives you a lot of choices. And you can find these things and then you've got people ranking, the quality of things on blog posts and all kinds of places they're Michael Hingson 39:15 well Gunsmoke, the Gunsmoke, the Western, they call it sometimes the first adult Western in radio that was on from well, all of the 1950s constantly won awards for sound patterns, sound effects, and if you listen to it and compare it even to other old radio programs, there is so much more sound put into it. It's they did an incredible job of really setting the scene and creating the atmosphere with with the sound patterns with the sound effects. So it wasn't just the acting, which was so good. Tanja Milojevic 39:55 I know. I mean, they got some talented foley artists there. Yeah, and yeah, and I mean, another one with sound obviously that if we're thinking of classic, maybe not as classic as Gunsmoke. But the Star Wars, NPR. I was Michael Hingson 40:13 thinking of of that. Yeah. The Star Wars program is pretty well done in the acting is good. Hamill did a did a great job. Tanja Milojevic 40:23 That isn't absolute. I mean, there are other Star Wars, radio dramas in that world that I can think of, but none of them compare to that. NPR version. There's Michael Hingson 40:36 there's another program that NPR did. That was on for three years called Alien Worlds, which was well done. Tanja Milojevic 40:42 Oh, you think I heard that one? Yeah. Well, if you I mean, the BBC does some great stuff to do. Oh, they 40:49 do a lot of good stuff. Tanja Milojevic 40:49 Yeah. Yes. I think my biggest frustration is that there isn't one central directory where you can find all of this stuff and keep up to date with it. You have to go on this website, and this website and Miss directory. And there's no central data, like your collection system, where it's like, oh, I want to learn about the history of audio drama, and I want to know what's available now. And in the past, like archive.org, Doc, excuse me, archive.org is extremely helpful, because you can just search keywords and find a bunch of stuff that was curated, downloaded, cleaned, like nightfall. Amazing, amazing series from 1979 to like, 1981 or 1982. I think they only had 104 episodes, but they're really Canadian horror series. Now, really, really good stuff anthology. So a lot of it was ahead of its time. Michael Hingson 41:53 Yeah, as we've seen so many times, well, Gene Roddenberry was way ahead of his time as well. Needless to say, yeah, so you've done a fair amount of voice acting, I gather. A bit have we have we heard Tanja Milojevic 42:10 you might have. I mean, like, for example, some of the longer run stuff going on, it's edict zero. Some, some may be familiar with that. It's a science fiction cyberpunk series. So I'm just like Fraser meets X Files, it's really good. mind bending stuff. You know, our world is a simulation, kind of a lot of fun. That's been running, I don't know now nine years, what maybe more, it's crazy. There's what's the frequency, which is kind of a cool, fantasy, horror, contemporary show. That is one season, I think we're gonna be working on season two. So far, there is I do want to mention the 11th hour project is a great place. If you're new to audio drama, you want to dip your feet in, maybe you want to try your hand at producing or writing or something, you've never done it before. It's an extremely inclusive space. It's 11th hour audio.com. And if you visit that, you'll notice there are obviously shows that have been created. But what it is, is it's a challenge in the month of October to create audio dramas from start to finish and collaborate with people you've never collaborated with before. In this project, this team effort, and it's a race to the deadline. It comes out on world audio drama day, which is the 31st of October, in recognition of world the world's originally 1938. And it's a lot of fun. I've been involved a couple of years there. It's a wonderful community. They're extremely welcoming. The moderators are great. And they're always available to answer any questions, so I totally recommend checking it out. And then other stuff that's horizon, the white vault, there's a group out there called fool and scholar productions. And while we're on the topic of sound design, Travis van Graf, who is the one of the integral members or founders of that group, won several awards through the audio verse awards. Specifically I can think of for sound design on vast horizon and the white vault and some of his other shows, like Tales from the tower. So these are all vast horizon is a horror slash sci fi show that's about this agronomist who wakes up on a spaceship, the rest of the crew is just gone. They're not dead. There's no bodies, no signs of struggle or anything like that. They're gone. But the ship is breaking apart. So she's got to figure out a way to get to some sort of station and the only entity she can interact with is the artificial intelligence on the ship. So I play the artificial intelligence which for me was a huge like dream come true, I guess, if you will, because I've always been fascinated with it. Artificial assistants and all that. And using the screen reader. I mean, I know a lot of my friends who are visually impaired love to imitate screen readers just because it's funny. So and so I finally got to do it and get like, a dig out of it. That was awesome. And then again, vast horizon vast horizons, okay? Yes, it's it's singular, vast horizon horizon, singular, cracked, you got it. And then the white vault is a survival horror show. First Person accounts basically compiled, but not what you would imagine from seeing a lot of these similar kind of tropes, if you will, this is a truly international task. And it takes place all over the world. And they get actually authentic actors from various countries. It's not like, oh, and I want you to do a British RP accent and whatever, it's, it's actually people from there. And there are languages also being represented other languages like Mandarin, and you know, Icelandic and so on. And they, they do it in such a tasteful way where the language starts, then it fades down, and you have the voice actor speaking in English. They got translators, I mean, they really put a lot of thought into this. I highly recommend it. And you can binge all five seasons now. Vast horizon, you can also binge all the seasons. So if you need some listening materially fun road trip stuff. Those are a couple of the project. I mean, there's others, but you know, there's Take, take me, take me a while to go through those. Michael Hingson 46:37 And with all the languages, I assume nobody though, has done clean Chinese yet? Tanja Milojevic 46:42 Not yet. But they just Serbian. Michael Hingson 46:45 Oh, yeah, that's that's not yet but that's okay. Tanja Milojevic 46:49 Well, willing, that was actually fascinating. Yeah. Yeah. It's just really some insight on that. Yeah. If you're interested in, in learning about how the clang on food scene is, is done. In the next generation, I think there was a recent episode where they had this whole banquet such was like this Yeah. entity to look like an octopus, basically, creepy, alien looking. There's an episode of gastropod, where they go into, it's called gastropod, the podcast, and they talk about food in the context of science fiction and fantasy, and how writers work is, has been brought to life, either in books or in movies. And they talk about Star Trek, they actually have the lady who designed the set and the food, like that is literally her job. She designed this food to look perfect on camera. And also so that the actors aren't like, chewing too much, or whatever. They're, it's fascinating. And that's just a talk on cast. It's not audio drama. Michael Hingson 47:53 So what's been the biggest challenge for you in your career so far on the job and all that? Tanja Milojevic 48:00 The biggest challenge, I'd say is the ever changing technology, software, tech stacks, soft phones, CRMs, you name it, like, you know, you learn one thing, or maybe a company starts using a new tool just because it works for them. And it's a good presents good workflow. But not all the tools are usable with screen reading technology, like Jaws like NVDA voiceover. And there's this constant need to adapt and learn how to come up with workarounds. And explain to your boss, I understand why you want to use this. But I'm unable to access it because of these inaccessible barriers that I'm running across. How can we work together to make it work. And sometimes it's, well, let's collaborate on Google Sheets. And then I'll post the results up here on this tool that we're using, for instance, resemble uses something called notion. It's a fairly early tool and its development. It's mainly designed for writing and it's think of Trello. It's like cards that you move around. And those denote tasks completed or in process, you're able to put in notes, it is not accessible at all. So a lot of these workarounds is just, you gotta have a lot of communication, make sure that people are on the same page. And so we also use Slack. And then my solution is Google Suite. Because it bridges that gap a little bit. We can always post a Google link in one of those notion cards, and people can access the same info. How do you like say that? It's the best solution that I've run across so far in terms of keeping track of threads and channels, but there's definitely some things that are a little cumbersome with it. For example, sharing files when you're on the desktop version, if you're trying to download files files that folks have sent you. Getting into that, to see the file, sometimes when you tab, basically or so. So imagine that you're on the name of your colleague, and they've shared two files with you, you're going to hit tab to get into the list of files. Sometimes all it does is say bold italics. So then you have to shift tab into the field, pressure up arrow, once, it'll start reading a bunch of stuff, you ignore that you tab once you get to the files, each time you open the modal dialog to download each file. And then you hit the Close button. Once it's downloaded, you're brought right back into the message field, and your focus is no longer on the file list. So then you have to go back up repeat, tab, pass the first file you've downloaded, rinse and repeat the entire process, and it just slows you down. So I find them some way slack is very clunky. But it is the fastest solution when compared to others. Michael Hingson 50:56 It's really good at being able to have a lot of channels and so on my biggest challenge with Slack is that if you have to monitor a variety of channels, it's not at all trivial. To go from channel to channel quickly. You just spent a lot of time looking through channels to find nuggets or information. And that's an awkward thing. It's it is not it is it is more linear from a voice standpoint, then is is really helpful. Tanja Milojevic 51:28 Yeah, I mean, even reacting like and find it much easier to react to posts on the phone than on the desktop app. Yeah. And switch between workspaces on the phone. My other thing to bring up is notifications. I feel like Slack doesn't always notify you, right? Even if you're mentioned, sometimes it's easy to miss. So like you said, you have to sit there and hunt through all the channels, make sure that someone isn't trying to get your attention. Sometimes they just want to be like, right? I just want to be like, Can you email or text me or call me? I will get all of those things. Yes, don't bury somewhere, but it's so frustrating sometimes. But it's better than discord in terms of monitoring channels, I've noticed discords accessible, but it's not very usable in a lot of ways. Michael Hingson 52:17 So you use a guide dog, I understand I do what caused you to decide to use a guide dog as opposed to just using a cane. Tanja Milojevic 52:26 I've always loved animals. So as a kid, we lived on a farm and we had chickens, turkeys, we had a pig, and so on. So a lot of my job was to collect the eggs and you know, take care of them, whatever, feed them. So I grew up with animals. And then you know, birds as pets and so on. I really wanted to have my own, like dog. And my mom was just like, well, I don't know, I mean, it's a lot of work a lot of responsibility. I don't want the dog in the house. She wasn't a fan of the hair, the shedding and the responsibilities and the costs. So when I found out in high school that I could get a guide dog, you know, I could apply get one. And then I talked to some other folks who already had dogs, like my friend, teachers had dogs, I got to see them every day. And I got to see them working. And they were just so good and very caring. And there's nothing like a special bond between a guide dog and their handler, where the dog trusts you implicitly. And they love you unconditionally. So it's just such a such a it was such an attractive like, Oh, I'm gonna have my own best friend with me in college. And also the fact that you could travel around a lot easier the dog, follow people in front of you get you through a store a lot quicker find doors, elevators, stairs, street crossings. As long as you knew the route, you were good to go. So I loved that whole thing. And I decided to apply because I wanted to have a furry friend I could bring with me to college. College is intimidating when you're in high school because you're like, Well how am I gonna make friends? I'd always had trouble sort of connecting with peers my age. I always found it easier to make friends with folks were older than me. Then people my age were kids, you know kids are are fine too. But it was just that whole awkward of like, if you're the only person with a visual impairment in your school people are just like, yeah, yeah, I'm gonna go do my own thing. So when I got a dog, you know, started college. It was a game changer in terms of helping me not be so so sad and like down just like being far away from my family. And being in this they gave me in freshman year they gave me this room that was like for one person and it was like a cell I kid you not. It was tiny. It was a corner of the building. I'd had a tiny closet and just enough room for you to spin around with your arms out That's about it. So I was very sad. I was just like, Wow, I feel like I'm in a prison cell. And I can't, like, see family or anybody, I feel so isolated here. So having the dog was huge for my mental health and not getting depressed, too bad, you know? So I got the dog for a number of reasons. I mean, socialization, huge. People would talk to me want to pet the dog, like they cared about the dog, not me. But it didn't matter. It's still, I still did wanted to do and I could get them to help me. In certain situations, like in the cafeteria, if I needed help, or whatever, finding a certain classroom, I could get peers to help because, like, if you help me find this classroom, you can pat him. Okay. So it worked out really well. Yeah, I just loved having the companionship, Michael Hingson 55:53 I got my first guide dog going into high school, and that was even learned to use a cane but I was very knowledgeable about travel of dog has made a lot of a difference in what I do. And a dog's Well, a dog dogs in general have taught me a lot about teamwork, I love to say that I've learned more about trust and teamwork, from working with a guide dogs that I've learned from all the business and management experts in the world, because dogs do love unconditionally, but they don't trust unconditionally. And what you said was true, they trust implicitly, but only if you earn their trust. And they likewise have to earn your trust. And you have to learn to trust them, it's a two way street. But when both members of the team trust each other, it's a sight to behold. And it makes all the difference. And, and there's something to be said for the fact that it's good to have somebody to keep company with, you know, Tanja Milojevic 56:55 Oh, definitely. I mean, both of my dogs, I feel so fortunate I've had wonderful was my first dog. The hardest thing though, for me is like I get so attached to them. And I, if they're if they're like sick, or they're getting older, I just worry about it and worry about it. And if there's something that I wish, it's that their lives were longer, yeah, and also, I've just had dogs with health issues. My first dog had inflammatory bowel disease, cancer and kidney disease at the end. And it was traumatizing, like we had to unfortunately, you know, put them to sleep and stuff. And after that, it just affected, it still affects me, like I mentioned earlier, grief doesn't go away at all, it's just how you deal with it. And you have to understand they you need to accept it, it's part of your life. And you're always going to remember them. And you got to you got to give them the respect of remembering them fondly and appreciating them for what they gave you. Right there. They gave their soul their spirit for you, you know, Michael Hingson 57:58 you could dwell on the disease, or you can draw up dwell on the bad things, or you can dwell on the positive things and all the things that we learned together, and one of the things that I've learned through now, eight guide dogs is Wow, when when I got my first one in 1964, so it's been a while. But you know, when when they grow old, or they become ill, and you have to get our dog, it doesn't mean that you think any less of the dog who can't be your partner anymore, but you form a new teaming relationship. And your relationship may change if you keep the old the other dog which we generally have done. But still, the relationship is there. And what you really get to do is to get two dogs used to each other so that they interact and that's a lot of fun. Yeah, and I've had I've had two dogs ganging up on me. So which dog do you think I am? I want to go to work today. Oh, they're so easy. They're sneaky. Oh, that is so sweet. LaTonya this has been a lot of fun. Absolutely. I really appreciate all your time and insights. If people want to learn more about you and voice acting and so on, how would they do that? Tanja Milojevic 59:18 You can check out my website that has samples of my work at WWW dot Tanja T A N J A. M as in Mary voice.com. That's TanjaMvoice.com. You can email me at Tanja t a