Peter C. DeHaass will tell you he has been a builder of bridges for people in many disenfranchised communities for most of his life. I learned about Peter from AccessiBe's nonprofit partnerships manager, Sheldon Lewis. Peter does not come directly from a family with any person with a disability. However, his family has produced many educators including Peter. On this episode, you will learn about Peter's journey West from Pennsylvania and how he eventually landed in San Francisco where he had to utilize his entrepreneurial spirit just to survive and put food on the table. Most recently, in 2020, Peter formed the San Francisco Disability Business Alliance. This organization is focused on empowering individuals with disabilities to secure economic independence through self-employment and small business ownership. I think you will find Peter's story inspiring and his mission important to many About the Guest: Peter C. DeHaas is a mission-driven professional with a lifelong track record of building pathways to academic, housing, and economic sustainability for diversely abled individuals from He is leading the charge to expand how we think about “diversity” to include individuals with diverse abilities (disabilities) and the businesses and organizations they engage with. Peter's career has spanned economic development, housing advocacy, education inclusion, and direct human services for a wide range of diverse clients, including veterans, the formerly incarcerated, youth, adults, immigrants and their families. Peter has experience building pathways to economic and academic inclusion for the deaf and hard of hearing, intellectually and developmentally disabled adults, individuals struggling with learning differences or mental illness, and physical disabilities. Currently, Peter founded and leads the San Francisco Disability Business Alliance (SFDBA), the first organization of its kind in the country focused on empowering individuals with disabilities to secure economic independence through self-employment and small business ownership. Through his work at the SFDBA, Peter has built partnerships between the growing community of disability-owned small businesses in San Francisco and major local corporations including Kaiser Permanente and Bank of the West. Peter is also fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and, over the past 9 years has taught ASL to more than 1000 future educators, social workers, nurses, and community advocates as a lecturer at San Francisco State University. In his previous role as Director of Disability Resources and Academic Inclusion, Peter built pathways to academic success for more than 2000 diverse students at Golden Gate University – the majority of whom were women, people of color, veterans, and often all three-across the University's Law and Business programs. In Colorado, Peter spearheaded community engagement across a number of successful direct-serving programs including launching the Bridges to Boulder Community Sign Language program and cultivating the non-attorney advocacy program between Denver University and the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition. Above all, Peter is a builder of bridges and is skilled at finding ways and mustering resources to connect deeply with diverse people and communities, resulting in lasting partnerships and positive economic, social, and community impact. Link for the San Francisco Disability Business Alliance : http://www.sfdba.org/ 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 to unstoppable mindset. today. Our guest is Peter DeHaas who to right now is operating the San Francisco Disability Business Alliance. But there's a whole lot more to Peter than that, and we're gonna get into it as we as we go forward. So Peter, welcome to unstoppable mindset. Peter DeHaas 01:40 Thanks for having me, Michael. Michael Hingson 01:42 Well, I really appreciate you being here. And I'm jealous because as you can tell San Francisco diversity Business Alliance, you know where Peter is. We lived in the San Francisco Bay Area in Novato, which is in what's called the North Bay for 12 years, and missing greatly. We lived in an area called Bell marine keys. And we actually had ducks that came up to our back door every day, begging for food. So yeah, it was a lot of fun. When we were when we first were moving in, we had a contractor had to modify the house for my wife who uses a wheelchair. And he made the mistake of seeing some of the ducks on the patio and opening the door. He was eating a doughnut and he gave them a part of the doughnut. And he said after that if he didn't have something for them, they'd go for the throat. So there's a lot of fun. So yeah, we were we were spoiled. Well, tell me a little bit about your background, you know yourself, where your what you what you did, how you got into school and beyond and all that sort of stuff, if you would? Peter DeHaas 02:46 Well. I started out I was born and raised in Pennsylvania on the East Coast and lived for several years in Connecticut as well until I started making my way west. I come from a family of educators and builders. So I come by my my connection to being in education and advocacy and building bridges. Honestly, two of my sisters are special educators. And that's how I got my start learning the manual alphabet in American Sign Language. And I remained curious from from third grade is when I learned the manual alphabet all the way through middle school, I had a dear friend who was deaf. And then fast forward to 1992 I moved to Boulder, Colorado, in started working for a little organization at the time called Developmental Disability Center. Now it's called Imagine and I was working for their Supported Employment Department called labor source, serving individuals who had previously been institutionalized in the state of Colorado and deemed unemployable by by the Department of occupational rehab there. And we were kind of a renegade organization that built employment services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities proudly in the Boulder County in Broomfield county areas. And that's really where I got my start working in the field and and simultaneously started really learning American Sign Language because I recognized that many of the clients that we serve were nonverbal, several were deaf, some were hard of hearing, and many of them utilized Sign Language As a means to communicate. And I noticed that many of my co workers tried to utilize signs like more and please and thank you. But then there were just lapses and gaps in communication. And, you know, being that I was earning a whopping $5.50 an hour at the time, I saw a great opportunity to learn ASL and the organization that I was working for, paid for all of my ASL instruction up until the point that I launched into my master's in linguistics at the University of Colorado Boulder. Because I really was intrigued by the intersectionality of, of the deaf community and the the language of ASL and how the two were really inseparable with the goal of teaching at the post secondary level. And so I graduated with my master's degree, I believe it was in 2009. And then, in 2013, I made my westward journey a little further here to San Francisco to support my youngest son Thelonious who moved out here in 2010. And my oldest son, Hans, came along with me and I landed here in San Francisco working for San Francisco Recreation and Parks, inclusion program, supporting young adults with disabilities, in particular, their ASL intensive program here and the mission, as well as some of their their summer camps. And then soon after that, I was offered a position at San Francisco State University as a lecturer in American Sign Language, which I've taught over 1000 students there at San Francisco State from such a diverse background of of not only focus of study, but but most of my students are first generation college participants, and it's really intriguing work. And you may find it hard to believe, but I then got a third position. It takes a lot to live in San Francisco, I got a third position working at Golden Gate University, as their coordinator for Disability Resources and academic accommodations. And over a period of seven years, I grew that program into kind of a unified program. There were two siloed Disability Resource Centers when I got there, one for the law school, and one for the non law programs. And in my seven years there, I brought the programs together and developed my position into a director's position. And I guess it was the summer of 2019. I started planting the seeds for the SF DBA. And we launched in March of 2020. And I stepped down from my role at Golden Gate University shortly after that, and I still teach at San Francisco State and oversee the SF DBA. And that's, that's where I'm at today. Michael Hingson 08:42 Oh, by the way to answer a question you asked in an email, we do make transcripts of the podcast and when the podcast goes up, they will go up as well. Excellent. I'm assuming you're not signing while you're talking since we can put up videos but I don't know how Peter DeHaas 09:02 to do I do sign a little bit when I talk but it's not my preference to try to it Michael Hingson 09:07 is it is probably a major challenge because that's speaking in two languages at once. Peter DeHaas 09:13 It's it's doable, but in all fairness, I mean, in a perfect world, I'd have a little ASL interpreter at the bottom of my screen. Do you remember? I remember as a kid, we, on Sundays there would be certain evangelists on television and they would always have an ASL interpreter signing in the bottom left hand corner. And that was in the 1970s and I'm thinking, why can't we why can't we do that again? You know, it was doable then why can't you know and I'm sure that they paid for it. You know, it was privately paid for wasn't provided by the network or anything so we know where that goes. But Michael Hingson 09:59 well, I turned it on. Have, mainly because we're still going to have the conversation and it will, we'll, we'll fix it. But I use a service called otter otter.ai. And what what otter does is real time recording and transcription of conversations, and when it's operating a person who is in a meeting or whatever, with me, can read real live transcriptions of what's happening. But what we do is just provide the transcription, because we'll go through and clean it up. Got it, or we put the podcast up. So it goes out as a really high end transcription. That's excellent. And it should be that way. Right? And makes perfect sense to do that. Well, for you, you, you started the SF DBA? And are dealing with a lot of obviously, different kinds of people. So kind of what what made you decide that this was something worth beginning? And how did you really get to the point of starting it? Peter DeHaas 11:07 A great question? Well, as you know, San Francisco is a place that really prides itself on being innovative, diverse, there's lots of venture capital here. And people are well educated. And there's lots of opportunities for networking, after hours. And I found myself getting more and more involved with the Chamber of Commerce here and other nonprofits. And going to a lot of after hours events. And I would tell people what I do, you know, at the time, I was at Golden Gate and teaching ASL and people were intrigued by the work that I do, but but systematically, it seemed like, disability was excluded from just about every conversation that I was having with people relating to diversity, equity and inclusion. And that bothered me. However, I took that that I was just kind of baffled, to be honest with you. And I took that kind of baffled feeling and transformed it into something that I'm passionate about. I said, you know, this is a place of opportunity, and it welcomes innovation and creativity. I'm a very creative person. I'm also a musician, an artist. I said, if nobody else is going to represent small business as it relates to individuals with disabilities, well, I'm going to take a try. And I had a lot of support from not only local business leaders, but educators and advocates and even local politicians. So that was really the genesis of the SF DBA, in when I started planting seeds in 2019. And by the end of 2019, I had a fiscal sponsor, through social good Fund, which is a little umbrella organization out of Richmond, California, they do really great work for organizations doing community benefit work, really through the pilot phases. And we had Kaiser Permanente foundation come on board at the end of 2019. And, yeah, then we launched in March of 2020. Right before everything shut down. Michael Hingson 13:48 Yes. Isn't that the way of it? Peter DeHaas 13:51 It was very, very fortuitous that, you know, because people were just starting to whisper about maybe you should postpone the event, maybe you should, you know, and if we had waited, we would have lost that whole audience of over 100 people they were just starting to put hand sanitizer up in the in the room and nobody got sick at the Marriott you know, from from our launch event, fortunately. But we had over 100 people at the Marriott Marquis downtown. So I was just blessed that that that many people showed up. My event organizer who I hired, you know, was doing all of that worked behind the scenes. I had no idea who was going to going to show up. I was too focused on the programming for the day and whatnot. And when I looked out into the audience, Michael, I was just astounded at not only not only entrepreneurs with disabilities and small business owners with disabilities, but like I said, educators, advocates, business leaders, corporations. It just it really really moved me that that this was an important venture that I was I was embarking upon, Michael Hingson 15:06 and rightly so. But you've said something that really prompts a question. You mentioned that you notice that is diverse as San Francisco is and so on, there wasn't a lot of discussion, especially in the business world and in the entrepreneurial world, about disabilities and so on. Even though San Francisco clearly is an incredibly inclusive city in a lot of ways, why do you think that is that disabilities weren't really part of the mainstream? Peter DeHaas 15:39 You know, it's an interesting question. I don't know that I want to go too far down that rabbit hole, but But I posit that there's still a lot of fear and a lot of around disability. And, and I've come in contact with that before. You know, when I, when I first started working with individuals with developmental disabilities, and I was very young, I used to take offense to people staring at at the people that I worked with many times we'd be after we would work on one of our supported employment contracts, we would maybe go have lunch on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, and people would stare and I took offense to that when I was young. But as I matured, I realized that not everybody had the upbringing that I did. Not only, you know, surviving some, some disabilities that I had early on, when I when I was born, that I that I outgrew fortunately. But but but having the exposure at such an early age, to innovate individuals that my sisters were working with who had disabilities. And so I had that, that luxury of being kind of matriculated into that community early on. So for me, it was no different than any other community that I've been a part of in my lifetime. And I think that there's just a lot of maybe education that still needs to occur. And, you know, sometimes, as you know, Michael, it's about money. And people don't want to, or they don't know how to develop a budget or line item in their budget, to provide the appropriate accommodations. So there's that fear of the unknown? I think I could. Michael Hingson 17:36 I agree with you, though, I think it is largely about fear. I think we we fear what we don't know. And we fear things that are different than us. And unfortunately, especially with visible disabilities, people tend to really fear it, because they don't understand it, and they haven't been taught, which is exactly what you're pointing out. And the other part about it is that until someone really starts to drive the conversation, the fear isn't going to go away. I think people don't hate persons with disabilities. I think that we, I suppose you can look at it in several ways. And in one sense, we haven't been as visible and maybe we're not elevated to the point where people hate peers, persons with disabilities, like they seem to do race things and so on. But I think mainly, it's fear that people just don't know. Michael Hingson 18:37 And there's fear on both sides of the equation. Yes. Peter DeHaas 18:40 You know, let's the elephant in the room. We know that disability discrimination has occurred over over the years. And there are specific laws in place that they protect individuals with disabilities in a lot of regards. I see the disability community is kind of the last frontier in terms of coming out, as it were, in celebrating their disability. I spoke with a young entrepreneur last week, who found her way to SF DBA, just through the the internet and and we met in person, you know, post COVID It was so exciting. And she was just thrilled to share her story with me in a way that she could readily self identify and not have to worry about being excluded or shamed. And this is somebody this is somebody who went to Stanford University and faced and I'm not trying to bash Stanford because, again, there's a steep learning curve and everybody's doing their best to try to, to get educated as to how to do the right thing. But she faced certain opposition in her program at Stanford when she was trying to navigate how to get accommodation hands. And there's plenty of work to be done. So again, I'm not trying to bash anybody but that's the gift that I share to the world is to help people solve problems and come up with creative solutions. We had a student, matriculating at Golden Gate University when I was there, who was deaf. And she had gone to just about every other private university in the Bay Area. And they had told her that they were not equipped, or they did not have the funding to provide ASL interpreters for her. Her pursuit. She came to me at Golden Gate University, and I was excited as soon as she landed on my doorstep. You know, obviously, I have a very close affinity to the deaf community, but it could have been any disability type, honestly. But when when she came, and she said, Peter, would you be able to provide ASL interpreters for my HR cohort program? I said, You bet you will figure out a way. And of course there were some people scratching their head on the other side, like, how are we going to do this? We created a budget, we developed a partnership with Department of occupational rehab, she already had a case with occupational rehab. We met them halfway, we paid 50%. Oh, Dr. Paid 50%. And they were quite shocked. Dr. turned to us and said, We've never had a university pay 50%. And I said, Well, that's that we're doing it because it's the best practice and it's the right thing to do. And that's, that's really, you know, a broader part of my mission, Michael is helping institutions develop best practices. It's not the specific mission of the SFDBA per se, but it, it comes with, it's a benefit that people get in associating with the SFDBA is that, you know, I believe that, that we're on the cusp of a giant wave, and you know, that working for excessive B, I think that this is just kind of, we're just at the tipping point where people are starting to recognize Oh, yeah, we are having more conversations now about disability inclusion, and I'm like, shamila Hi, this is the time, now's the time. Michael Hingson 22:23 Well, and to be real clear, I don't think in any way you're bashing anyone, and no one should interpret it. as such. When you talk about the fears, when you talk about what organizations haven't done, it isn't really so much a question anymore, I think of what organizations haven't done, it's more important to explore, what are you going to do? Do you recognize there is an issue? And are you willing to explore addressing it, which is what you did with the young lady who was deaf. And it's something that we should all do, what we haven't yet really gotten to the point of recognizing is providing reasonable accommodations should just be considered part of the cost of doing business. Just like providing computers, providing lights, for all of you light dependent people who don't get around in the dark, we pity you, or coffee machines, or whatever. The fact is providing and having the ability to provide reasonable accommodations ought to be part of the cost of doing business. And so that does get down to a budgetary issue and being aware and putting it in right from the outset. through that. And it is something that we haven't done nearly as much of. And so it, it really helps to have the conversations like we're having, and I hope people will listen to this and take it to heart as well. But we do face still a situation where persons with disabilities are in an environment where the unemployment rate among employable people is in the 60 to 70% range. And it's not because people can't do the work. It said others who are different than we don't think we can do the work. Peter DeHaas 24:22 Correct. And that's what I in in some of the early research for SF DBA. Michael, I uncovered a statistic that suggests that individuals with disabilities are starting a rate starting small businesses at a rate almost double that of individuals who don't have disabilities. And I really attribute that to one. Individuals with disabilities are very creative, and they're very resilient. And there's a lot of autonomy in starting your own business and who doesn't have a side hustle in the Bay Area. There are at least one side hustle, right? Frequently starting a small business, impede can be a pathway to, you know, just the success in the small business, or it could be a leveraging point to your next gig. So there's a lot of a lot of fruitful things, I think that come out of entrepreneurship. Michael Hingson 25:23 Why do you think that so many people, though, are starting what's caused them to take that path, as opposed to other things they could do? Peter DeHaas 25:32 Well, again, you know, even if you have one job here in San Francisco, likely doesn't pay the rent, right. Um, so I attribute it largely to, you know, the need to survive. But, you know, several young entrepreneurs that I've spoken to also say that, that it's out of necessity, because they haven't been able to land a job. And, and some people are still hesitant to even readily self identify as a result of that. Michael Hingson 26:05 And I think that's a an extremely valid point, I remember the first time I was confronted with some of that I had been working for a company and was let go in June of 1984, at the end of June, mainly because not doing a good job, but rather the company purchased a company was actually Xerox purchased the company I was working for, because they wanted the technology and not the people. And I happened to be the last person in the sales force for their major flagship product to be let go. So at least I was there a week or two longer than others. And they decided that they just did not want any of us because they just Xerox just one of the technology. So I was looking for a job for six months, wow, couldn't find one. I even had an interview we were living in, in Mission Viejo, California, at the time. And I continued to look, and even got a call from an executive recruiter who said, gee, we see your resume, we, we really think you're very qualified for the job that we had, which I was. And everything went well, until the night before the interview, the recruiter called and said, I was just looking at your resume again. And I see that you do a lot of work with blind people. How come is that? Is there somebody in your family who's blind? And I said, Yeah, I am. I didn't mention it before. There was no need to write. But immediately, oh, my God, I don't know whether the recruiter the company is going to want to talk to you, you're blind. I said, What does that have to do with it, you liked my resume, but you're blind, doesn't matter. You didn't know that until 10 minutes ago, I already had the airplane ticket that they sat down. Anyway, the next morning, the interview was canceled. So I never flew up to San Jose to do the interview. And that happens way too often. So eventually, I and a couple of other people started a company to sell the new concept of PC based CAD systems to architects and engineers, and so on. And of course, a blind guy selling graphic technology. I was the president of the company, but who had to work the machine, I didn't need to work it, I needed to know how to work it and needed to know all about it to talk intelligently about it. But I'd rather sit an architect down in front of the machine and talk them through making it work, rather than me having to work it because then they're involved with it. So I did that for four years. And then I went back into the regular workforce. Right? But the reality is that it happens today, almost as much, but you're right. There are a lot more entrepreneurial opportunities than there used to be. And there are tools to help. So if you're a blind person, for example, and you start your own business, there, there are tools that can help. Are you familiar with a company called IRA? Ira I'm not Hi Roz AI are a it's a what's called a visual interpreter. They Ira has people who they hire because they demonstrate an aptitude for describing and they give them more advanced training on being able to describe. The idea is that you activate Ira by opening an app and you call one of their agents. Their agents are hired, trained and put under extreme non disclosure and confidentiality restrictions. So literally what happens in Ira stays an IRA. But the point is that blind people who use the service and have things described or deal with tax forms or whatever, know that whatever they do, won't be divulged. Because it's all incompetence, which is the way it should be. Well, IRA, and some companies including Quicken, have established a program where if you have a your own business, you can get free Ira services, at least at an hour or half hour at a time. But you can get free service to use their system, when you need to interact with something that requires someone to describe it to you or interact with something that's too visual to use. And there are a lot of those kinds of tools out there that are helping make it more practical for blind people to start their own businesses. And I think that in one way or another, it goes across the board. But you're right, we do it because of necessity. Peter DeHaas 30:38 Yep. Yep. One of the partners that, in addition to accessibe that we've developed a partnership with is a company called Eva Aava. That was launched by two graduates of UC Berkeley, and it provides captioning for zoom calls and in other applications that way. So that's a very unique partnership that we've developed. Michael Hingson 31:08 Well, that's, you know, that's pretty cool. How's accessibe worked out for you guys? I have to ask, of course, don't I? Peter DeHaas 31:14 Well, I still I have a few organizations that I need to follow up with. I've, I've told a lot of my partners about it. And you know, it's still, it's still, you know, I say we're on the cusp of a wave, but but people are still not, you know, biting full heartedly for me. I'm excited about it. I, you know, in the fact that Judith human gets behind it, and in and I can show people that that widget, just yesterday, I was meeting with somebody, and she was talking about, you know, the advances of technology as it relates to accessibility. And she, I just noticed that she had our website open. And I see I said, Do you see that widget there? I said, Put your finger on it. And she did. And she was like, Oh, my gosh, there's so it's it's a process. But I long and short. I haven't, you know, one of my goals is to get other companies on board with excessive B as well. You know, for for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, because it's the right thing to do. And, and there's an opportunity for SFDA as well, if, if somebody decides to go with the product? Well, the thing Michael Hingson 32:36 about using accessibe, just generalize it, the thing about internet and website accessibility, is that most people don't know that it even exists. But they also just haven't taken the leap to recognize that they're leaving out an incredible amount of potential business for their own sites, or an incredible amount of interaction. You know, the CDC talks about up to 25% of all people having some sort of disability. And a lot of those people are left out because we can't use websites. And when you have a, you have a product like accessibility that changes that not only the widget, but then excessively has a full service department to help remediate what the widget can. But the bottom line is that today, if you talk to people with disabilities, they're going to tell you that they are incredibly loyal to companies that have made their websites usable, because then we don't have to go through all the struggle of trying to find an accessible site. Peter DeHaas 33:46 That's true. And I'm sure you know, the state of Colorado just is the first state to mandate that all of their state websites need to be fully accessible. Michael Hingson 33:57 Yeah, and I know one of the people who is very much involved in having architected that and gotten the legislature to do it just like they've they've been taking sort of a lead and making sure of accessible voting as well. And it makes perfect sense to do. But it it is, well, the Nielsen Company did a survey in 2016. And there's actually a report that that will talk about how much brand loyalty counts to people with disabilities and how much more website owners get because of persons with disabilities if they make their stuff accessible. But you interview awesome. Go ahead. No, go ahead. Peter DeHaas 34:41 I lost my train of thought. Okay. Michael Hingson 34:43 Well, so another aspect of all that, is that with you said something earlier about and starting businesses, blind people or people with disabilities tend to be very creative and so on. The real All of us were forced into that there was a guy, Dr. Jonathan Lazar, who used to work for Towson University. And I heard him speak at a National Federation of the Blind convention. And he observed that this, of course, was about blind people and internet access. He pointed out that blind people, because we are so used to being left out and work so hard at trying to find accessible sites, we also tend to be more resilient when we can sort of make something work. And it may not be that it's totally accessible, but we figure out as many workarounds as we can, to try to be able to interact directly with it. And I think that goes back to what you said, we're forced to be more creative, and it isn't just blind people is people across the board with disabilities. Yeah, it's true. So it is, it is an issue that we need to clearly address and and work on. But I hope that there will be ever increasing conversations about it, because people need to learn that there's nothing to fear. And you're right, they worry about expense, or, gee, do we have to buy special insurance for these people or whatever. And they don't recognize the other aspect of it, which is that if you hire a person with a disability, and you're fortunate enough to be able to do that, the odds are and there are studies that are starting to show this, you will have an employee who will be much more loyal and likely to stay with you, then most other employees, because we recognize how hard it is to get that job in the first place. And I'm sure you've experienced that. Yep. Yep. So it's a it is a challenge, and it is something that we need to deal with. Well, so having started the diversity, Business Alliance, and so on, what kind of an impact are you starting to see in the Bay Area? How, how has it been? Peter DeHaas 37:17 It's the San Francisco disability Business Alliance disability Michael Hingson 37:21 Business Alliance. I'm sorry, I don't talk good. That's, but just wanted to clarify for our No, you're right. You're right. So how is how's the impact been in terms of overall what you've been able to accomplish? And what have you been able to measure? Peter DeHaas 37:35 Well, as I said, we launched in March of 2020. So everything shut down literally a week or two, I think it was a week or two later. And I got a text from one of my keynote speakers. And he said, Peter, you better get ready, because small businesses are going to need you more than ever. And sure enough, we started consulting with businesses on how to access PPP, reorganizing their staffing patterns, creating resources in tandem with the SBA and getting those up online. So really changed our focus, our impact, through the pandemic was really continuing to help businesses through this unprecedented time. But then continuing conversations with future entrepreneurs who are curious about how to start a small business. So we launched our future entrepreneur training program, and we've seen a lot of interestingly enough, a lot of women of color are with disabilities participating in our programs. And I can't say why that that that demographic specifically, has been so high, but it's been quite fascinating for me. So we've we've had that educational piece, we've created several mentoring opportunities, connecting entrepreneurs with with members of the broader business community to get some mentoring. Just an example of that we had a young African American who grew up here in the Bayview district of San Francisco who is recently just got his real estate broker's license. And he wants to be investing in properties. And this is the youngest of I believe, 11 children and connected him with a successful investor here, and he's well on his way. We've also worked with a film student from SF State and connected him with one of the producers of crip camp. Which I'm sure that you've you've experienced. So really building bridges, and helping individuals get connected to not only educational opportunities, but mentoring opportunities, helping individuals get access to capital. Early on, we got contacted by the State of California regarding small business certification. So we're in, we've been in conversation with the state of California over the past couple years, as well as many entities here in the Bay Area, about how they can diversify their supply chain by hiring individuals with disabilities. So but as you know, getting a small business certified is no small feat. So we're working with UC Berkeley now, in in, they have a program there that helps get small businesses certified. And I'm very excited about that. And we have our second annual Bay Area, disability Entrepreneurship Week, coming up in October, which runs in tandem with national disability, Employment Awareness Month. And we're going to have interactive panels, which will be online, and then we will have, we're going to visit several businesses here in the city, as well as have a networking event. And we're going to have one of our future entrepreneur trainings, hopefully, in concert with one of the Bay Area leaders in in entrepreneurship, as well. Michael Hingson 41:47 It's early, of course, to to a large degree, because you're you're only operating the disability Business Alliance for three years. But are you seeing how do I ask this more successes than failures? Do you see that it is really taking off and that if you were to compare it with people outside of what you're doing at who start businesses, then maybe you're seeing more success because you're able to provide more proactive mentoring and so on. Peter DeHaas 42:22 It's it's been, I feel like I recognized early on, as I said, at the launch, that there's certainly up there there. And with every conversation that I have, Michael, I recognize that the importance of what we're doing, it's unprecedented. My mind, I've had one of my advisory board members meet with the Department of Rehab here in the city and I know that there's a bridge to entrepreneurship for individuals with disabilities in terms of getting support through Dr. But it's not very well defined in their their website. If you're blind, it's there's a specific program for entrepreneurship but beyond that. So I see a lot of potential I would say the success is in the contacts that I make that people are coming out of the woodwork in the community that we are building, we are at a tipping point with our capacity building, where we are currently working with an attorney to get our own 501 C three status and build real capacity. I'd like to hire somebody within the next year. Right now I'm doing everything with the exception of some some assistance from volunteer that I have who was my assistant at Golden Gate University previously I'm doing it all myself and you know that that that that's sustainable to a point and I'm very excited about embarking on the venture of getting our own 501 C three status and taking it to the next level. So as you know these things take time and that's one of my one of my greatest mentors several years ago when I started planting seeds for this said it's going to take some time you know, the but it's the potential is there and and I would say that there's there's many more doors opening than being slammed in my face if that if that makes any sense. I most people are very excited to talk to me and there's there's plenty of work to be done. Michael Hingson 44:37 Well, you're in a great place to do it of course as we discussed earlier because it there's there's a lot more openness to the idea of people who are different and being able to support that. But getting a 501 C three status is going to help a great deal I would think. Peter DeHaas 44:55 Yeah, like I said, I'm very grateful to be operating under social good fun. And it's been very useful through the pilot phases. But it's time for us to, you know, it limits us to go after bigger contracts with the city, the state or the federal government or even bigger foundations. So this has been perfect for us. And it's really my journey as an entrepreneur really mirrors for everybody that I've been working with, you know what it takes, it's no small feat to really, you know, start a venture as you know, on your own. And it's really about not only expanding your network, but having lifelines that you can call when you're in a potential crisis mode. So I've enjoyed every step of the journey. And really, as my 91 year old dad would say, Peter, it's about the people. It's about the people and every relationship that I build, I really tried to nurture along and in leverage on that, you know, maybe it's me introducing that person to somebody else, or vice versa. They're introducing me to somebody, but it's, it's, it's fascinating to me about how much of this work is about telling stories and sharing stories. And yeah, I, I'm very excited about the next year in particular, to see see the next chapter of the SF DBA. Michael Hingson 46:27 I have to say, me as well, I'm really excited to hear how this is going. And you're right, it is about the people in your 91 year old dad is absolutely correct. And as people on both sides, it's not just the individuals that you serve, because they happen to have a disability and and you're trying to work with them. But it is also the more substantial or or larger population of all the people who could help in that process by providing jobs or mentoring skills, or funding or whatever, to help bring people out and give them the opportunities to grow that clearly you're looking for. And your passion does make all the difference in that though. 47:18 Well, thank you I you know, when people talk about all the dividends, and what what's my difficulty dividend going to be investing in your, your startup, you know, there's lots of conversations here in the Bay Area. And I proudly say the dividends and investing in the disability community or hiring somebody with a disability, or allowing giving somebody the opportunity to start a small business with a disability, I'll tell you what the dividends are, there's less reliance on public assistance. And there's more money flowing into our local economies, people with disabilities want to spend their hard earned money, they don't want to be limited by whatever SSDI pays these days, 900 to $1,200 a month, they don't want to be limited by that. They want to be contributing members of our society. And many people don't know that the disability communities, are the third largest market in the world. So put that into perspective. You know, if people with disabilities are thriving, everybody is going to be thriving. Michael Hingson 48:28 Sure. And again, one of the dividends is that if you are hiring a person with a disability, you are very, very likely hiring someone who is going to be a lot more loyal to you, and wanting to help make you more successful because they know how hard it was to get a job in the first place for them. Right. And we really need to deal with that. As I said, we interviewed on this podcast, Kirk Adams, who is the about to retire director, he maybe now has retired as the director of the American Foundation for the Blind. He's the one that talked about the fact that there are now now an increasing number of studies, talking about the whole loyalty and brand issue regarding disabilities that specifically bind blind people. But it goes across the board of the fact that if you hire someone there, they're going to be very appreciative of that. And they're going to want to do a good job. And that spiral can only go up because the better job they do, the more successful you are. And the more successful you are, the better their job will be. And the happier everyone is. Peter DeHaas 49:38 And it's about creating a culture that that understands it and embraces it. I'm currently doing some important curriculum development for a biotech company here in the Bay Area as it relates to employees with disabilities and it's it's it's so exciting for me, this is the kind of stuff that excites me to see companies coming full circle and saying, Oh, we really need to put some more thought into this and not just have a policy in the HR department as it relates to disability accommodations, that's important too. But creating a culture that that includes disability in the DEI equation. Michael Hingson 50:21 Right? The the inclusion has to start taking hold a lot more than it does diversity, generally speaking, as I think you pointed out, has left disabilities out of it. But they, the fact is, you can't do it if you're gonna call yourself inclusive, because you are, you're not correct. And there are a number of us who are of the opinion that we're not going to let you change the definition of inclusion to say, well, we're inclusive, we just don't do anything with disabilities, then you're not inclusive, great. can't have it both ways are gray. How can people become involved in and working in helping with the disability Business Alliance? 51:07 Well, they can go to our website@www.S F D B A dot ORG and, and get contact us there, if they'd like to make a contribution there. If they'd like to volunteer, or, you know, at some point we're going to be, like I said, building capacity. I'm excited about the potential of hiring somebody to start and you know, over time hiring several people. So get in touch with us, and we'd love to have a conversation. Michael Hingson 51:46 I hope that people will really be excited about it and be excited to help. Obviously, anyone listening to this, especially in the San Francisco area that is now willing to explore hiring persons and so on should get in touch with you. Yes, they can do all of that through the website. Peter DeHaas 52:08 They can get in touch with us through the website. But in terms of me, I mean, if they set up time to chat with me, I'd be happy to chat with anybody about developing strategies around hiring individuals with disabilities as well, or, or figuring out how to make their business more inclusive. Michael Hingson 52:30 If they want to set up a time to chat with you. How do they do that? Peter DeHaas 52:34 They can email at info at SF DBA dot o RG just make a query that way? Michael Hingson 52:42 And odds are you're gonna see it because you're the main guy doing it all right. Peter DeHaas 52:47 Yep. Yeah, my volunteer gets those emails in. She forwards them to me immediately. Michael Hingson 52:56 Well, I hope that people will do that. And that we can help make the program successful and even more so. And if there's anything at anytime that I can do and anything that I can do to help bring resources to assist you, needless to say, excited to do that as well. Peter DeHaas 53:17 Michael, it's always a pleasure chatting with you. I learned something new every time that I talk with you and I don't see our conversation stopping here. 53:28 Hope not by no means there's always more to talk about. Well, Peter, again, thank you very much for being here. And I hope people will reach out. Go to www.sfdba.org and reach out to Peter info at sfdba.org. We'd like to hear from you. I'd love to hear your thoughts about this podcast. So feel free to email me at Michaelhi at accessible A C C E S S I B E .com. And you're also welcome to go to www dot Michael hingson.com/podcast. Michael Hingson is m i c h a e l h i n g s o n slash podcast and wherever you're listening to this, please give us a five star rating. But most of all, whether you're in the San Francisco area or not reach out to Peter, he would love to hear from you. And I'm sure there are ways that that we can help establish more relationships outside San Francisco because what Peter is doing is going to have to expand anyway right? Yes, 54:31 yes, I'd sky's the limit. I'd like to my goal is to brand SFDBA or an organization like SFDBA in Colorado. Next. I did. Some of my my work that I didn't mention in this podcast was with the Colorado cross disability coalition, one of the nation's leaders in disability accessibility kind of related topics and, and one of my greatest mentors, Julie risking is at the helm there at CCDC. And when I told her I was launching SFDBA, she said, Peter, we need something like this in Denver. So I promised her once I got my footing here that I would try to establish something in Colorado as well. But yeah, I'm excited about the possibility of one day growing beyond the Bay Area. 55:31 got to start somewhere, though. That's right. Well, Peter, again, thanks for being here. And I want to thank everyone who is listening, I want to thank you for listening to us and putting up with us for an hour. But please reach out to Peter, we really appreciate it. And we'll probably have another podcast where we get to talk more about all the progress that Peter is making. So again, Peter, thanks very much for being here. Thank you, Michael. Michael Hingson 56:01 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.
Why Seagrams Special? Listen to a remarkable story about Lynn Teatro where she will tell you about not one, but two times she went to high school. During her second stint, she was given the name. While Lynn was raised to be a farmer's wife she always wanted more. After her marriage breakup, she chose to try school again as you will discover. In college, Lynn studied Psychology. She completed a three-year program in 23 months even though her professors said not only that it couldn't be done and that it was against the rules to get her degree in such a short time. Unstoppable or what? Among other endeavors, today Lynn is a member of an organization that serves persons with disabilities. Her attitude is very refreshing and quite positive not only about those she serves but about life in general. Today Lynn is developing a program to help encourage dropout students. As you will see, she is teaching others to be unstoppable. About the Guest: Lynn Teatro was raised to be a farmer's wife and a mother. Rural Ontario, north of Hwy #7 expectation. She was married 2 weeks out of high school. Lynn wasn't able to graduate because she failed physics and was getting married, so it really didn't matter. Or so she believed back then. 12 years later she was a single parent of two kids, back in class with the teens and completing her Grade 13 (Yes, she's that old). This time I got to hang out with the cool kids. My nickname was the Seagrams Special. She applied to Trent University as a high school graduate and completed her 3- year undergrad in Psychology in 2 years. Lynn's academic advisor told her that she couldn't do that. It was against regulations or something. Too late, Professor Earnest, she had already finished the work for her last credit. Lynn had a varied career as a front-line social service worker. She worked in shelters for abused women and their children, with seniors, with sex offenders in prison, helping the homeless…She had a two-year stint pissing off landlords and pulling miracles out of her ass. Her daughter, Megan's words, not the actual job description. But it's close. Now as a quasi-retiree, she has made it her mission to help dropouts and other struggling students find their zone of genius. She helps them boost their confidence with workshops, 1:1 counselling, and group coaching. She is also building a professional roster of like-minded people to help her help struggling students fly the nest and on to success. It's a mighty task and Lynn has learned to ask for help the hard way. She is proud of her rural roots. Lynn knows for sure that you can take a girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl. And she also knows that sometimes our personal trail takes us where we weren't expected to go. She challenges all of us to enter that huge unknown world of possibility. So, take her advice no matter who you are and where you are at in life. Surprise yourself. How to connect with Lynn: Website: www.MyVoiceCounts2.com LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/lynnteatro Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MyVoiceCounts2 I broadcast my Facebook Live My Voice Counts, too: the parents' edition from this page Calendar link for promotion: https://calendly.com/lynn-teatro/20 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 once again to unstoppable mindset. Today we get to interview Lynn Teatro. And I'm not going to tell you a lot about her. She's got an incredible story. We'll have to ask her about her nickname when she was in high school the second time around, but she has had a wide variety of experiences. And I think that we're going to find just how unstoppable she is. We'll see. Anyway, Lynn, welcome to unstoppable mindset. How are you? I'm great, Michael, how are you? Doing? Well. Good. Well tell me. Well, you're welcome one. Thank you very much for being here. Lynn is another one of our victims who came from podapalooza. You all have heard about that before. We had another pot of Palooza event last month in June. And by the way, if anyone is interested, there will be another one coming up on October 19. And if you want information about that, please reach out to me at Michaelhi at accessibe.com. And I'll get you all the information as soon as I have links. We'll put those up as well. But anyway, here we are with Lynn and you'll have to tell us all about why you were involved in podapalooza as we go through this, so let's not forget to ask you that. But I'd like to start by you telling us just a little bit about you growing up and all that sort of stuff. Lynn Teatro 02:40 Well, I was born in Peterborough, which is the place I'm living right now. And my dad was worked in a grocery store and my great ANP company and my mom was a homemaker and I had a brother born right after me and then another brother born the year later, and that was the time that my dad became ill with heart problems. And he was nursed at home and he died just before his 20/25 birthday. 25 seems to be a rough year for the men in my family. My older brother Dale had a diving accident just before his 24th birthday and broke his neck and he was a fully disabled quadriplegic for 19 years. And my other brother kept attractor over on himself and the throttle went up into his leg and barely missed the femoral artery. So he was luckier than what Dale was, and I had a sister that was okay, go ahead. Michael Hingson 03:35 I was just gonna say, now tell us about the women in the family. Lynn Teatro 03:39 Yes. My mom found it very difficult to cope and mental health issues run in my family. So she had a long period of depression after my father died. And my teenage uncle came and looked after us for a while. And after we moved to Cannington, about four or five months, it's just a small village where my grandparents were close to. And we lived in a small town and I asked my mom for pink car when I was five. And she actually brought home a pink car. It was called buckskin Brown, but I was actually pinks. I was very, very pleased and the people in town got to know us because I have red hair and my brothers have been bright orange hair actually. We had a blonde German Shepherd shepherd that rode around in the trunk of the car with the lid up. And then it was a pink car. So when we drove down the street, people got to know us very quickly. They knew who you were. Yeah. So my mum ended up marrying about four years after my dad died and they had an incident and she was born with hydrocephalus. And for anybody who doesn't know what Hydrocephalus is, it's water on the brain. And we all have water on our brains. It goes around the brain to push up against the skull and it also goes down to up and down the spinal cord to keep it lubricated. And there was a blockage somewhere in that system that caused the fluid to build up around her brain before she was even born. So yeah, she was born prematurely. But it wasn't soon enough to help her from becoming profoundly developmentally, developmentally delayed. And, yeah, I looked it up in the in YouTube or not YouTube on the internet the other day, my sister required $100 worth of medication to control her seizures. And that's worth almost $800 Canadian, which is a lot of money, and my parents were paying for the farm. And they ended up having to my mom ended up having to go to work. And when she was at work, I was 12 years old, and I was responsible for profoundly, you know, high risk kids for two and a half years of my life when I was home on weekends and holidays, and that kind of thing. So I learned a lot about parenting, but not real parenting because Carrie was very much like a, an infant. She, like our like a doll. She was a living doll. She needed to be fed, she needed to be changed. But she never got that second reflex. She never cried, never laughed. The only real human response we got from her was when we were around. Like if it was just family, she would be awake more times than if we had strangers in the house with the exception of my aunt and uncle and their six kids. She seemed to have accepted them as family to and was quite used to them. So yeah, and yeah, and then yeah, so that that is where the women, women kind of lost it. Michael Hingson 06:41 So everyone in the family definitely had some challenges. How long did Carrie live? I know that she no longer does. Lynn Teatro 06:49 Yeah, she was two and a half years old. Two and a half. Yeah, yeah. Michael Hingson 06:54 Well, you're still here. Lynn Teatro 06:55 I'm still here. Michael Hingson 06:57 That's a good thing. It is. It is. So tell me about as you were growing up you in school and so on? Lynn Teatro 07:04 Well, in school, I did. Okay. I was one of those that was able to get marks without working very hard for them. And but as I got older, my marks started slipping, I started losing my confidence and developed anxiety around public speaking. And I was raised to be a farmer's wife and the mother of farm children. So I went to grade 13, which was popular, you know, was in in place in Ontario at that time. Michael Hingson 07:36 Now, what is grade 13? Grade 13 Lynn Teatro 07:38 was the final program for going into university. So if you were on the university track, you took grade 13. Well, I just decided to take group three team because otherwise I wouldn't have anything to do. And then I got engaged in the middle of my grade 13 and was married two weeks out of high school. And technically I didn't graduate from grade 13 Because I failed physics. Michael Hingson 08:05 Physics isn't that hard? Having my master's in physics, I had to say that anyway, go yeah, yes. I'm just defending the honor of science anyway, going well, Lynn Teatro 08:17 and you know, I'm very interested in science. It's just that that was the one that I had, I had to work out a little bit. And, you know, I had a boyfriend. I was working at the house for doing chores and things. So you know, doing homework was just not one of my priorities. Michael Hingson 08:32 So you got married two weeks out of high school, Lynn Teatro 08:35 two weeks I've taught in school. And then two years later, I had my first daughter. And two years after that, I had the second my second daughter. And even though I was living the life that my parents wanted me to have, my husband wasn't a farmer, he was a mechanic. So still working with his hands within got dirty. So that was an honorable profession as far as my family was concerned. But I wasn't happy. I was not happy and my marriage deteriorated. Actually, I had applied to college and was accepted. And the day I was supposed to go down and register. Alright, the night before I was supposed to be down on a register. My husband and I had we argued all night because I was adamant that I was going and he said that we didn't have the money even though I had worked hard to to claim that money. But it was it was irrelevant, because my stepfather came up and said that my brothers had an accident and had broken his neck. So the family made a pledge that they would there would be somebody with my brother every day that he was in the hospital in Toronto. So every day one person, at least one person would drive down and spend the day with him. And I don't regret that at all. It was it was a rough time for him. But once he got moved back to our community and he ended up living in the hospital for most of those 19 years, but after he got back to the community I figured that, you know, that wasn't required. It was just you know back to, to being brother sister. And that's when I applied to university. And my marriage had broken up by that time too. And actually, before I applied to university, I decided I was going back to high school, I just on a whim, drove into the laneway of the high school that I went to earlier, and asked how I got into university. And they sent me to the guidance counselor, and he said, Oh, we're doing this semester system now. You can start, you can start high school tomorrow, upgrade your third grade 13 and apply as a graduate. So I did that. And that's where I got the nickname The secret was special. And it was really funny. Funny, because that was one of the outside ones the first time in high school. But I was one of the cool chicks in the in the second time around. Michael Hingson 10:49 Well, how did you get this name Seagram special? Lynn Teatro 10:52 Pierre Burton, one of our here's a host historian and an announcer with CBC had written about a book called The Bronfman dynasty dynasty. And when America had the prohibition against alcohol on the Bronfman, were doing Run, run, running down to the states, and making a small fortune and they are millionaires and the Bronfman dynasty continues, and they continue to make alcohol. And their alcohol is called Seagrams. And there's a special one that's always put in a crown, and it's called the Seagram special. So that's where I got my nickname. Michael Hingson 11:27 There you are. Yeah. And cgroups is very visible down here in the United States today. Yes. So you finish grade 13, I got Lynn Teatro 11:36 to finish grade 13. And then went to move to Peterborough and went to university. And I did a few things, right. I selected my courses. So that I was, I would be out the door when my daughters went to just go grab the bus for school, and I would be at home when they got back from school. I Michael Hingson 11:59 before we go further. So you passed physics in grade 13? Lynn Teatro 12:02 I didn't take physics. I did a math course. Okay. And I did well, the teacher said afterwards, when she heard that I was coming into the class that she thought that she would have to spend a lot of time with me, because textbooks had changed in that 12 years. Yeah. When I was in grade 13, the first time around calculators, calculators had just become affordable. And we weren't allowed to use them in doing our homework and doing exams and things. When I came back, the textbooks were written to be used with calculators. So there was a bit of an adjustment to make. But I did fairly well, I got 73 wasn't as good as the young woman behind me. She happened to be the, the daughter of the teacher that taught me the first time around in math. And she got 100 She graduated with 105%. Michael Hingson 12:52 How did textbooks change? To accommodate calculators and so on? So what was different? Lynn Teatro 12:59 I think that they, it wasn't that you it was the process that they wanted you to go through to go through the process and get the right answer. So rather than doing the, you know, the adding and subtracting and the multiplying, they acknowledged that calculators existed and they could be a good tool. Michael Hingson 13:16 So what did they make you do instead of doing a lot of calculations to show that you knew what you were doing? Well, Lynn Teatro 13:23 we still had to do the calculations, we still had to break it down. But it wasn't we didn't, we didn't have to do the math. Mentally. We didn't do figure them out each thought it was, you know, complicated formulas. Michael Hingson 13:34 And was. Yeah, and what I'm really getting to is, of course, what it's really all about, is it isn't just enough to get the right numbers. But if you're dealing with units and other things, you have to prove that the units and the other aspects of the exercise all come out as well. So it becomes more than just numbers. And that's of course the real issue. And that's true in physics as well, to the unit's come out, it isn't just getting a number. Lynn Teatro 14:04 No, it's the process. It's the process and the results Michael Hingson 14:08 and showing that you know that process Exactly. Let's say you passed and you went into college and what did you study as major or did you Lynn Teatro 14:16 have my major was was psychology, and I took all the requisites so that I get couldn't get my degree as a science, in science rather than arts. My backups were sociology and English. Always loved to read. So that was a good course for me. But at the end of the first year, I decided that I'm on a roll and applied to go to summer school. So I took two courses in the summer. And then I kind of looked at my year again and took six courses are the equivalent of six courses in the winter, two more in the summer and I ended up completing my undergrad degree in two years instead of the three year program. Wow. Which was really lucky. Like it was it was instinct that I did it. It wasn't thought out thoroughly. It was instinct. And that summer or that fall, my son was born because I was kind of a fiancee at that time. And the day my son was born, my beloved grandma Teatro had a stroke. And she didn't even know that the first redhead in the Family Grant great grandchild had in the family had been born. Because when my daughters are born, and I phoned her, I said, she she'd always tell them what it was a girl and healthy. She does actually have red hair, because my grandmother had red hair, and my other grandmother had had red hair. So yeah, she missed it on that. And it was, it was a really tough year, and I got married out here to fall. Michael Hingson 15:48 How old were your daughters? At that time? My daughters were 10 and 12. Okay, so you did graduate at least high school before they? Lynn Teatro 15:56 Yeah. Yeah. and got my degree and got my Honours Degree in the next two years, and spent most of my working life in the social services. Michael Hingson 16:09 So did you did you get a master's degree or just? Lynn Teatro 16:12 No, I didn't get anxious. Just a bachelor's honours, but it's just a bachelor's. In retrospect, I should have gone on. But Michael Hingson 16:23 yeah, only so many hours in the day. Lynn Teatro 16:26 Well, and I was the first person in my mom's family, my father's family and my stepfather's family to graduate from high school, let alone go on to post secondary school education. So that was that was huge. Michael Hingson 16:40 Well, given the background from what your family or your family's expectations were, how did they take you go into college? And how were they when you graduated? Lynn Teatro 16:51 Oh, when I was in high school, my sister in law had a tubal pregnancy. And she had one daughter at home, and my mom phoned up to insist that I participate in helping with my sister in law, and I said, I'm in school. And her immediate response is, Oh, you want to be you want to have a career, and it was really dripping with sarcasm. So that was pretty much sums up the support that I was getting from my family about later, still not, you know, it's still not the acceptance that I would have liked. And they did attend my graduation. But they were more impressed with Peters AUSkey, who was a well known radio announcer here in Canada, that he was the getting the honorary degree and doing the keynote speech at my graduation then, than the fact that you know, I was the first person in the family to graduate high school, Michael Hingson 17:47 let alone University. Now how old are your daughters? Now? Lynn Teatro 17:50 My daughters are 48 and Michael Hingson 17:54 And they went to college, or did they? My Lynn Teatro 17:59 younger daughter just finished. She just graduated from university this year. She got married fairly young. She tried college and ended up dropping out and got married and no, got had two kids. And then she got married, and ended up leaving that marriage and moving to Peterborough, and going to university. And she's studying psychology, too. And I'm urging her to go on to get her Master's. Michael Hingson 18:23 Good for her and good for you. It usually will help some, Lynn Teatro 18:27 huh? Well, I think that's a degree now is the same thing as what a diploma was when we were young. That's the starting out that says if you don't have a degree, we're just going to put your resume aside because there's other people that may be more qualified. So it's easy weeding, weeding them out. My other daughter didn't do that route. She's, she's was on she's on the edge of genius like her. Her IQ is around 129. And she chose to go someplace where she could learn and, and earn at the same time. So she got really good at helping computer companies make educational systems and then translating them into French because my children were all bilingual. So they came out of high school fully fluent in French. Michael Hingson 19:23 You're close enough to Quebec. That makes sense. Well, Lynn Teatro 19:27 French is our our other official or other official language, right. And when my daughter was young, one of her best friends had decided to go to to French immersion because French immersion had just been developed them. And since her dad worked in the town that the French immersion was being offered. We agreed to let her go and she was she missed the kindergarten portion. So her and Lindsay her her good friends had to sort of start a little bit behind there. peers in that class, but they very quickly caught up. And then my younger daughter just went along with them. Michael Hingson 20:06 So you graduated from college? And then what did you start to do? Lynn Teatro 20:11 I went into I started with an outreach center in the middle of low income housing project. And we served two projects, we did, and I was in part of the health care team. So I worked with the children around health and food and exercise and that kind of thing. And then in conjunction with a woman who taught mothers mostly about health and food, we would you charge a small fee and and teach them how to use fires for shopping so that they could get the best value for their dollar and try to avoid buying at the end of the month when everybody got their money, because that's when the flyers had less nutritious food. And then once once they decided to close the shelter, or the the Outreach Center, I started working in women's shelters, and did that for many years. But I also got a contract at a medium security prison here in Ontario, and work with sex, sex offenders. I did a stint with the CAS the Children's Aid Society and in schools. So my my career was very, very varied. And but like my daughter, I would get, yeah, I needed to to learn. It wasn't just about getting the money I had to learn. That was one of my the way I operate in the world. That's not learning. It's not enough fun. For me. Michael Hingson 21:33 That's pretty obvious from the way you, you tend to behave. And from all the things that I'm hearing. And going back to your college experience, as I recall, you finishing in two years was something that cause some angst with your advisor. And so Lynn Teatro 21:51 yes, yes, I had my final meeting with my, my professor who was my teacher's advisor. And she said, you know, where are you going from here? And I says, Well, I graduate, and she says, Well, how can you do that? And I told her how? And she says, Well, you're not allowed to do that. And I said, Well, I just had my last class last week, it's a little late to tell me now. Michael Hingson 22:15 Did she ever decided that was really okay? Lynn Teatro 22:18 I never had contact with her after that. Michael Hingson 22:22 Don't you love it when people have these rules, fixed or otherwise are real or otherwise, and they have to go by them. And when you come along and you do something different? They just tell you, it can't be done? Well, it's too late. It's already done. Lynn Teatro 22:37 Yes, I think that people filter experiences to their own abilities, rather than looking at the abilities of the person sitting in front of them. And sometimes, yeah, not nobody, nobody fits those little cubes that they want to push through students through. Some of them need to take time. Some of them aren't on the fast track. Some of them are great in the sciences, some of them are great, they're great in the humanities, what you do, and how they tackle that is very different. There's been a lot of research on cognitive learning, or cognitive intelligence, which is the way you choose to operate in the world, how you choose to solve problems. And then we've got the IQ. And then there's the emotional quotient. And then there's the personality theory. And so when you start looking at all those pieces, and although none of them are absolutely perfect bang on, they do give us a place to start and looking at those aspects. And when you look at these, like 716 different personalities, and there's 1212 pairs or modus operandi is in the Colby system. They haven't really defined for emotional intelligence. And then of course, for general intelligence, we've got the good old IQ. So when you know that people don't fit into that, there's so many options and you start figuring out in probability theory, you get to appreciate that people are really unique, and how they look at the world and how they act in the world can be very different from yours. So they're going to do differently. Michael Hingson 24:17 How do we get people to start to understand that each of us has gifts, we don't all have the same gifts, and that's okay. Yeah. How do we get people to start to think more about that that's a reasonable premise to have. Well, certainly Lynn Teatro 24:34 advocating within the the Council for persons with disabilities, I'm on the board of directors there and helping people understand that people can live rich full lives, and have a disability, and also comparing and being. I'm very vocal about how I act in the world now that I know how I act in the world. And I'm one of those that you know, I make a decision and it's zoom. Let's get into it. And so I'm an instigator. I think I take initiative fairly quickly. But I'm also a researcher. The follow through part, the follow through part, completing things is not my forte. Since grade one, my report card said, Lin does not complete her homework. And even in university, I was sliding, resurrect projects and essays under the professor's door date, the next morning, rather than on the day it was, it was expected. I'm getting better at that challenging kid, a challenging kid. And I think that's another thing too, is that a lot of parents want their kids to behave. But don't realize that the things that drive the parents crazy are the things that do them in most they're going to need as adults. I mean, I'm, I'm was stubborn. My mom tried to teach me with the hairbrush, the flyswatter on my there, but with her bare hands to get, you know, I wasn't supposed to be stubborn I was supposed to do as I was told. And she didn't beat that out of me. That's still there, I am still stubborn. I choose my battles now. But when I get my toes dug in, I'm there. I'm not budging. Unless you give me a really good reason to. I wasn't one of those kids that that took, because I said so as a reason. I'd like to know why. Michael Hingson 26:34 We you have obviously pushed the envelope in a lot of ways. And there isn't anything wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with exploring and doing things differently. If it works, and if it makes sense. At the same time, obviously, you need to sort of analyze what's happening and decide whether you really made the right choice, I would assume. And then that's what sort of leads you to continue on whatever path you're on. Lynn Teatro 27:02 So I want to pause right now, working with CPD. And one of the things that we're doing it come fall is talk to people with disabilities, about their lives that are rich and fulfilling. Despite their disability. I worked with a young woman a couple of years ago, in, in teaching her public speaking. And she went on to university and because she was visually impaired, she got so many people telling Well, it's going to take take longer, don't be hard on yourself. And she just graduated this year, she and she got Miss personality and couple of other distinguished awards. So she she went through with flying colors, like there was just no holding her back. And I was just upset with people who try to you know, they thought they were doing or good by saying you know, don't, don't set your expectations too high. But mi. And they you know, if you only make it to the seventh rung on the ladder, you aim for the fifth one, you're still up there. They're still up there. It's a success. Michael Hingson 28:23 And then you can decide if you want to try to go for the eighth run more than that's run. Yep. Well, how did you get back into being comfortable with public speaking, you said earlier that you were not very comfortable speaking publicly. How did you fix that? Lynn Teatro 28:36 Oh, when I left my sexist at my second husband, he was very abusive and controlling. And when he threatened to punch my daughter, my 13 year old daughter, shoved up against the kitchen counter and had his fist raised and was, you know, the angry red face? And I said, Nope, that's enough. So I made plans for them to move out. And so when I left him, I joined Toastmasters shortly after we moved and the first speech I did with Toastmasters was I was hiding behind the lectern. And I had it all written out and I read it word for word. And two years later, I was doing impromptu speaking contests and there's a trophy in Toronto with my name on it for impromptu speaking. So I went up the four levels for for table topics. And I'm quite proud of that Michael Hingson 29:24 reaction. What kind of reaction did you get to that first speech since you were reading it all? What? What sorts of things did they say to you? Lynn Teatro 29:31 Well, Toastmasters is a very supportive environment. Yeah, they that first speech is just tell us about yourself. And you know, with my colorful past, I didn't want to do a dump on you know, my life's been rough. So it took me a long time to figure out exactly what I would talk about. And but they were very supportive and talked about the things that were good and I'm a good writer, so I had had good language in my speech. And they pointed out a few other things that I did. But at least, you know, they got me out there and trying. And so the next speech was a little errand easier. And the next one after that was easier and and now I have to go back and learn how to prepare a speech properly rather than winging it. Most of the time, Michael Hingson 30:17 I have found that I do a lot better at speaking, when I'm not reading a prepared speech, as such, oh, notes are one thing, having an outline is one thing. But reading a prepared speech. When I first started, people told me, that's what I needed to do. And I did it once. And one of the things that I always have done is to record my speeches, because I want to listen to how I sound. And I do that with these podcasts as well, because I want to look for habits that I need to break and so on. I think that I analyze myself pretty well, as well as listening to what others say. But I think that I have enough experience that I do get to do great analysis, I don't want to say I'm my own worst critic, because I don't think that that's really accurate. you're analyzing and looking for what's good and what's not. And it doesn't need to be a criticism. But anyway, I listened to that speech that I read, and I went, Oh, my gosh, this guy sounds horrible. And it was, it's, it doesn't sound the same. So I have learned to give speeches without reading it and writing everything down. And there have been times that that's actually been extremely invaluable, as you say, doing extemporaneous or impromptu speeches or prepared speeches, where you're still delivering something where you're talking with the audience, if you well, as opposed to reading it, so that you're making eye contact and communicating because that way, you are much more directly connected with your audience. Lynn Teatro 31:59 And I hope you get to use your hands. I'm a person who uses my hands a lot when I'm talking. So if I'm holding a paper, I don't get the same. I don't deliver the same energy. Michael Hingson 32:09 Yeah, I don't use my hands a lot. I recognize that I work on it some. But I do tend to want to make sure that I am communicating. And oftentimes will say things to get audience reactions. And I know when I'm connecting to an audience based on how they react to different things that I might say, and that's good, because I really want the audience to be engaged. I'm I'm a firm believer, and you don't talk to an audience. You talk with an audience. Lynn Teatro 32:40 Yes, it's a it's a conversation. And even though there's not a lot of words coming from the audience, you still can get responses from them by asking questions and making them laugh. Get your responses that way, Michael Hingson 32:55 among other things. Yeah, absolutely. So you went off and you learn to speak publicly, which is really cool. And I'm sure that that helped in raising your children. Yeah. Because you became more confident? Lynn Teatro 33:10 Yes. Public speaking ability is certainly, certainly connected to confidence. And when you have confidence, you're gonna be able to public speak without a lot of prompting. And if you have, if you're not comfortable public speaking, then you're not always confident either. So there's a direct relationship between the two of them. Michael Hingson 33:32 Right. Now, again, what's the organization that you're working with now that deals with disabilities? Lynn Teatro 33:38 It's called the Council for persons with disabilities. I'm on the board of directors. We did actually, I was on a on a little cruise today on our little lake here in Peterborough. And we went up part of the Trent Severn waterway, and we'd have lunch before and we had about six people in wheelchairs and about seven people who are visually impaired, and we had friends and we had a blast. Michael Hingson 34:03 Yeah, and I liked and I gotta say, I liked the way you say vision impaired because visually, it doesn't really matter whether you're blind or sighted, you're you're not visually different, but visually impaired or low vision is a lot more accurate. I think that low vision is probably even a more accurate thing. When you talk to people who are deaf. They like deaf or hard of hearing, they don't really like even hearing impaired. So blind and low vision. And the reality is it's all part of the same thing. And it gets back to what we talked about before, which is recognizing that everyone has gifts. Mm hmm. How did you get connected with CPD at the Lynn Teatro 34:42 Chamber of Commerce? Oh, actually, yeah, actually. Yeah, it was the Chamber of Commerce because Jason who is the heart and soul of CPD, came to business meetings that I attended. And he invited me to participate. The only people who can participate in CPD has to have lived experience with disability. So if you're completely able bodied, then you can't join. Unless, unless you would like me, you've had somebody in your family that's been disabled. Michael Hingson 35:13 And I love to have fun saying the reality is whether people like it or not every sighted person has a disability because you're light dependent. You don't do well on the dark. But we cover that with technology. It doesn't change the reality, though, that you still have the disability. But that's okay. Lynn Teatro 35:29 Yeah, yeah, we're just we're just people, people with different skills and abilities, different weaknesses, and superpowers were just made different. And I love differences. I think the world doesn't want to have me in it. I think they're very happy that there's just one of me. Michael Hingson 35:49 Yeah. And there's one of each of us. And it's important that we look at that and recognize that. So are you still working in, in a job somewhere or what? Lynn Teatro 36:00 Actually, my mom passed away last year at the age of 88. And given that our family doesn't tend to live long. I think, well, I thought this is this is this is something to aspire to, my mum was going to be 88 or was 88 when she died? And I decided, Okay, I've got 22 years, what am I going to do with those 22 years. So I'm developing a program for dropout students, I was appalled when I was University. I, I knew what it was like for me to get there. So when I heard that there was a 30% dropout rate. for first year students, I was appalled. So I decided that I'm going to do something about that. So I've developed a program to help build confidence. It's got some public speaking elements, but it's also about getting to know yourself better to find those superpowers. We all know our weaknesses, because we've been told what our weaknesses are, yeah, whether they're real or not, whether they're real or not. And some sometimes the weaknesses aren't really weaknesses, it's just people present our superpowers because it doesn't fit for them, like my stubbornness. So yeah, to help them learn to understand themselves better. So that's what I'm doing right now. And I'm also doing a program called My voice counts to for focusing on adults. And I have people who come in, and the nine broad areas that I've identified as where students can become, become, start to struggle, the nine different reasons. So I've inviting people who have experienced in those nine different reasons and doing interviews with them, and they're sort of semi educational. And if somebody comes to me with a problem, I want to be able to send them to it, because I know that I'm working on the confidentiality and or confidence, confidence and and class engagement part. Michael Hingson 37:50 How do you? How did you transition to that from what you were doing before? Lynn Teatro 37:55 Um, well, my background in public speaking certainly helps. But again, I like to learn so taking my learning and putting it to practical use on my own. My own way, is is mine Urbana. I like to I like to be independent. So yeah, it was it was an easy transition is, well, not an easy one. It's doing it is easy, but making it profitable. And getting the word out there is a bit of a challenge. Michael Hingson 38:26 Is it basically now your own business as opposed to working then for someone else? Lynn Teatro 38:32 Exactly. Michael Hingson 38:35 So when did you leave working for other people to do this full time? Lynn Teatro 38:39 Actually, the partner, my last partner, yes, I've been married three times. My last partner had Crohn's disease. And he wasn't very good at cooking. And so it ended up that I stayed at home and did the domestic stuff. And we renovated the house too. So I helped with that. And I did the meal portion and supported him so that and he was making the better money. So that's how it worked out. For him to retire early because of his illness wasn't the best financial thing and he needed to be out of the house. Anyway. He's a very, very much an extrovert. Uh huh. So yeah, I quit working for social services at that time. Michael Hingson 39:18 How long ago was that? Lynn Teatro 39:20 That was about 15 years ago. Michael Hingson 39:22 Okay. So you left working and stayed at home? When did you when are you still with that partners? He Lynn Teatro 39:32 No, I'm not. No. Unfortunately, see, became a very angry man as his illness progressed, and he was becoming very, very abusive verbally. So I left and moved to Peterborough and what did some contract work I've with Toastmasters. I've helped develop conferences. So I took those skills and did some, some contract work for a couple of agencies here and social services agencies here in town. Michael Hingson 39:59 How long To go to start the business then 40:01 was certainly after I moved into Peterborough. So 10 years ago. 40:06 Okay. All right. So you've been doing it for a while and becoming successful? Have you written any books or created? I gather, you've created some courses and so on around it. Have you written any books or done anything that's been published yet? Lynn Teatro 40:21 I have been doing a lot of writing. You got a taste of that when you asked for those eight questions. Your vote Yeah, Michael Hingson 40:31 the bio you sent me definitely does sound like three chapters of your autobiography. Lynn Teatro 40:38 So yeah, I'm keeping on to everything I write, sometimes I just need to get it down and let it go. So that I can focus on what really needs to happen. So I'm not throwing that stuff away. I'm keeping it. And it will go into probably two books, one a, an autobiography, and another one about college confidence and what students need to succeed and why we need to support the current generation because our world is in turmoil. We, most of us, who are educated, recognizing is recognized that there is climate change, and it's causing devastating problems around the world. We've got, we've got we've still got war happening, why do we have wars, and then we've got poverty, we've got poverty here. In first world countries, it's the minority, but there's still there are conceptions around mental health, it's still you know, give them a pill and send them home. Yeah, people haven't learned to adopt. So we need well educated, passionate people taking over this world. And the only way we do can do that is for them to know who they are, that they are confident in what they're doing, and that they learn as much as they possibly can so that they can bring their skills and knowledge and superpowers into the next generation. Michael Hingson 41:59 So how does what you do? Work? Exactly? Do you have an office? And do you bring people in? Is it online? Lynn Teatro 42:09 I do I do. I do small group coaching, six to eight participants, because we're dealing with people who are not confidence. And so I want to I want to keep it to small groups, I will I also do one on one coaching. I'm developing some webinars for parents so that they will have some insights as to how to prepare their children for later for, for leaving the nest. And doing and I'm going to be doing my My voice counts too, for students so that I can bring in people who can help them directly. If they feel they need it. Do you Michael Hingson 42:50 do it online or in person online? Do you just work mainly with people near where you are? Or do you have people all over? Lynn Teatro 43:00 I am calling people from all over the place. One of the people that I like to refer people to people to lives in the state, but actually two of them live in the States. The one that I that I send to for parenting advice into how to communicate with your child is a speech language pathologist. And then I've got someone who does the Colby the cognitive assessments to help children under them understand themselves and to help parents understand their students. And she also works within the schools to help teachers understand their students so that they can recognize that no, just because children don't do something, the way that they think it should be done. It doesn't mean it's the wrong way. The important thing is getting it done. Michael Hingson 43:45 Do some of the measuring technologies and systems that we use today, like IQ, for example, do those get in the way, Lynn Teatro 43:54 I wish I'd had my data, I knew what my IQ was. Because, you know, my marks didn't reflect my intelligence. And my intelligence certainly wasn't cultivated. I mean, I think we had about 12 books in our home library, and black and white TV. I remember, when I was five, my grandmother took me through zip cellars in the toy department. And there was all these white dolls. And then there was one black one and I was that shocked me. Because I had never seen a person of color in my whole life didn't know they existed. So that was my first experience with you know, racism, because I was shocked. So I didn't have any experience i The the role models I had in my life for teachers and nurses and farmer's wives and was taught to bake and cook and do all those sorts of things. And that's what I was praised on not my intellect and my ability to write write reports. And so yeah, I wish I'd known They asked, Michael Hingson 45:01 I asked the question, because I've heard from some people, I think we've interviewed a couple people here on the podcast that have said, The problem is that IQ isn't necessarily the best way, or the way we measure intelligence is necessarily the best way to really determine how intelligent a person is, I think Lynn Teatro 45:21 one of the problems with being identified as intelligent is that those who are relying more on their strengths, and don't it's they don't recognize that process. It's not just the intellect, but you have to do the process, you have to start doing the research, you have to compile your papers, and you have to, to be able to spew that you have learned the knowledge and why it's important. So IQ, knowing that you've got good intelligence can get in the way. And there is some research being done that suggests that intelligence is fluid that we can actually build our, on our intelligence, and I'm going to be incorporating that those notions into my group work from now on. So that, yeah, starting to look at that part. And it's keep in the college confidence part. So it's, it's going to be, yeah, get to know yourself, be aware of your weaknesses and fight through them. And you will succeed. Michael Hingson 46:19 Definitely learn what your perceived weaknesses are, and and see what you can do to change them. Yeah, we all have perceived liabilities. And I put it that way, because I think that is really the case, we often talk about what it is we can't do. The question is, how real is it or how much of a perception is it the whole concept of, as I say, in sales turn perceived liabilities into assets, I learned that from the Dale Carnegie sales course, when I first learned to sell back in 1979. The kind of idea of turning those perceived liabilities into assets, whether it's in selling, or just in our mindset, is extremely important. Because most of the time, the things that we think we can't do our our perceptions, and there may very well be things that we can't do a person who happens to be who lives in a wheelchair. And if they're a quadriplegic, they're not going to be able to walk upstairs. Now technology is changing some of that by introducing some mechanisms that can help do that. And that is perfectly okay. But that's still why it's a perceived liability, turn it into an asset, well, I don't want to walk up the stairs, I've got this great technology. And look, it just brings me up the stairs in a very effective way. Isn't that what you want is someone who's open to looking at alternatives to help you in terms of what it is that is going on in your company, or a blind person who applies for a sales job. And it's kind of one of my favorite examples of saying, well, you're blind, you can't really sell. What do you mean, I sell all the time just to be able to get things done and to live in the world? So do you really want to hire somebody who just sells a little bit every day? Or do you want to hire somebody who truly understands that we sell all the time just as a way of life, turning perceived liabilities into assets is something that we really ought to do a lot more of than we do collectively. And individually? Lynn Teatro 48:24 I like to say, I try not to use the word can't I choose to or use the word I choose not to? For because for me that change changes perception. It's like okay, why do I choose not to? Is it just because I don't want to? Or is it because I'd have to work harder to do it. You know, what's, what's my reasoning for choosing not to? Michael Hingson 48:45 I'm a Star Wars and Yoda fan? There is no try do or do not do not? Do or do not? There is no try. And I think that's extremely important to take to heart actually. So it is always a matter of choice. The the can't only is maybe we haven't invented something yet. Or maybe we don't know of what's already been invented. But that's not so much a can't as we don't have what we need yet. But that doesn't mean we can't go create it. Lynn Teatro 49:21 Exactly. And it turns out, you know, rather than immutable facts, it's just we haven't we haven't found a solution yet. It turns it into a problem. Right problems have have solutions. Michael Hingson 49:37 Problems always have solutions. We have to find them. What are some of your biggest successes you feel from what you've been doing then with with your teachings and so on for the past several years. Lynn Teatro 49:52 My biggest success was the young woman who went on to university despite and did well, too. didn't let other people hold her back. She she went through my program, Michael Hingson 50:05 what is she doing today? 50:06 She just graduated and it's in a childcare. That's when she got her degree. And so she's now working, working. She's looking for a job right now, just like everybody else. But hopefully now that COVID have over and done with your almost over and done with that. Child care facilities, they'll be open up, and she'll find something that's makes her happy. 50:31 It's still exciting that she has progressed so far, and won't hopefully lose any of that spirit will be able to take it to the job. 50:40 Well, she won't lose that spirit, as long as I'm in is connected with her 50:45 good for you? Well, it is important to get that support system and there's nothing wrong with having a good support system to help one, especially when one gets to feel a little frustrated. 51:00 Yeah, and support systems encourage and suggest they don't take over. 51:06 Right. It is called support for a reason. And, and having discussions working together. You never know what you're going to create to 51:17 Oh, yes, yes. I'm a good brainstorm. But if I've got other people in the room talking again, it's like I can take one other ideas and find offshoots from that and other people can do that too. So, the more people you have involved the the ideas and solutions exponentially rise. 51:39 What brought you to attend podapalooza, this last time, Lynn Teatro 51:42 I'm doing my facebook live program. And I thought that a lot of the application ideas, a lot of the things that we would learn for that I can apply to Facebook as easily as I can for PATA Palooza, and also, I'm going to be taking my Facebook Lives and editing them and and probably making a broadcast out of them. Michael Hingson 52:01 Tell us about tell us about the Facebook Live program. Lynn Teatro 52:05 It's it's being rekindled, I've moved three times in the last seven months. So it kind of got lost in the shuffle there. But it's being rekindled. And I'm inviting people off on who have experience in and helping students thrive. In the end the various areas that I that the nine areas. You know, life skills is huge. Being independent and surviving is huge financing. Money control is huge, good stuff. Exercise, one of the things that I did right was get into the swimming pool once a day and do 100 likes. So I went into the campus during the day spent the whole day there did my work. But my noon hour was spent in the pool doing 100 lengths, and I totally avoided the freshman 15 pound gain and and exercise is so good for the for the body and mind. And it's also an opportunity for my mind to shut down and sort of do a meditation, a swimming, counting meditation, right? And swimming isn't everybody's, but you've got to have something that just gets you out of that. That homework studying overwhelms mode. Michael Hingson 53:22 I enjoy even doing just home chores around here, whether it's doing the washing, which is easier for me to do doing a lot of the cooking, which has become easier for me to do and harder for Karen to do and so on. Because I can do those without having to concentrate and apply a lot of mental pressure. So I can, as you say, relax and meditate or listen to a book or read a book and do other things to take my mind off what normally goes on during the day. And that is so helpful to do. We don't spend enough time just cutting back our mental activity and thinking about what's going on, or at the end of the day doing self analysis to really let ourselves think about what happened that day. And how did it all go? And what can I learn from it really is something that we need to do more of, Lynn Teatro 54:15 and count our successes for the day. Yeah, we all say most of us look at what what didn't get done, or instead of what did I get done. Because sometimes the reasons why you didn't get something done was because something else came up and you did a really good job of supporting a friend or, or taking out a client that really needed you or however it worked. So you have to count those successes. Michael Hingson 54:38 The other part about it is though, that even if you have something that you didn't do well that day, going back and looking at it and saying what could I have done better about this? Because we focus so much on the failure that we don't look about what we don't look at what we did learn or what we could learn until we analyze it and that's why I am a major proponent of analyze at the end of the day, and do self analysis of all aspects of your day. Because it really does make a big difference. Well, anyway. So does your Facebook Live program have a name? 55:16 It's called My voice counts to the parents edition. And it's on my Facebook page page called My voice counts too Michael Hingson 55:23 too as in too? Lynn Teatro 55:26 the page is called to Oh, yeah, my hashtag is hashtag MVC. And the number two, Michael Hingson 55:33 the number two. Well, that's, that leads me to my next question, which is if people would like to reach out to you and learn more about you and all that, how do they do that? Lynn Teatro 55:44 Well, they can find me on Facebook. I think there's about five of us. But if I'm the one with red hair, probably not too many Lynne teatros with red hair, and I'm based in Peterborough. And yeah, I think can find me on Facebook. You can also email me at Lynn.email@example.com. Michael Hingson 56:04 Can you spell that please? Lynn Teatro 56:05 It's l y n n dot? T isn't Tom? E an echo A is an alpha T is and Tom, R and Romeo. O, as an Oscar firstname.lastname@example.org gmail.com again. Michael Hingson 56:19 Okay. So if people are interested in your question, other ways, or other things that you want people to be able to have in the way of accessing you. Lynn Teatro 56:28 My website isn't up yet. I'm having glitches with glitches with the male. So otherwise, I'd be talking about that. But when it is up, it's my voice.counts two with the number two.com. And Lynn at, My voice counts to the number two.com. But give me a, Michael Hingson 56:46 we, if we can help you make it accessible, we'd love to explore that. And you probably have some familiarity with that. But with accessibe, we can probably make that a lot easier and a lot less expensive to Lynn Teatro 56:57 that's certainly something that I want it to be is accessible. My I'm pretty good with technology. But I'm finding that I'm getting bogged down in it right now. And and I'm sort of setting it aside for pursuits that that come a little bit easier to me. Michael Hingson 57:13 There are still only so many hours in the day. Yep, I want to thank you again for being here. I want to definitely, in the future, hear more about how things are going as you get everything up and running your website and so on. And if there is any way that we can be supportive that I'd like to do that. I know you asked me about being on the Facebook Live program, and I am looking forward to that when you're ready to do that. Lynn Teatro 57:40 Well, I talked you up today at the CPD adventure and people know you few of them have read your book and are quite excited to know that you're going to be on Michael Hingson 57:51 well in a way that we can help them be supportive, whether it's through that program or whatever, let me know. And I hope that you'll tell them all about unstoppable mindset, they can listen to it. And of course, when yours comes up, that'll motivate them more but if they'd like to go listen to it now, as most people here know, you can find it wherever you can find podcasts and they can also visit Michael hingson.com/podcast Michael Hanson has m i c h a e l h i n g s o n.com/podcast. But it's available wherever podcasts are, which is really cool. So they can binge listen. As of today. Actually, no tomorrow, it'll be 43 episodes that are up. So we're really excited and we really appreciate you being on today. And again, just if people would like to reach out to me, I'd love to hear from you. We want to know what you think. Please feel free to email me Michaelhi, m i c h a e l h i at accessibe a c c e s s i b e.com. Let us know your thoughts and please give us a five star rating give Lynn a five star rating for being on the podcast and being very unstoppable. And her stubbornness and everything else. But we really do want to thank you for being here again. Lynn Teatro 59:12 Well, thank you so much, Michael. Lynn Teatro 59:14 It's an honor. deines. Michael Hingson 59:15 Great. Michael Hingson 59:17 It's been fun. Well, we'll have to do some more of it. Right. That sounds like an excellent plan. Yeah. And I'm sure you have other people that maybe we should be talking with as well. Don't hesitate to have them reach out. We'd love to chat with other people. So I've Lynn Teatro 59:30 got a couple of in mind. I've a friend of mine as a blind artist, blind visual artist. And then there's there's Jason King who's just Yeah, love them to bits. He's just the Miracle Worker fruit and the heart and soul of CPD. He just knows I love to Michael Hingson 59:48 meet him. Yeah. Well, we'd love to meet him and have a chance to chat as well. Well, thank you again. And we hope that you and everyone else will join us again next week for another episode of unstoppable mindset. Again thanks very much, Lynn Teatro 1:00:03 Thanks Michael. Michael Hingson 1:00:09 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.
It is ok to step out and do something different with your life and career according to our guest on this episode, Tony Pisanelli. However, the people who are most successful at transforming their careers and lives are those who plan and then make informed decisions about where to go and what to do. Tony tells about his Italian parents who moved while young from Italy to Australia. As he describes it, they mostly just took a leap of faith although they probably did some advanced planning. However, they did not teach Tony about what he calls “informed risk-taking”. You will hear how he figured that out and what he then did with his life. In our episode, Tony will teach us how to make better decisions. He will give us the lessons and a plan to follow that all of us can use to make more informed decisions right from the outset of our careers. He will also describe his six concepts that go into making up an unstoppable mindset. I hope you enjoy listening to Tony as much as I did in interviewing him. About the Guest: Tony Pisanelli breathes new life into dying careers before they experience a major crisis. Having spent a lifetime in commerce, Tony Pisanelli finally tore himself free from the corporate world to launch a new career helping other professionals make this difficult transition. He is the creator of the E3 Career Transformation Method, and author of ‘The Phoenix Career Principles' – a blueprint to finding fulfilment in a rapidly changing world by connecting careers to an inspiring purpose. 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 01:16 Well, hi again, and welcome to unstoppable mindset. Hope you're having a good week. And wherever you are, drive safe if you're driving, but we hope that you enjoy our episode today. Today we are interviewing Tony Pisanelli, who is an individual who came from the corporate world. And eventually is I don't think this is his exact terminology. But he kind of escaped from the corporate world and started his own business and he helps businesses thrive and deal with issues that they may be facing long before they become a crisis. And I'm sure that Tony is going to talk to us a lot about that. But Tony, welcome to unstoppable mindset. How are you? Tony Pisanelli 02:05 Well, thank you, Michael. and, thank you for having me on your show. I appreciate it. Michael Hingson 02:10 Where are you located? Tony Pisanelli 02:12 I'm based in Melbourne, Australia. Michael Hingson 02:15 So do you have any friends who are kangaroos? I have to ask what can I say? Tony Pisanelli 02:21 I don't actually i, Michael Hingson 02:23 i they receive a kangaroo. Tony Pisanelli 02:25 I've actually encountered some on a golf course a few years ago. So you don't know whether they're friendly or not? So yes, to keep your distance? Michael Hingson 02:33 Yes. It's sort of like bear as well. bears more are not friendly. But yeah, some kangaroos I understand can be and some are not friendly. So better to stay away. Exactly. Well, I appreciate you taking part of your morning because it's afternoon here of the previous day. But I really appreciate you taking the time to be with us today. Tell us a little bit about you, maybe your early life and some of the things that kind of got you to where you are, Tony Pisanelli 03:03 I guess I grew up to parents who came out from Italy in the late 1950s. And they came out to create better lives for themselves and their children. And so it involves them leaving behind their loved ones. So which was a really difficult decision for them. And I learned a lot from my parents in terms of the courage it takes to leave the unknown, to leave the unknown behind and step into the greater No. And both my parents really appreciated the value of a good education, something they instilled into me. Because it was something they were deprived off in their childhood, given the finances of their family didn't allow it so it by instilling a strong education focus that led me to gaining accounting qualifications, and going to college getting tertiary qualifications. And it appeared that I had the world at my feet in terms of working for a large corporation earning a good income, working alongside professionals. Yet a few years into my career, I found myself deeply dissatisfied with my work. I found myself doing this boring routine accounting numbers work. And it was it operated on monthly cycles where the first week of the month you were collecting numbers. The second week you would organize and the third week you would analyze them and then you would report on them. And then their cycle repeated and I remember going going for walks at lunchtime, in nearby parks thinking to myself, surely I can't do this for the next 40 years of my life, this is just going to be held. But I thought I was fortunate in working for a large organization that I had opportunities to take my skills and move into more business areas. And that sort of made my working life far more interesting. So I got to experience very early, the depth of job dissatisfied satisfaction that a lot of people go through, and that the outside world don't necessarily understand it. There was really no one I could discuss or talk to about that it was something that I had to navigate of my own. And to the back end of my career, I saw a lot of people, I came to recognize the same element in people, you could see them come to work, bleary eyed, disengaged, disinterested, going through the motions, and then there was a select few people that had a spring in their step, kind of work focused, mission driven individuals. And so just a few who separated themselves from the crowd, and what was it about those individuals that actually made them inspired about coming to work, and I was fortunate to work alongside a young gentleman earlier in my career, who, we did the same accounting work. And here, I was just sore, it is pure, drudgery. And on the other hand, he was just deeply enthusiastic. And I turned to him one day and saying, what is it that makes you so energized, engaged by his work. And the reason was that his work was connected to a greater purpose. He had a vision 10 years out of one day, starting his own financial planning practice. And he saw his day to day work as an apprenticeship to that goal. Whereas for me, and a lot of my other work colleagues coming into work was really just simply an exchange of our time, labor to earn an income. And it doesn't quite, you can only do that for so long. If you're not connected to a higher purpose work can become extremely draining. I, I'm not sure I'm sure it will. I suspect you're familiar with the concept of the great resignation, where a lot of people as a result of the pandemic left their jobs to find something else, Michael. But what a lot of people have discovered is that the great resignation became the great regret. Yes, because they didn't plan it out. They simply move from one job to the next. Those who will be successful are those who stepped in, step out of a job, and into a job that's connected to who they are, their unique core talent, and some sort of purpose that allows them to make a difference in the world. Michael Hingson 08:22 You know, it's interesting, your parents left all that they knew, and stepped out Why did what caused them to do that? Tony Pisanelli 08:30 It was the pain of going without. So they went without an education. They didn't get the clothes that they would have wanted. The toys that a lot of people take for granted. So that became their ignition switch, if you like to search for a better life, Michael Hingson 08:54 did they? Did they do much planning? Or did they just take the leap one day? Tony Pisanelli 09:00 I think that they just put themselves on a boat. And as they came, I think the only planning they did was potentially through letter writing, communicate to others who they've may have known friends who had ventured before them. And ask them, Well, how is it over there? And so if they got positive feedback, that would have reinforced their decision. Obviously, you can leave Italy and come to Australia, if you find that it doesn't work, you can always return. Michael Hingson 09:35 Sure. But still, you want it to work. But as you learned, spending more time and being very deliberate about trying to plan or create a vision adds a lot of value to Tony Pisanelli 09:50 the process. Exactly. And their vision was to have their family in Australia and give them a greater opportunity than they had themselves. Michael Hingson 10:00 See, the only thing they didn't do initially was to maybe think a little bit more about how to do that. But they were able to make it happen. And ultimately, that's what matters. Unfortunately, what they didn't I gather do was to really teach you a lot about that. So you went into the workforce, and didn't yet have that spirit or that plan or that idea of how to create that vision. Tony Pisanelli 10:23 That's true. I mean, to the best of their knowledge, it was about getting a job earning a good salary. And you'd be set they didn't take into account well, hold on, your career needs to be connected to some higher purpose. Michael Hingson 10:40 Well, so you worked in the corporate world, and then recognized, especially when your your colleague told you what his plan was, that had to turn on a light for you. Tony Pisanelli 10:56 Exactly. I had other experiences in the corporate world where, you know, I worked on major initiatives for the company, and then in early 2000, was called into my manager's office. And it was basically put to me whether I would be interested in taking a payout and losing my job. And it came as a complete shock to me to find, here I was one minute was in high demand, because the company needed me to deliver a major project. And once that was delivered, they could easily dispose of you and they wouldn't think twice about how that would impact me as a person and my prevailing life circumstances, Michael. So it was a reality check to say, okay, the company you work for, is really not devoted to you and your career. Michael Hingson 11:52 Yeah. I know, my first job that we talked about, well, the first job was with the National Federation of the Blind, but then I worked for the company in Massachusetts, that was purchased by Xerox. And I didn't know at the time, they really didn't care about my career, I had some suspicions near the end, that they were not going to want to keep me around or other salespeople who are already leaving. So the one thing I did do was, took some courses to learn how to plan to explore job searches and the things that people were looking for, and so on. And some of that I used and some of that I didn't. And then of course, sure enough, I received a letter one day late in June of 1984, saying no longer interested in having you work for us. What I learned much later was that Xerox had bought, the company wasn't interested in any of the people, but rather, the technology that they were purchasing. Some people were kept for a while because they were in the blindness part of the company. The product that I sold when I had to go into sales was the more commercial version. And what Xerox wanted was just that technology and not the salespeople. Now, I've come to believe that it's never a wise decision just to get rid of Salesforce that has a lot of tribal knowledge that you don't. And you think that Well, I don't need it because we're bigger, and we know all the stuff. And that's what corporations often do, which is such a horrible mistake. Tony Pisanelli 13:34 It is so and that was something I saw in my corporate journey, the company, let go of people who had deep knowledge and wide knowledge. And it wasn't until a few months after they left, I came to realize the wheels have started to fall off certain processes and systems and delivery mechanism said hold on, we actually do need people with deep knowledge. Michael Hingson 14:00 Yeah, it's a rude awakening for somebody who doesn't see it coming. Tony Pisanelli 14:04 It is it's a rude awakening. But it's also it became the opportunity for me to say, Okay, I need to take control of my destiny. And like that gentleman said, Okay, well, what am I passionate about? And for me, it was, I really was immersed in the personal development world, and took an interest to coaching and human behavior. And to the back end of my corporate career, I started spontaneously, if you like Michael, just coaching the younger generation, in terms of their growth and development, and also alerting them to the realities of corporate life. And this sort of became the clue I needed to understand what it was that I would do after my corporate career would be coaching mentoring people in terms of their navigating their career journeys, both from a dissatisfaction perspective. Given also securing it beyond one employer to rely on one employment employment situation can be a bit tricky in today's world where we're experiencing rapid development and growth. Michael Hingson 15:15 What was in you? Do you think that helped you take the leap of recognizing that you don't use your lack of excitement about a job as just an excuse, and you just kind of go on, but rather, I can go on and teach I can do other things. What, what do you think is the the thing within you that allowed for that to happen? Tony Pisanelli 15:42 It was, it was really interesting. When I was in the corporate world, Michael, I became a keen observer of people and how they went about managing their career. By virtue, I suspect because of my own initial experience of deep dissatisfaction. And I remember a story of a gentleman who kept a counter on his desk. And each day each day after he finished work for the day, and he wrapped up his briefcase, it clicked over the counter, and he was counting down to the days towards his retirement. So in other words, instead of making these days counts, he was virtually wasting them. And he was a sad and forlorn figure. He brought misery if you like, wherever he went, because he complained. And so that became a really important catalyst for me to say, Do I want to stay here for the entire for my entire working life, becoming that person who based his his life? Or can I use my corporate career as a springboard for something else? Michael Hingson 17:04 There is something to be said for today is the first day of the rest of your life. Tony Pisanelli 17:10 There is and your career question is deeply connected to your life, your life journey. So in the early phase of your career is how do I get a job? How do I advance my career to a shift occurs typically at the mid age point in the 40s? Where, how can I be of service and contribution in the world? Can you relate to that? Michael? Michael Hingson 17:41 I can. It's interesting that when I was in college, I wanted to graduate, go on and get advanced degrees and teach. I liked teaching. I worked at the campus radio station, I like doing a radio show, I like communicating with people. And I consider that certainly some of the qualifications that a good teacher needed to have. But then my first job came along. And it was working with Ray Kurzweil, the inventor of the Kurzweil Reading Machine, and a number of other things and the National Federation of the Blind, to further this concept of making a piece of technology that would read printed pages outlined for blind people. And what I, although I didn't know how to verbalize it, or maybe didn't even realize it was, what a great purpose in being involved in creating an exciting piece of technology and helping so many people. I was fortunate that I had that opportunity. But as I think about it, and began that job, as I think about it now, I got to teach because one of the things I had to do early on was write a training manual for the machine. And it very much warped my view of what technical manuals and training manuals should be about, which is not nearly what technical writers do today. I think that that material needs to be a little bit more interesting to read to draw people in. And you have to approach it at their level, not your level, because otherwise they won't truly understand it. But I got to teach, I got to observe people, I got to do a lot of those kinds of things. And then later when I needed to go into sales. I realized that good sales people are guiders are counselors. They're teachers, that you don't just sit there and say buy my product. It's all about not only assessing what a person's needs are, but it's also about helping them understand and maybe even coalesce more what they believe their needs need to be and then deciding whether what you have worked with him or not. So I still got to teach and I still get to teach today. And of course that's a lot of what this podcast is about helping people realize you can be more unstoppable than you think You can, Tony Pisanelli 20:01 exactly the other catalysts for me was, and a lot of people experienced this when they work for large organizations is, you're a long way removed from the end customer in terms of the service the company provides. So you don't ever, ever get to see the difference you're making in people's lives. So you can't sort of speak to him at the end of the day and saying, How is this service or product working for you, because you're in some sort of Tower, producing reports or whatever it is you're working on. There's never a recognition that you're making a difference in someone else's world. Michael Hingson 20:43 Well also recognize, though, that there are any number of people who truly are satisfied with that kind of a role. Tony Pisanelli 20:51 Well, there is, I'm not having a go at these corporations, right? They serve. And they obviously need to provide what they do. But for someone like me, and from what you're telling me through your story, you reach a point where you say to yourself, I'm done. Okay, and I was done. Yeah, the question is, are you can stay there and burn and rot? Or are you going to grow to the next journey? Michael Hingson 21:23 That's the issue, when, as I said, there are any number of people who like sort of doing things by rote, and that is perfectly okay. Because we're all different. There are people who like doing the same accounting tasks and so on, and don't want to explore alternatives, or looking higher, should they? That's their choice. And far be it from me today, that their choice is wrong, because every one is different, which is what you're saying. But it is also true that for me and for you, we like to look in different directions, and find that thing that really satisfies us. You know, one of my favorite science fiction stories is an Isaac Asimov story, in which everyone as they were growing up, at some point, took a test. And that test, analyzed your brain and basically told you what you were going to go into as a career. And then you were programmed to, to do that over the next several years. And then you took a test that validated that and showed that you are ready to go into that career, whether it was a technician or whatever. And there was this one young man who took the test initially. And the people doing it, it was all part of the government looked at his test and didn't say anything to him. And he went on and they said, We think you probably would do well in engineering, but he went on, and he continued to do stuff, and started feeling crazy. He said, I just don't like this. I don't I need more. And eventually, he kind of ran away and he got hunted down. And these are the people who found him said, what's the deal? And he said, I just don't think that that is for me. I, I don't think that I should be doing that job. I think that I need to be more creative. And you guys don't want me to do that. And they said, No, you don't understand. We saw that in you. And we needed you to grow and get to the point where you could recognize you're one of the few people who doesn't be a technician or doesn't just do a job, you're the creator who figures out the next thing that we need to do and so on. It's a great story. Tony Pisanelli 23:54 It is and that's you make a perfect distinction. If you're comfortable, and you enjoy doing that basic routine job. And that fulfills you, then you belong there. But if you're someone that you outgrow that, or it's not you, then then you're hurting yourself significantly. By staying in that environment and not searching for the next your next journey. Michael Hingson 24:23 You but you then have to develop the courage, really to do what your parents did. And that is to step out and what you did, which is to step out and be willing to take that risk. And not everyone is a risk taker and that's probably a lot of what it's all about. Tony Pisanelli 24:41 Well, it was interesting because the later phase of my career, Michael, I specialized in risk management. Yes, that helped me enormously because in life and businesses you need to take risks. So there's no formed risk taking, and then there's just risk taking. Right? So I knew I was taking a risk by leaving. However, I understood what those risks were. And I developed a mechanism to manage those risks, which has become the mechanism I use for others who is equally looking to make that step. Yeah, really is you you're not, you're not going to potentially generate a consistent income in the first few years. Right? How do you manage that risk? One way is you build a financial reserve for yourself, to see you through that. Another way is you could develop a service or product and take it to that minimum viable product level. So you can start developing cash flow, rather than perfecting it for years, and never putting it out in the marketplace. Michael Hingson 25:54 Another way is exactly what your colleague did. He knew what he wanted to do. And he knew that he would be doing taking a risk to do it. But he was willing to stay with the company until he had what he felt was necessary to leap off and start his own financial planning business. Tony Pisanelli 26:16 Exactly. He had clarity as to who he was going to serve. And the problem he was going to solve for them. I'm sure you've attended a number of networking events, and you hear people communicating what it is they're doing, and they're trying to be everything to everyone. And you end up being nothing to nobody. Right? So and I get people to specifically hone in, what is the problem you solve? Who specifically do solve it for? How do you reach them? And that gives them the clarity that then to say, Okay, I'm actually stepping into a more certain world than where I actually don't know what I'm going to be doing. Michael Hingson 26:59 So how long ago was it that you left corporate world as it were, and started your own company and became an entrepreneur, Tony Pisanelli 27:08 I left in 2015. But I began the journey while I was still there. I'm a big believer, I'd, I'd watched a few savvy entrepreneurial corporate professionals who had started to develop side hustlers, Michael. And they were building their next career on the side, while still employed by the company, either because they had become dissatisfied, or they knew was only a matter of time where they be tapped on the shoulder. Michael Hingson 27:38 Right? So did you start that side operation while you worked for a company? Or did you wait to you leave you left, but at the same time, you obviously knew when you were going to leave? Tony Pisanelli 27:52 I started putting the building blocks together, Michael, so I was acquiring the qualifications in terms of coaching, I had also joined a entrepreneurial group, to understand how those people, the mindset of those people, because I knew I needed to think differently as an entrepreneur, than when I was employed by a company. Michael Hingson 28:18 What do you believe an entrepreneur is? How would you define it? Tony Pisanelli 28:23 An entrepreneur, I go, there's a definition of it. And I cover it in my book is someone who takes resources out of lower value activities into higher. So if you're in a basic job, performing a set of tasks, it has a certain value. If you're an entrepreneur, you're not doing tasks so much, is actually creating the future, or building new levels of wealth. So in the company, I got to see in the later phases, where they were shifting their employee profile, if you like Michael, where they were shedding the employee types who were holding on to the old, doing their daily tasks, to the entrepreneurs, from other companies, who were dismantling the status quo and creating whether the future was going in terms of technology. So I see the entrepreneur as someone who's disrupting, dismantling a ailing culture and creating the next is so do Michael Hingson 29:36 you. Yeah. I think so. Do you think that a lot of people or a number of people at upper echelons of larger companies still maintain an entrepreneurial spirit or does it shift to something else? Tony Pisanelli 29:52 I think companies who have people, the more senior levels, more entrepreneurial When they were, say 1520 years ago, you'd remember the story of Kodak. So they were in the photography, film business. So they fought the business they were really in, was in the memory business. Okay? Correct. And they didn't shift their thinking to understand their business from the customer's perspective they held on to the thinking from, we need to preserve the photographic film business, and not go down the digital world. And eventually, they demise. And that's because they applied an employee mindset to the business where they are holding on to the current world, rather than stepping into the new world, just as my parents could have easily held on to their old Italian world, rather than stepped into the new. It's interesting, a lot of Italians who moved from Italy, to Australia, or Italy to America, brought their world to Australia, and America. And you'll see a lot of restaurants and shops with that culture represented. Does that make sense? Michael Hingson 31:16 It does. Well look at companies like, Well, what was Disneyland and the the organization that Walt Disney created, he clearly understood that what he was doing, was connecting with people. And he built the company. Along those lines, it was a great vision. And he was a kid at heart to a degree too. But he built a company that connected to and created memories and gave people what they wanted, which was escape and so on. But he saw that and was able to make the company successful because of it. I think now, I don't know whether I would say it's exactly the same or not. But clearly what Walt Disney created was a quite a monumental achievement, and definitely represented the entrepreneurial spirit. Tony Pisanelli 32:16 I mean, you hit the nail on the head. If Walt Disney had an employee spirit, rather than an entrepreneurial spirit, he would have simply been satisfied with creating a set of cartoon characters Michael, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse have left it at that. Agreed. Where is he and he understood he wasn't in the cartoon business. He was in the entertainment storytelling world. And so Michael Hingson 32:47 those cartoons led to movies like Snow White, Cinderella, and other very innovative things. And then he said, Let's even connect with people in other ways and create a Disneyland that opened in 1955. Tony Pisanelli 33:05 Exactly. So entrepreneur, he a Walt Disney is an example of applying the principle of transmedia, or creating an echo system. So he took his cartoon characters, and the next product became toys around those characters, Michael, right. So can you see how he's then evolved from that to something else. And then he created films, he created a film a theme park, that's the entrepreneur continually evolving from a base level, to something greater to something greater to something else, and creating Michael Hingson 33:41 the films and the other things that he did. He also created and understood the need and value of creating the teams that could truly all work together to create that vision. And everything from the music in the movie to the artistic part of it to the dialogue and finding the right people. And then of course, all the other things that went into the theme park as well. But he understood very much also the value of teamwork and people sharing his vision and communicating that vision so they could understand it. Tony Pisanelli 34:20 Exactly. I'm a firm believer that there's a level of entrepreneurial spark in everyone. Now, I even just going back to my parents, it wasn't just purely the fact that they stepped away from the country of birth and come into somewhere else. When they came to Australia, they eventually bought their own property, Michael, and one of the challenges they faced was making the home repayments and feeding a young family so they owned a large house house with four bedrooms in it. And they partition the house so that the family utilized two bedrooms. And the other two bedrooms were rented out to other Italian immigrants that were coming out to Australia at the time. And they were earning an income from that. So can you see that requires a level of entrepreneurial thinking to say, okay, how can I take these rooms and create an income stream for themselves, and to help others who are migrating to Australia? Michael Hingson 35:36 And that, I don't know what the time whether it did or not, but certainly affected somewhere along the line, you're thinking and helping to enhance your understanding of getting this whole concept of a mindset of entrepreneurship or unstop. ability? Tony Pisanelli 35:55 Exactly. If to humble Italian people who had a limited education had that level of entrepreneurialism about them. I believe it's in most people, I remember speaking to a cleaner, who went round houses, cleaning them. And then he would compile a list of 20 customers he cleaned houses for. And then he would sell that business with the 20 clients to the next cleaner who came along, Michael, can you see even a cleaner, who's not highly rigger with all due respect to cleaner, we're not highly regarded by most people can think entrepreneurial. Michael Hingson 36:41 And he also became somewhat of a franchisor. Exactly. And I'm sure that he was very much involved in either not selling to someone who he felt would lower the standards, or he taught them what they needed to have and do in order to take the business and run with it. Tony Pisanelli 37:00 Yeah, and he was very big on at the heart of running as successful businesses, look after the customer. And then the rest will will, will look after itself. So I thought, Michael, that we look at this unstoppable mindset from an entrepreneurial perspective. Michael Hingson 37:22 And I was actually just going to ask you about that. But but let's do that. Let's do that. So first of all, do you think an unstoppable mindset is different than an entrepreneurial mindset? Tony Pisanelli 37:35 There's a lot of correlation. If you look at the story of Steve Jobs, for example, Michael, there's certain points in his career where he would come up with an idea to create something designed something new, he would go to his engineering people. And they would say, No, you can't do that. It's not possible technology doesn't allow it. Did Michael? Michael? Did Steve allow their limited mindset? Can't do that mindset stop his vision of what he wanted to do. No, it's personal. He turned back and said, find a way of doing it. He has. Okay, that's the entrepreneurial mindset. Hopefully those engineers and those systems people worked out that he was actually attempting to program them to think entrepreneurial in that moment. Michael Hingson 38:32 I wonder how successful he was, of course, we don't know much about what happened in in internal meetings. So um, but I wonder how successful he was? Maybe a better way to put it is he created a number of new technologies. And since he is left us, how has apple evolved into more innovations? Tony Pisanelli 38:58 Exact I would suspect even though he's left, he's left an imprint, not only in terms of the products that are available in the marketplace, but the way different people think about their working life. I have an element of the entrepreneurial mindset is that you need to be true to who you are. If you looked at Steve Jobs. He spoke the way he would speak as a person, not as a corporate individual with a corporate voice. He dressed as Steve Jobs, not in a suit and tie and whatever he was being that being true to himself. Michael Hingson 39:42 Right. And he wasn't ashamed of that either. Tony Pisanelli 39:45 No, he loved telling stories. And that's another great way of connecting with people. He also as an entrepreneur, had a love of calligraphy. So he drew on other things. yields to come back to his main area of development of technology and design, simple design. So that's another element of entrepreneurial isms of drawing ideas from other fields to add value to your field. But to your question of being unstoppable, I would say, Steve, it was about not allowing naysayers convincing him that it can't be done. And I think we're seeing that same quality today in someone like Elon Musk. Michael Hingson 40:34 Oh, I think absolutely. So now, if you would only make an accessible vehicle, so my wife could drive it, we'd be in great shape. But that's another story. Tony Pisanelli 40:45 So yeah, I think there are a strong correlation back to your question between an unstoppable mindset and entrepreneur. However, they're also elements of an unstoppable mindset that can serve you in different aspects of your life, whether that's as a leader or as a parent. But I think the traits and I've looked at a couple of key traits, because I'm a keen student of studying the leaders, and the entrepreneurs, and their habits, and how they can be developed in each of us to be successful in terms of our next career path. And I think, if I had to single down an unstoppable mindset, there's about seven key areas that I think it comes down to or boils down to. And I'm happy to share those with your audience, please. Okay. I think, just by the word unstoppable, Michael, I think the first area is persistence. I came across a story in one of the Polian Hills early, earlier books on the laws of success. And he shared a story of a young man who applied for a job as a salesman. With your sales background, you'll, you'll appreciate the story of Michael Vick and his prospective employer was reluctant to employ him because this young man didn't come across as confident and strong that he would last in the sales field. Because in the sales field, as you know, you've cop a lot of rejections. True. Sure. And you need to be able to handle those and bounce back. So anyway, he fought the prospective employer for well, I've got nothing to lose, I'll give this young man a job. So the role of this young man was to sell advertising space back then in just your local magazine, journals, to the storekeepers in the area. So involved going knocking on their doors and selling advertising space. So in the first day of his job, he managed to sell three advertising spots. And then for the remainder of the month, he sold another eight. To get his bonus, he needed to sell 12. So he missed out by one. So he made it his priority in the following month, to make sure he sold to that one gentleman that one store owner that he never sold to. And he would turn up as of his door each morning when the store owner arrived, asking for the sale. And for the bulk of the month. The store owner said I'm not interested and explained his objection. And then it got to the last day of the month, and the young man was there again. And the owner turned to the young man and said, Have you got to buy now that I'm not interested, you have wasted a whole month of your time trying to sell me something that I don't want or not interested in. To which the young man turned around to the store owner and said, I haven't wasted my tail time. I have got to learn all the objections that someone can throw at me develop a response that will melt make me a better salesman in the future. To which the store owner said, Young man, you have just taught me a valuable lesson in persistence. I will buy your advertise. Michael Hingson 44:17 I I once heard a story sort of in a sense, the opposite of that. But just as valuable in the sales world of someone who was selling to the government and specifically to a particular person in an office and I don't remember what it was but he we were talking about sales philosophies one day and he went in to this office after making some presentations and been there a number of times and he said okay, and now I've explained what I what I can to you and we've gone through all of this. I would like you to order our product and And he didn't say another word. And the person across the desk from him, didn't say another word. And this went on for about 15 minutes. And then the customer said, All right, you convinced me, most people would come in here and they'd ask for the order, and then they keep talking and not shut up. And you clearly understand the value of once you ask for the order, you've got to wait for a response. And he ordered. Tony Pisanelli 45:30 Silence is very powerful, isn't it? Why isn't it though. Michael Hingson 45:34 And it wasn't that this guy was becoming uncomfortable, because they were both solid silent. He was waiting to see if the sales guy was going to cave in because he understood the value of it. And the sales guy didn't cave in. Again, another lesson, you ask for the order. And then once you've asked for the order, you've done what you can do until, and of course, there is truth to the fact that a lot of times selling really begins once you have an objection. But the sales men that you're talking about, took the opportunity to really learn. And that's what it's all about. Tony Pisanelli 46:11 Exactly. So that's a powerful lesson in persistence is part of the unstoppable mindset. The second element of an unstoppable mindset is going the extra mile. There's a story I read about Abraham Lincoln, Abraham, because of his family circumstances, grew up not getting the formal education that he wanted. So Michael, that meant he had to resort to his own resources. And he started reading books, to educate himself. And one day, in the district he grew up in, he found out that there was a farmer who owned a book that Abraham wanted to read. So and he knew he couldn't afford the book. So he went, walked to the farmers property and said, Can I have this book, and Abraham couldn't afford to pay for the book. So he agreed to work on this gentleman's property for a number of days in exchange for the book. And he walked miles to get there and back home. And by the time he got home, he'd already read the book. But so that's another example of an unstoppable mindset about going the extra mile and paying the price in order to get what you want, and being willing to pay the price. Exactly. Again, an attribute that you equally applies in terms of an entrepreneurial mindset. The third element of an unstoppable mindset is a person's attitude to failure. There's a lady called Sara Blakely, who is a famous American businesswoman who started the company called Spanx. And it's a hosiery company. And she got turned down. When she presented this idea to company representatives. She could have allowed that to stop her. But it became the catalyst for her to spur her own business. And her attitude to failure. She acknowledges was growing up with a father who around the dinner table each night would ask her and her brother what they did each day, that was a failure, what they learned from it. So the unstoppable mindset sees failure, as an experiment as an opportunity to learn rather than something that stops you in your tracks. So that's the attitude. Another unstoppable mindset. The fourth one is, people with an unstoppable mindset, are prepared to ask, ask for help when they get stuck. I came across a story of one day, a man with no legs, met a blind man. And the man with no legs said to the blind man, would you mind if I hop onto your shoulders and I will be your eyesight and you can be my legs. That way. We can both support each other's journey. And that's really a key secret in life is that we're all country we all have strengths and weaknesses, but we can still all contribute to one another in terms of our own journey. Michael Hingson 50:00 It makes perfect sense, of course. Okay, did you want to I mean, we all we all have gifts. And I think if we look at it in terms of the entrepreneurial world, if our company is going to involve other people, we need to understand the gifts of the people around us. And sometimes reshape our thinking to take into account those gifts, or figure out how to bring those gifts into what we're doing. And the either way, is important to address. But we all have gifts. And we don't need to all have the same gifts, in fact, in an accompany environment, is probably best if we don't all have the same gifts. Tony Pisanelli 50:53 Exactly. It's actually a setback. If you do. You don't have the diversity. There's two ways you can spell disability, Michael, you can spell it D is ability, or you can spell it T H is ability. Again, it's the way you frame your mindset isn't really, absolutely. Okay, so that was asking for help. The next one is, and I see that with this see this quality in a lot of unstoppable people is they are highly focused individuals, they're focused on one key goal, which then they break down into small chunks. I've recently written a book. So the one big goal was writing the book, but you chunk that down. So you don't let anything stop you. And you break it down into a daily writing routine, that then eventually becomes a chapter. You can also then delegate some of the activities to others in terms of someone to edit the book, someone else to design a cover someone else to work on the layout of the book, someone else to to help you promote it. So then work teamwork, or so that's number five. The sixth element I've looked at for the unstoppable mindset is a person's beliefs. Henry Ford said, If you think you can, or you can't, either way you will be right. And it really comes down to your beliefs. I another interesting theme around beliefs is when I speak to a lot of people, they tell me that typically in their lives, they've had one group of people who believed in them, even to the extent that they believed in them more than they believe in themselves. And then they had one or other people who didn't believe in them. Does that make sense? So you got the two opposing forces, right. And I had that experience when I was contemplating getting a tertiary qualification telling one of my friends, I've been accepted, to go to college. And he turned around in that moment and said, You're going to college, you're not going to last a month. Clearly, he didn't believe in me. So there's two ways you can go with that dynamic. So the way I see it, the people who believe in you give you have the competence to keep going. Even when you feel like stopping the people who don't believe in you, give you the determination to keep going when you're thinking about stopping. Michael Hingson 53:52 And again, it helps if your vision and your your conviction is strong enough. I talked to somebody earlier today who will be a guest on an upcoming episode. And she talked about when she was in high school. She really wasn't a very good student. She was just a young woman and wasn't hadn't found herself. She wanted to go to college. And she went to her guidance counselor near the end of school and she was all excited because she wanted to go and she wanted advice from this counselor. And the counselor said, Oh, I'm not gonna waste my time with you. You're just going to start having babies and have a bunch of babies over the next few years. You're not going to do anything and be successful in college. And the woman said, but I want to go to college. Well, I'm not going to waste my time. You're not going to do that. You're just gonna have babies. So I'm done with you. And literally ushered her to the door and she went out after which time she went to college and she now has a dog doctorate degree, and her own career got married later. But she did have the conviction. And she would not be talked out of it. And unfortunately, sometimes people think that when somebody who they believe is more knowledgeable than you say something you buy into it rather than sticking to your convictions to but it's the same thing. And going back to what you said about Henry Ford, another version of that is the next time you come to a fork in the road. Take it. Tony Pisanelli 55:33 Yeah. So this lady, you're talking about what was her great aspiration, Michael, Michael Hingson 55:41 she wanted to become well, actually, she wanted to become an Egyptologist. And she eventually did some of that, but now has her CIDOC, her doctorate degree in, in psychology and, and she has her own coaching career. She did do Egyptology and studied African Studies, and so on, and worked with African Studies for a while. And that evolved into what she's doing today. And I say that because she never was unhappy with Egyptology and so on. It's been an interest of hers, but that has evolved into what she's doing today, which is helping women. Tony Pisanelli 56:18 Exactly. So she's working at something that serves a higher purpose. Correct. And so that's the number seven, quality of an unstoppable mindset is what's either called a chief aim, a burning desire, an inspirational purpose, call it what you like. But there is something driving these individuals, just as we spoke about Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, they're driven by a bigger picture, a higher purpose. And there was a Indian wise man by the name of Panther jolly. And he said, When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts, break their bonds, your mind transcends limitations. Your conscious expands in every direction. And you find yourself in a great, new, wonderful world. And I see that people who have left employment land behind and to become entrepreneurs, have expanded who they are as individuals, and step into more wonderful worlds, and to look back on your life, and to have missed that, I would call that a real life of regret. And that's what inspires me to help people take that step. Is this greater purpose beyond an income beyond my own sort of power and status, but it's to help people step into that greater purpose? Michael Hingson 58:06 Do you think that an A person with what we're defining as an unstoppable mindset needs to be an entrepreneur? Tony Pisanelli 58:15 No, I don't. They can express that in other ways. They can be a leader. They can be a leader in a company, they can be a parent who has an unstoppable mindset in terms of doing what they do, and bringing up a quality family, giving someone a quality family, right. So the unstoppable mindset has application beyond just the entrepreneur. Michael Hingson 58:44 Take it the other way. Do you think that an entrepreneur has to have an unstoppable mindset? Tony Pisanelli 58:52 I do believe they need to have an element of an unstoppable mindset. Tony Pisanelli 58:56 I agree. Tony Pisanelli 58:57 They're ushering in a new world, they will always come across come up against those folk who want to hold on to the safe, secure world of today. If they allow those people and their reasons and excuses and rationale to stop them, then they're not going to achieve the New World. And Michael, when I was back in corporate life, that became one of the reasons a lot of people lost their jobs. It wasn't because they weren't good at what they did. Or because the company didn't need them. They became stoppers in terms of the where the company needed to go. Does that make sense? Michael Hingson 59:43 Yeah, it does. And they weren't able to take that next step, and stick to perhaps what their convictions were. And so they prevented progress. They can prevented the change in the world that they could bring about or help bring about Tony Pisanelli 1:00:00 exactly because of their own insecurity. So, hence, the importance of an entrepreneurial mindset and having an unstoppable mindset full stop. Michael Hingson 1:00:12 So entrepreneurs, I'll be it with unstoppable mindsets, do sometimes have challenges, and maybe they fail at what they do. I would assume that you've had experiences like that, how do you bounce back from big failures? Tony Pisanelli 1:00:29 Well, again, goes back to how do you define failure? I mean, do you allow that to stop you? Or do you say, I need to do something different? And then refine yourself? So if I look back in terms of a failure in terms of my coaching practice, I would say one area that I failed quite early was I allowed my lack of understanding around technology to slow me down. Now, do I then say to myself in that moment? Well, technology is just going to become more and more invasive. In the world? Do I just throw the coaching business away? Because I'm never going to be able to deal with it? Or do I say to myself, I need to slowly get my head around it. Or I need to potentially delegate the elements that I don't understand to others. And thirdly, in appreciate the value of technology in terms of automating parts of my business, that actually frees up my time, you can automate a lot of functions in the business through the use of technology that frees up a person's time. So it depends how you look at that I could have used technology as a big excuse to stop my business, or to say, how do I work around that? Michael Hingson 1:02:06 Exactly the real point, it's not an excuse, it's a it's a learning experience, and what people call failures ought to be the best learning experiences that we can imagine. Because a failure is nothing but an opportunity to move beyond it, and learn from it. Because there's always a reason that you quote, fail, what you're really doing is you haven't found yet all you need to fully succeed, it doesn't mean that your vision is bad, or that there is a real problem. But there are always lessons to be learned. And good people, entrepreneurs, and people with unstoppable mindsets, do like to learn or should try to do their best to learn. Tony Pisanelli 1:02:55 Exactly. I mean, and that's another point around the unstoppable mindset, Michael, is, and I'm keen to get your perspective of it is the importance of observing your own mindset. Right, each time you hit an obstacle, what's your mind doing? Is it shrinking and moving away from that obstacle and allowing yourself to be stopped? Or are you trying to develop an alternative and see another solution and grow, grow beyond it. But that moment, involves you looking at yourself and your reaction to that situation? Michael Hingson 1:03:37 And one of the things that I love to recommend to people is that at the end of every day, take a few moments to look at what happened that day, even what you regard as successes. And think about what could I have done different to make it better? Or when you have a failure? What is it that I can learn from that so that that won't happen again? And if we don't take that time to ponder and think and as a result, learn and grow, then we never will. Tony Pisanelli 1:04:10 Exactly. And can I just add one more component to that is if I allow that moment of failure to stop my journey. Then not only have I failed, but I have failed the people who I meant to serve in the future. Right? Okay, you've created a podcast. And it's an opportunity for you to allow others to share their message with the world. Had you allowed a whole host of excuses, Michael to stop you, or a moment of failure to bring an end to what your journey was about this opportunity that you've given me, today would not have happened. Michael Hingson 1:05:06 Oh, look, and I can come up with all sorts of excuses. There is a lot of technology that would allow me to do more editing of this podcast and the sound improvement, and a lot of other stuff that is totally inaccessible or extremely inaccessible. Should that be an excuse for me? No. Either I get someone else to do it. And I have done some of that. Or even for me more fun and more creative. I have gone to the people who develop the technology, and we have begun a dialogue, and I was the first one to approach them, but I've helped improve even more their thoughts of doing it. We are now discussing how to make the products accessible and usable. And that's what really needs to be done, of course, and we're having, we're gonna have a lot of fun, dude. Tony Pisanelli 1:06:00 Perfect. And in that little story in that little snippet, Michael, you exhibited both the unstoppable mindset and the entrepreneurial mindset, Michael Hingson 1:06:10 right? Tell me about your book, you refer to it. And we've been talking for a while, and I'm sure people want to know. So Inquiring minds want to know about your book. Tony Pisanelli 1:06:20 Okay, so the book is called the Phoenix career principles. And the big idea about the book is moving someone from this employee mindset into an entrepreneurial way of thinking. And I have organized the book that lays the ground, the builds a bridge that helps them cross over that path. So an employee, typically Michael, is immersed in their day to day. And I'm saying, as an entrepreneur, start having a purpose and a vision that encapsulates your life and the life of others, not just about earning an income for yourself. And that helping to create that is having a longer term plan that helps you to stand in the future, like that young gentleman, and start seeing it. The next element of transition from employee to entrepreneur is about a person's attitude to change. Change isn't something to be feared, resistant. It's actually to be embraced, and actually turned into an opportunity. The other element, and we spoke about this earlier is if you find yourself hitting the dissatisfaction brick wall, recognize that that's a sign from inside you, your heart, your spirit color, what you like, but you're not meant to be here, you're meant to be something else greater this waiting for you. And don't just blindly step into that something else. But transition towards it, by developing a picture of what that needs to look like, by understanding who you are, you mentioned that that lady, you need to find yourself first, to understand what your strengths are, and what it is you really are here to do. And then the fifth element, I talk about the entrepreneurial mindset, and I share this story of Jeff, in that chapter. So Jeff, one day, he worked at a large company, I think it was in the finance field. And he said to his boss, are thinking of starting an online company. And the boss turned around to Jeff and said, Don't be silly. That's for people who don't already have a job. You've got a great job. Jeff wasn't prepared to be stopped. And Jeff, developed a company called Amazon Amazon. Yes, Michael Hingson 1:09:17 I knew you were going there. Tony Pisanelli 1:09:20 And lo and behold, if you want to buy that book, it's now available on Jeff's platform called Amazon. So can you see how he has created an opportunity for someone like me? To get my message out in the world? It could have been stopped by his managers voice that said, Don't be crazy. That's for someone else, not for someone like Michael Hingson 1:09:46 Jeff took the time to prepare. And when he started the company, he clearly had a vision and even went through many years of unprofitability but he knew where he was headed. And he got there. Now he owns a newspaper and all sorts of things, and it clearly has become a force in the world. And probably very much still has Well, certainly an unstoppable mindset and, and I would think, in a lot of ways, still very entrepreneurial. In in nature, personally speaking at least. Tony Pisanelli 1:10:26 Exactly. And I, in writing the book, Michael, it was my hope that after someone had read it, it activated a sparking them to awake, do their own Walt Disney inside them their own Jeff Bezos, their own Richard Branson, or whoever, and created a major difference in the world, at whatever magnitude they want to play at is their call. But I hopefully the book awakens the entrepreneurial flame in people who find themselves trapped in the concrete cage, that corporate life company life can become. For some people, as you said, not everyone, but for some that is their existence. And I just want to show people that it is possible to create a bridge outside that will be on that Michael Hingson 1:11:32 road. And I can't think of a better way to end this podcast than to really give people the opportunity to reflect on what you just wished for. And I hope that people will do that. I've always believed that if I don't learn more from doing these interviews, and meeting and having the opportunity to talk with people, if I don't learn more than than they do, then I'm not doing my job well. And I really appreciate all that you have given us the time and the opportunity to hear and hopefully we'll learn from today. So I want to thank you very much for being here. And I know you've got plans coming up for the future. And I want you to keep us apprised of them, we'll probably have to just have you back on again, to continue some of these discussions. I know you're looking at doing some summits and some other things if people want to reach out to you and learn more about you. And again, I'll put this in and learn more about the book and so on how do they do that? I can 1:12:37 find the at Tony Pisanelli.com Or could you spell so Tony T O N Y and Pisanelli P I S A N E double L I.com. And the book is called the Phoenix Career principles, which I hope people go to Amazon and buy and truly appreciate its value. And Michael, I want to also extend my thank you for allowing me to speak on your podcast, and also for being someone who is a true representation of someone who's unstoppable. Thank you. 1:13:25 Well, thank you. And I hope that people will take to heart all that we've had the opportunity to discuss today and that they will reach out to you and want to learn more about you and and that they will get the book. And I am very serious. We need to do this again, and continue the discussion, I think we can have a lot of fun doing it. So I do again, thank you for being here. And for those of you listening, wherever you are, please feel free to reach out to Tony. And also I'd love to hear from you. So you can reach me at Michaelhi at accessibe.com. That's M I C H A E L H I at A C C E S S I B E.com. Or go to Michael hingson.com/podcast. And of course, as we always ask very seriously, hope that you'll give us a five star rating, because your comments and input are valuable. And I hope that you'll give us a five star rating for what we've been able to do today. So thank you for listening. And again, Tony, thank you very much for being here. Thank you. Bye, everyone. Michael Hingson 1:14:37 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.
Shilpa Alimchandani immigrated from India to the United States when only a few months old. As with many immigrants we have interviewed here on Unstoppable Mindset, Shilpa grew up experiencing two worlds. As she describes it, she grew up in a South Asian home experiencing that culture, and later she experienced the wider world around her as she went to school and went out on her own. Her perspectives on her life and what she has learned are fascinating to hear about. As you will experience, in addition to living, if you will, between two cultures, the color of her skin also caused her to experience challenges. Her “brown skin” did not fit within the normal world of dark-skinned people and her skin was certainly not white. As she tells us, some of the treatment she experienced showed her just how unfair people can be. However, as you will hear, she rose above much of that and has thrived in the world. Shilpa will tell you about her life journey that lead her to form her company, MUK-tee which means “liberation” in Sanskrit. You will hear about her life as a leadership coach and as a DEI consultant helping many to move toward true transformational change. About the Guest: Shilpa Alimchandani is the Founder and Principal of Mookti Consulting. Mookti Consulting partners with clients to break free from oppressive systems and facilitate transformational change. In Sanskrit, mookti मुक्ति (MUK-tee) means liberation. Shilpa has more than 20 years of experience in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), leadership development, and intercultural learning. She is a DEI consultant, leadership coach, and facilitator who works with clients to develop holistic solutions that lead to transformational change. In her independent consulting practice, Shilpa has conducted DEI assessments, co-created DEI strategies with clients, facilitated high-impact workshops, and advised clients on issues of racial equity and justice. In her role as the Director of Learning & Innovation for Cook Ross, she built the learning and development function from the ground up and led the organization's curriculum and product development initiatives. With her deep knowledge of various learning modalities, intercultural leadership development, and human-centered design, Shilpa is able to craft interventions that are targeted, impactful, and appropriate for diverse, global audiences. Before her work at Cook Ross, Shilpa designed and implemented global leadership programs for the State Department, led the development of a global learning strategy for the Peace Corps, and taught in the School of International Service at American University. She has facilitated trainings in nearly 20 countries around the world, and has received numerous awards, including twice receiving the Peace Corps' Distinguished Service Award. She is the author of the book Communicating Development Across Cultures: Monologues & Dialogues in Development Project Implementation (Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010), and has been an invited speaker at numerous conferences, including The Forum on Workplace Inclusion and the Society for Intercultural Education, Training, and Research (SIETAR). She has also been a guest lecturer at numerous academic institutions, including Georgetown University and the United States Institute of Peace. Social Media Links: Website: mookticonsulting.com LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shilpaalimchandani/ 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 there you are listening to unstoppable mindset glad you're with us wherever you happen to be. Today we get to interview or chat with Shilpa Alimchandani and I got it right didn't I Shilpa Michael Hingson 01:37 and Shilpa has formed her own company. She's worked with other companies. She's very much involved in the whole concept of diversity, equity and inclusion and we'll talk about that and and chat about that a little bit. But first Shilpa Welcome to unstoppable mindset. Shilpa Alimchandani 01:56 Thank you, Michael. I'm really happy to be here. Michael Hingson 01:58 Shilpa lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. I've been there before it gets colder in the winter a little bit colder than it does here in Victorville in Southern California. But we're up on what's called the high desert. So we get down close to zero. A lot of winters. And so we know the cold weather. We don't get the snow though. But we cope. Well. Thank you for joining us. Why don't you start if you would by telling us just a little bit about you growing up or anything like that things that you think we ought to know about you? Shilpa Alimchandani 02:32 Okay, well, Thanks, Michael. Yeah, I live in Silver Spring, Maryland now. But this is not where I grew up. I grew up in the Midwest, in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. I was actually born in India, but just a few months old, when I came here, to the US, so grew up in, you know, pretty suburban neighborhood in South Asian families, so kind of navigated between two worlds my world at home, and you know, which was very much a South Asian eating Indian food and speaking Hindi. And, you know, spending time with my family and our small community, in St. Louis, and then going to school and being part of a broader world that was really different than mine at home. And I'm the firstborn in my family. So as a first born of immigrant parents, you just kind of discovering everything for myself for the first time and not having much of a guidebook to help me along, but just sort of figuring it out as I went. And it was a mostly white neighborhood that I grew up in St. Louis, which was very segregated at the time, black and white. Not a lot of people who are anything in between, though, so kind of made my way in school. And I actually went to the University of Missouri Columbia for college. And it wasn't until I finished college that I moved out to the East Coast. And I've stayed here in the DC metro area since working in lots of different capacities in in nonprofit and higher education and government and the private sector, and now as an independent consultant for the fast past few years. Michael Hingson 04:22 So where do you fall in the black and white scale? Shilpa Alimchandani 04:25 I'm neither right so as someone as South Asian did not kind of fit into the dominant white majority culture that I was a part of growing up and did not fit into black American culture either because that's not my heritage. So it was a really interesting space to, to navigate to learn in, in a in a culture where race and skin color plays a big role in your identity development and the opposite. unities that you have, you know, it was something that I had to just sort of figure out where do I fit? You know, and what's what's my role in what appears to be kind of an unfair system that we're a part of. And then as I discovered how unfair things were, might the question became, well, how do I change that? What's my role? Being me and my brown skin? You know, to? to question the systems that are unfair? And to change things to be more equitable for everybody? Michael Hingson 05:32 Do you think it's unfair all over the world? Do you think it's more or less unfair here? Or what? Shilpa Alimchandani 05:39 Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, every place is unique. And so I don't think like, you know, necessarily, what we experienced in the United States is the same as it is, and other countries in this hemisphere or anywhere else in the world. And I think there are some global themes around power and identity that really can cut across cultures and countries, you know, human beings are used to kind of creating hierarchies, you know, and, you know, some people having more authority, more power than others, sometimes that's based on things like skin color, sometimes, you know, that's based on gender, sometimes that's based on caste, or that's based on tribe or some other ethnic identity, there are lots of different identities that are used to kind of implement that hierarchical system. But there are some things that are in common across all of them, right about how people in power retain their power, how people without power, learn to kind of accept their circumstances. And, you know, and kind of not necessarily pushback, because when they do, there are consequences to that. And so that it's like a reinforcing system that we get used to, and we sort of take for granted. Well, that's just like, how the how the world is, that's how life is. And it takes a lot of courage to question that and say, Well, no, well, it doesn't have to be that way. And we can make things more fair for everybody. Michael Hingson 07:20 Do you think though, that here, we we see more of that than elsewhere in the world, or you think it just seems that way, because we're here, Shilpa Alimchandani 07:30 and probably seems that way, because we're here, I mean, you, you know, you, you know, you're more in touch with what's happening, usually in your own environment. And I think, for the United States, with as much promise as it has, as a country with, you know, ideals around equality and fairness and justice, there's just a really difficult history that we haven't fully grappled with, that continues to impact people every day. And so it is a history of, you know, genocide of native peoples, it's a history of enslavement of African peoples. It's a history of patriarchy, where, you know, women haven't had the same access and rights, it's a history of ableism. You know, a topic, of course, that you know, very well in this podcast deals with in a really nuanced way, where people who don't fit into the norms of, you know, able bodied neurotypical folks, you know, are marginalized. And, and, you know, LGBTQ plus, folks are also marginalized. And that's not unique to the United States. But it is part of something that's part of our culture, that we need to acknowledge in order to change, kind of pretending like it's all in the past, and we don't really need to worry about that anymore, doesn't help us to make things better moving forward. Michael Hingson 09:01 If there's a difference in the United States, it is that our country was founded on and we keep touting the fact that all of us are free, and all of us are equal, but in reality, it hasn't worked that way thus far. Shilpa Alimchandani 09:20 Right? That's exactly right. And I think that it's often people from marginalized groups, who really believed most passionately, in that promise in those ideals and therefore want to push to make that a reality. Michael Hingson 09:39 Yeah, and, and understandably so because we're the ones who tend not to have truly experienced it. Shilpa Alimchandani 09:49 Right, exactly. And so, you know, it's fascinating to me to Michael on this topic of, you know, recognizing the you know, the inequities and the oppression that exists And what we want to do to change it is that you would think that if you understand or experience oppression or marginalization because of one aspect of your identity, that you would then also have empathy across lots of different experiences of marginalization, right. So for example, as a woman, I've experienced marginalization because of my gender. And so you would hope then that I would be empathetic to, you know, LGBTQ folks, or I wouldn't be also empathetic to people with disabilities. And I could translate my experience of marginalization and say, oh, I want to advocate for others who've experienced marginalization. But that is has not necessarily been the case, right? A lot of times, we kind of only focus on our own experience, the one that's familiar to us and have a harder time seeing how there are connections across lots of different identities. And there's power in us actually making those connections instead of, you know, operating in our silos. Michael Hingson 11:11 Why is that? Why have we why have we not been able to take that leap? When we are part of one group, which clearly is marginalized, as opposed to other groups? Who are also marginalized, but we think essentially, we're really the the only one in town from the standpoint of not translating that. Shilpa Alimchandani 11:35 Yeah, you know, I think it's, we are as human beings, much more aware of when we're kind of the outsider, and things are harder for us. And we've experienced adversity that we need to overcome. But when we're in that insider role, right, in the group that has more power, the dominant group, it's really easy to not pay attention to that to kind of forget it, to take it for granted. Right. So I can say that, you know, as, as a cisgender person, as a heterosexual person, I have at times in my life kind of taken for granted that I belong to those groups, because the world is sort of set up for me, I can date who want to want marry who I want, I don't have to worry about people looking at me, you know, strangely, when I'm with my partner, I don't have to think about having photographs of my family, you know, on display, these are not things I have to worry about, just because I'm part of those dominant identity groups, right. And when it comes to my experiences of marginalization as a South Asian person as a Hindu person living in the United States, I'm very, like, hyper aware of those, right, because that's where I have felt left out. That's where I have felt like I haven't been treated fairly. And so I think, because all about sort of like a complex mix of lots of identities, we tend to pay more attention to the ones where we experienced marginalization, and less attention to the ones where we are part of the dominant group. Michael Hingson 13:13 But we don't translate that to other groups. Shilpa Alimchandani 13:16 Yeah. Because, again, we can we have the capacity to do it. But uh, sure, more effort, right. Michael Hingson 13:22 Sure. And, and it's all about, though, what, what we know, and what we feel. And we, we don't tend to take that leap. We're very capable of doing it. But for some reason, we don't recognize or don't want to recognize that we're part of maybe a bigger group of marginalized or unconsidered people. And I think that's probably really it, that we look at ourselves as well. We are, we are who we are, and we make our own way. But we, we don't have those other people's problems. And so we tend to ignore them. Shilpa Alimchandani 14:07 Yeah, sometimes it makes us feel better about ourselves like, oh, well, you know, at least we don't have to deal with that. And I think when it when it comes to like race and ethnicity in the US context, there's been a conscious effort to divide people of color from different identity groups. We do have different lived experiences, I don't have the experience of someone being black of someone being Latinx of someone being indigenous, at the same time, there are some things in common across not being white, right? And what the the the exclusion and some of the disadvantages that come with that. But it's to the advantage of the group that's in power right? For other marginalized groups to be continuing to sort of fight with one another and not see what they haven't Common, because then that allows the majority group to maintain their power. Right? So you can keep fighting amongst yourselves, right and arguing about who was more oppressed than whom. But it, it, what it does is just allows the people who are in power to keep it. So it really is incumbent upon us to bridge some of those divides like you were talking about, like, why can't we extend and see how someone else has experienced marginalization in order to change things because it's that collective action is necessary. Michael Hingson 15:33 Yeah. And that's really it, it's collective action. Because somehow, we need to recognize that the group in power isn't really jeopardized by other people, sharing power, or not being so marginalized, but rather is strengthens all of us. Mm hmm. That's what people tend to not perceive that they're, the whole concept of their power in numbers, there is power in numbers, really is just as applicable across the board. But we don't want to recognize that because we're too focused on the power, as opposed to the rest of it. Yeah. And that, that becomes pretty unfortunate. And, of course, dealing with all those other groups, and then you have people with disabilities, which is a very large minority, second only to women from a standpoint of what we call minorities, although they're more women than men, but then within disabilities, you have different kinds of disabilities that different people have, right. And that, that causes, I think, a lot of times another issue, because it is more difficult to get all of those groups sometimes to combine together to recognize the power and numbers of everyone working together. And everyone overcoming the prejudices is about for about their disabilities or toward other people and their disabilities. Shilpa Alimchandani 17:06 Yeah, absolutely. And to even consider, you know, the, the intersections of our identities, right, so there are people with disabilities, many different types of disabilities, like you said, and then there are people with disabilities who are white, or people with disabilities, who are people of color, there are people with disabilities who are, you know, identify as cisgender women or cisgender men, or non binary or trans, right. And so when you kind of look at those combination of identities, it gets even more complex. And it also challenges us, right, it humbles us, I would say, to acknowledge that, wow, I may really be in touch with what it's what the experience of being a person with disability in this country, and but I don't have the experience, for example, of a person of color in this country, or a person of color with a disability in this country, and that those are different experiences. And to appreciate those differences, right? We don't need to erase those differences in order to understand each other, Michael Hingson 18:13 while the experiences are different, what isn't different, oftentimes, is the fact that we do experience prejudice and discrimination. And we talk so much about diversity, that I think you've pointed out, we don't talk about the similarities. And we're, we talk well, we're talking about becoming more diverse, and that's great. But that becomes overwhelming at some point. And so how do we bring it back down to we're all part of the same thing? Really? Shilpa Alimchandani 18:47 Well, I think, um, there's, there's a, there's kind of a journey that that we go on in understanding difference and understanding identity, you know, at first we may not be at, you know, totally aware of some of the differences around us, and then we might move to a place of feeling polarized around it, you know, that like us them dynamic, yep, there are differences, but we're better than you, you know, and that kind of a thing, and then we get to a place. And what I'm describing here, broadly, is the intercultural development continuum, a framework that's used a lot in the DEI space, you can come to a place of minimization, which is really focusing on commonalities, right. We are human, we have common lived experiences, we can focus on common values, and let's minimize the differences right? But that's not the end of the journey, because minimizing the differences is at times denying the reality of of people's different lived experiences. And it doesn't help us to really change things to make them more fair where they're not. So then we move to kind of accepting the differences not with value judgment, but just acknowledging them. And then ultimately adapting across those differences, I would take it a step further that not only are we bridging or adapting across the differences, but that we need to learn to be allies, right? So especially if we're in a position of being part of a dominant group, like as I am as an able bodied person, you know, what does it look like for me to be an ally, for people with disabilities, and that's a responsibility that I have, right. So if we minimize differences, and we just kind of stay in that place of let's just focus on what we have in common, we don't then have the opportunity to accept, adapt and ultimately become allies. And that's really the journey that we're on, Michael Hingson 20:44 what I don't generally hear is not so much about what we have in common, or recognizing that we all can be allies, which I absolutely agree with and understand. But we don't get to the point of recognizing the vast number of similarities that we have. And we don't get to the point of recognizing that a lot of the so called differences are not anything other than what we create ourselves, Shilpa Alimchandani 21:16 we do create differences. And we need to understand those differences in terms of systems, right, like entire systems in our society, and the way that our, you know, workplaces are set up and within the way, you know, physical spaces, as well as policies are developed. And those systems are not necessarily designed as fairly as they could be. And so that's when I think paying attention to differences is really important, and not just focusing on similarities, because the same system is impacting people differently, depending on what identity group they belong to. And we've got to be able to surface that in order to change it. Michael Hingson 22:02 But we do need to recognize that a lot of that comes because of the system, as opposed to whether there are real differences, or there are differences that we create. Yeah, well, I mean, Shilpa Alimchandani 22:13 humans create systems, right. And so we can agree design systems to, but what happens is a little bit like a fish in water kind of scenario, that we don't really recognize the water that we're swimming in, you know, we it really takes us having to leave the environment and look back at it to be able to say like, oh, that's what's going on. Right? Most of the time, we don't pay attention to those systems, we just operate within them without thinking about it. Michael Hingson 22:43 And that's my point. And that's, that's exactly it. And so we sometimes somehow have to take a step back or a step up, maybe as you would describe it to get out of the water and look at the water, and see what we can do to make changes that would make it better. And that's the leap that I don't generally see us making as a race yet. Shilpa Alimchandani 23:12 Yeah, they're, you know, they're definitely great examples of that, you know, in, in our history, and in other parts of the world as well, like when made, you know, when countries that had been colonized for a number of years, you know, finally get their freedom when, you know, there's real truth and reconciliation efforts after a war or a period of conflict. It is it is possible, it's something that has happened. And, and I think, you know, we're kind of in a moment in our culture, where people are asking a lot of these kinds of questions. What, what's not working in the status quo and the way things are, and what needs to shift this, the pandemic, has really brought those issues front and center, the movement for racial justice has has done the same. And I think it's it's actually an exciting opportunity and exciting moment to be like, oh, people are actually talking about systems now. Michael Hingson 24:14 Yeah, it's, it's interesting. Henry Mayer wrote a book called all on fire, which is a biography of William Lloyd Garrison. Have you ever read that? I have not. Okay. So William Lloyd Garrison, you may or may not know was a very famous abolitionist in I think, the 1840s there was a reporter and he got very much involved in the abolishing slavery. And as I said, Henry Mayer was a biographer of his and wrote this book called all on fire and in the book, there is a section where, where Garrison wanted to bring into the fold, some women the Grimm case sisters, who were very much involved in women's suffrage. And he Garrison said to his people, please contact them, let's bring them in. And their response was, but they're not involved in this their field dealing with women's suffrage, and they're not interested in this. And Garrison said something very interesting, which was, it's all the same thing. He took the leap. And he said, It's all the same thing, whether it's suffrage, whether it's slavery, abolition, or whatever, Abolishment. It's all the same thing. And that's the leap, that we generally don't take any of us on any side. Shilpa Alimchandani 25:39 Yeah, I don't know who to credit for this quote that I've heard many times. But the idea that none of us is free until all of us are free. Michael Hingson 25:48 Yeah. Right. And interesting and interesting, quote, and true. Shilpa Alimchandani 25:52 And that's really, you know, I had shared with you, Michael, that my, my practice is called mukti. And Mukti means liberation or freedom in Sanskrit. And that was really kind of what was behind, you know, like, I was thinking about, like, why do I do this work? What, what motivates me? What is this ultimately about? And to your point of, you know, these experiences, whether it be suffrage, or abolishing slavery, or whatever, having some really important things in common is that we want to be free, we, as humans want to be free. And there are a lot of things that get in our way. And so that kind of became the heart of my practice is like, what does it look like to work for that freedom? Michael Hingson 26:38 Well, let's go back to you personally, and so on. So you grew up? I think you have, and that's a good thing. And so how did you get involved in all of this division, this business of Dei? And and what you do today? What What got you started down that path? And what did you do that got you to the point of starting this company? Shilpa Alimchandani 27:02 Yeah, so you know, certainly growing up in the 80s, and 90s. In St. Louis, there really wasn't a dei field as such, it wasn't like one of those careers that you know, about and, and prepare for, like, you know, like being an engineer or a doctor or a teacher or something like that. So it was a kind of a winding indirect path to get to this place. I knew pretty early on that I cared about justice that I cared about people understanding each other and bridging differences. But I didn't know that could be my job. So at first I thought maybe I'll become a lawyer. And then you know, I could use like legal skills to fight for justice and things like that. I even took the LSAT and never applied to law school, I was like, I don't really want to be a lawyer. So I explored a bit I worked in nonprofit, and in higher ed, and began to learn that well, there really is kind of a in the late 90s, early 2000s, like a an a growing field, in educating people about diversity. And that was kind of new to me, I was excited about that. I wanted to learn more about it. And early on, it was kind of more focused on representation, right? We need to bring people together from different backgrounds, in workplaces, and schools, etc. And then that sort of evolved into, well, it's not just enough to bring people from different backgrounds together, you need to have an environment where people feel included, where they feel valued, right. So it kind of evolved from not just diversity to diversity and inclusion. And I think kind of the more recent iteration of the field is the E in diversity, equity and inclusion. And the equity piece being really looking at that systemic part, we were just talking about, how are our systems working for us? Where are their inequities built into those systems? How can those be corrected? So that we actually have a place where people from different backgrounds can feel included and valued and feel treated fairly, and paid fairly? For the work that they do? Right, so that's when all of those come together? Of course, there's additions to that as well. Some organizations add accessibility as an aide to that, you know, some include justice. So there's, this becomes a bit of an alphabet soup, but all with the this idea of differences, valuing differences and treating people fairly at the heart of, of this work. Michael Hingson 29:50 And that's really what it's about. And as you point out, it's really about equity. I've noticed and I'm still very serious We maintain the whole concept of diversity is much less of a really good goal to seek. Traditionally, diversity leaves out disabilities. In fact, I interviewed someone a few weeks ago. And this person talked about different kinds of diverse groups, and listed a number of things and never once mentioned disabilities, and I asked him about that. I said, I'm not picking on you, but you didn't include disabilities. And he talked about social attitudes. And he said, well, it, it includes social attitudes in some way. And my point was, No, it doesn't really, because social attitudes are a different animal and don't have anything to do with dealing with disabilities to disabilities is a different kind of thing. Yeah. So it's, it's interesting how different people approach it. Now, this particular individual was a person who is involved with another, another minority group, but still, we have to face that. Yeah. And it makes for a very interesting situation, and it makes for a challenge in life. Shilpa Alimchandani 31:16 Yeah, I mean, it's one of those places where, you know, I have privilege as someone who doesn't experience disabilities in my life on a daily basis. And I That means for me, like to be an ally, like, what we were talking about earlier, is that I need to educate myself, right? I need to look for those opportunities, where I feel like well, yeah, sure. This is easy and accessible for me, but it wouldn't be for our friends and colleagues and people who don't have the same abilities that I do. And what can we do to change that? Okay, that that's what ally ship looks like. And I know, it can be overwhelming, right? People say, oh, there's so many, you listed so many things under this umbrella of diversity? Like how can how can we possibly, you know, pay attention to all of it. And I actually don't think it's, it's too hard for us. I think, as human beings, we have this amazing capacity for empathy, we have this capacity to our minds are malleable, we can continue to learn and grow throughout our lives, we have to have the will to do it. Right. And, and put the effort in to do it. But it is possible. Michael Hingson 32:27 It's interesting to look at and one of the things that I think I see, and this is from my perspective, as a as a blind person, or let's say a person with a disability, it's it's interesting how I think sis Thai society teaches that all the rest of us are better than persons with disabilities to a great degree am. And I think it's very systemic. And I think, to a very large degree, it does go across all sorts of different lines. But we teach people that I teach our children that disabilities make those people less in ways that it doesn't necessarily apply to other groups. Although the concept and the overall process is the same, it still comes down to, we're in power, we're better than they, but it does go across a lot of different lines. And when we teach people that disabilities are less, that's a problem that somehow we, as part of all this need to overcome. Shilpa Alimchandani 33:37 Yeah. And you know, it's ultimately, Michael, to your point, it's dehumanizing. We're dehumanizing entire groups of people. And sometimes it's like, quote, unquote, well intentioned, but it's really more of a pity than it is an understanding of respect and empathy for someone else's experience. And nobody needs that. Right. Nobody wants to be felt sorry for, you know, Michael Hingson 34:06 yeah. And I think that that probably is more true. When you're dealing with a person with a disability, then a lot of other groups, you won't feel sorry for them, you may distrust them, or whatever. But for disabilities, we feel sorry. And that promotes fear. Gosh, we sure wouldn't want to be like them. Shilpa Alimchandani 34:29 Right? Because that's the worst thing that could happen, right? So it creates more of that division of, I'm not like you and I don't want to be like you, you know, right. Michael Hingson 34:40 Right. On the other hand, disabilities is an equal opportunity, kind of a thing. Anyone can join us at any given time unexpectedly, or maybe expectedly. But to use a bad word expectedly I don't know that's not a word. But anyway, Yes. So we have to learn to speak. But still, it is something that anyone can experience. And we don't try to equalize. So it is a it is a challenge. But But again, let's look at you what what was your career like getting into this? So it wasn't a job that really existed as such. And then you kind of discovered that maybe it really was. And so you decided not to be a lawyer, and we won't talk about the the legitimacy or efficacy of not being a lawyer, although, oh, many lawyer jokes out there. But But what did you then do? Yeah, Shilpa Alimchandani 35:45 so, you know, my early work was at a nonprofit that no longer exists, but it was the national multicultural Institute. And they were kind of doing diversity training for organizations, and like the World Bank, and educational institutions, and some nonprofits and, and then, so I discovered, like, Oh, this is becoming a growing thing that businesses organizations want education, around issues of diversity, and how they can work better together across difference. So that was really fascinating to me, I also got involved in cross cultural communication. So when I was teaching at American University, it was in the School of International Service, which has had as a requirement for any international studies major, to take a course on cross cultural communication, to recognize that, you know, depending on what culture or part of the world we're from, we really kind of think differently, communicate differently. And it doesn't mean that that thinking or that communication is good or bad, but it's different. And we really need to appreciate, you know, how some cultures are much more direct, and some are much less so right, very indirect, how some cultures were engaged in conflict, really, you know, emotionally and others are much more emotionally restrained, you know, and some are much more individualistic, and others being more collectivist. So I started really studying these issues, and realizing that there really was an opportunity to educate people about some of these cultural differences and identity differentials, and ultimately power differences that exist in our societies. So I worked internationally, I worked at the Peace Corps, and I've traveled with the Peace Corps to different countries, to train staff who worked for the US Peace Corps. I worked for the State Department, and I did leadership drug development work there to prepare Foreign Service officers before they go abroad and during their service on how to lead effectively in those global environments. And then, I decided to leave government after a while and, and pursue private sector. And there's a lot like in the private sector. Well, there are a lot of organizations that invest heavily in diversity, equity and inclusion, big training programs, a real focus on how to make their policies and procedures more equitable. So that was really interesting, you know, to get into that consulting space, first working for a firm called cook Roth, and then three years ago, I went out on my own and, and started my own practice. And I love the work it's it's challenging, you know, there's some people who are in it for the right reasons, and others, maybe not as much. So I'm learning a lot in this field, now 20 to 20 plus years into it, but but also feeling quite fulfilled in Michael Hingson 38:46 the work that I do. So what does cook Ross do? Or what did they do? Shilpa Alimchandani 38:50 They're a diversity, equity and inclusion consulting firm, that they work a lot with the fortune 500, even fortune 100 corporate sector. In my independent consulting practice, I'm doing less kind of corporate work and more work in the NGO sector, with smaller businesses, nonprofit organizations, and the like. Michael Hingson 39:13 What made you decide to go out on your own? Shilpa Alimchandani 39:16 Oh, I had thought about starting my own business many times, and really erred on the side of stability and a stable paycheck for so many years. Until finally, I had some supports in place, right, talking about systems. I had some supports in place to make it possible for me to go out on my own. I had a partner who had a steady job with health insurance for for us and for our two children. My parents moved closer to where we live. So I had some family support in the area. And then, you know, decided just to take the leap and have confidence in myself and what I could offer as a consultant as a facility cater to clients. And the vast majority of my work is through word of mouth, I really don't even do much marketing. And I'm very fortunate to be in that role, but it also just showed me like, oh, you might have maybe you could have done this sooner. But it took me a while to feel like I had the the support and the confidence to do that. Michael Hingson 40:21 But even though you're on your own, do you still have a relationship? or do any work with cook Ross? Or do you still teach Shilpa Alimchandani 40:29 other consulting firms, small consulting firm, so I subcontract for them. And if this I, in addition to my consulting, press practice, I, I became a certified coach, I went through a coaching program, and became an international coaching Federation, certified coach. So I work one on one with people, largely women of color leaders who are, you know, in periods of transition or growth in their lives and in their careers to help guide them through that process, and help them really tap into all of the strength that they have, and the wisdom that they have within themselves. So I have a lot of variety in the work that I do, which I really enjoy. Michael Hingson 41:15 So you, you, you keep connections open? And that's always a good thing. Of course, indeed. So what kind of changes have you seen in the whole field of diversity, equity inclusion and such over the years? Shilpa Alimchandani 41:32 You know, there have been a lot of changes, I think I mentioned early on, there was a lot of focus on representation, I think a big and then, you know, looking at the culture, and how can we be more inclusive, but even in that conversation about inclusive, Michael, there was a bit of teaching people to be like us, right, like, so there was still sort of a dominant majority white male, you know, able bodied, you know, cisgender, heterosexual, you know, culture. And we invite people who belong to other groups, marginalized identities to join us, but to kind of be like us, right, and then I saw shift will know, the point is not to make everybody act like the majority group, the point is to actually create a place where people with different experiences, different identities, can all thrive in the same environment. That means changing the environment, right? That means actually looking at some of those systems, looking at the culture, and saying, you know, if it's a culture of like, everybody goes out for happy hour after work, or they have important conversations on the golf course, or whatever, that that is really fundamentally excluding a lot of people from those informal ways that people hold power in the organization. So how do we create cultures and systems that are more fair for everyone, I think, now, especially post the murder of George Floyd in 2020. And a real reckoning with the history of racism in the United States, there's much more attention being paid to some of those systemic issues in with particular guard regard to race, but also other identity groups. And that's a big shift. There were a number of years when I worked in this space, where people were still, like, uncomfortable naming race, they would talk about diversity broadly, talk about all the different things that make us the rainbow people that we are, but not deal with some of the harder, stickier Messier subjects. And I think there's more of a willingness to do that now. Michael Hingson 43:42 And they won't deal with the words. Yeah, go ahead. Shilpa Alimchandani 43:45 Yeah, there's, there's more. So there's like a caveat to that. There's also a lot of people who say they want to do that more difficult and challenging work. But when confronted with it, actually retreat and say, Oh, no, I'm not comfortable to this. This is a bit too challenging, too threatening. It's making me really uncomfortable. And so there are organizations, there are leaders who have said one thing, right and publicly made announcements about how they're anti racist, or they're, you know, all about equity or whatever. But then that hasn't necessarily followed through in the action. So that's, that's something that's we're dealing with now, in the field. In some places, there's a openness, a recognition for some of those difficult topics and other places. It's really just on the surface. As soon as you go a little bit beneath the surface, you realize that the commitment is really not there. Michael Hingson 44:44 Now you have me curious, so you've got you've got the company or the group that does go out on the golf course and make decisions or that goes out for lunch and has martinis and make decisions and There are reasons for it. The reasons being that you're going away from the company, you're going away from the environment. And you can think and you can have all sorts of rationales or reasons for doing it. But nevertheless, it happens. How do we change that? How do we address that issue? Do we, when we have people who were excluded, because they don't go out on the golf course? Do we create an environment for them to be able to go on the golf course? Or do we do something different? Or are we there yet? Shilpa Alimchandani 45:31 Um, I think we're there. I think that first of all, you we need to recognize that some of those informal practices are in fact unfair. And then if you're wanting to let go of them and say, Well, what we liked about that was that it was somewhat informal, right? But are those the only informal spaces you can create? Right? Not necessarily. There are other ways that people can connect informally in an organizational context that aren't around, you know, alcohol or, or aren't around a particular sport, or aren't around a particular, you know, activity that necessarily excludes or that are always after hours. So this is something that women have really struggled with, is that, you know, if those important conversation side conversations are happening, not during work hours, and they're still to this day, women have more responsibilities at home with family than men do, then that's an automatic disadvantage. Like you you're not even in the room, you're not even there to be part of those exchanges. That doesn't just apply to women. But that's just that's an example. So how do we then think about leadership differently, how we develop people, what our decision making processes are, how we hold each other accountable for those decisions, it kind of comes down to your organizational values, and how you live those values in the way in which you lead and the way in which you engage in your work and your interactions with your colleagues. It's easy to say on paper much harder to practice those values. Why is that? Oh, well, you know, everybody likes to have on their website or on the wall in the conference room. Oh, we believe in integrity, we believe in inclusion, right? We believe in collaboration or whatever the values may be. But what does that actually mean? What does that look like? How do you make on how do I Shilpa behave in accordance with those values? Right? Question. Michael Hingson 47:45 It gets back to Talk is cheap. Absolutely. Talk is really cheap. Talk is really cheap. It's easy Shilpa Alimchandani 47:53 to make these pronouncements and to say the right thing. It's much harder to practice them. And so when I engage with clients, it's really looking at those organizations and those individuals that are interested in making some change. They're like, Okay, we know this is not going to happen overnight, it's not going to happen, because you did one workshop with us. And then we all went home, it's going to be it's going to happen over time. By articulating the behaviors. We want to practice building the skills to practice those behaviors, building the accountability for us to actually implement those behaviors and those changes in our policies, then we can actually create some long term change. That's not easy. It's not sexy, it's hard to work. And that's how you create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organization. Michael Hingson 48:47 And it is very uncomfortable, and it's what really causes a lot of the hatred. So why is it that people hate race differences so much, because they're different than us. They're not as good as we are. And although in reality, they can demonstrate that the hair is equal is we are whoever we are. The fact is that they're calling us on it. We don't like that we don't like change. And the reality is we need to learn to change. Shilpa Alimchandani 49:16 Yeah, this whole idea, you know, we all think of ourselves as good people, right? So when someone points out some way in which I have exclude been exclusionary or discriminatory in my behavior, my first instinct is to defend myself, but I'm a good person, I would never try and hurt another or discriminate or exclude. But in fact, as a human being that operates in these systems that we are a part of, I haven't times excluded, I have at times been unfair in the way I've treated people and just and been discriminatory. And so it's important for me to be able to acknowledge that that I can be a good person, but part of being human is that I do have some of these checks. Challenges, then only can I change it and work to change some of the systems if we're going to live in denial like, Nope, we're good people, and therefore we can't hear any of this criticism. It's not possible for me to be unfair, unjust or discriminatory. And then how are we ever going to change? Michael Hingson 50:16 Right? Which is, which is of course, the whole point, isn't it? Shilpa Alimchandani 50:19 Yeah. But it's hard. It's a tough, but I really, I always come back to humility in this work, you. If you are to engage in a sincere way to build a more equitable and inclusive world for everyone across identity groups, you will be humbled time, and Michael Hingson 50:37 it's hard because we haven't learned to do it. And also, many of us just really, ultimately don't have the desire to learn to do it. And that's what we have to change. What are some of the major mistakes that you've seen organizations make? I think you've referred to some of this already. But it's worth exploring a little more. Shilpa Alimchandani 50:57 You know, one thing that we haven't talked about yet, but I often hear from clients who seek out my services, is that, oh, we really need to focus on recruitment, right, we just need to get more diverse leadership team, we need to do a better job of reaching out to, you know, XYZ group that's underrepresented in our organization. And they put a lot of effort into recruitment. And then what happens, you bring in people from all these different backgrounds that you said, weren't represented, and now they're there, but there hasn't been much emphasis on inclusion or equity. And you've created a revolving door. Because very soon, people from those marginalized identity groups discover this isn't a place where they really feel like they're valued, or it's not a place that set up to really support them to be successful. And they leave. And then those same organizations are like, well, we put all this money and time and effort into diversifying, what did we do wrong? So to that, my I, what I say time and time again, is we have to start with equity and inclusion. And then the diversity will come if you don't start with diversity and with recruitment, and then just with wishful thinking, hope that it all works out. Once everybody's together in that organization, quite often it doesn't. Michael Hingson 52:18 It ultimately comes down to changing the mindset, which is really what doesn't happen. And diversity doesn't change the mindset. And I think that's something that conceptually inclusion can really help to do is to change the mindset if you're really going to look at what inclusion means. And that's why I've always loved to talk about and I have a speech called moving from diversity to inclusion, because people clearly have already changed diversity to the point where it doesn't necessarily represent everyone. But ultimately, all those people, I think, still try to do it. You can't say you're inclusive, unless you are, you can talk about being partially inclusive. But that doesn't mean a thing. Either you're inclusive where you're not, then that means changing a mindset. Shilpa Alimchandani 53:01 It does mean changing a mindset. And that mindset allows you to change some of your practices, like it can be as simple as like, how do you design an agenda for a meeting? And how do you facilitate that meeting? And how do you actually include all of the voices of the people who are part of that group? A lot of just a thing about how many times people and organizations how much time people spend in meetings, and a lot of them are not particularly inclusive, like half the people are checked out. There are a few people who dominate the conversation. Right? And it seems it's such a waste. It is such a waste, because there are ideas that are not getting shared, there are conversations that are not being had, there are conflicts that are not getting resolved. Right? Because we're just used to doing things in the same way. If we can change that mindset, like you said, and, and also some of the practices, even small things like that will make a difference, right? People will start speaking up in a different way. Right? Well, dialogue shifts, Michael Hingson 54:07 and that's what we really need to work toward is that dialogue, shift that mindset change, and that makes a big difference in in all that we're doing. Tell me a little bit more about your company about mu T and what it does and how people can learn about it. Shilpa Alimchandani 54:24 Great. So yeah, Mookti the M O OK T I. Consulting is my organization. As I mentioned earlier, Mookti means liberation. And I have two parts to my practice. One is organizational training and consulting. So I provide and facilitate workshops and and Leadership Development Series for organizations on all kinds of dei related topics. From you know, interrupting bias to Um feedback on microaggressions to you know, a leading with an equity lens and using the system's lens to solve problems in your organization. And, and I really enjoy that work that organizational training and consulting work. The other part of my practice is coaching. And that is one on one with individuals, primarily, I focus on women of color leaders, because coaching remains a white dominant profession in the US. And there's a real opportunity for people of color to enter this field and a lot of clientele who are looking for coaches who understand not just their leadership journey, but also how their identities impact them every day. So being a woman and a woman of color in a leadership role in an organization is different than being a man or being a white man in particular. And so those of one on one coaching conversations that I have with my clients really can unlock their potential, can free them up to make decisions that are more aligned with their values and make choices in their career that are more fulfilling for them. So in all aspects of my work, I'm about you know, freeing people, from the systems of oppression that limit us, some of that work is organizational. And some of it is individual, Michael Hingson 56:21 if people want to reach out and contact you and explore working with you, and so on. How do they do that? Shilpa Alimchandani 56:29 Sure. So my website is the best way to learn more about me and my work and also to contact me. And the website is simply mookticonsulting.com Michael Hingson 56:40 Have you written any books? Or are there other places where people can get resources that you've been involved in creating? Yes, I Shilpa Alimchandani 56:49 mean, I did write a book number of years ago, communicating development across cultures, which is more focused on cross cultural communication in the international development field. So not as much on organizational dei work as I'm doing now. I'm quite active on LinkedIn and and do post my own articles on LinkedIn. So that's a good place to find me as well. Michael Hingson 57:16 How can people find you? Can you? I assume, by your name, can you spell Shilpa Alimchandani 57:20 Shilpa Alimchandani in LinkedIn, I'm the only one so you'll find me pretty easily there. Michael Hingson 57:26 Why don't you spell that? If you would, please? Sure. Shilpa Alimchandani 57:29 So Shilpa S H I L, P as in Peter A. and Shilpa Alimchandani is A L I M as in Mary C H, A N as in Nancy, D as in David A. N as in Nancy. I. So it's a long one, but a phonetic name. In fact, on my website, I have a little button where you can click pronounce. And it tells you how to pronounce all, you know, with an audio clip of how you say the word book, The and also how you say my name Shilpa Alimchandani Michael Hingson 58:02 Well, I hope people will reach out. Because I think you're you're talking about a lot of very valuable things. And I think we really need to look at inclusion and really create a new mindset. As I said, I have a speech called moving from diversity to inclusion. In fact, it's the second episode on our podcast. So if you haven't washed, I hope you'll go see it. There's my plug. And then my fourth episode is a speech that Dr. Jacobus tenBroek gave Dr. Tim brick was the founder of the National Federation of the Blind. And one of the foremost constitutional law scholars in the speech he gave at the 1956 convention, the National Federation of the Blind has called within the grace of God, and especially the last two paragraphs of that speech, I love but it's a great speech that I think, whether you're talking about blindness or any other kind of group, it applies. And he was definitely a visionary in the field, and was a was a great thinker about it. So that again, that's episode four, I hope that you and other people, if you haven't listened to it will go out and listen to Shilpa Alimchandani 59:11 know Michael, I did listen to that, upon your recommendation that episode four and that speech was really moving and inspiring, and what I would say more than anything else, I felt that it was empowering. It was so empowering, and thank you for recommending that. Michael Hingson 59:27 And he thought that he was being gentle with people in talking about discriminations and so on. In later years, he delivered another speech in 1967. Called are we up to the challenge? And he thought that he was much more forceful in that he started the speech by saying, and again, it's about blind people, but it could it goes across the board. He said mind people have the right to live in the world, which is interesting, but I still think is 1956 speeches was says best and I think there are others who agree with that. Shilpa Alimchandani 1:00:02 Well, it's been such a pleasure speaking with you, Michael, thank you so much for inviting me on to the podcast. Michael Hingson 1:00:07 Well, I am glad that you came and I hope that you will come back again and definitely anytime you have more insights or whatever or there's any way that we can be a resource for you, and I'm sure others will feel the same way. Please let us know. But Shilpa I really appreciate you coming on and all of you I appreciate you listening today. So, we hope that you will give us a five star rating and that you will reach out. Let me know what you think of what we had to discuss. I love your thoughts. All of the information will be in our show notes, including how to spell Shilpa his name and we hope that you will let us know your thoughts. So once more Shilpa Thank you for listening, at least you declare you listen to thank you for being here. Thanks. Thank you all and we'll see you next time on unstoppable mindset. Michael Hingson 1:01:00 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.
Homeyra Faghihi is a licensed social worker and psychotherapist. Born in Iran she came to the United States on a student visa obtained with a lot of persistence and commitment. She will tell you her story of immigrating to America after the Iranian revolution. Homeyra truly is a survivor and someone who works to achieve the goals she sets for herself. Her drive comes through with everyone today who she coaches and helps through her company Power to the Self online coaching. She is also the creator of "Empowerment 4U" Blueprint. I personally am always fascinated to have the opportunity to speak with people who overcome personal challenges and obstacles. I believe you too will be inspired by Homeyra's stories and thoughts. About the Guest: Homeyra Faghihi is a Psychotherapist of over two decades. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and has a doctorate in Psychology. Homeyra has years of experience with developing and offering group programs for women. As a Social Worker and Therapist, Homeyra has helped women with all sorts of struggles, including intimate partner violence. Homeyra is the founder of Power to the Self online coaching, and the creator of "Empowerment 4U" Blueprint. Currently, she provides services to women as an Empowerment Coach. In this role, Homeyra serves women who have left an unhealthy relationship, to transform their self-doubt into self-worth. Homeyra Faghihi Empowerment Coach - Founder | Power to the Self online coaching website: www.powertotheself.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/power.to.the.self/ 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, there, this is once again, unstoppable mindset. I'm Mike Hingson. Your host glad that you're here with us wherever you happen to be or wherever you're driving, or however you're listening to our podcast. And I want to thank you again for being here with us. Today we get to meet Homeyra Faghihi Homeyra is a licensed psychotherapist, she has a PhD in psychology, right? Doctorate Yes, doctorate. Yeah, PhD doctorate in psychology. So she's, she's got lots to tell us. And she helps, especially women dealing with overcoming challenges, which is, of course, for our purposes, another way of talking about being unstoppable and helping people become more unstoppable than they think they can be, which is what we're all about. So, we get to have a chat, man, I'm sure it's gonna be kind of fun. So Homeyra Welcome to unstoppable mindset. Homeyra Faghihi 02:16 Thank you. I am so happy to be here. Michael, thank you for having me. It's a pleasure. Michael Hingson 02:21 Well, why don't you tell us a little bit about you, especially kind of your early life and so on. It's always a fun place to start. I think Lewis Carroll always talked about starting at the beginning. So why don't we do that? And go from there? Homeyra Faghihi 02:33 Yes. I was born and raised in Iran. And I experienced the revolution. During my preteen years, and half of the Iran Iraq war, I was in Iran. So I, in addition to my own personal life difficulties, then we had this collective trauma that we were all going through in Iran. And at the age of 19, I left and I came to the US, by myself, and I have been living here in Los Angeles since then. And I don't know how quick you want me to move forward? Michael Hingson 03:14 Well, let's, let's do this. So what got you interested in moving to the US of all places? Certainly, that's a major culture shock from living in Iran. And, of course, with all of the things going on with the revolution, so on, they would consider us the big enemy and all that. So what made you want to come to the US? Homeyra Faghihi 03:35 Yes, as a child, before the revolution, of course, I was very aware that many, many Americans lived in Iran, and we had American TV and American radio. And so I was always fascinated, I would always listen to the American radio in Iran. And I even though I didn't understand what they were saying, I just, you know, at least enjoyed the music. And I would watch the TV shows, again, not understanding what was happening, but enjoyed it very much. And also, I had family members who lived in the US, so I always had this fascination with America. Michael Hingson 04:11 And so that translated into you deciding to move that was still a big step. Homeyra Faghihi 04:17 Yes, very much. So especially at that time, after the revolution, with all the friction between the two countries. It was not easy to get here. It was very, very difficult to get here, but I made it. Michael Hingson 04:30 Oh, did you get a visa? How were you able to come to the US? I mean, you had to be pretty committed and had to obviously go through all sorts of steps to make that happen. I'd love to hear the story. Homeyra Faghihi 04:41 Yes. I would love to tell this story. As a kid as a teenager. Obviously I didn't know anything about creative visualization are these manifestation tools that everybody strategies that everybody knows these days and talk talk about? But I knew In my soul that I will be living in the US at some point, I just knew that. And so the whole process was a miracle one miracle after another, basically, because there was no embassy in Iran, I had to go to another country to go to the US Embassy there and get my student visa from there. And I have an uncle who lives in London. So the plan was for me to go to London, and then apply to the US from there. And the fact that I got a visa to England to the UK, that was a miracle on its own. Because that day, when I was when I went to apply for my visa, they did not give these to any young people, except for me. I mean, it was, again, a true true miracle that I was the only person of all the young people there who got the UK visa that day. Then I applied when I was in London, I applied to the for the US visa twice. And both times, they just looked at my documents, they didn't really look at them. They didn't I don't remember if they gave me any good reason, they just put the denied stamp on my passport, which was devastating. It was devastating. I can't even express describe the feeling that you get that that you have that happened to you twice. So the decision after then was either to go back to Iran or try one more time, and I didn't know what to do. And one of my uncle's friends came over just happened to come over. And I told her my story. And she said, You talk about the US with such passion. I wonder if you wrote that in a letter and just took it to the next interview, maybe somebody will read your letter. And I said, you know, I'm desperate. I do whatever. But I don't I my English is not good enough for me to write such a letter. So she said, You just tell me and I write it. So I told her in Farsi, she wrote the letter in English. And before the third appointment that I had with them, I went the day before and I gave the letter to the guard and asked him if he could please give it to whoever's in charge there. And the next day, when I went in, for my interview, the shocking thing that happened the moment I walked in, because normally the other two times, they would, they would basically take your name, then you would have a seat. And then there are these windows that they would assign to and you would go to a window and talk to an officer in the window. But when I got in this time, they just said to me, come come on around the back. So they took me to the back office, which was really shocking and confusing to me. Why would you take me there? And a gentleman who I believe was a top person there, he came and saw me back there. And he only asked one question. He did not even look at my documents. He just said, Did you write this letter yourself? And I said, Well, these are my words in Farsi translated into English. So yes, I know. And I explained to him how my English was not good enough to do a letter like that. And he just said, Wait right here, he went to another office and came back with my visa without even looking at my documents. And at the time, this is truly miraculous, because at the time, I don't know how things are right now. But you would need three weeks before they responded to your application. And but he gave me the visa right there. And then and it was one of the best moments of my life dream coming true. Michael Hingson 08:34 That must have been really exciting to have that happen. You know, we're over here. So used to paperwork, so used to bureaucracies. But I also know that oftentimes the way to cut through a lot of bureaucracies is to get to the right person to say the right thing. And to get people to really understand where your heart is. Yeah, if you can make that happen. A lot of doors can open. Homeyra Faghihi 09:03 And all of those things aligned that day. Yeah, yes, exactly. And he was definitely the top person there. So he could decide that we don't have to wait three weeks for you to get the visa here. I'm giving it to you. Michael Hingson 09:17 So that, you know you You've waited already and it had been denied. So you know, yeah, that's a way to justify it to Homeyra Faghihi 09:23 Yes, yes. Yes, exactly. Michael Hingson 09:25 So you came to the US and your English wasn't really very good, as you say, how did you deal with that? Because you clearly speak quite well now. Homeyra Faghihi 09:37 Thank you. I do try. But yes, at the time, you know, because I had studied English through all through my 12 years of school, so I knew grammar a little bit. Somewhere. I would say I was somewhat good at grammar, but I couldn't speak and I couldn't understand what people were saying. And so those were the skills that I needed to work on. And so for the speaking ability, the best thing that I did was I started to work right away. And so when you, when you're forced to speak, you learn, you have no other way but to speak. And, and so that was really helpful. And also, of course, going to English school English a second language school as well as in Santa Monica College, I took a, an English course. So those, of course helped to but I think the, the, the one that helped the most was. And this may be funny to some, but it was really a lifesaver for me at the time they had Three's Company and family ties back to back on TV, and watch those two shows every night. And they were very, very helpful. And also, just to let you know how poor my English was. My first movie here in the US was the Breakfast Club. And for those who have seen it, The Breakfast Club is a story of five kids sitting in a library on a Saturday in detention and speaking and there's so there's no action, there's no story to follow those five kids talking. And it was terrible, terrible experience for me because they did not understand anything. And I felt so out of place because I felt so like out of place, I felt that I was at a place because everybody was laughing at every single line and I wasn't getting what was happening. So my first job was at a video store. What I did was I would I would watch this video of the Breakfast Club over and over and over and over again. And every time I learned, you know, one line, it was a victory and motivation to watch it again to learn more. And so it's a very special movie to me. And aside from the fact that it's a really good movie once I got it. Michael Hingson 11:45 Well there is that. Yeah. And and of course you watch family ties. So Michael J. Fox taught you English. Homeyra Faghihi 11:51 Oh, for sure. And Jack, you're Michael Hingson 11:53 exactly right. And yeah, and all the people on Three's Company what a what a collection of people to teach you English. Have you ever had a chance to tell any of them? What a good job they did? Homeyra Faghihi 12:05 No, unfortunately, I did not. I did not however, iMovie that later on affected me in a different way. Which was the I don't know if you've seen Goodwill Hunting, but that was a very special movie. And I was able to communicate that with Ben Affleck not Matt Damon but Ben Affleck and I. It's a long story. But anyway, I was able to do that. I got a signed script from him. And a CD. Yeah, the CD of the No, not the CD but the DVD DVD. Yes. I thought it was a soundtrack but about bought the soundtrack myself. Michael Hingson 12:37 Well, that's pretty cool. Well, you did get to tell him and that's that's a good thing. Yeah, it's kind of an odd compliment to get from someone because I'm sure most, most of the time they want to hear and they do get to hear what a great movie it was. Or the critics say what a bad movie. It wasn't here. You taught me English. Homeyra Faghihi 12:56 Yes, I never I never really wrote to I believe was it. Was it John Kelly? I don't know the creator of The Breakfast Club. I forget his name. He did a bunch of big movies. I don't I forget his name, unfortunately. Yeah. But anyway, so. Michael Hingson 13:13 So you got to the US. You went to college. And you studied? Homeyra Faghihi 13:21 Yes, I had that on pause for a while because of financial issues. I was on my own and I wasn't able to manage all the costs. So I had to put that on hold to work full time and two jobs many, many years. I've worked two jobs. So yes, but eventually I was able to go back to school. Yes. Michael Hingson 13:39 So you, but you, but you did get back to it. And you ended up getting a doctorate. And that's pretty good. Homeyra Faghihi 13:46 Yes, yes. So I got my bachelor's in psychology master's in social work, then I became licensed as a clinical social worker here in the state of California. And when I went back to school, I got my doctorate and thank you for reminding me I wanted to say, I did not get a PhD, I got a Psy D, which is a psychology doctrine. And the difference between sidey and PhD is that PhD is very research focused. And Psy D is clinical focused, Michael Hingson 14:12 and I stand corrected. Homeyra Faghihi 14:15 That's okay, thank you. But I just thought because if you're not in the field, for those who are not in the field, they probably most people don't know the difference between the two, but there's a difference. Michael Hingson 14:24 But you've got a Psy D in psychology. So you didn't, you didn't get an actual medical degree in psychiatry use psychology, but, but that's pretty important. And it's a good thing that you did. Well, you you certainly have taken a number of risks and are a risk taker in a lot of ways and I want to come back to that in a little bit. But you went to work though. So what did you do when you you got your Psy D? or what kind of work did you think go into? Homeyra Faghihi 14:54 Yes, so right after my master's is in social work is when I got my My first professional job as a therapist, and I worked in your hometown of Palmdale, for over 13 years in a community mental health clinic, I helped kids, many of them were in foster care. And that's where I worked for 13 and a half years, I would say. And then after that, I worked at the VA for about nine years. And that was last year when I resigned from the VA. Last year. Yes. And I haven't had a practice on the side for some time in the past. So Michael Hingson 15:30 which branch of the VA Did you work at? Homeyra Faghihi 15:33 So I was in the, the main one here in the LA area, greater Los Angeles area is in West LA, I worked in the second biggest branch, which was in the valley. That's where I was in North Hills. for about nine years, Michael Hingson 15:49 it seems to be also isn't there a fairly substantial one in Long Beach? Homeyra Faghihi 15:53 Yes, definitely. There's one in Long Beach, and downtown LA. Yes. And then little offices in other places? Michael Hingson 16:02 I think a lot. I think a lot of the visual, I think a lot of the visual issues. Go through Long Beach, or I may be mistaken. That's what I remember. Homeyra Faghihi 16:11 Yes, I think so too. Although we did have a person who came to our branch, but I believe you're right, she came from Long Beach, I believe I could be wrong. Michael Hingson 16:22 So you now have your own private practice, and that I definitely want to learn about but as I said earlier, you are a risk taker, what's the bravest thing you've ever done in the United States, Homeyra Faghihi 16:36 the bravest thing that I've ever done in my life, altogether, is at the age of 21, where I was already here for a year, and I was living with a family member. But it was really interested in moving on to live with two friends that I met two girls, I met in Santa Monica College, and we became very good friends. And I really wanted to move in with them and live with them. And unfortunately, I didn't get any support around that. And not because my family didn't believe in me, but because they had never seen that done. And they kept reminding me that you have you don't have any money. You don't speak English very well yet. How are you going to do this? We are very much against you moving out, because you're going to end up back in Iran. Is that what you want? And I said, Absolutely not. I do not want to end up back in Iran. And so it was very brave. I think. And I'm recently in fact, I was thinking about the 21 year old in me and I was in awe of her courage. Because I said, I, this is what I'm doing. And I know in my heart that I will not go back to live in Iran. That's not my plan. And so with any without any financial support any emotional support with no money, because you know, I would just work paycheck to paycheck, I had no savings, no backup. I just decided to be on my own. And here I am 30. Some years later, still in Los Angeles, and very happy. This is my home. Michael Hingson 18:09 Why did you decide to do that? I mean, we all talk about support systems and so on all the time. And clearly you were leaving a lot of your support system behind, although they were still your friends, but you wanted to be on your own. Why did you want to do that? Homeyra Faghihi 18:24 I think it was important to me at the time to live my life the way I wanted to live my life, I had this freedom idea in my head that I need to live my life my way. And that was big to me even a 21 which is really incredible when I think about it, but that was me, I needed my freedom and live life my way. Well, Michael Hingson 18:49 that's pretty important to be able to do and the fact that you were mature enough and understood it and obviously thought it through. Yes. Because you you knew what your situation was. And you've made it work. Homeyra Faghihi 19:03 Yes, because at the time I you know, this is we're talking 30 Some years ago, so a one bedroom apartment in West LA was $600. And I was already paying $200 and helping out with the rent for $200. So my thinking was I went to these two friends and I said, What if I live with you and your rent will come down from 300 to 200. So you benefit from this and I'm paying the same rent so but I live I get to live with you because I enjoy being with you too. And and they thought it was a good idea because they were getting money sent to them from Iran and the dollar was very expensive and today is like ridiculously expensive. But to them they were helping out their parents by moving me in with them. So it was a win win situation we definitely did think Michael Hingson 19:51 it through. And that makes a lot of sense. Clearly. Homeyra Faghihi 19:54 Yes, that apartment right now is probably $2,000 But Michael Hingson 19:59 oh at least Yes, our home we bought six years ago when we built this house. And I think with all this happened, it's pretty much doubled in value in six years. Wow. Yeah, it's it's amazing what's going on. And, and I hope it's it, I certainly don't mind the high property value, but at the same time, it makes a lot of unaffordability for a number of people who dream of getting a home. We were blessed. Yes, yeah. Do you still live in an apartment? Or do you own a home now or, Homeyra Faghihi 20:34 when I was before I got married. I was single. And I wanted to have my own place. So I bought my own place. At one bedroom. It's a tiny little one bedroom. But I never gave it up. I'm renting it out. And so I have it, I just, it just felt good. I have always been very independent. And I always thought I, you know, I need to instead of paying for rent, I need to buy my own place. So I worked extra in order to be able to afford it. I got a Saturday extra job on Saturday so that I can buy that place. And I still have it. But right now I live with my husband. So yes, we own our place. Oh, that's good. Well, the bank owns it. The Michael Hingson 21:09 other bank owns it. That's true. Yes. How long have you been married now? Homeyra Faghihi 21:14 It's been 10 years now. Michael Hingson 21:15 And you guys put up with each other, huh? Homeyra Faghihi 21:18 What we do put up with each other when you when you when you get married later in life, like the both of us did. It's it can get tricky. But at the same time, because we got married later in life, we both respect our need for privacy and get like individual time. So we both get that and that it works. It works fine. Michael Hingson 21:40 Well, my wife and I got married, I was 32. She was 33. I love to say I taught her everything she knows. But you know, we got married fairly later in life. And our position is we knew what we wanted. And, and you can know that earlier, but we really knew what we wanted. And so we when we got married, we were pretty sure it was going to be something that would work. And you know, we have to communicate and there are times that we get angry and and we deal with it. And then that's the biggest issue is you got to deal with whatever comes along. Exactly. Yes. Yeah, it's all about communication Homeyra Faghihi 22:19 very much so very much so. And I think the older we get, the more hopefully all of us are recognizing how important it is because, you know, in younger days, there's so so much of low self esteem going on for myself. I know for many of my clients that we're not able to express ourselves, we just take everything, most things and say yes to many things that we don't want to and so yeah, Michael Hingson 22:46 well, so you worked in Palmdale for 13 years. And I don't know what the population of Palmdale was when you were there. But when I went off to UC Irvine in Oh, a long time ago, 1968 Palmdale had a population of 2700 people. Now of course, is huge. Yes, yes. And Victorville wasn't even a speck compared to Palmdale. And when we came down here to look for property to build a home, we decided to move down here in 2014 to be closer to family. And when we came down here to look for property to build a home, we were amazed that Victorville had over 115,000 people in the whole Victor Valley area was like close to 600,000 people. Homeyra Faghihi 23:30 Wow. That's amazing. That's amazing. And how was it? If I may ask, how was it for you to move from Irvine to to Patna to Victorville? How is that? Well, Michael Hingson 23:42 it a lot of moves in between? Oh, okay. So I went to UC Irvine. And then I was part of a research project developing the first reading machine that would read print out loud for blind people developed by a guy named Ray Kurzweil. And so I moved across country on my own to be involved in that and then lived in Massachusetts until Oh, yes. 1981 when the company I was working for Kurzweil Computer Products asked if I would go back out to California because Kurzweil was in the process of being acquired by Xerox, and they wanted me to help integrate Kerswell into the Xerox world. So we did, and kind of it all went from there. But I've been on both coasts a couple of times. And then in 2002, I moved from New Jersey, having worked in the World Trade Center on September 11, we moved to the Bay Area because I had an opportunity to work at Guide Dogs for the Blind where all of my dogs have been from and also people were asking me to come and speak and tell our story. But then in 2014 We decided to move down here, circumstances made that happen, so I never thought I'd be living close to Palm Bay. Again, Homeyra Faghihi 25:00 yes, you ended up here, Anna. And I knew this I'm sorry that I had forgotten but yes, I knew that you had moved between the two coasts. Back and forth. Yes. Michael Hingson 25:11 Well, how did you end up? After working in Palmdale for 13 and a half years or so? What made you go to the VA and leave what you were doing? Was it just the job thing? Or how did that happen? Homeyra Faghihi 25:25 Yes, I really, really enjoyed my work work in Palmdale, it was very rewarding. And I loved it very much. There came a point when I was ready to do something different maybe. And I got to that point. And this is when, actually, before I even came to this realization, I let me go back before I came to that realization that I need to do something else. I actually had this client and usually my clients were teams. But for some reason I ended up again, you know, universe does put things in order and aligns things sometimes. But I had this first grader that I was helping. And he always came in with his grandfather, which the grandfather was also his adoptive father. And he was a Vietnam War veteran. And I ended up working with him individually, because his anxiety was affecting the kids anxiety. So we did a lot of work together with the Father. And I was so honored every time he told me, you know, you have helped me much more than the VA. And I was like, how is that possible? I'm not even your therapist, I'm your kids therapist. But he kept saying that. And so I was very honored by that. And also I was my work with him was very, I was very touched by him, because he was just such a beautiful soul. Whatever it was, he was just such a beautiful person. And to know that this beautiful soul had experienced the type of traumas that he had experienced I, it just shocked me and inspired me and affected me in all sorts of ways. I thought, Okay, I'm interested in working, maybe with more veterans. So at the time, I was in private practice, and on the side, and so I signed up with the bid the soldiers project, which is a group of therapists who donate their time to help veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, to for whatever reason, if they're not able or willing to go to the VA, then they would come to us for therapy. So I helped another veteran in private practice that way. And then I thought, Okay, I think I like working with veterans so much that I'm going to apply to the VA. And so this position came up for Women's Health social worker at the VA here in the Valley. And it was the very first job that I applied to, I didn't think that I would get it because at the time, I noticed everybody who found a new job, they went on interview after interview after interview, so I didn't think that I would get this job I just applied. And again, another miracle I believe I ended up getting the job. And I was super, super happy about that shocked and happy that my first interview led to an actual, you know, to a job and I enjoyed my my time there very much. I was part of the history there because it was the very first Women's Health Social Worker on that campus before me that position did not exist. So I'm very honored to have been the very first one and I enjoyed my time there very much. I always told my supervisor every time she said there was another opening, you know, for a higher position. I never applied because I thought I want to do what I enjoy. And this is I have the best social work job on this campus. I always told her that. And I meant it. And I enjoyed it very much. So I was there for about nine years, until last year. Michael Hingson 28:42 So you were at the LA campus. And so you helped a lot of women and men or did you mainly concentrate on women at the VA? Homeyra Faghihi 28:50 Yes, my title was Women's Health Social Worker. So I was in primary care women's clinic. And the only time I get to I got to help men veterans was when I was covering for other social workers if they were on vacation or sick day or you know not not there, then I would cover for them. So those were the times that I that I helped men veterans or and we had also a lot of transgender or not, I shouldn't say a lot but we did have some transgender clients and women's clinic as well. Michael Hingson 29:20 So kind of an interesting question out of curiosity more than anything. Obviously, there are differences between men and women least I've heard that in the past. But I say that sarcastically but but but in reality, are a lot of the challenges that the women veterans face, similar to the ones that you had to deal with or that others dealt with with men are the problems really so different that it's hard to compare the two. Homeyra Faghihi 29:49 There are definitely some similarities and there are some differences and that's why we had a women's clinic there and that's why they they decide Read, and good for me. And I believe for the veterans from them to have a women's health social worker, the differences I mean, we know about the similarities in terms of, you know, some difficulties during their service, anything from moving away from family or adjusting to the military culture adjusting back to the civilian life, you know, the or difficulty with mental health issues, physical health issues that come up during service, I mean, they would have those things in common, of course. But in terms of what's different, one thing that is different is that the rate of military sexual trauma and women is higher than in men. So many of my my clients had experienced military sexual trauma. And of course, men experienced that too, but but less often. And the other thing that I would say is different for women is that because they came into the military service, life a little later on, although the population is growing, but they experienced a lot of discrimination by men. And that's something just for being a woman in the military. So that came up quite a bit among my clients that they weren't taken seriously, because they were female. And so in those ways, their struggles were different. And of course, you know, with military sexual trauma leads to a lot of other problems such as drug use issues, or homelessness, difficulty relating to other people to their own children, or to even having children to have a family. So it's really complicated. And, yeah, it's a huge problem. In my experience with women veterans, of course, you know, I'm sorry, just to be clear, the veterans who are probably not coming to the VA, I'm gonna guess many of them do not maybe face these issues. Or maybe it's not as common for veterans who are not coming to the VA. So I'm speaking from perspective of a social worker at the VA, I'm not speaking for all the veterans, of course. Michael Hingson 32:10 Sure. So what mainly, did you do in in your work? How did you proceed? Homeyra Faghihi 32:18 Yes. So being that I was the very first one, I kind of was able to make it my own, you know, kind of a work because it was the very first one, of course, I had the main role, which was to link veterans to resources, that was supposed to be my main job, to link them to resources at the VA, or in the community. And I was told, and the reason I, you know, I really liked this job, because it was a combination of case management and mental health. And so I knew that I would be doing some mental health, I started to see some veterans individually in therapy, and, and also what I learned that I really enjoyed doing groups. So even though nobody was really telling me to do these groups, I just saw the need for the groups and I kept developing new groups and offer those and that became the most, I will for the most part, very, very rewarding part of my job. And I was really attached to these groups that I was running, because they were so rewarding, especially, you know, for intimate partner violence. Because a lot of women struggle in silence with domestic violence, intimate partner violence. And so to offer help in a group setting, it would really help decrease the stigma around it. And it was very empowering, and for them and rewarding for me. Michael Hingson 33:38 And of course, the real issue is that what you did was to get people to talk. Yes, yeah, to really deal with their issues. And as we know, one of the most powerful ways to do that is to talk about it. Homeyra Faghihi 33:53 Yes, definitely. There's so much shame that, you know, we all experience shame all of us. And I always remind everyone that we all experience shame. And we all think that we're pretty much the only one except so when you when you know that everybody experiences shame. Everybody experiences self judgment, especially with this particular subject, and you have conversations about it in a group setting, it can be so healing to know that you're not alone. So not only you're talking about it, but you're also talking about it, but like five, six other women. Michael Hingson 34:25 Of course, as it turns out, all have at least similar if not the same problems you do whoever you happen to be, Homeyra Faghihi 34:33 yes, very similar experiences. I mean, the details may be different, but the feelings that they cause the self doubt that they cause the trauma response that they cause are very, very similar. Michael Hingson 34:44 So it's empowering when you discover you're not really alone after all. Homeyra Faghihi 34:49 Exactly. Exactly. And to learn tools, you know, how to how to address these beliefs that the you know, one has learned about them. cells and their lies, you know, they're not the truth about yourself. Michael Hingson 35:03 How do you teach the tools? Well, Homeyra Faghihi 35:06 I have always been as a therapist, a big fan of cognitive behavior therapy. So a lot of what I taught my clients, whether in this particular group or other groups came from CBT, cognitive behavior therapy model, and the triangle, the thought and behavior triangle, and how these three elements interact with each other. And so based on this triangle is where I taught a lot of tools to my clients then. And now. Also, even though I don't do therapy right now, I do coaching. But I, but I use the same foundation for everything that I teach. Michael Hingson 35:41 So when did you start your own private practice? I gathered that that was going on somewhat while you were working at the VA. Homeyra Faghihi 35:48 Yes, so the private practice that I had was No, actually I stopped it. When I, when I went to the VA, I had my private practice when I was working in Palmdale. I was seeing women and children, also, adolescents, adolescents, teenagers in my in my private practice, as a therapist, but then when I started my work at the VA, it was so overwhelming at first that I couldn't do the private practice on the side. So I just closed my private practice. And then after I resigned from the VA, last year, I created this online coaching service called power to the self. And so here at power to the self, I coach women to help transform their self doubt into self worth, after leaving an unhealthy relationship. And most of my services, I like to do most of it in group format. Because of everything that I just explained. It's, it's much more powerful. And my clients right now, they don't necessarily have to have come from a abusive background, as long as it was an unhealthy relationship and unhealthy enough to have affected their self esteem. They're a good fit for the program that I've created. Michael Hingson 37:01 So why did you resign from the VA to start this again? Or what? Homeyra Faghihi 37:06 Couple of reasons. One? Well, I would say the main one is a lot of policies changed nationally. And also, locally, they restructured things, and they, the way they restructured the whole social work group. I mean, I should say program, they put me into another program, which I didn't want to move to another program, not that I had anything against them, it's just that that's not where I wanted to be. I wanted to continue to stay with my fellow social workers that I've been working with for nine years almost. And so that was very difficult. And also at the same time, I noticed how much I love providing groups. And I wanted to do that full time, as opposed to just it being a small portion of my time. Because that's what it was at the VA I did many things that was one of the many things that I did was running groups. Michael Hingson 37:59 Right? So you you say that what you do now is coaching? How is that different from therapy? What what are the differences? Why are you consider yourself now more of a coach? Are you a life coach, or? But let's do one question at a time. So what's the difference between coaching and therapy? Homeyra Faghihi 38:19 Yeah, so I call myself Empower an empowerment coach, just just to let you know, that's what I consider myself right now. But the way I practice coaching different from therapy, is that as a therapist, which I'm not providing therapy right now, but as a therapist, I see clients with more, who are struggling with more severe mood issues or relationship issues. Whereas in as a coach, I see clients that are further along in their journey. So therefore, as a therapist, I would work longer with a client as a coach, my program is three months, even though I provide weekly support for a whole year, but the program itself is three months. Michael Hingson 39:00 And difference between the two, coaching and therapy. Homeyra Faghihi 39:04 Right? Right, exactly that because the third therapy, you go deep into the past, so it takes longer. Whereas with coaching, if you don't go deep in, of course, the past is brought up and we discuss it, but we don't stay focused on the past, we put focus stay focused on the present and the future. And so as a therapist, you know, with that I can provide an I do need to provide a diagnosis for my client. As a coach, I do not provide a diagnosis. And so most of my coaching clients, they either have had their therapy already or they have no therapy on the side or they don't need therapy. And they're already they're a bit more further along in their journey versus somebody who's starting therapy. I hope that makes sense. Michael Hingson 39:52 Well, sort of still trying to understand some of it as I kind of understand coaching. Coaching is more you You are asking questions and trying to guide a person to more self discovery, whereas therapy is a lot more. You have to deal with self discovery. But you're you're really trying to come up with a diagnosis why things are the way they are? Homeyra Faghihi 40:18 Yes. That and also dig deep into how is it? Where did this diagnosis come from? What was you know, as a social worker, I am trained to be holistic. So what happened in your childhood? What happened in your school? What happened? What what's happening with the government today that is causing you mental health issues? So it's not just social work teaches us not to just be focused on a diagnosis, but look at the big picture and look at also the person's strengths? And how is it that they have survived other issues, other problems before? And how do we draw from those? Those strengths? And so all of that, yes, everything that you said, and more Michael Hingson 41:02 and more. So how did you come up with the name power to the slef? Homeyra Faghihi 41:08 Oh, I am a big, I have, how should I say this I have, I have affection for the phrase Power to the people. I really liked that phrase, because I think it really speaks to standing up against people who have power over us, who are outside of us and have power over us. So Power to the People, I really like that phrase. And so power to the self is about standing up to the fear that's running the show on the inside. Michael Hingson 41:38 And so you came up with this this name? And how do you use that? Or where does that fit into what you do? Homeyra Faghihi 41:46 Yes, so the program that I have created now for for power to the self, it's called empowerment for you. That's number four, and letter you. And basically, each segment each of the year, which I'm going to say briefly, if I may something about is based on the groups that I had already developed for my clients before. So it's kind of like I've taken the highlights of those groups and put them together and made a three month program. So the first view is, unlearn the lies that you were told about you. In this case, you know, if you had an abusive ex, or an ex that kept telling you things about you that were not true, such as you're not worthy, you are crazy, you're not good enough, you are not attractive enough, you're not smart enough. All those things are lies that we need to identify and challenge. And sometimes these lies might have come originally from a parent or a boss or a higher ranking person in the military. So it's not necessarily just the partner but it maybe over the years, somebody you know, some of us have heard those through words or actions of our loved ones, in that way. So anyway, we focus on that, and focus on tools as to how to unlearn these lies. And then the second you is uncovered a difference between healthy and unhealthy relationship. This is where we talk about healthy boundaries versus unhealthy boundaries, what do they look like? What are our rights in a relationship? And what does healthy versus unhealthy relationship look like? So we discuss a lot of those during that segment. And then the third view is uncover. Untie, untie yourself from shame and guilt and move towards self compassion. And this is where we talk about what is shame? Where does it come from? How does it grow bigger? We make it bigger without even meaning to do that. And how do we move towards self compassion because we cannot be in shame and self compassion at the same time. And so we learn how to how to be more aware of which one do we go to in each moment. And Brene Brown calls shame the master emotions, she and others have called it master emotion. And it's such a perfect way to describe shame, because it's so such a strong experience. And it affects us in such such deep ways that we really need to address it. And then the fourth view is upgrade your vision for your future. And that's where we talk about like everybody will come up with their own vision for their future. And we we use the triangle that I mentioned earlier, to do exercises to help the client match their thoughts, their behaviors and their feelings with the vision that they have in their mind so that they can move toward that vision as opposed to staying stuck in one place. So that that's the for empowerment for you program. Michael Hingson 44:44 As a as a therapist, when you are talking with people when they come in and start working with you. Do you pretty much fairly quickly form some basic expectations of what you think will happen, and how to proceed with people. Homeyra Faghihi 45:06 As a therapist, we always, as a therapist with the client, we come up with goals together. So we discuss it together, I don't necessarily tell the client. So here's the goal, let's go for it. I don't do that. I don't think any therapists would do that. Michael Hingson 45:22 And I wasn't thinking of that I was thinking more of in your own mind. Do you? Do you draw some conclusions? Not Not that you tell people, but you kind of draw some conclusions. And what I was really getting to was it just popped into my head to ask this? Have you begun working with people thought you had a pretty good handle on a situation. And then suddenly, you were totally surprised by something that caused you to need to shift and maybe look at it in a different light, which is not a bad thing. But I'm just curious, you Homeyra Faghihi 45:53 know, it does happen. It does happen. I can't think of any particular case right now. But it does happen. As therapists sometimes we come across situations, that's a first timer for us. And so that's when we it's so important to get consultation from other therapists. So that's very common, where we go to our, you know, fellow therapists and colleagues and say, this is a situation and I'm stuck here. I thought that I was going the right way. But I don't think that I am, what is your feedback? Because it's always helpful to get the perspective of somebody else outside of us. They we might we all have blind spots sometimes. And so in those situations, it's very common practice to get consultation from other therapists. Michael Hingson 46:36 Yeah. And, of course, that gets back to talking, right? Yes, yes. Yeah, I wasn't in any way thinking that you would tell somebody something that you, you just drew a conclusion. And so this is the way we're going to proceed. I know that therapy is all about exploration. But it just seems like from time to time, we all are looking at something that is going on or that we're involved with. And suddenly something happens that causes us to oh, we have to really change that. Homeyra Faghihi 47:04 Yes, yes. I mean, you're talking about like, Aha moments like I got on this. I need to go a different way. Yeah. I'm sorry that I didn't get it before. But yes, that happens to where suddenly something clicks. And you might change direction as a therapist. Yes, that happens to Michael Hingson 47:22 Yeah, people are very complex, and are very surprising, aren't they? Yes. That's the way we are? Yes, we all are. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, it is something that we all face. Tell me more about the empowerment for you program. And specifically, what I'm wondering is, do you do a lot of things virtually, you're just in person? Or how does all that work? Homeyra Faghihi 47:45 Yes, it's all online. Because I started this program during the pandemic, of course, you know, I thought that. And here's the other thing, working as a coach, the way it's different from a therapist, as a therapist, I can only provide services to women or people in California. Whereas as a coach, because I don't dig deep into the past, and I don't do therapy with them, I can work women from anywhere in the world. And that's what I love about it. So to answer your question, everything is online. And for example, right now, I have a client from Germany, and another one in Canada. And, and the beauty of online community is that, you know, we can we can help so many people. Michael Hingson 48:25 Okay, so the question that comes up is, have you had any from Iran? Homeyra Faghihi 48:32 I had requests, yes, I had requests, but for different reasons, it didn't work out. Because what I do is, I provide a half hour free consultation for everybody. So everybody can always just sign up for a half hour consultation, because I want to make sure that we're a good match. I don't want to bring everybody into the group because it doesn't serve them or the other group members, if you're not a good match, they need to have enough in common to be able to benefit from this group. So I've had a couple of clients, but not clients, but people who were interested. And they were from Iran, from Iran. And that didn't work out for different reasons. But yes, they were interested. Michael Hingson 49:14 Have you at all been back to Iran since you left? Homeyra Faghihi 49:17 Yes, I have been back three times. And the last time was 2012 December. In fact, the last time I left was 1212 2012. I picked that date. I thought it'd be a fun day. But that was the last time I went there. Yes, it's been 10 years now most. Michael Hingson 49:35 Did you have any concerns about going back? Or was it was it an issue? Homeyra Faghihi 49:39 No, no, not at all. I mean, people with certain backgrounds might have, you know, concerns, but I didn't. I didn't you know, if they have had connections with the previous government, or if they're in the US military, I mean, those individuals would be scared to go back and understandably so. So Should I didn't have anything to be concerned about. Michael Hingson 50:04 But since you would left there, I was just kind of curious if that created a stigma of any sort regarding you didn't bother anyone back back home. Going back home? Yeah. Homeyra Faghihi 50:16 Oh, no, no, not at all. No, no, because many people like everybody is trying to leave Iran right now. So if you mean like a stigma, meaning judgment by Iranians inside Iran, if that's what you mean, Michael Hingson 50:29 or the government, Homeyra Faghihi 50:32 oh, the government now they don't care. They really don't care. As long as, as long as you're not you haven't? Let's say, if you're not involved with American government in a military type of way, let's say or they're very sensitive to people who have traveled to Israel for you know, because of political reasons, we would be concerned about that. Yes. So you know, so there's some things that they're very sensitive about. And also, if you've had connections with the previous government, if you worked for the previous government in a very, like, let's say, military position, those, those people probably would be concerned to go back. Michael Hingson 51:08 It's great that you're able to go back and visit family and so on, are your parents still alive? Are they still, Homeyra Faghihi 51:13 my father died many, many years ago, my mom moved here to the US. So she's here and lives close by. But I have lots of cousins, not lots, but some cousins in Iran. I have some family in Iran. And I would love to go back again one day soon. And aside from the fact that there's so much I love nature, and Iran has beautiful nature, different type of nature, I would love to go back and see the nature and history and the sites, there are so many historical sites that I haven't seen only seen pictures of that I would love to go see in person. Michael Hingson 51:47 Needless to say, I guess I've never been and it would be interesting to visit that part of the world. Yes, my, my wife is in a wheelchair, and I'm not sure how much wheelchair access there would be. So that might be something that keeps us from going because it wouldn't be fun to go there and not be able to share it. But as a speaker, I've had an opportunity to travel a bunch of places she hasn't gone. So that happens. Homeyra Faghihi 52:12 Yes. Yes. I, I mean, I would, if I were to guess, in terms of access to certain buildings or resources, it's probably not at they're not as advanced as the US. So that can be a problem. Yes, Michael Hingson 52:29 that would be well, and there are a lot of places in the world that still have a long way to go. And laws regarding persons with disabilities are still way behind the times, even here. We're not nearly as forward looking as we ought to be. Hence, we tend not to be included in so many things. It's unfortunate but true. Homeyra Faghihi 52:50 Very, very unfortunate. Yes. Yes. Michael Hingson 52:53 But you know, we we do live with it. Well, what do you do when you're not working? Oh, when I'm not working? Does that ever happen that you're not working? Oh, Homeyra Faghihi 53:02 god, yes. I make sure that that happens. Although last year, I went a little overboard with working too much. But this year, I'm doing much better. I love to take pictures with my cell phone and to edit them and just to put them on my personal page. That's like one hobby. I love to travel. We just came back from Mammoth. It was gorgeous out there. And yeah, spending time with family with friends. Cool. Those are some things that I know Michael Hingson 53:31 mom lives close by. So she keeps an eye on daughter. Yes, mom went through that. Homeyra Faghihi 53:37 Yes. One of my like, favorite part of the week is we go there every Wednesday for dinner. My husband and I. So that's a really good tradition that we have set up since a few years back. So every Wednesday we go over there. I love that. Yeah. Well, that's kind of cool. Yes, yes. And of course, she gives us back so much food to bring home and it's like, Mom, we have we we have food but she doesn't. Michael Hingson 54:06 Yeah, well, you know, again, that's what moms do. Yes. Yeah. They're supposed to it's a rule. You didn't know that. Homeyra Faghihi 54:16 He does that. I mean, I can see I always appreciate and take the food that she makes. But she also gives us fruits and vegetables. And I'm like Mom, we have we go to the grocery store. Michael Hingson 54:28 Are you a mom yet? No, Homeyra Faghihi 54:30 I'm not a mom. See? You don't know the rule. I only know it from a doctor's perspective. Very cool. Yeah. Michael Hingson 54:39 It's better to be well, I don't know whether it's better to be on the receiving end of the giving. Because both are good, but it's a rule moms moms are supposed to do that. And daughters are supposed to accept it. Although they can complain too. It's okay. Yeah, Homeyra Faghihi 54:51 I don't It's okay. I'll take it Michael Hingson 54:54 will tell me if people want to reach out to you and explore Being a client or working with you in some way? Or if they just want to learn more about you, how do they do that? Homeyra Faghihi 55:07 Yes, please. Yes, my website is powertotheself.com. Power to the self.com. And I am on Instagram almost every day, you can search power to the self on Instagram, and you will find me. And I offer a half hour free consultation for any woman who has experienced an unhealthy relationship that has affected her self esteem. So feel free to set up a time and see if we're a good fit to work together. Michael Hingson 55:36 Do you do anything on Facebook or LinkedIn? At all? Homeyra Faghihi 55:39 I am on LinkedIn. I'm not that active. But I am on LinkedIn recently, I updated my profile there because I had been there for many years. And but I'm not on Facebook only I have a Facebook account only to do my Facebook group for my clients. I provide support on the site. So I do have a Facebook group for my clients. But that's it. I don't post anything there publicly. Michael Hingson 56:04 I only ask because Instagram tends to be a lot less accessible. Since it's a lot more photo oriented then is Facebook work or more important? LinkedIn. So I'm glad you're on LinkedIn that makes it possible for people. How do they find you on LinkedIn? What do they search? Oh, Homeyra Faghihi 56:22 it's a I should know this. I think it's my name, Homeyra Faghihi? Yes, it's my name. Can you spell please? Sure. A first name H O M E Y R A Why last name F like Frank, A G H I H I. Michael Hingson 56:40 So best thing is for people to go find you at power to the self.com though, Homeyra Faghihi 56:45 I would say yes. They don't have to remember the spelling of my difficult. That's easier. Yeah. Power to the self.com would be the best way to find me. Yes. Michael Hingson 56:55 Well, I hope people will reach out. It sounds like what you're doing is extremely important. And I believe it is. And I'm glad that you're able to really help provide some perspective for so many women especially. But I think all of us, I think there are lessons that we can all learn from your experiences and the way you've been able to approach life and you've been pretty brave at doing some things. And taking risks. Like I said before, there's nothing wrong with taking risks and finding things that worked and finding things that didn't work and then going elsewhere. Homeyra Faghihi 57:32 Yes, yes. Thank you so much, Michael. Yes, thank you for this opportunity. I am so happy to be here. And you, you I'm sure all your audience would agree that you you embody empowerment. So it is such an honor to be in your presence and to to have had this hour with you. Thank you for having me on. Michael Hingson 57:54 Well, it's my pleasure to do it. I forgot to ask have you written any books? Homeyra Faghihi 57:59 Not yet. But hopefully. Michael Hingson 58:01 There you go. There's a new project and having a podcast. Homeyra Faghihi 58:06 Yes, that's coming. Hopefully, I haven't actually sat down to, to think about it. But the thought is in my head, it's in that stage right now. Michael Hingson 58:17 In some ways, it's a lot easier to do a podcast than to apply for and get a job doing radio. And it's a lot of fun. And you get to set up the rules for what you do with the podcast. And it's it is very rewarding. You get to meet some interesting people, depending on how you set it up. So I hope you'll do it. And then let us know about Homeyra Faghihi 58:34 it. Yes, for sure. And thank you again for it. I enjoy being a guest that especially here it was so fun. Thank you for asking so many interesting questions. 58:46 Well, well thank you for for being here and for visiting with all of us. And for all of you out there. Please go visit WWW dot power to the self.com. And of course, we hope that you will wherever you're listening to us, give us a five star rating here on unstoppable mindset and tell your friends about us. We would appreciate it if you'd let them know we exist in encourage them to listen and give us five star ratings as well because your readings really matter. And I appreciate seeing what all of you say if you want to reach out to me directly. My email address is Michaelhi M I C H A E L H I at accessibe A c c E S S I B E.com. You can also visit WWW dot Michael hingson.com/podcast and Michael Hingson is M I C H A E L H I N G S O N .com/podcast. And again, would appreciate those ratings want definitely to hear from you and Homeyra . Once again, thank you very much for being here with us. Thank you, our pleasure. Michael Hingson 59:57 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.
Jennifer Lieberman comes by her writing and creativity honestly. She has been writing, organizing, and working toward a career in theater writing ever since she was a student in school. She has written her own one-person play as well as a book entitled “Year of the What” based on the play. As Jennifer tells us about her life, she discusses living in New York City during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. She will discuss how her life changed after that day. Jennifer clearly is a person who set goals for herself and then worked to achieve them. She is absolutely unstoppable. I think you will enjoy this interview and the creative personality of this wonderful person. About the Guest: After years of pounding the pavement and knocking on doors with no success of breaking into the entertainment industry, Jennifer decided to take matters into her own hands and created the solo-show Year of the Slut. This show proved to be her break and the play went on to win the Audience Choice Award in New York City and is now the #1 Amazon Best Selling novel Year of the What? and was awarded the Gold Medal at the Global Book Awards 2022 for Coming of Age Books. Since deciding to make her own break Lieberman has appeared in over 30 international stage productions, has produced over 40 independent film and theatre productions and has helped over 100 creatives make their own break through her coaching and consulting work. She has penned a number of stage and screen plays and her short films have screened at the Festival de Cannes Court Métrage among other international festivals. She is currently gearing up to direct her first feature film. Social Media Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamjenlieberman Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iamjenlieberman/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iamjenlieberman Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-lieberman-33b20426/ 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, again, it's Michael Hingson, and you are listening to unstoppable mindset, the podcast where inclusion diversity in the unexpected me. And today, Jennifer Lieberman, our guest I think certainly has lots of unexpected things that she's going to tell us about. If you don't know, Jennifer, and you may or may not know who she is, I will just tell you that you want to talk about unexpected. She wrote her own one person play called The year of the slug, and we're gonna get into that I am sure, along with a lot of other things. So Jennifer, welcome to unstoppable mindset. How are you? Jennifer Lieberman 02:00 I'm fabulous. Michael, thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to chat with you today. Michael Hingson 02:07 Well, we're really excited that you're here. And I know you do have lots of stories and you faced a lot of challenges. And it will be good to go through some of those. Why don't we start new sort of telling me a little bit about your early life and how you kind of progressed a little bit? Jennifer Lieberman 02:21 Sure. So I started off as the competitive gymnast. And I was in competition. By the time I was five, and was training almost every day after school. By the time I was eight years old. I kind of had a natural aptitude for the sport. And that was my main focus for a really long time. And then I ended up coaching, I founded a high school team. And I think it's relevant because from a very early age, I had to have like a certain amount of discipline. And that discipline has really helped me with longevity in the creative world where it's It's a thankless business a lot of the time. Michael Hingson 03:11 So where are you from originally? Jennifer Lieberman 03:13 Oh, yes, I'm from. I was born in Toronto raised in Maple, Canada, just outside of Toronto. I went to York University in Toronto, I studied philosophy and English Lit. And when I graduated, I moved to New York City to pursue a career in theatre. I started writing at a young age, I was about eight years old when I started writing scripts. Originally, it started off as fan fiction for shows that I wanted to be on as a child. And then by the time I was 12, I my imagination evolved enough to create my own plots and characters and storylines that weren't borrowing from worlds that were previously created by other writers. So it was always something in me. But like I said, gymnastics was the main focus, you know, until halfway through high school when I had a career ending knee injury. But like, I still love the sport and love being in the gym. So coaching kind of allowed me to stay in the world that I was used to. And then in university is when I started taking acting classes, and I just kind of never looked back like I am in love with the creative process, whether it's writing performance, filmmaking, and I've developed a lot of skills over the years in order to stay working and stay in the game. Because especially as an actor, you don't have a lot of agency or control over when you get picked And what you get picked for. Michael Hingson 05:02 So for you, philosophy ended up sort of being a means to an end, as opposed to being a career that you are going to go into in some way. Well, Jennifer Lieberman 05:11 actually, I studied philosophy, it's interesting that you bring it up, but the Greeks are who invented theatre. That's where a theater was born in these Greek Dionysian festivals, and, you know, East Escalus. Like all of these writers wrote, theatrically, and that's kind of, you know, philosophy played on these stories, or at least in the earlier days, so it always felt connected to me. Philosophy, Greek philosophy, mythology, it was all kind of wrapped up in some sort of performance. Michael Hingson 05:53 But you went through and got a degree in philosophy, and then you move to New York, is that because you wanted to go into Broadway? Oh, yeah. And Jennifer Lieberman 06:01 also, like, my parents didn't consider a degree in theater a degree, you know. And I knew, I also knew that I was a writer. And then I wanted to tackle, you know, topics that were, you know, that would challenge people. And that would make people think and different points of view. So I thought, for the writing side of it, because it was never just to be an actor, it was always an actor who wrote projects. So the philosophy and the English Lit just seemed like a great jumping off point in order to develop my skills, grappling different difficult subject matters and structure and theatrical writing and all of that stuff. Michael Hingson 06:49 Well, so you move to New York. And I guess something that none of us would know. Listening to you and talking with you here is your half African did that have a an impact on you and being able to break into this industry? Or? Jennifer Lieberman 07:07 No, not at all, because I look, I look like a white girl, I'm my dad's side is Polish. My mother is tunisienne from Tunis. 10 is yeah, she immigrated to Canada with her parents and siblings, and she was the young girl. So so nobody has any inkling of my African roots, unless I actually mentioned it. So, um, so yeah, that's kind of something that's very unexpected, and people don't really place me in that category. Even though I really identify with my 10 ASEAN, heritage and culture, especially traditions, you know, family traditions, things like that my was very close to both of my 10 ASEAN grandparents, I they grew up five houses away from where I grew up, so I saw them almost every day. And that is just ingrained in who I am. Michael Hingson 08:12 So does that make you essentially a bi racial person? Jennifer Lieberman 08:16 Um, you know, it's funny, cuz my sense, it's, my family is North African. And like I said, like, my grandfather had dark skin, but my grandmother had light skin. I don't even know if I would be considered biracial. Because once again, like, by looking at me, you couldn't really tell I don't appear to be bipoc. So it's not something that really comes up. Actually. I don't even know what people would consider me to be honest. Michael Hingson 08:49 A writer and an actress. Yes, so so it really didn't have much of an impact, which is, which is cool. Well, it shouldn't anyway, but it seemed relevant to ask the question. You know, so you, you move to New York. Tell us about that. Where did you go? What did you do in New York? And and what's your favorite bagel place? You know, all the important things? Jennifer Lieberman 09:17 Yes. Um, so I basically after my last exam, I didn't even wait around for graduation. I wasn't there. On the day, they gave out diplomas because I really didn't care about a diploma. I felt like that was more an obligation I had to fulfill for my parents sake, and then I could start my life. So I showed up in New York and like I say, with a duffel bag and a dream and I was just like, I'm here and stumbled my way. I had rented an apartment sight unseen, which was not a great apartment and last in there very long. And I'm Just basically there was a newspaper back then called Backstage, it used to be a physical newspaper, now you can get an online subscription. And I just started looking in the newspaper that was specifically for the acting world and started circling different auditions I could show up at or submit to. And that's how it all began. And I was fortunate enough to get in with a couple of different theatre companies. And I was able to work with the same people. consistently over time, there were three different companies that I was working with consistently. So that helped me grow and develop as an artist. And one of the companies I ended up becoming a producer at 22. So I learned every aspect, from carpentry using power tools to help get the sets made to running the lighting and sound stage management, costuming, anything that was needed. You just kind of when you're an off off Broadway company without any real funding. You just scraped together whatever you can to make it happen. But also, pardon? Go ahead. Oh, but also those lessons have been invaluable for where I am now. Because, you know, not having the perfect sort of circumstances, or the amount of money we wish we had has never deterred me from making something happen. Michael Hingson 11:37 So you wore many hats. And you obviously learned a lot as you went along. What was kind of the biggest challenge that you had back in those early days? Jennifer Lieberman 11:47 Oh, well, I grew up in a really small town. My neighbors were trees. So getting used to the fast paced kind of hustle and bustle of New York City. It was a huge culture shock for me, I grew up in the middle of nowhere, and then move to the center of the world, with everything happening. And just as I was starting to get my footing in New York, 911 happened. And Michael Hingson 12:18 where were you at the time, Jennifer Lieberman 12:21 I was on my way to work. I was walking towards the subway at Astor Place, I was living in Alphabet City, and witnessed the first plane, fly into the World Trade Center and thought it was a fluke accident and got on the subway and continued with my day. Michael Hingson 12:49 So for people who don't know where is Alphabet City, and what is Jennifer Lieberman 12:52 Oh, yes, so Alphabet City is like the East most part of the East Village. So I was at Avenue D and 10th street. That's where I was living. I didn't last very long in that apartment. I moved in there. And on September 1, and I think by the 15th of September, I had packed everything up and went back to Canada for a while because I couldn't handle the reality of what happened. And I needed to go home. As Michael Hingson 13:31 I went, he didn't last long either. You just Jennifer Lieberman 13:35 got damnit, I'm going back to New York. Michael Hingson 13:38 So you, you said you argued with people, as you were going on the subway and so on. Tell us about that if you want. Jennifer Lieberman 13:46 I argued with people who were saying it was a terrorist attack. Because at that age, you know, the level of innocence being raised very sheltered in a small town in Canada. I was just like, This doesn't happen, like we're living in, you know, 2001 like, What do you mean? No, this is impossible that somebody hijacked a plane and flew it into a building in the United States. Like it's impossible. I just thought it was a freak accident and continued to work. And you know, there were arguments on the subway because some people saw it as we were all getting on the subway together. But then there were other people who had been on the subway for a while and are hearing it for the first time. So there was a panic. And then I got to two I was working at 34th and Park at a real estate company. That was my side hustle at the time. And I told my boss what happened. And he got really angry with me. And he said that it's not funny, like we don't joke about these things. And I was like, I'm not joke like, who wouldn't joke about these things? Like, turn on the radio. And he did. And that's when we heard about the second plane. And I just remember, like my soul leaving my body at the realization that it couldn't be an accident if there were two that happened in that short amount of time. Like, it was just literally, I felt my innocence Leave me. And yeah, I became a different person that day. Michael Hingson 15:32 I think a lot of us did. One of my employees was on the PATH train paths stands for Port Authority, trans Hudson, it goes under the river. But he was on the PATH train coming in from Hoboken. They just pulled into the path station under tower Well, under the central part of the World Trade Center. Yep. At the fourth sub level when the second plane hit. And he told me later, the train just started shaking and so on in the pilot, the pilot, the conductor, and the engineer just said, don't leave the train. And they just literally turned around and went back. Right, in Hoboken, because I think they may have known that something was going on. But they didn't know, of course, about the second plane, because it was happening in real time. But nevertheless, they just turned around, went back to New Jersey. Yeah. Yeah, it was just Well, and, of course, who would have thought, right? Exactly. It's one of those things that it's really hard to imagine. And I can understand your reaction. And it did change all of us who were there. And as I've said to many people, and my wife has really pointed this out the problem for most people, certainly the people outside of the immediate area where this occurred that is outside New York City and so on, or further away, who just couldn't see what was happening. Your view, not yours, because you were there. But the view of people was only as large as your TV screen or your newspaper. And you couldn't have the same impact in your mind as all of us who were there at the time did. So you went back to Canada for a couple of months. And that's sort of understandable. You had a place to escape to as it were. Jennifer Lieberman 17:33 Yeah. First I went to the Poconos. So I had a good friend Heather. She was initially my roommate. And then we, you know, we both ended up living in Alphabet City, actually. But she moved in with a boyfriend. And you know, no cell phones were working. As you know, all the cell towers were down because they were in the Trade Center. So we couldn't get I couldn't call my parents. I couldn't call anyone in Canada. But Heather and I somehow found each other on the street. And I guess it took two or three days for her dad to be able to drive to the city and get us because the city was closed. They weren't letting any vehicles in or out of the city. And I ended up going her dad picked us up. It was her boyfriend at the time. She and myself. And we went to their house in the Poconos for a few days. And then I got back to the city. And I don't know if planes were back up in the air yet, but I took the train home to Toronto, it was like a 12 hour train ride. And I just like packed up everything I had and just hopped on the train. Because I also felt like my dreams were so trite and insignificant compared to the weight of what happened. And I felt silly. I felt you know that everything that was so important to me the day before, was completely superfluous after that incident. Michael Hingson 19:12 Yeah, what could you do? And it it makes perfect sense that you just left. You're fortunate to be able to do that. Some cell phones were working that day because I was able to call my wife in New Jersey. She couldn't call me. But I could call her interesting. And we were able to, to communicate learned later that day that the trains had started running from Penn Station in New York to Penn Station in Newark. So I was able to get a train later that evening, back to Newark, and then catch the train going from Newark out to Westfield, where we lived. So we got home at about seven that night. It was interesting being on the train, going from New York to New Jersey, people came up to me and said, You're really dirty. Were you downtown? And I said, Yeah, I was in Tower One. And it was interesting while we were going to the train station, from the apartment of a friend of my colleague, David's who I was with, although it wasn't the same as typical, still cars were moving, there was traffic. And it seemed like even only being a few miles away, it was already so significantly different than what we were experiencing downtown. Jennifer Lieberman 20:40 Oh, yeah, the whole world stopped. If you were on the island of Manhattan, the whole world stopped, you know, and I ended up in New Jersey as well, actually. Because I was beneath 14th street and they didn't really want anybody coming back home if you were below 14th street because they didn't know. Like we talked about before we started recording, you know, gas leaks, fires under the city, things like that the fires could travel through the subway lines, you know, through the tunnels and stuff. So I ended up in New Jersey at a colleague's place for I guess, the first couple of nights. And yeah, it was it's It's surreal. It was just, that's the only word. You know, I can think Michael Hingson 21:30 of was just how did you get to New Jersey? Jennifer Lieberman 21:32 I believe I took a train from Penn Station. Michael Hingson 21:35 Okay, so you were able to catch a train too, which was cool. Jennifer Lieberman 21:39 Yeah, I was able to catch a train. Yeah, it was. I can't even Michael Hingson 21:45 Well, let's, let's go back to you. So you moved back to Canada for a little while. Yeah. Jennifer Lieberman 21:50 Canada. And you know, that didn't last? No, it didn't last because, you know, after I got over the initial shock of what actually happened. I was like, Yeah, you know, my dreams are important to me. And art is just as important as ever, especially during a crisis, having writers and having theater and having stories and people who are able to tell stories in compelling ways. And I basically did a, I did a one ad. And when all I went right back to what I was doing before, with an even stronger conviction than I had previously. Michael Hingson 22:37 So what happened? Jennifer Lieberman 22:40 So I continued with the theatre company that I was with, and I got into, like I said, couple other theatre companies I was performing off off Broadway pretty regularly. I was with a mime company called the American mime theatre, and trained and performed as a mime for a few years. And this company was quite special. It was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. And it was its own medium. It wasn't a copy of French pantomime. It was its own discipline. And that was actually coming. You know what, when we got to the one woman shows, but doing the mind training was the best foundation I could have asked for moving forward and doing one person shows where I was playing multiple characters and had to snap in and out of them very quickly. And being able to just snap into a physicality that made it very clear to the audience that I was somebody new, or somebody different as to the character who was previous. So yeah, I ended up producing a bunch of shows off Broadway got into film production. I was in New York for about six years and, and just try to learn as much as I could and craft as much as I could. I started working with a director named Jim craft offered rest in peace he passed a couple years ago during the pandemic, not from COVID. But he was a phenomenal writer and director he studied under Ilya Khazanah at the actor studio, and his play to patch it was a real tipping point in my artistic career. I had to play a mentally challenged girl who was raped and murdered. And once I was able to get through that, I realized like yeah, I really prove to myself like okay, this is where I belong. You know, I have the I have the chops. I have the stamina, I have the drive and you You know, that was like a big milestone, also, in terms of it was the most challenging role that I had ever come across. And I really had to rise to the occasion. And a lot of times in creative work, like until you were given the opportunity to rise to the occasion, you don't know what you're made of. So that was a huge milestone for me. And then, while I was working after I was working on capatch it, my grandma got sick, and I ended up back in Toronto for about a year and a half to help my mom, and my grandma got better and which was great. And then I decided to give la a try. One of the films that I had produced in New York was in a festival in LA and I went to the festival, the film won a couple of awards. And I was like, Okay, I'm gonna give Hollywood a shot now. And that's, that's what happened next. Michael Hingson 26:01 Well, typically, people always want to get noticed and seen and so on. So what kind of was really your big break? And in terms of whether it be Broadway or wherever? And why do you consider it a big break? Jennifer Lieberman 26:16 Okay, um, so I, when I was in LA, I had been there for about a year and this is where Europe the sled came into play. A friend suggested that I create a vehicle for myself that, you know, everybody comes from all over the world, to have their, you know, hat in the ring and give it a try to be a star in Hollywood. And very, very, very few people make it. And you have to kind of come up with a way to get noticed. So a friend of mine suggested, do a one woman show, showcase your writing, showcase your acting ability, and you can invite agents, you can invite directors, you can invite people that can hire you people that can represent you, and that will be a good vehicle. So I did what she said. And nobody from the industry really showed up, I kind of compare it to the movie lala land with Emma Stone where she does this one woman show and there's like one person in the audience, I had more than one person, because I had supportive friends from acting class and my mom came from Canada. But in terms of industry, nobody, nobody who could represent me or hired me show up showed up. However, I had so much fun creating the characters working on the show, and taking so this was like the next plateau in my career to patch it, where I played the mentally challenged girl was like the first kind of plateau of being like, okay, you know, you really have to rise to the occasion, doing an hour and a half on stage by yourself playing 10 characters was a whole different level of rising to the occasion. And I did it successfully expecting to fail. And not only that, so much of my time in LA up until that point, had been trying to get in the door, trying to get the job trying to get the audition. And none of that was actually doing what I went there to do, which was being creative, and performing. So I realized, like, okay, of course, I'm still going to submit to auditions. And I'm still going to try and get an agent and all of that. But in the meantime, I have the agency and the ability to create this piece and develop it and keep going with it. And I did and I did a few different workshops in LA and then I got invited to be in a festival in New York, I won the Audience Choice Award at the festival and then Doom like that was the next kind of plateau because now not only could I did I prove to myself, I could do a one woman show, but I proved that it could be recognized and successful. And that led to another one woman show in Australia. And then when I got back from Australia, because at this point in time, I had been a producer for hire for many, many years I had been producing since I was 22. And I had produced well over a dozen film and theatre projects at this point. And I was like huh, I I can help other actors who are frustrated spinning their wheels achieve what I achieved. And that's when I founded my company make your own break. So you know, nobody ever gave me a big break. I'd like them to if anyone has a big break waiting, I'll take it. But, um, but also realizing that I could do this for myself and I can do this for other actors and writers on a small scale was really exciting to me, because I love the creative process. And I love working with actors, and I love working with writers and storytelling, and I love helping I call it I love helping people dig for the gold that's inside of them, because everybody has a treasure buried inside. But a lot of times we're we're not put in situations that push ourselves to actually dig for it. Especially when we're in situations where other people are giving us opportunities, as opposed to us having to really dig down inside and figure out how do I create this opportunity for myself? Michael Hingson 30:53 Well, and it's also true that oftentimes, we don't necessarily recognize the opportunities are right there for the taking. Jennifer Lieberman 31:02 Exactly, exactly. And then so creating the one woman show set me on this whole trajectory of I'm just going to keep creating my own stuff. And I created a web series with a friend of mine from acting class, we wrote it together, we produced it together, we both starred in it. You know, it wasn't like commercially successful, like, there's dismal. You know, we did this almost 10 years ago, and there's like dismal YouTube views. It's very embarrassing, but it's also one of the things I'm the most proud of, I had the most fun working on it, I loved everything about it. And it's one of those projects where all the problems with it could have been solved if we had more money. And, to me, that's a success. Because, you know, we couldn't help the fact that we didn't have more money to make it. And the fact that you know, okay, fine, you know, the, the camera work wasn't fantastic, or the stats weren't fantastic, you know, but all the actors were fantastic. The directing was fantastic, the writing was fantastic, you know, so so I'm so super proud of that. And then Rebecca, my partner on that we made a short film together. And then I finally finally after decades of being a writer, because I started writing when I was eight, had the confidence to produce something that I had written on my own. And that was my short film leash. And that ended up screening at the short film corner at the Cannes Film Festival, which was like another huge milestone, I still couldn't get any agents or managers or anybody to take me on or represent me. But at this point, it's like, I got my film that I made that I wrote that, you know, that I produced that I was in to the biggest, most important film festival in the world. And I'm like, okay, that like, you know, even though the industry quote unquote, you know, hasn't recognized me yet. In terms of like, the agents and the managers and staff that's like, there must be something valid to my creativity. And then I made another short film, and it also got screened in the short film corner at the Cannes Film Festival on screen at the Cambridge Film Festival in the UK, and it just kind of, you know, so all these little bits of validation, they haven't turned into, you know, the career that I'm aspiring towards, but it's all encouragement. That helps me keep going. Michael Hingson 33:57 You certainly are unstoppably optimistic. Jennifer Lieberman 34:01 Well, the thing is, I don't even think it's that. I think it's just I don't have a choice. This is just who I am. It's what I do. I just keep creating, I can't help it. There was this movie years ago with Jeffrey rush called quills about the marquis decide, and how he was imprisoned because of his writing and how he was persecuted. And, you know, he kept writing no matter what he kept writing, he would write in blood on his bedsheets. And eventually he was just nude in a in a cell with nothing, because they needed to stop him from writing the depraved material that he was writing. And, you know, it was just I wouldn't say my my compulsion is that extreme. But yeah, I don't feel like this is something I chose. I feel like it chose me It's something inside of me. And I get very depressed when I'm not able to have a creative outlet. You know, it's almost survival, which I know sounds completely absurd, but any other creative who has the same conviction? I do, it makes complete sense to them. Michael Hingson 35:23 Well, you wrote starred in and did everything regarding, of course, your, your one woman show your of the slot what happened to it? Because it did oh yeah appear and you had some awards with it and so on. So what happened? Jennifer Lieberman 35:39 So, um, in the interim, so once we won the award in New York, some people, like lots of people, actually friends, colleagues, people that I didn't know, suggested that it would be a great Chiclet book, and that I should write the novel. So I did, I wrote, I wrote the novel and shopped it around for a couple years. But once again, I was so green, it didn't even occur to me, like, oh, you should hire an editor, and you should hire a proofreader. And you should get a whole team of people together before you start sending it to agents and, and, you know, publishing companies. So I gave up on it. Over a decade, I probably gave up on it about three times. You know, the first time, I was completely unprepared. The second time, I did hire an editor, and she just was the wrong fit. And it didn't resonate with her. So she was just very cruel in her feedback. And I couldn't look at it for another two years. And, and then finally, a friend of mine encouraged me to finish it and self publish it not to be successful, but just to get to the finish line, and not have one more project hanging over me that's unfinished. So with that state of mind, it was actually kind of a relief, because it's like, Oh, I'm not even trying to make this book successful. I'm just trying to get to the finish line. And then I did, and I, I self published Europe, the sled and it was censored. And for a good year, I tried my damnedest to get around the censorship issues with Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, in terms of advertising. It was allowed to be on Amazon, I was allowed to have a Facebook page, I was allowed to have an Instagram account, but it couldn't do any advertising, which means I couldn't break through my audience of peers. So if you weren't already my friend, I couldn't get the information to you. Which kind of made it dead in the water. A colleague of mine after a year suggested to change the title since that was the only barrier. And I was like, No, the title is what's you know, is why it was a success in the first place. That's what packed houses. Village Voice had no problem. Printing ads with the title timeout in New York had no problem none of the, you know, none of the entities that came to review the play had problems publishing the title. But I guess since it was published after the ME TOO movement, the climate had changed a little bit. And we weren't able to. Yeah, well, I just wasn't able to get it out there. So after a few months of hemming and hawing over the whole situation, because I had the title before I had the story. I'm just I was just pretty good at coming up with catchy titles. So I was really married to it and then finally revamped it, retitled it, rebranded it, relaunched it. And it's now a number one bestseller on Amazon. It recently won the gold medal at the Global Book Awards for Best Coming of Age book, it won a bronze medal at the independent publishing Awards for Best romance slash erotica ebook. And, yeah, it's won a couple more, but those are the most notable and it served me well to to retitle the book so, Michael Hingson 39:30 and the title of the book is Jennifer Lieberman 39:32 near of the what, so it rhymes with slut. But it's not as controversial. And it actually serves me because in the process of, of publishing this first one, I realized that it's a trilogy and Book Two is going to be year of the bitch and I'll have the same problems. So I'm just going to keep it under the year of the white umbrella. a lot. Michael Hingson 40:01 I would I would submit, maybe not. I know there is, well, I suppose anything's possible. But my wife and I love to read a variety of books. And we've written or we've read a number of books by an author Barbara Nino. So she wrote the Stasi justice series. Have you ever read any of her books? I haven't been on familiar with her. So she's also written the bitches Ever After series published with that name, so maybe it won't be quite the same? Well, Jennifer Lieberman 40:34 there's a big book out called the ethical slut, that? Well, you know, and they had no problems with censorship, either. But I think sometimes it can, it depends on who your publisher is and who you're connected to. But um, but anyway, I think the year of the web series serves me because as soon as someone opens the first page of the book, The subtitle is right there, right. Yeah, Michael Hingson 41:00 so people should go look for year of the what? Yes. Well, I'm glad it has been really successful. And you have worn a lot of hats on, off off Broadway and Hollywood and so on. And now you're back in Canada, and so on. What do you like best of all those hats and all those jobs or opportunities. Jennifer Lieberman 41:27 That's number one. That's always been my number one passion. That's why I started writing fan fiction when I was eight, is because I just wanted to be in these movies and shows that I watched, and I really enjoy writing, I actually really enjoy producing and helping bring projects to life, whether they're mine or somebody else's. But the there's something magical about performing and living and breathing in somebody else's skin and a different world that a writer created. And it's just incomparable. So Michael Hingson 42:14 year of the well, we'll, we'll do the slot. What? Is it funny? Jennifer Lieberman 42:21 It is yes. So what are the words that one was best rom com of 2021. So when I submitted it to book life through Publishers Weekly, one of the reviews was that it doesn't fit neatly into the romance genre. And it doesn't fit neatly into the erotica genre. And it doesn't fit into this genre and doesn't fit into that genre. They didn't even review the book, like didn't even give like a positive or negative review. All they did was list all the genres it didn't fit into. And, but it is quite humorous. Because it's about these dating misadventures, and coming of age and coming to terms with sexuality, being a young woman in New York City, and kind of having to reevaluate a lot of the stories or, you know, kind of expectations that were ingrained in the character. So it's not even about her being a slut. It's about her reevaluating what that word means to her, because she only planned to be with my one man. So anything more than that would put her in the slot category. But yeah, so it was her kind of, you know, reevaluating her perception of what is the slot? And, you know, how many partners is too many and all of that stuff? Because, also, in today's world, how realistic is it? For someone to be with just one partner for their whole life? I don't know. Especially like in Western society? I don't know. Michael Hingson 44:14 Well, since you have been involved in writing something that's humorous and so on, have you at all been involved in comedy stand up comedy or any of those kinds of things? Jennifer Lieberman 44:26 Yeah, I did do stand up comedy. I do it from time to time. I wouldn't call myself a stand up comedian. Because I don't love it enough to be hitting the clubs every single night trying to get on stage, which if you're trying to make a living as a stand up comedian, you have to be hitting the clubs every night. All of the legit stand up comedians, I know will hit 234 Different clubs at night to get up. And I'm not that committed to it. It's a nice muscle to flex, it's nice to know that I have the courage to get up and do it that I can make an audience laugh. But I'm no by no means a professional stand up. I got into it by accident, I responded to a casting notice looking for females who could be funny. And it was a promoter looking for more female comics to be on his shows. And he was willing to train and coach to coach women because he just felt like he wasn't getting enough women applying to be on his on his lineups. And he wasn't meeting enough women. This was this was a few years ago, this was like I think 2014 is when I started, it was just before Amy Schumer, like, had her breakout success and became a huge household name. Now, now when you go into the comedy scene, there are so many more women than then there was, you know, about eight years ago. So now, it's not the same climate. So his name? Matt Taylor, his name's Matt Taylor. So he kind of convinced me to give it a go and try five minutes. Because I was like, oh, no, like, That's too scary. I don't do that. But after doing two one woman shows where I was on stage by myself for over an hour, each one I was like, Okay, what's five minutes. And I did it. And when I was a hit, it was great. Nobody thought everybody thought I was quite seasoned. All the other comedians on the lineup thought that I had done it dozens of times before. And I, I did it pretty consistently for a couple of years. But once again, like I said, I just didn't love it enough. Like I'd rather I would run, I would run to a theater every night to do Shakespeare or Tennessee Williams, I wouldn't run to a theater every night to do stand up. So it's just not the type of creative that I am. But once again, nice to know that, that I can flex that muscle. Michael Hingson 47:14 So how many books have you written so far? One novel, Jennifer Lieberman 47:17 which we discussed, and then under Mike, my consulting business to make your own break business I've published to during the pandemic, I always intended to publish books, under the Make Your Own break umbrella, about low budget, film production, low, no budget is more accurate, no budget theatre production, how to develop a solo show. So all of those are still coming. But during the pandemic, I was asked to coach a few executives, to help them with their presentation skills and engaging their team. And I'm kind of like a nerd and I didn't feel qualified to coach these people. So I was like, Okay, I have to come up with a system before I feel confident enough to like go and actually, you know, do this and charge money. So I came up with these seven steps on how to master your virtual meeting. So that's one of the books make your own break, how to master your virtual meeting in seven simple steps. And then I also recorded my AUDIO BOOK during the initial lockdown, and I messed up a lot. And I had to I recorded the entire book and had to throw it in the garbage and start again from scratch. And then the same friend colleague who suggested I changed my title suggested that I write a how to book geared towards self published authors and indie authors on how they can record and publish their own audio books. So that's book number two how to record and publish your audio book in seven simple steps once again under the Make Your Own break umbrella. And yeah, so there are those two books and like I said, I I will be publishing more How To books under the Make Your Own break, but those will probably pertain more to film theater production and creative process. Michael Hingson 49:23 And then the what? At pardon. And then more year of the what and then more Jennifer Lieberman 49:28 year of the wet because that I've realized as a trilogy. You know, when women are young, if people want to attack us in our teens and 20s Regardless of what our personal lives are, people call us a sloth. Whether it's male or females, it's a woman it's a it's a word is weaponized against women. And then as we get older, more assertive, more confident, we're we're called a bitch. So I'm kind of going through the trajectory of words. are used as weapons against women, and how we can reframe them and own them, instead of being ashamed of them. Michael Hingson 50:09 Then you can write the fourth book what bitch. But anyway, that's another story. Exactly. So did you publish an audiobook? Jennifer Lieberman 50:18 I did, yes. This year of the what is available on Audible? Yes. So I did I, I was I finally recorded a successful version. And it was after that, that I decided that okay, yeah, maybe I can write the how to book on how to do this. And it's specifically encouraging self published authors. Because if you have enough conviction to write your story, you should be the one telling it. Michael Hingson 50:47 It's interesting in the publishing world today, that and people will tell you, this agents and others will tell you this, that it isn't like it used to be, you have to do a lot of your own marketing, even if you get a publisher to take on your book and take that project. So the fact is doing an indie publishing project certainly uses a lot of the same rules, you still have to market it, you're gonna have to do it either way, you're still going to be doing a lot of the work, the publishing industry can help. But you still got to do a lot, if not most of the work. Jennifer Lieberman 51:29 Yeah, and not just that, I don't know, if if you follow any celebrities, on on Twitter, or Instagram, but I believe nowadays, like I'm a, I'm a member of the Screen Actors Guild, that union in the US, and a lot of contracts now have social media obligations written into them, that you have to tweet that you have to post a certain amount to help promote the show. And a lot of decisions are based on how big of a following you have, there's actually, I'm not sure if you were a Game of Thrones fan, I was a big Game of Thrones fan. But one of the characters, it was between her and another actress and she had a bigger social media following. And that was the tipping point of how she got cast. So it you know, self promote, like that's what social media is, it's all self promotion. So it's not just the publishing world, it's the acting world, I think it's just become the norm of it doesn't matter what business you're in. It used to be that you needed a.com. In order to exist now you need a social media following in order to exist. Michael Hingson 52:53 I know when we originally did fender Dogg, and Thomas Nelson put, picked it up and decided to publish it. Even then back in 2010, and 2011. One of the main questions was, how much will you be able to contribute to the marketing of the book? How much will you be able to help promote it? Now? We have a contract to do our next book, A Guide Dogs Guide to Being brave, unless the publisher decides once we're done to change the title. But still, it is all about how big of a following do you have? How much are you going to be able to contribute contribute to the book because you're probably not going to get some sort of big book tour or anything like that paid for by the publishing company, unless there's some compelling reason to do it. And it is all about what you can do. So publishing is changing, the landscape is changing. mainstream publishers are great, they do add a lot of value. But you do need to learn to sell and to market and be intelligent about it as an author, no matter how your book gets published. Jennifer Lieberman 54:03 Yes. And, you know, it's a double edged sword, because it gives lots of opportunities to indie, indie authors, but it also, it's sad for me because it becomes a popularity contest. And it's not necessarily about how good your book is, or how good your work is. It's just if you, you know, have a buzz factor. And if you have a following or if you had, like some mishap in your life that went viral, then all of a sudden, you have this huge platform for all these opportunities, regardless of how talented or prepared you are for those opportunities. And you know, it like I said, it's a double edged sword. There are benefits to it. And there are, you know, there are detriments to it but also like I'm the type of artist. I'm gonna I'm willing to go outside of my integrity. So let the chips fall where they may. Michael Hingson 55:05 Well, you have written both in the literary world, if you will. And in the theater world, which do you prefer? And why? Oh, that's a toughy. Because you're doing a lot with each one, aren't you? Jennifer Lieberman 55:21 Yeah. And I'm still like, I'm, you know, and that's the thing, like I write plays, I write scripts for film, and I'm writing a TV pilot right now. And in the literary world, the benefit of writing in the literary world, is once the writing is finished, and when I mean writing, I mean, also the editing and the proofreading. Your job is done, like the project is complete. When you're writing theatrically, whether it's film or theatre, that's just step one, there's still a very, very, very long road ahead of you, you know, and trying to get into the right hands, trying to raise the money, trying to, you know, get the right team together, and the right actors, the right, you know, then you had, then there's the feat of filming it, and then the post production process, and then the distribution process. So there is something very satisfying when writing a book that's finished. But there's also something very exciting to me, you know, in the whole process of getting a project produced from you know, from step one to step 55. Michael Hingson 56:45 So, as a writer in the theatrical world, you really can't just be a writer, and then you turn it over to someone, if you're going to make it successful, I gather, what you're saying is, you really have to be the driving force behind the whole project, not just the writing part. Jennifer Lieberman 57:01 Well, at my level, because like I said, I don't have an agent, I don't, I'm trying to get things into other people's hands. So right now, I'm shopping around here of the what for theatrical opportunity, I went to the Cannes Film Festival to the market there, I've met with a certain number of people. And one of the questions was, how involved would you want to be in this project? And my answer is, however involved you would like, you know, because I'm not married to this project. Like I, I've been living with this for a decade, between writing it, workshopping it, and then the novel between the play and the novel, like, I'm ready to let this go. If somebody wants to write me a check. Go ahead, do what you will with it. You know, but then there are other pieces that are closer to my heart that I'm like, oh, no, like, this isn't for sale. We can partner on this and make this together. But this is, you know, staying under my under my wings, so to speak. But I have another I have a short piece, a short film, that a friend of mine is shooting in LA next month, and I'm not really gonna have any creative involvement in it. Michael Hingson 58:26 Out of curiosity, when somebody asks you that question, is there sort of a general trend as to what do they want the answer to be? Or is it really something that varies? They they're not necessarily looking for you to be involved typically, or they'd like you to be involved typically, as a really an answer that makes more sense to most people than not, Jennifer Lieberman 58:47 you know, it's interesting, because I've gotten both, I've gotten both opinions. You know, for, I guess the higher up people are on the food chain. They're very relieved to hear that I don't need to have any involvement in it at all, because they know how hard it is to get something made in the first place, let alone having all of these, you know, kind of stipulations. It's like, well, I can only get made, you know, she gets to approve the script and this and this and this and that, you know, so the less I think the less involvement I have, the easier it is for the producer because they have more freedom to negotiate. Right. But that's an instinct once again, I don't know, you know, Michael Hingson 59:32 it probably does very well. How do you keep such a positive attitude and keep yourself to use the terminology of our podcast unstoppable as you get a lot of rejections as you face a lot of challenges. And as you said, you haven't had that huge break. But how do you keep yourself going? Jennifer Lieberman 59:51 I love it. This is a love affair. This is a lifelong love affair for me. And I was on a podcast A few days ago, we had to write a creativity statement. And my creativity statement is that being a creative is like being in a one sided relationship, and you have to love it enough for both of you. Because the the industry isn't necessarily going to love you back. But if you love it enough, if you love the creative process enough, you're just gonna keep going. Michael Hingson 1:00:22 I want you to extrapolate that to just anyone even outside the theatrical world. What would you tell somebody if they come up to you and say, How can I just keep myself going, Jennifer Lieberman 1:00:35 find something that you love and do it as often as possible? It doesn't have to be your job, you don't have to make money at it. You just have to have something in your life that you really love and enjoy doing. You know, whether it's dancing, whether it's singing, you know, and that's the thing like, you don't have to be a superstar. I'm not a superstar. Maybe one day I will be universe. But I, I'm not going to stop what I do, because it just brings me so much joy. And I'm so happy and I do I get in a funk. I get in a funk when I'm not able to create. And, you know, for some people it might be hiking or kayaking or camping or connecting with nature. That's something that that I love to do. Also, that brings me joy. But yeah, I think a lot of us get so caught up. And also I would say close your screen. Go dark, go dark for a few days. Don't worry about what's going on on social media. Don't worry about the internet, like go outside and actually be in the real world connect with real people connect with nature. Be in your body. I find when I get in my head, too much I can spin out. But when you're in your body, you can you can feel your you can feel your essence. You Michael Hingson 1:02:04 know, always good to step back. Jennifer Lieberman 1:02:07 So that would be my advice. Michael Hingson 1:02:10 It's always good to step back and look at yourself and just relax. And we don't do that often enough. We get too involved in that social media and everything else as you point out. Jennifer Lieberman 1:02:22 Yeah, exactly. And it's proven like there are statistics, social media makes people depressed. People only put their Insta life best moments on social media. I'm sure someone will mention if they're going through a hard time or whatever. But that's not the majority of people. People will sift through their life find take a million photos of one of one scenario, find the best photo doctorate with with face tune filters and whatever and make their life look fabulous. And you know, everything's curated. I'm actually I wrote a poem about this. Would you mind I've never shared this publicly. Can I? Really? Michael Hingson 1:03:09 Sure. Go ahead. Jennifer Lieberman 1:03:11 Okay. It's called Black Sabbath. And basically, it's about going dark. Can we all just go dark for a day? Turn off the devices be still be silent and pray? No posts, no distractions? No waiting impatiently for strangers reactions. Can we all just go dark for a day? No selfie indulgence? No curated inspiration. No unsolicited motivation. Be present. Be awake. Meditate. Can we all just go dark for a day hold our loved ones dear if not in our arms in our consciousness spear. Make amends with our Maker, the true force of nature and submit to the power of our sublime creator. Can we all just go dark for a day, shut our screens, search our souls reclaim our minds that get hijacked every time we scroll. And finally take back our grip of the only thing we can control. That's it. Michael Hingson 1:04:24 That's as powerful as it gets. And it is so true. Yeah. Yeah. It is absolutely so true. So what you've already alluded to it, what do you do when you're not writing and being creative? What do you like to do to relax? You said some of Jennifer Lieberman 1:04:41 it. Yeah, I'm a yoga Holic. Like I said, I spent the first half of my life as a competitive gymnast. So I'm super active. I love physical activity. I don't work out in terms of like, I don't go to the gym and I don't do a certain amount of reps and I I'm on a treadmill for 20 minutes a day I do physical activities that I enjoy, so I enjoy yoga. I'm quite advanced at it with a gymnastics background so it's fun and acrobatic for me. I love hiking. I love connecting with nature whether it's stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, waterskiing, I love all of that stuff. Not much of a snow skier though I don't really love the cold, even though I'm Canadian. Michael Hingson 1:05:30 How lucky you were you live in? You don't like to call it okay. Jennifer Lieberman 1:05:34 Yeah, I don't. But basically anything active and outdoors. There's a treetop trekking course not far from where my parents are. And like, that's next on the list. I'm really excited to do that. What is that? Basically, they have these like, kind of obstacle courses up in the trees. So you're on harnesses, and you know, whether it's like platforms that you walk across, or ropes courses that you have to, you know, I don't know, I haven't been but it sounds fun. Michael Hingson 1:06:12 Well, you have to let us know what it's like after you, you get to go clearly not wheelchair accessible. So I'm sure my wife's not gonna want to do it. But nevertheless, you got to let us know how it goes once you do it. Jennifer Lieberman 1:06:27 Yes, I will. I will. It's very exciting. Oh, and I love live music. So like rock shows. That's my jam. I'm a rocker chick. Michael Hingson 1:06:36 There you go. Well, I want to thank you for being here. And spending the last hour and a little bit more with us. This has been fun. Clearly, you keep yourself going you do move forward, you're not going to let things stop you, you are going to be unstoppable, as I said, using the parlance of the name of the podcast, but I want to thank you for being here and inspiring all of us and telling us your story. If people want to reach out to you and contact you and learn more about you find your books or anything else. How will they do that? Jennifer Lieberman 1:07:10 Okay, so year of the what.com is the website for the book, but it'll link you to almost everything. Or you can go to make your own break.com. Both of those have links to all of the books and all the social media. And they also have contact pages that will come to my inbox directly. So that's the best way. If you want to find out more about me, and on social media, whether it's Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I am Jen Lieberman. So the at sign, and then I am Jen. J e n Lieberman L i E,B E R m a N. Michael Hingson 1:08:00 Well, I hope people will reach out oh, I should ask you you written in your writing the How To books? Are you going to do anything like create any online courses or anything? Jennifer Lieberman 1:08:10 You know, it's funny I was doing in person courses. I haven't gotten around to doing the online ones yet. But yes, that is also in the works. There's a laundry list. Bed. And like we talked about, I wear many hats. And I'm always more interested in the creative stuff. As opposed to the as opposed to the business side. So I you know, I always feel like, oh, there'll be time for the course there'll be time for that. And as it as it so happens, the more successful my creative career is, the more validity I have to teach these other courses. So it's all in good time. Michael Hingson 1:08:49 Great. Well, again, thank you for being here with us people, please go visit your of the what.com or make your own break.com. And reach out to Jen, she would love to hear from you. And I would love to hear from you. I'd love to know what you thought about today, I would really appreciate you giving us a five star rating. Jennifer Lieberman needs a five star rating. So let's give her one you all. And I want to thank you all for for being here. Reach out to me, feel free to do so by emailing me at Michaelhi at accessibe.com Or go visit WWW dot Michael hingson.com/podcast. Or just go to Michael hingson.com and learn more about the things that I do. But either way, please help us give Jen rave reviews. And Jen one last time. Thank you very much for being here. Jennifer Lieberman 1:09:48 Thank you so much, Michael. This was such a treat. I really appreciate you having me on. Michael Hingson 1:09:53 Well, the fun and the honor was mine. So thank you you 1:09:59 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.
On top of her accomplishments, as mentioned in this episode's title, Randi-Lee Bowslaugh is also a cancer survivor. Randi began experiencing depression as a teenager due to family challenges. While she did have thoughts that could have sent her spiraling down into greater depression and worse, she began writing poetry. She credits putting down her thoughts to helping her advance. Randi-Lee went to college and has forged a quite successful life with a husband, two children, and now a grandchild. Randi's gay personality shines through this entire episode. You will hear from someone whose life story has presented challenges, but she crashes through everything that has been thrown at her. On top of everything else, by the way, Randi-Lee is an advanced kickboxer so don't mess with her. Now Randi has published a number of books including that first book of poetry. She has written several nonfiction books as well as several children's fiction books. One of her books has even been published on Audible, and Randi even tells us all how to get that done. About the Guest: Randi-Lee was born and raised in Ontario, Canada and from a young age, she had a passion for helping others. She attended Niagara College and graduated at the top of her class from Community and Justice Services, after completing her placement at a recovery house for alcohol and drug addictions. Post-graduation she worked at a Native Friendship Centre for two and a half years while pursuing a university education in psychology. Randi-Lee continued working in social services for another four years as an employment counselor until she left to pursue her other passions. Randi-Lee is an author and outspoken advocate for mental health sharing her true story with honesty. From the age of 14, she struggled with depressive thoughts. There were times in her life when she wasn't sure how she would continue. Depression continues to be a battle in her life but she is glad that she continues to live. She has spoken at events that promote wellness and compassionately shares her experiences with her own mental health. In 2021 she started a YouTube channel, Write or Die, Show, to spread awareness about various mental health issues and to end the stigma associated with mental health. Growing up she never felt that she fit in, being the last to understand jokes and confused about many emotions that she saw on others. In 2021 she finally had answers to the questions about herself that had been nagging at her. She was diagnosed with moderate Autism. Another of Randi-Lee's passions is kickboxing, which she has been doing for about 10 years. She was a Canadian National Champion in kickboxing in 2015, competed at the World's kickboxing tournament later that year, and in 2016 competed at the Pan-Am games where she received silver in her division. In 2020 she was chosen as one of the coaches for the Ontario Winter Games where she inspired and coached young athletes. Randi is a mom to two, her youngest child has autism, and grandma to one. Randi encourages and supports her youngest child's entrepreneurial spirit as he follows his dream of being an artist. When she can she incorporates his art into her stories. Published Works: Non-Fiction: Thoughts of a Wanderer A Mother's Truth Embracing Me Fiction A Little Scare Children's Books: Operation Deck the Halls Diamond the Cat Contact Information: https://linktr.ee/randib Social Media Links: https://linktr.ee/randib Link Tree Write or Die Show - YouTube Tik Tok @writeordieshow 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 an 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 to 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 there, I'm Mike Hingson. And welcome to another episode of unstoppable mindset. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh is our guest today and she is going to talk about her life and her stories. She has a lot to discuss regarding mental health and other similar things. And we in talking about mental health won't even begin to talk about Washington because Washington DC we're not sure how healthy any of them are down there. They're fun to pick on. Anyway, Mark Twain did it. Will Rogers did it. So why can't we write anyway, Randi, welcome to unstoppable mindset. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 01:56 Thanks. I'm glad to be here. Michael Hingson 01:58 Well, if you would, why don't you start by telling us a little about your life kind of your your younger years and all that and we'll go from there. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 02:08 Alright, well, way back in 1987. Michael Hingson 02:12 Long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 02:15 Exactly. Well, it feels like that. Right? So I'm in Canada. So it is a galaxy far, far away. Much. So I mean, as a child, as a small child, it was pretty good. Like, was it? But when I was about 14, that is when that's when it happened. That's when I had my first bout with depression. At the time, I didn't know what to call it. Because I mean, I just thought that everybody felt the same way at that age, because why not? It's normal to me. And it wasn't until I became an adult and then looked back and went, Oh, yeah, I was depressed. Okay. So, yeah, that was my first my first time with it. High school was horrible. I skipped most days, which actually now there's a term for that it's not skipping. I mean, it is skipping, but it was school refusal, which I say that because school refusal isn't just the I don't want to go to school, because I just don't want to go to school. School refusal is more to do with, I don't want to go to school because there is an underlying reason. So mine was that I was depressed and knew that going to school made me more depressed. And I didn't have really any friends there. And I just felt very out of place. And it was an awful time. So it wasn't that I wanted to skip just to go hang out with my friends. In fact, most days, it just stayed home. So yeah, I don't know how much more you want me to go into that early childhood time? Michael Hingson 03:51 Well, whatever you think is necessary? Well, let me ask you this. Sort of an overarching question. Do you have? Or is there any real way to know what caused the whole issue of depression for you? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 04:07 That is a great question, actually. So I can't say for certain, but there was a lot of various factors going on at the time. So my mum and dad had never been together from what I can remember, I used to go to my dad's every other weekend. And he wasn't necessarily a bad dad, but he also wasn't a good dad. So I didn't really feel any real connection with him. And so around that time, I also stopped going to see him. At that point. I was only going there because my sisters lived there as well. But because we have the same dad different moms, me and my sisters, but then when my dad and their mom broke up, I had no reason to see him. So I stopped going. So that was one factor. And then the other couple bigger factors were I mean Well, puberty But my mom's ex husband. So my mom got married after grade eight. So I would have been 13, which is just before I realized I had depression. And he turned out to be a alcoholic. And he was very verbally abusive. And you never knew when you walked in the door, you never knew if you were going to get the good version of him the sober, nice version of him. Or if you were going to get the yelling, screaming, I need to go hide in my room version. And then you layer on top of that. My brother was in and out of jail at the time he my brother was getting into more and more drugs at the time. And so my mom had to focus a lot of her attention on him on what he needed, which as a parent, I'm like, Oh, I get that. Now, as a kid. I was like, What am I am I chopped liver. Now? What's going on here? I didn't understand why all of a sudden, my mom who when I grew up, right, when I was a smaller child, I was very close to my mom. And I'm very close to my mom again, now as an adult. But as a teenager, I thought that I was kind of the Forgotten child, which you know, doesn't help your mental state. And then I just didn't feel like I fit into high school, I felt always a little bit different than everybody else. And I didn't know why. And so all of those different layers, one on top of the other just kind of compiled into, into hating myself. Michael Hingson 06:43 It was a spiral. It was. So what did you do about all of that? Or how do you deal with that? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 06:50 As a teenager, I definitely had some very bad thoughts very ill conceived notions of what I should do. But I didn't do them. What I did as a teenager, actually, is I wrote poetry. So that was my first coping strategy, it was my thing that kind of got me through being being a teenager. Without that I don't think I would have survived. So there was that I also went to my youth group at church. And that's the only place that I really felt worthy that I felt like I fit in that people didn't look at me like I was a weirdo. And then animals, my pets, pets are such good therapy, things I used to when my stepdad would be yelling and screaming, and I would be hiding my room I would have, I had two cats at the time, diamond and Tigger. And so I take them and I would just go hide in my room with them. That was that was the coping at the time it worked out well. And actually, that's what got me into writing. That's what I turned my first book into is those poems that I wrote, Michael Hingson 07:56 well, with diamond and tinker, what what did they do? Or how did they help you? I agree with you that pets and animals really do help us a lot in so many different ways. But for you what was what was kind of the personal connection? How did they help, Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 08:12 and they were just, they would cuddle, there were very cuddly kitties. And a purring I loved the purring and they would lay on me and I would pet thumb and just tell them all my secrets because they couldn't tell anybody else. Nobody was listening to their mouth. Michael Hingson 08:28 And they probably wouldn't tell anybody else anyway. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 08:32 Now, they probably went and so they were my little babies. Michael Hingson 08:36 So kind of the connection is that they were there. They accepted you for who you were no matter what, which is something that we just don't find with a lot of people. They don't deal with difference very well. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 08:51 It's so true. Yes. So you, Michael Hingson 08:55 you cuddled with them? And you got you got through it. So when did you eventually graduate from high school? How did that all work out? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 09:02 I graduated when I was 17. Because my mom's rule, and I was skipping classes was I needed to know where you were. So I just stayed home and you couldn't fail anything. So I didn't I passed very poor marks. But I passed. So I graduated then I had applied to colleges and universities. I'd gotten into them, but I just I wasn't emotionally ready to go. At the time. I was still very much depressed, didn't know how I would be able to go far away from home to do that. So I took a year off. I got pregnant, and I met my now husband, and he was like I'm going to college in September. If you go then I'll drive you because we didn't live far from each other. He was like, I'll pick you up. I'll drive you so Okay, cool. So I ended up going to Niagara College after taking a year off and then by the time I started at the college, my baby was Oh Just a year old because he was born at the end of October. College was awesome. College was amazing. I am definitely not in the field anymore that I went to school for. But I loved the experience of college, I was on Student Council, I got the top marks in my classes because I got to pick the classes that interested me, which was all psychology. And it was I met real people like it high school, it felt like people were all like, you tried to find yourself right? In high school, you don't know who you are in a lot of people, I fake it. I feel like at least in my high school. But at college people were more real people were adulting, because they had two adults, I met a lot of the other people that also had kids there, because I connected with the people that had the same sort of life, as I did, right being a parent going into college. So that was amazing. My depression kind of took a backseat during that time, which was awesome. But then I did graduate twice, from two different programs actually went, I did most of my university, I was paying for that out of pocket though. So I ended up not not getting my bachelor's degree, because by the time I came to, I only have like a semester left to whatever, um, I was like, I don't want to work in this field anymore. So I'm gonna not pay for school anymore. It doesn't make sense to waste all my money, stuff I stopped. But I did work as an employment counselor for almost six years between the two places that I worked. But during that time, that's when that's when depression decided to come back. So again, it for me, it was an accumulation of many stressors. So at that time, I mean, social services, at least in Ontario, where I live, we have a very high turnover rate for social services, because it's a really hard job to do. You got people coming in, and you have to listen to all of their, their life troubles and things. And it wasn't that I had an issue doing that. But compiling down onto going home and not knowing how to help my kids. So at that time, my kid was having a lot of issues at school. He was bullied a lot kindergarten through grade one. He was having a lot of meltdowns. So this is, by the time he was in grade three, I was just so drained. I didn't know what to do. We didn't know why he was the way he was at the time. We're trying to find answers. And it was just, it was a lot. And so something had to give. And at that time, I took time off of work, I got a doctor's note, I took time off of work, I went to a therapist, because I had planned I had made a plan of how I was going to drive myself off of a bridge and just not be here anymore. So that was that was good times. We did end up finding out that my child does have autism. So when once he was finally diagnosed, we were able to get him the right help. He is now doing fabulously he is now 15 He's doing fabulously. And therapy worked well for me. Medication worked well for me and I am doing mostly fabulously. To Michael Hingson 13:16 show you, you yourself if I recall, were diagnosed as having some autism. Is that correct? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 13:23 Yes. So last year, I finally figured out remember how I was saying in high school, I always felt different. But like, you know, people looked at me like I was the weirdo. Turns out I have autism. And once I found that out last year, I'm like, oh my goodness, my whole life makes sense now. And I I only did it because that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to know why I always felt different. Why? When other people got a joke, I had no idea what it was, what the joke was about why other people could be in a situation and show certain emotions. And I'm like, I don't get it. What Why are we all upset right now is doesn't make sense. I just wanted to know why. And so when I got finally got my diagnosis last year, I'm like, everything makes sense. Michael Hingson 14:08 How did that come about? You weren't looking to be diagnosed as having autism. So how did that oh, Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 14:16 so I was bothering my kid in the one day and you know, parents be like father a kid. So I was doing a weird random dance to bother him. And he looked at me and he goes, Mom, if I have autism, I got it from you. And I go, maybe you did. And I started thinking about all the times when I was when people would say whatever about love, and I go oh, he's just like his mom. It's fine. He's just like his mom. And I'm like, wait a minute, if he is just like his mom, maybe I do have it. And so that's kind of when I was like, oh, you know, let's let's go find out. Michael Hingson 14:54 There we are. So you you have autism you have a child with autism is that your only child Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 15:00 The only one I birthed I do have a stepdaughter and a grant BB Michael Hingson 15:04 dare you go? Yes, so Does Grandma spoil granddaughter? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 15:10 It's a grandson grandson. And I spoil him so much. It's part of it is it is so part of the roles and grandmas his favorite, so it's fun. Michael Hingson 15:22 Well, you gotta if you're gonna be a grandma, you got to spoil grandkids. It's a rule. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 15:27 Oh, yeah. I spoil him so much. We whenever he's over, we are non stop playing toys, always Paw Patrols, you know, God do paparazzi has only two. He loves. He loves ice cream and popsicles. Like he also likes bananas and apples too. So he has a nice combination with the junk food and the good food. Michael Hingson 15:49 Well, cool. So when did you really start writing professionally or seriously, you You talked earlier about writing your poems into a book. And when did that get published? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 16:01 I published that in 2017. Okay, and that kind of gave me the author itch, and I'm like, this is fine, I want to do it again. So I published my next book in 2018, I did have to take a little bit of time off, because that was around the time that my son was, for lack of a better term going crazy. And I also had been diagnosed with cancer. So that was, you know, I had some stuff to deal with at the time. But since then, since 2020, I have released a whole bunch more books, I got into kids books into some scary stuff. Because before that, it was all about the nonfiction, which I still write, I love my nonfiction. Love mental health, I have to talk about it. But sometimes it's fun to write kids books and scary stuff. Michael Hingson 16:51 Well, tell me a little bit about some of the discussions of mental health you've, you've put into books. Tell me about some of your fiction, if you would. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 16:59 Sure. So, um, the biggest topic that I talk about is depression, because that is my personal experience. So in like the first book, thoughts of a wanderer that's poetry, and I'm actually going to be revamping that and re releasing it now that I, you know, when you do something, the first time you do, it's never as good as the 20th time you do it. So I'm gonna revamp that book. So it's a good book, but it could be better. I'm gonna be releasing. Michael Hingson 17:27 But now you also have a lot more understanding of why you wrote what you wrote when you were doing those Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 17:34 poems. Exactly. So I would just, I want to rerelease it, there's kind of some new poems added to it when I get when I do release it. And it's just going to be a nice, fresh, fresh kind of book, fresh eyes on it. And then the other one that I wrote about depression, it's an actual book, it's not poetry. I put poems in Excel of poems. But it's, it's a book and it goes through more the coping strategies that I've learned over the course of of my life, so that other people might be able to pick and choose some of the things that might work for them. And then at the end of that book, there's worksheets people can use. So that correspond which with every chapter of the book, so each chapter talks about something specific. So it might be therapy, it might be writing a letter to yourself, whatever it is, here's a corresponding worksheet that people can use so that you can actually implement things right away. And that was actually my first is my only book right now. But that was my first one I put on Audible, so people can get an audio version of that one, and I'm the one reading it. So it's fun. What's the title of it? embracing me. Okay. And then the other nonfiction that's published right now, it's called a mother's truth. And that's about raising my kid with autism and what it was from conception, like, it starts right when I was pregnant, up until grade six, I think it was. And we're currently living what will become part two, because eventually I'll release the teenage years version. And that one was co authored with my best friend, who her son is very similar. He wasn't diagnosed with autism, but he has very similar issues. And he does have extreme anxiety. So it's both of our stories in that book. And again, worksheets, we love worksheets. There's some in there the things that we learned as we went to a million doctor's appointments, what doctors are asking from us, so those worksheets are in there, so parents can already be prepared for them before the appointment. And then what I'm working on right now is another nonfiction. So this will be my fourth nonfiction coming out. And this one, this one's very emotional. I'm not an emotional person, but this one's about me very emotional. So last year, my brother died from a drug overdose. And so he always as much as he did have an addiction. He always still wanted to help people. And so I'm taking Get some of his story. I don't know all of his story because I'm the little sister. But I'm taking what I do know about historian about addictions, and about coping strategies, and I'm putting it into a book right now I'm on the second draft of it. So it's coming. And hoping that will help other families who are going through kind of something similar. And hopefully, hopefully, maybe they don't have to go through the funeral part of it, but at least they'll have some information ahead of time. Michael Hingson 20:30 So I'm a little curious, how did you get one of your books? And is it the only one but how did you get your book into audible? How did all that work out? Or did you make that happen? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 20:41 It's actually a pretty easy process, if you're technically savvy, so I had to get some help on that end of things. But you go through ACX is like the audible platform that you upload it all to. And so you can either find your own narrator and there are people on like, Fiverr, or like, on the ACX website, or me, I will do it too, because I love narrating. Anyways, I thought my story I'm going to I'm going to narrate my own book. And I love talking clearly. So I've recorded everything I went through, and I edited out all of the mistakes. And then I sent it to somebody who adjusted the sound volume on it, because it has certain standards that it has to actually meet in order to be able to be uploaded to ACX. And all of that requirements is on the ACX website. So I sent him all of those, he sent them all back to me. With the right qualities, I just put them all in and they all have to be by chapters, you can't just put in one big long thing, if you have chapters that has to be done by chapters. And then it gets uploaded, they approve it. Or they'll come back and say hey, whatever, whatever with my book, because there are those worksheets, you actually get a PDF copy of the worksheets, which was pretty cool as well, I didn't even know that that was something you could get. But they emailed me back and said, Hey, after reviewing your submission, it looks like there's worksheets in your book. Can we have them and they can actually put PDFs as an attachment when somebody buys your, your books? So that's pretty cool. Michael Hingson 22:18 Cool. Does it cost you to do that? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 22:21 No, as the author, it does not cost you anything to put it up there. Now if you are getting people to narrate it for you, or do the sound quality, that's that's separate, right? Like you would have to pay them. Michael Hingson 22:32 Charge. That's not an audible charge. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 22:34 No, from an audible standpoint, you are not charged. It's very much like if you publish on Amazon, if you're on the KDP publishing, if you're if you do itself. It doesn't cost you anything up front, they just take a percentage and then they give you your royalty as well. Michael Hingson 22:51 Cool, because I've talked to a number of people who have thought about doing audiobooks. And I have suggested that they explore audible, but never knew exactly what the process was. So I appreciate you telling us that. And yeah, it took a lot of research. Well, maybe other authors who are listening will find it now more relevant to go ahead and put their books into audible. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 23:12 Yeah, feel free to reach out to me guys. I'm here to tell you what I did. Michael Hingson 23:17 And your contact information is going to be in the notes. And we'll get to you give me some of that a little bit later on. But tell me about your children's books, if you will. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 23:25 Yeah, so I have a couple of them. My first one was called Diamond, the cat. If you recall, Diamond was my cat. And so she I had her for 19 years before she passed away and I cried and cried and cried uncontrollably. So I wanted to make a kid's book about her and it's for like the younger group because it's the first pages I am a cat. I lay on a mat. So it's all rhyming and cute little pictures. It's all cartoon pictures of diamond. And at the very last page where it says the end, there's a collage of all the real life pictures of diamond. You can see the real life kitty. I love her. And I always used to say a diamond is a girl's best friend. That's my cat was a diamond. And then I also have Wolfie. So what he is, he's going to have multiple books. If my kid will ever finish drawing the pictures. My kid is the illustrator for the workbooks. And so the workbook that's out right now it's called wapis trip to the hospital. And so he is a little stuffed dog that lives in a classroom with kids and he goes home with the kid different kids every week so we can have lots of adventures. And in this adventure, he goes with one of the boys to the hospital to get his tonsils removed. And so when he helps him be very brave during it. And so it's it's not rhyming it's a little bit for a little bit older than the diamond, the cat book and there wouldn't be more of a few books. I have another movie book written, but my kid has not drawn the pictures yet. And then I also have a kid's Christmas book, which was actually the first kid's book that I did. I know it's not Christmas time, but it's called Operation Christmas. And it's about a little girl who can't fall asleep. And so magic has to happen. I don't want to give the whole book away, but magic has to happen. And so Christmas can Santa can still come even though she won't fall asleep. And that was actually based on a real life experience where Santa had to come into my basement. Because my kid will not sleep. And then I have a few I've started a learn to read series for early readers where they draw their own pictures for the book. So they're very simple stories. So it's like this is a cat. And then they would draw a cat. This is a bat and then they would draw the bat. So they get to draw along their own picture with that. The final zero Yep. Yeah, no, go ahead. I was just to see the final series that I have. I've gotten three social stories. And so social stories are for usually used for kids with autism, things that I wish as a parent I had, but my kid was younger. And it's cleaning up your toys, going to the bathroom and conversations. It just teaches a very specific skill in a very in very simplistic terms and step by step. Michael Hingson 26:28 So you have a diamond book, but you don't have a ticker book. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 26:32 Not yet. But I will. Sure already said that. Michael Hingson 26:39 We don't want to leave Tigger out. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 26:41 No, no, no, I cannot leave my ticker out. He was he was my first kitty and I he was he was around 18 or 19. Two, but at the time he passed away, I think two Michael Hingson 26:52 how do you how do you come up with your ideas? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 26:55 Well, the nonfiction is really easy because it's just my life. But the other ones, the nonfiction ones come up with just like random random things in life. So even though the kids books are not they're not necessarily real life, they can't stemmed from real life, right. Like I was saying, the chill the Christmas book was something that happened. Diamond was a cat actually had the first what the book was actually an idea for my aunt, because her son had tonsil surgery before. But the the scary story is, don't have any kind of part of real life, let's say because everything is monsters with me and scary stories. So it's called a little scary. It's a collection of 10 short, scary stories. And we'll be coming out with another one. Eventually, I already have a list of a whole bunch of other scary stories. And those ones just come from like, completely random ideas. Like the one story I was walking down the street was walking my dogs, I have two dogs. And well, now I have three dogs, actually, at the time I had two but now I have three. And so I was walking my three dogs, and I saw this tree. And this tree look like it had like a face in it. And then one of the stories just popped into my head and I wrote a whole short scary story about the about nature and how nature can sometimes do some payback if we don't take care of it. Michael Hingson 28:27 So when you get ideas, do you just immediately write them down? Or how do you make sure you don't forget them? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 28:34 I usually if I'm at home, I will write them down on my whiteboard if I text them to myself. Michael Hingson 28:40 So you, you get them down and they'll come out at some point. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 28:45 Exactly, yeah. If I don't write them down, you're right, I will totally forget them. But so in some way, they have to get written down well, whether it's a text and myself are actually written down, you have to get written down. Michael Hingson 28:58 It is nice that today we have a lot of different technological ways to get information written down. So we don't forget it. I, for example, use my Amazon echo a lot to remind me of things even though I might have something on a calendar. If I'm not right in front of the computer, I want to see the calendar. So I use technology to remind me all over the house, as well as writing down ideas and doing other sorts of things. So yeah, we do live in a wonderful era where it's a lot easier to get ideas down where we can go back and then address them later. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 29:30 Yeah, exactly. It's very nice. Michael Hingson 29:33 So for you, writing about your life and so on. Well, because you happen to be able to write it does turn out to be fairly easy for you. But this whole concept of mental health and being a person with mental health issues, has a lot of stigmas about it and it's something that we don't understand. How do we start to do Without and how do we change people's perceptions of that? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 30:04 We talk, we talk a lot. That's a really simple answer. But really, it comes down to being able to be open with other people. Because since there is so much stigma around, it often shuts us up. We don't want to talk about it. Because we don't want people to look at us. Like, we're weird. Like, we're crazy, like, we're whatever. But the bottom line is, is where people like anybody else, no matter what your mental health is, whether it's depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, it doesn't matter, you're just, you're just a person who maybe our brain chemistry is a little bit off. Like for me, I take my antidepressants every day, I went off for them, it didn't go so well. So I'm back on them. But that's because my brain chemistry is a little bit off, and I just, I need that extra little help, which is totally fine. But people don't want to talk about it. And my husband put it best to me. So when he found out that I had went off of my antidepressants, because I didn't tell him or the doctor, anything, I just did it. I do not recommend please don't do this. But when he found that out, and my husband is type one diabetic, which means he has an insulin pump. So he says to me, Well, do you want me to stop taking my insulin? No, I don't want you to die. Because exactly, I don't want you to die either. Why would you do that? I was like, oh, sorry, Honey, I love you. So it's, we have to start looking at mental health the same way we look at physical health. And that is that sometimes we need help. And that's okay. Recently, I've been dealing with a lot of chronic pain. And I realized that that has a lot of stigma around it as well. And actually, on Monday, I was just at the pain clinic and I had a complete breakdown with the doctor. And I am not an emotional person. I am not a crier, but I was crying so much in his office, not just because I was in immense pain, but because I was so frustrated about the lack of help around it and the lack of not knowing what's happening. And that all ages kept being told this, Oh, you're too young for this. That's great that I'm too young for this, I'm in my 30s. But I'm still in such pain that I have had to change my life, I can no longer do kickboxing right now I can no longer take my dogs for a 45 minute walk, they're lucky if I can get around two blocks before I have to lay down. And so I was just totally crying in his office and so emotionally spent, that our mental health and our physical health are very much interrelated. And so we need to talk about both of them in the same way and give both of them the same kind of respect as like one in the other. Michael Hingson 32:57 So I think that you raised some some valid and very good points. The reality is, maybe this is an oversimplification. But talking and dealing with the so called stigma of mental health issues, is, in a lot of ways, not really much different than talking about having or being a person who happens to have a disability. Because it's all about being different. And people not wanting to deal with difference, no matter what we say. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 33:32 That is 100%. What it is, is differences are scary. If you're different. You're scary. Michael Hingson 33:39 Well, why is that? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 33:41 That's a great question that I don't have a scientific answer for but I'll tell you what, I think on it. So I think it's just because the unknown is very scary. And I actually I just wrote an article for a magazine, I don't think it's published out but about, and this goes back to writing scary stories, but it's very relevant. So about how in a horror movie or in a scary story book, The unknown is what scares you the most when you see the masked killer coming towards you. It's not nearly as scary as when you hear something downstairs and you're like, Oh, what is that? Is that a burglar? Is that just my cat? It's more scary because we don't know. So I think that's the same kind of concept, to a difference to somebody with a disability, whether it be physical, mental, whatever it is, when you don't understand it, and it's different. It's scary because you don't know how to maybe talk to that person. You don't know how to address them. You don't know what it is that you shouldn't be doing. It ultimately my answer to that is ask the person they will tell you. Yeah, I get that a lot with with my kid I'm especially because he's 15 Now, and he can, he can talk, which is great. He's verbal. Sometimes he never shuts up. But sometimes I'll have people and teachers in the school system are kind of the worst for this is that they'll ask me all of these questions, I go great. Let me ask him, they're like, well, can't you just tell us? This is his life? These are his school courses, I'm not just going to give you an answer, I'm going to ask him, he is more than capable of telling you why he hasn't finished homework or why he wants to take one class over a different class, whatever it is, we are capable of speaking for itself. Same with somebody say in a wheelchair, if you don't know, maybe what they need help with. Ask them. So I, I used to have a part time job working in a market and I would just help the farmer sell the fruits and vegetables. And then there was this one guy in a wheelchair, and he would come around every Saturday, he was a very loyal customer. And so the very first time He came, though, I didn't treat him any different as any other customer, because he's not any different. And so I said, Okay, what can I get you? And he told me, I said, Great. Would you like another bag? I said, Yeah, so great. And then he asked, Can you put it on the back of my wheelchair? Yep, I could totally do that for you. Because I'm gonna say we because I'm part of the community of mental health and disability. So whatever, we are very capable of telling you what it is that we need. Now, some disabilities might be more severe. If it's a developmental disability, maybe where they don't have that capacity. And then you might need to talk to the support person that's with them. But I would always talk to the person first, I don't care what their disability is, what age they are, I would talk to that person first. If then you realize that they are not capable of explaining it to you, then the support for they would have a support person with them. And you can ask them, but they're capable. Michael Hingson 37:10 The extrapolation of what you just said, though, is that we're afraid of the unknown, because it is unknown. And we don't try to make it known. So when we're dealing with mental health, whether we're dealing with disabilities, or whatever, we, as we're growing up, don't get taught to deal with it, to understand it to communicate about it. Yeah. And as adults, we don't talk about it, we don't get it, we don't understand it. And as a result, we just continue to promote the same unknowns that have always been there. I think there are definitely issues with the whole concept of mental health, it is something that we need to address. There are reasons that that people are as they are, we should learn to understand them, we should learn to help with them. Yeah. But we also should be spending a lot more time talking to people, we being all of us should be spending more time talking to people and learning to understand it, which is of course, maybe in part what unstoppable mindset as a podcast is all about. Exactly. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 38:25 And that's the nice thing about technology right now is there are so many different podcasts out there. And a lot of them talk about disabilities or mental health or different things like that. I have a podcast guys, you can listen to it. It's called writer die show mental health. But no, you're totally right. If we're not taught at a young age, and I think I was I was very spoiled at a young age, because of the school that I went to. We had a class for kids with disabilities when they used to be. They don't have as many separate classes anymore in our school district. They try to integrate more now, which hopefully that's working the way that they want it to. I don't know, that's a different story. Anyways, but I was lucky because we had that class there. We also had a class of deaf students. And so when I was younger, I was exposed to all of that from a very early age. And I think like you were saying, if you aren't taught about it at a young age, then you're not going to know about it as an adult. So I was spoiled that way that I got to experience that. And I used to help out in the different classes and play with the kids. They're like they were they were kids, right. So we all played together. So I was spoiled. But maybe that's something that as parents, we can start thinking about more to help our kids with that. And to not single other kids out. Michael Hingson 39:53 Yeah, that's, of course, part of it is that although a kid might be the A friend or an adult may be different. There's no need to single them out, there is a need or ought to be a need to make sure that they are empowered to be able to contribute and be a part, which may very well mean, as you pointed out with the person who came to your market in the wheelchair, they're going to come in a wheelchair, big deal. You do what's necessary to make it possible for that person to be involved at the store, go around the store, shop like anyone else. And when you say you don't treat them differently, you know, the reality is, in a technical sense, yeah, you did, because you hung the bag on the back of the wheelchair. But the reality is big deal. That's all part of making it an inclusive environment. It's not really treating someone differently. It's being inclusive. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 40:56 Yes, I like the way you put that. Michael Hingson 41:00 And that's something that we really need to do a lot more of is learn about inclusion. Well, a couple of other things that come to mind. I'm going to Save one for last, even though you mentioned even though you just mentioned it, but tell me about you and kickboxing and all that you you have been very much in the past involved with that. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 41:20 Yes. So I was kickboxing for about 10 years, once I became an adult and my mom couldn't tell me I couldn't anymore. And in 2015, I was the Canadian national champion my division, I was, I've been to the worlds tournament in Ireland. I've also been to the Pan American Games that was in Mexico, where I got to silver. And I just before COVID, I was one of our Ontario coaches at our Ontario winter games with the kids. So I was I've been very involved in it. And I was thinking about taking the roughing course. But right now my body is saying no, it's, it's kind of breaking my heart a little bit. It's been a very difficult road. But no, Kickboxing was amazing. It's such a good outlet. It's such good exercise, everybody should do it if you're capable of doing it. Michael Hingson 42:21 Tell me a little bit more about what it is exactly and how it works. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 42:25 Um, so kickboxing, it's while you get to hit people with your hands and your feet. So there's there's different styles of kickboxing. So I've been training in Muay Thai, but I competed in kickboxing it. So my Thai is, it's slightly different. The rules are slightly different. There's knees, there's elbows, so I've trained I can do those, but I've never competed with those. So I've competed in both low kick and full contact. There's also another one called leg contact and k one. So the ones that I have fought in with low kick, you can kick anybody from the knees up. So the head is okay, you You never kick anybody in the back. That's not okay. But you can kick anybody from the knees up, there's no No elbows and no knees in that style, but you can kick them or punch them as hard as you want. Where as full contact, which is a little bit of a deceiving name, I feel like so full contact, you have to kick and punch them from the waist up. And you have to kick at least seven times around, which doesn't sound like a lot, but can be a lot depending on your style of fighting. I love kicking, kicking is my favorite part of it. So it wasn't hard for me to hit to kick seven times around. But yeah, you can hit you can kick or push them as hard as you want from the waist up in full contact. When you do k one, that's when you can also do clench, you can do knees, it's more violent, I guess of the styles. Michael Hingson 43:57 So in in doing that, do you think any of that contributed to the pain you have today? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 44:04 It could be um, we don't know what the pain is being caused by yet. There is rumors of fibromyalgia potentially there is a some osteo arthritis in my spine. So there's no definitive answer yet. I'm still doing tests. But it there's a good chance that you know wear and tear on the body is not doesn't always do good things but I'm just really tired of hearing you're too young for it. Michael Hingson 44:34 Yeah. My, my wife in well, we got married in 1982. And she pushed her own wheelchair bound. She's been in the chair her whole life. But as we got into the later 1990s It started to be more painful for her. But she kept doing it. She said I need the exercise. I have to push myself and that was the only answer that she would give, she didn't want to go into a power chair or anything. But in 2002, going into 2003, we had moved to California. And up, she went to a doctor saying, Look, this is hurting more and more. And he had what I think is maybe even a better answer for you. In her case, it was her shoulders that were hurting. And he said, Look, your shoulders don't come with a lifetime warranty, and they do wear out. And you know, it does. And it's different for different people. I've told that to other people in chairs since and I've met people in their 20s and 30s, who are experiencing a lot of shoulder pain. And they said, you know, you're absolutely right. That's exactly what's probably happening. And they go off and they look at it. But the reality is, you're too young. Is such a blanket statement that may or may not be relevant at all. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 45:55 Yeah, I like what you say better. Michael Hingson 45:58 You've also been very active. You've also been very active. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 46:02 Yeah, exactly. So I like I don't have a lifetime warranty. Michael Hingson 46:08 Yeah, well, that's what her doctor said. And it makes perfect sense. So she actually did translate, transfer over into in graduate to using a power chair. And in the last five years, she's been diagnosed with having some arthritis in her shoulders, and also some rheumatoid arthritis, which is a whole different animal. But the arthritis is there. And it's all because shoulders don't come with a lifetime warranty from God. That's all there is to it. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 46:37 What about great if a body's actually dead, though? Michael Hingson 46:40 Well, yeah. Always a lot to do. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 46:44 Yeah, I know. But I can still go swimming. So that's good. Summertime, you might, Michael Hingson 46:51 you might find that there are ways to get it improved, as long as you keep pushing for them to figure out what's really going on. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 46:57 Yes, that's what I'm doing. I have an MRI scheduled for August. And Ontario. We have to wait a bajillion months before we can get one Michael Hingson 47:06 coming. Well, I think I know what really is going on. And you may not want to hear it. But Tigger is extremely unhappy that diamond got written up and Tigger did not. So Tigger is dealing with you just just keep that in mind. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 47:21 The funniest part of you saying that is that Tigger was the kind of cat that did always give you payback. So when I was because we had him since I was like little, little little, I would chase him around the house because I was, you know, three, four years old. So I chased them around the house and grab them and just love him so much. And give him all the kisses and then at nighttime, I'd go to sleep. And he pounce on me and try to get me because haha, now you're sleeping. So that is actually the kind of personality that he would have to do that Michael Hingson 47:55 cats can be very strategic, and they can be very patient. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 47:59 Yes. So you know, it made? Maybe you're right. Yep. Michael Hingson 48:05 Tear is definitely sending you a message. Yeah, Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 48:10 if you want to tell us about Michael Hingson 48:13 your podcasts. You mentioned that earlier. And I said I was gonna save it. And I wanted to get to it. But tell us about your podcast. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 48:19 So my podcast, it's also on YouTube, if you prefer watching. It is called the right or die show. So right, like you're writing something, not author. And I interview other authors and we talk about mental health. Michael Hingson 48:35 Tell us about maybe some of your episodes. I'm curious to learn more about it. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 48:38 Sure. Yeah. So I have tons of different episodes. So what I do, at least on the YouTube channel, is I'm on YouTube, you're able to make playlists of them. So I've played listed all of the different mental health discussions into their category. So I've had people on that talk about depression, that's probably the biggest one. So depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar. I've had eating disorders on the show. I've also talked to people about autism, not that it's a mental health disorder, but because it's close to my heart, so people can still come on and talk about that one. But yeah, so just a wide variety of different topics and a wide variety of amazing authors. I love talking to the other self published authors, not that you have to be self published. I've also had other authors that weren't that were with, like actual publishers, or and I say author, but it's really anybody who writes I've even had somebody who's written screenplays come on the show. So he's never written a book, but he wrote screenplays. So anybody who's written anything song writers, I've had some songwriters Come on. So just a lot of fun to talk about it and It's all about personal experience. So everybody on the show is talking from their own personal experience. Because I think in this was my answer about how we ended the stigma, right? We talk about it. So by, I have over 100 episodes now. So by over 100 people talking about their different experiences, and there are different coping strategies, we can open up that line of communication with others that don't understand it, like we're talking about, and try to get them to understand these different things. Get them to understand that you know, somebody with schizophrenia is just a person, that somebody with Bipolar is just a person and kind of shed light on that. And also, I like when they share their coping strategy, because I take little bits from other people and try them out. And hopefully, the audience is taking little bits from everybody and trying it out. Because not every coping strategy works for every person. There's tons of them out there. Michael Hingson 50:57 How do you find your guests? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 50:59 Um, so when I first started the show, I put out a call to what's that thing or radio guestlist.com? And I put it out there, I got 80 responses, like almost immediately, which was insane to me, because I was like, how am I gonna find gas, and then I didn't really need to look hard. And once you kind of that got going, I've met some really good people that helped. So actually, the publicist that I just signed on with creative edge here, I have a deal with him, I always tell him, Hey, these slots are open, what authors do you have, because he always has very good high quality guests. Come on the show. So it's been really easy now to actually find people, which I was surprised because I thought I was going to have trouble with it. Michael Hingson 51:47 Everyone has a story to tell. And sometimes it's hard to get people to tell stories. But everyone does have a story to tell them. It's great to be able to have the opportunity to get people to come on and tell their stories. And I'm sure that's what you're encountering as well. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 52:04 Yes, exactly. And most people who have written things, well, most of us authors struggle with self publicity and marketing. Like it's one of the hardest things, and to go on lots of different podcasts to tell different audiences about you. So by interviewing authors, I think that has really helped because first off, they're storytellers, even like I said, Some writers, whatever writers are storytellers, and then they need to market out their product to people. So kind of worked out well. Michael Hingson 52:36 Right. Well, this has been fun. And I want to thank you very much for being a guest on our podcast. I appreciate it. And I know we we met each other through the same publicists, which is really cool. But tell me how can people get in touch with you if they'd like to reach out if they'd like to learn more about what you're doing? Or ask you questions and connect? How do they do that? Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 53:00 Sure. So my website is rbwriting.ca. I'm also on Facebook at RB writing and then of course my YouTube Michael Hingson 53:10 the letter R and the letter B. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 53:11 Yes for my name Randi Bowslaugh. Michael Hingson 53:14 So RBwriting? Yep. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 53:17 and.ca Because I'm in Canada, and then Facebook, I'm on Instagram I'm on Instagram though it's Randy be writing because somebody already had RB so Randi be writing let's Randi with an I and tick tock I am on tick tock at the right or die show. Michael Hingson 53:35 Cool. So to say your website once more Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 53:40 RBwriting.ca. Michael Hingson 53:43 Great. Well, I've enjoyed it and learned a lot and I really appreciate you coming on today and talking with us. And I hope that everyone listening appreciates and maybe he has a little bit more understanding about some of the topics that you've discussed. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 54:00 I hope so too and I had so much fun Michael Hingson 54:02 well and we definitely would love to have you come back as you're getting more books and tell us about the books and let me know when you publish about ticker because I'm sure the pain is gonna go away then. Randi-Lee Bowslaugh 54:15 I will definitely do that. And you know what, maybe I'll call it even I'll call it about ticker. Michael Hingson 54:21 Go. Well, thanks very, Randi. And I want to thank all of you wherever you are for listening today. I'd love to hear from you and get your comments so please feel free to email me at Michaelhi at accessibe.com or visit Michael Hingson .com slash podcast where you can visit more episodes although you can get them wherever podcast episodes are available. And as always, I sure would appreciate a five star rating from you to help us we appreciate when you make comments and rate the program and rate podcasts. So please do that. And again, Randi one last time, thank you very much for being here. We really appreciate it very much. You take care Michael Hingson 55:13 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.
Yes, Howard Brown is a two-time cancer survivor. As you will discover in our episode, he grew up with an attitude to thrive and move forward. Throughout his life, he has learned about sales and the concepts of being a successful entrepreneur while twice battling severe cancer. Howard's life story is one of those events worth telling and I hope you find it worth listening to. He even has written a book about all he has done. The book entitles Shining Brightly has just been released, but you get to hear the story directly from Howards' lips. About the Guest: Howard Brown is an author, speaker, podcaster, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, interfaith peacemaker, two-time stage IV cancer survivor, and healthcare advocate. For more than three decades, Howard's business innovations, leadership principles, mentoring and his resilience in beating cancer against long odds have made him a sought-after speaker and consultant for businesses, nonprofits, congregations, and community groups. In his business career, Howard was a pioneer in helping to launch a series of technology startups before he co-founded two social networks that were the first to connect religious communities around the world. He served his alma mater—Babson College, ranked by US News as the nation's top college for entrepreneurship—as a trustee and president of Babson's worldwide alumni network. His hard-earned wisdom about resilience after beating cancer twice has led him to become a nationally known patient advocate and “cancer whisperer” to many families. Visit Howard at ShiningBrightly.com to learn more about his ongoing work and contact him. Through that website, you also will find resources to help you shine brightly in your own corner of the world. Howard, his wife Lisa, and his daughter Emily currently reside in Michigan. 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, and welcome to another episode of unstoppable mindset. Today, we get to interview Howard Brown, I'm not going to tell you a lot because I want him to tell his story. He's got a wonderful story to tell an inspiring story. And he's got lots of experiences that I think will be relevant for all of us and that we all get to listen to. So with that, Howard, welcome to unstoppable mindset. Howard Brown 01:44 Thank you, Michael. I'm really pleased to be here. And thanks for having me on your show. And excited to talk to your audience and and share a little bit. Michael Hingson 01:54 Well, I will say that Howard and I met through Podapolooza, which I've told you about in the past and event that brings podcasters would be podcasters. And people who want to be interviewed by podcasters together, and Howard will tell us which were several of those he is because he really is involved in a lot of ways. But why don't you start maybe by telling us a little bit about your, your kind of earlier life and introduce people to you and who you are. Sure, sure. Howard Brown 02:23 So I'm from Boston. I can disguise the accent very well. But when I talked to my mother, we're back in Boston, we're packing a car. We're going for hot dogs and beans over to Fenway Park. So gotta get a soda. We're getting a soda, not a pop. So we add the Rs. They call my wife Lisa, not Lisa. But I grew up I grew up in the suburbs of Boston, a town called Framingham. And I'm a twin. And I'm very unusual. But a girl boy twin, my twin sister Cheryl. She goes by CJ is five minutes older. And I hold that I hold that now against her now that we're older and she didn't want to be older, but now she's my older sister, my big sister by five whole minutes. Michael Hingson 03:09 Well, she's big sister, so she needs to take care of her baby brother Howard Brown 03:12 says exactly. And she did. And we're gonna get to that because it's a really important point being a twin, which we'll get to in a second. But so Britta she Where does she live now? So she lives 40 minutes away from me here in Michigan. Michael Hingson 03:25 Oh my gosh, you both have moved out of the area. Howard Brown 03:27 So she she moved to Albany, New York. I moved to Southern then California, LA area and the beaches, and then Silicon Valley. And then the last 17 years we've all lived close. And we raised our families together here in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Michael Hingson 03:40 What got you to all go to Michigan? Howard Brown 03:43 Well, for me, it was a choice. My wife is from Michigan, and I was in Silicon Valley. And we were Pat had a little girl Emily, who's four. There's a story there too. But we'll we decided we wanted her to grow up with a family and cousins and aunts and uncles and my in laws live here. My wife grew up here. And this made it closer for my parents and Boston suburbs to get here as well. So great place to raise a family very different from Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, California. Michael Hingson 04:12 Yeah, but don't you miss Steve's ice cream in Boston? Howard Brown 04:15 I do. I miss the ice cream. I missed the cannolis in the Back Bay. I missed some of the Chinese food. So in the north end, but it just it I do, but I have not lived there. I went to college there at Babson College number one school for entrepreneurship. And then when I got my first job, I moved out to Ohio but then I moved back and well there's a whole story of why I had to move back as well but we'll get Michael Hingson 04:41 there. So are your parents still living in Boston? Howard Brown 04:46 They are and so my dad I call myself son of a boot man. My dad for 49 years has sold cowboy boots in New England in the in the in the western you know the states New York Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts. And that's, you know, anyone who stayed somewhere for 49 years got to be applauded. And he's a straight commission boot salesman and he sold women's shoes prior to that. So he he's, he's a renaissance man. Michael Hingson 05:15 Wow. So does he sell cowboy boots with snow treads as it were for the winter? Howard Brown 05:21 No snow trends but, you know, like out west when you're working on, you know, on with cattle and working out west and sometimes it's a fashion statement. Not not too many places in New England like that. But he, he made a living, he enjoyed it. And he's, he's just about to retire at the age of 79. This year. Michael Hingson 05:39 I remember living in Boston and and when I wear shoes with just leather soles, I slid around a lot on the sidewalks and all that so did get rubber rubbers to go over my boots and then later got real boots. Howard Brown 05:54 Right. So I have the big hiking boots, the Timberlands, but I too have a pair of a you know, in Boston, we call them rabbits, rabbits, robins. And they basically are slip ons that gave you grip. They slipped right over your leather shoes. And you wore them when anyway in the snow and in those sloshing in the mess. Yeah. Michael Hingson 06:12 And they worked really well. They did. So you went off to college. And I gather kind of almost right from the beginning you got involved in the whole idea of entrepreneurship. Howard Brown 06:23 Well, I did I transferred to Babson from a liberal arts school called Connecticut College. I just I found out it wasn't for me and Babson College changed the trajectory of my entire life. i i I knew that I wanted to do sales and then later technology. But Babson was the catalyst for that. They just they support entrepreneurship of all kinds, no matter how you define it, and I just drank it in and I loved, I loved my time there. I love my learning there. And I continue to stay involved with Babson very closely as a past president of the Alumni Association, a former trustee, and very actively recruit students to go there and support student businesses. So it was a big impact on me and I continue to give back to it. Michael Hingson 07:11 That's pretty cool. So how, how did you proceed as far as a career and entrepreneurial involvement as it were in in sales and all that? Howard Brown 07:22 So I had an internship, I had wanted cellular one when cellular phones came out and I was basically learning the business. This is really early 1984 And five, and then I got another internship at NCR Corporation if you remember national cash register 120 year old company based out of Dayton, Ohio, and now it's in Atlanta, and it's, it's just not the same company. But I took an internship there a lot of Babson folks work there. And I worked as a trainer, sales installation rep. I trained waitresses, waiters, bartenders, hotel clerks, night audits, how to use cash register computer systems. So I was the teacher and a trainer. And I would, you know, talk to waitresses and waiters and bartenders and say you can make more tips by providing better service. But the way that you do that is you type you the order into a computer, it zaps it to the order station or the back to the back of the house to cook to prepare the foods or for the drinks. And you can spend more time servicing your table which should translate into higher tips. Well, about a third of them said nope, not for me, a third of them were need to be convinced and a third of them are like I'm in. I had a lot of fun doing that. And then after the shift, the either the manager or the owner would come over and they'd give you a savior at a Chinese food restaurant. They give you a poopoo platter to go to take home to your dorm room. Michael Hingson 08:46 So I had a lot of fun, a lot of fun and a lot of good food. Howard Brown 08:50 Sure sure. So that's what really started me off and hired me Michael Hingson 08:55 so did that did that concept of tips and all that and advising people ever get you to translate that to Durgin Park? Howard Brown 09:03 I actually did install the cashiers to computers area ago Daniel hall so the checkerboard you know draped you know cloth on the table and so you know it's there's a lot of good restaurants in Boston, you know the union Oyster House with a toothpick but I did countless restaurants hotels bars, you know it was I was basically at the whim of the Salesforce and there was a couple of us that went to go train and teach people and take the night shift and make sure everything was going smoothly as they installed the new system of course the no name restaurant and other one but well you know for for your listeners that no name was a place to get, you know, really great discounted seafood but you sat on a park bench. Remember that? Michael Hingson 09:50 Right? Oh yeah, definitely. It wasn't. Well, neither was Durgin park, but I haven't kept up Is it still there? Howard Brown 10:00 Yes, I believe it's still there. Michael Hingson 10:01 Oh, good. I heard somewhere that, that it might not be because of COVID. But we enjoy Howard Brown 10:07 down it shut down for a while during COVID I hope it's back open. I'm gonna have to go now. Yeah, you're gonna make me go check to see if it's open. But you know, many of them are still there. And obviously restaurants turn over. But that's a mainstay that's got a lot of history. Michael Hingson 10:19 Oh, it does. And we had a lot of fun with the waitresses and so on at their Compac. I know, once we went there, and you know, the whole story, that Durgan is a place where you sit at family tables, unless we actually have four people then they'll let you sit at one of the tables for for around the outside. Well, there were three of us and my guide dog when we went in one time. And the hostess said, we're gonna put you at one of the tables for for just to give more room for the puppy dog. And she sat us down there. Then the waitress came over and as they are supposed to do at Durgan Park, she said, you're not supposed to sit here. There are only three of you. And I said there's a dog under the table. No, there's not. You can't fool me with that. And the waitress isn't supposed to be snotty, right. And she just kept going on and on about it. And I kept saying there is a dog under the table. She went away. And then she came back a little bit later. And she said, You've got to move and I said no. Why don't you just look, there's a dog under the table. You're not gonna make me fall for that. She finally looked. And there are these Golden Retriever puppy eyes staring back at her. She just melted. It was so much fun. Howard Brown 11:26 Wouldn't be Boston if you didn't get a little attitude. Well, yeah, that's part of what it's all about your right next seating. And they just they sit you in a and they say, meet each other and be married. Michael Hingson 11:38 Yeah, yeah. And it was a lot of fun. So how long did it take you to get to Silicon Valley? Howard Brown 11:44 Well, so the story is that I did. I worked for NCR and I got hired by NCR, but I wanted out of the hospitality business. You know, even though he's young work until two, three in the morning, once they shut the restaurant or bar down or the hotel down, and then you do the night audit and you do the records. It was a hard life. So I looked and I did my research. And I said, you know who's who's making all the money here at NCR in the banking division. And it was really the early days of the outsourcing movement, punch cards, and you're outsourcing bank accounts, over 1200 baud modems. And I said, Well, that's interesting. And so I went to NCRs training at Sugar camp to learn how to be a salesperson were they actually in the early days, they filmed you, they taught you negotiation skills, competitive analysis, Industry Skills, it was fantastic. It's like getting an MBA today. But they did it all in six months, with mixing fieldwork in with, you know, training at this education facility in Dayton, Ohio. And I came out as a junior salesperson working for for very expansive experience, guys. And they just, I knew one thing, if I made them more productive, they'd make me money. And I did. And I, they sent me to banks and savings and loans and credit unions all over New England. And I basically learned the business of banking and outsourcing to these banks. And they made a lot of money. So that was how my career started. You can't do better than that. But to answer the question, because it's a little more complex than that. But it took me NCR in 1988. And then I moved out to Los Angeles in 1991, after a big health scare, which we'll talk about, and then I moved up in 2005. So there's the timeline to get me to Silicon Valley. Michael Hingson 13:29 So you, you definitely moved around. I know that feeling well, having had a number of jobs and been required to live in various parts of the country when going back and forth from one coast to another from time to time. So you know, it's it's there. So you, you did all of that. And you You ended up obviously making some money and continuing to to be in the entrepreneurial world. But how does that translate into kind of more of an entrepreneurial spirit today? Howard Brown 14:00 So great question, Michael. So what happened was is that I built a foundation. So at that time when you graduated school, and as far as for technology, the big computer shops like IBM Unisys, NCR, Hewlett Packard, what they did is they took you raw out of college, and they put you through their training program. And that training program was their version of the gospel of their of their products and your competitors and all that. And that built a great foundation. Well, I moved to Los Angeles after this big health scare, which I'm sure we're gonna go back and talk about, and I moved into the network products division. So I didn't stay in the banking division. I looked at the future and said voice data and video. I think there's the future there and I was right and AT and T bought NCR and, unfortunately, this is probably 1992. They also bought McCaw cellular they had just bought all of Eddie computer. They were a big company of five 600,000 employees and I have To tell you, the merger wasn't great. You felt like a number. And I knew that was my time. That was my time where I said, I got my foundation built. It's now time to go to a startup. So your time had come. My time had come. So at&t, offered early retirement for anyone 50 and older, and then they didn't get enough takers. So they offered early retirement for anyone that wanted to change. And so the talk around the watercooler was, let's wait they'll make a better offer. And I was like, I'm 26 and a half years old. I what am I waiting for? So they made a tremendously generous offer. I took early retirement, and I moved to my first true startup called avid technology that was in the production space. And we basically were changing film and television production from analog to digital. And I never looked back, I basically have been with startups ever since. And that, but that foundation I felt was really important that I got from NCR, but I prefer smaller companies and build the building them up from scratch and moving them forward. Michael Hingson 16:07 Yeah, when you can do more to help shape the way they go. Because the the problem with a larger a lot of larger companies is they get very set in their ways. And they tend not to listen as much as maybe they should to people who might come along with ideas that might be beneficial to them, as opposed to startups as you say, Howard Brown 16:27 Well, it depends. I mean, you know, you want to build a company that is still somewhat innovative. So what these large companies like Google and Facebook do, and Apple is they go acquire, they acquire the startups before they get too big or sometimes like, it's like what Facebook did with Instagram, they acquired six people, Google acquired YouTube, and they acquire the technology of best of breed technology. And then they shape it, and they accelerate it up. So listen, companies like IBM are still innovative, Apple, you know, is so innovative. But you need to maintain that because it can get to be a bureaucracy, and with hundreds of 1000s of employees. And you can't please everybody, but I knew my calling was was technology startups. And I just, I needed to get that, get that foundation built. And then away away I went. And that's what I've done. Since Michael Hingson 17:16 you're right. It's all about with with companies, if they want to continue to be successful, they have to be innovative, and they have to be able to grow. I remember being in college, when Hewlett Packard came out with the HP 25, which was a very sophisticated calculator. Back in the the late 19th, early 1970s. And then Texas Instruments was working on a calculator, they came out with one that kind of did a lot of the stuff that HP did. But about that same time because HP was doing what they were doing, they came out with the HP 35. And basically it added, among other things, a function key that basically doubled the number of incredible things that you could do on the HP 25. Howard Brown 17:58 Right, I had a TI calculator and in high school. Michael Hingson 18:02 Well, and of course yeah, go ahead HPUS pull reverse Polish notation, which was also kind Howard Brown 18:09 of fun. Right and then with the kids don't understand today is that, you know, we took typing, I get I think we took typing. Michael Hingson 18:19 Did you type did you learn to type on a typewriter without letters on the keys? Howard Brown 18:23 No, I think we have letters I think you just couldn't look down or else you get smacked. You know, the big brown fox jumped over the you know, something that's I don't know, but I did learn but I I'm sort of a hybrid. I looked down once in a while when I'd say Michael Hingson 18:39 I remember taking a typing course in actually it was in summer school. I think it was between seventh and eighth grade. And of course the typewriters were typewriters, typewriters for teaching so they didn't have letters on the keys, which didn't matter to me a whole lot. But by the same token, that's the way they were but I learned to type and yeah, we learned to type and we learned how to be pretty accurate with it's sort of like learning to play the piano and eventually learning to do it without looking at the keys so that you could play and either read music or learn to play by ear. Howard Brown 19:15 That's true. And And again, in my dorm room, I had Smith Corona, and I ended up having a bottle of or many bottles of white out. Michael Hingson 19:25 White out and then there was also the what was it the other paper that you could put on the samosa did the same thing but white out really worked? Howard Brown 19:33 Yeah, you put that little strip of tape and then it would wait it out for you then you can type over it. Right? We've come a long way. It's some of its good and some of its bad. Michael Hingson 19:43 Yeah, now we have spellchecker Yeah, we do for what it's worth, Howard Brown 19:49 which we got more and more and more than that on these I mean listen to this has allowed us to, to to do a zoom call here and record and goods and Bad's to all of that. Michael Hingson 19:58 Yeah, I still I have to tell people learning to edit. Now using a sound editor called Reaper, I can do a lot more clean editing than I was able to do when I worked at a campus radio station, and had to edit by cutting tape and splicing with splicing tape. Howard Brown 20:14 Exactly. And that's Yeah, yeah, Michael, we change the you know, avid changed the game, because we went from splicing tape or film and Betamax cassettes in the broadcast studios to a hard drive in a mouse, right? changed, we changed the game there because you were now editing on a hard drive. And so I was part of that in 1994. And again, timing has to work out and we had to retrain the unions at the television networks. And it was, for me, it was just timing worked really well. Because my next startup, liquid audio, the timing didn't work out well, because we're, we were going to try to do the same thing in the audio world, which is download music. But when you do that, when you it's a Sony cassette and Sony Walkman days, the world wasn't ready yet. We we still went public, we still did a secondary offering. But we never really brought product to market because it took Steve Jobs 10 years later to actually sell a song for 99 cents and convince the record industry that that was, you know, you could sell slices of pizza instead of the whole pizza, the whole record out Michael Hingson 21:17 and still make money. I remember avid devices and hearing about them and being in television stations. And of course, for me, none of that was accessible. So it was fun to to be able to pick on the fact that no matter what, as Fred Allen, although he didn't say it quite this way, once said they call television the new medium, because that's as good as it's ever gonna get. But anyway, you know, it has come a long way. But it was so sophisticated to go into some of the studios with some of the even early equipment, like Avid, and see all the things that they were doing with it. It just made life so much better. Howard Brown 21:52 Yeah, well, I mean, you're not I was selling, you know, $100,000 worth of software on a Macintosh, which first of all the chief engineers didn't even like, but at the post production facilities, they they they drank that stuff up, because you could make a television commercial, you could do retakes, you could add all the special effects, and it could save time. And then you could get more revenue from that. And so it was pretty easy sale, because we tell them how fast they could pay off to the hardware, the software and then train everybody up. And they were making more and more and better commercials for the car dealerships and the local Burger Joint. And they were thrilled that these local television stations, I can tell you that Michael Hingson 22:29 I sold some of the first PC based CAD systems and the same sort of thing, architects were totally skeptical about it until they actually sat down and we got them in front of a machine and showed them how to use it. Let them design something that they could do with three or four hours, as opposed to spending days with paper and paper and paper and more paper in a drafting table. And they could go on to the next project and still charge as much. Howard Brown 22:53 It was funny. I take a chief engineer on to lunch, and I tried to gauge their interest and a third, we're just enthusiastic because they wanted to make sure that they were the the way that technology came into the station. They were they were the brainchild they were the they were the domain experts. So a third again, just like training waitresses and waiters and bartenders, a third of them. Oh, they wanted they just wanted to consume it all. A third of them were skeptical and needed convincing. And a third of whom was like, that's never going out on my hair anywhere. Yeah, they were the later and later adopters, of course. Michael Hingson 23:24 And some of them were successful. And some of them were not. Howard Brown 23:28 Absolutely. We continue. We no longer. Go ahead. No, no, of course I am the my first sales are the ones that were early adopters. And and then I basically walked over to guys that are later adopters. I said, Well, I said, you know, the ABC, the NBC and the fox station and the PBS station habit, you know, you don't have it, and they're gonna take all your post production business away from you. And that got them highly motivated. Michael Hingson 23:54 Yeah. And along the way, from a personal standpoint, somebody got really clever. And it started, of course at WGBH in Boston, where they recognize the fact that people who happen to be blind would want to know what's going on on TV when the dialog wasn't saying much to to offer clues. And so they started putting an audio description and editing and all that and somebody created the secondary audio programming in the other things that go into it. And now that's becoming a lot more commonplace, although it's still got a long way to go. Howard Brown 24:24 Well, I agree. So but you're right. So having that audio or having it for visually impaired or hearing impaired are all that they are now we're making some progress. So it's still a ways to go. I agree with you. Michael Hingson 24:36 still a ways to go. Well, you along the way in terms of continuing to work with Abbott and other companies in doing the entrepreneurial stuff. You've had a couple of curveballs from life. Howard Brown 24:47 I have. So going back to my promotion, I was going driving out to Dayton, Ohio, I noticed a little spot on my cheekbone. didn't think anything of it. I was so excited to get promoted and start my new job. up, I just kept powering through. So a few weeks after I'd moved out to Dayton, Ohio, my mom comes out. And she's at the airport and typical Boston and mom, she's like, What's that on your cheek? What's that on your cheek? And I was like, Mom, it's nothing. I kind of started making excuses. I got hit playing basketball, I got it at the gym or something. And she's like, well, we got to get that checked out. I said, No, Mom, it's okay. It's not no big deal. It's a little little market. Maybe it's a cyst or pebble or something I don't know. So she basically said she was worried, but she never told me. So she helped set up my condo, or an apartment. And then she left. And then as long Behold, I actually had to go speak in Boston at the American Bankers Association about disaster recovery, and having a disaster recovery plan. And so this is the maybe August of 1989. And I came back and that spot was still there. And so my mom told my dad, remember, there was payphones? There was no cell phones, no computers, no internet. So she told my dad, she didn't take a picture of it. But now he saw it. And he goes, Let's go play tennis. There's I got there on a Friday. So on a Saturday morning, we'd go do something. And instead of going to play tennis, he took me to a local community hospital. And they took a look at it. And they said off its assist, take some my antibiotic erythromycin or something, you'll be fine. Well, I came back to see them on Monday after my speech. And I said, I'm not feeling that great. Maybe it's the rethrow myosin. And so having to be four o'clock in the afternoon, he took me to the same emergency room. And he's and I haven't had the same doctor on call. He actually said, You know what, let's take a biopsy of it. So he took a biopsy of it. And then he went back to the weight room, he said, I didn't get a big enough slice. Let me take another. So he took another and then my dad drove me to the airport, and I basically left. And my parents called me maybe three weeks later, and they said, You got to come back to Boston. We gotta go see, you know, they got the results. But you know, they didn't tell us they'll only tell you. Because, you know, it's my private data. So I flew back to Boston, with my parents. And this time, I had, like, you know, another doctor there with this emergency room doctor, and he basically checks me out, checks me out, but he doesn't say too much. But he does say that we have an appointment for you at Dana Farber Cancer Institute at 2pm. I think you should go. And I was like, whoa, what are you talking about? Why am I going to Dana Farber Cancer Institute. So it gets, you know, kind of scary there because I show up there. I'm in a suit and tie. My dad's in a suit down. My mom's seems to be dressed up. And we go, and they put me through tests. And I walk in there. And I don't know if you remember this, Michael. But the Boston Red Sox charity is called the Jimmy fund. Right? And the Jimmy fund are for kids with blood cancers, lymphoma leukemias, so I go there. And they checked me in and they told me as a whole host of tests they're going to do, and I'm looking in the waiting room, and I see mostly older people, and I'm 23 years old. So I go down the hallways, and I see little kids. So I go I go hang out with the little kids while I'm waiting. I didn't know what was going on. So they call me and I do my test. And this Dr. George Canalis, who's you know, when I came to learn that the inventor of some chemo therapies for lymphomas very experienced, and this young Harvard fellow named Eric Rubin I get pulled into this office with this big mahogany desk. And they say you have stage four E T cell non Hodgkins lymphoma. It's a very aggressive, aggressive, very aggressive form of cancer. We're going to try to knock this out. I have to tell you, Michael, I don't really remember hardly anything else that was said, I glossed over. I looked up at this young guy, Eric Rubin, and I said, What's he saying? I looked back out of the corner of my eye, my mom's bawling her eyes out. My dad's looks like a statue. And I have to tell you, I was really just a deer in the headlights. I had no idea that how a healthy 23 year old guy gets, you know, stage four T cell lymphoma with a very horrible prognosis. I mean, I mean, they don't they said, We don't know if we can help you at the world, one of the world's foremost cancer research hospitals in the world. So it was that was that was a tough pill to swallow. And I did some more testing. And then they told me to come back in about a week to start chemotherapy. And so, again, I didn't have the internet to search anything. I had encyclopedias. I had some friends, you know, and I was like, I'm a young guy. And, you know, I was talking to older people that potentially, you know, had leukemia or different cancer, but I didn't know much. And so I I basically showed up for chemotherapy, scared out of my mind, in denial, and Dr. RUBIN comes out and he says, we're not doing chemo today. I said, I didn't sleep awake. What are you talking about? He says, we'll try again tomorrow, your liver Our function test is too high. And my liver function test is too high. So I'm starting to learn but I still don't know what's going on. He says I got it was going to field trip. Field Trip. He said, Yeah, you're going down the street to Newton Wellesley hospital, we're going to the cryogenic center, cryo, what? What are you talking about? He goes, it's a sperm bank, and you're gonna go, you know, leave a sample specimen. And it's like, you just told me that, you know, if you can help me out what why I'm not even thinking about kids, right now. He said, Go do it. He says what else you're going to do today, and then you come back tomorrow, and we'll try chemo. So thank God, he said that, because I deposited before I actually started any chemotherapy, which, you know, as basically, you know, rendered me you know, impotent now because of all the chemotherapy and radiation I had. So that was a blessing that I didn't know about until later, which we'll get to. But a roll the story forward a little more quickly as that I was getting all bad news. I was relapsing, I went through about three or four different cycles of different chemotherapy recipes, nothing was working. I was getting sicker, and they tight. My sister, I am the twin CJ, for bone marrow transplant and she was a 25% chance of being a match. She happened to be 100% match. And I had to then gear up for back in 1990 was a bone marrow transplant where they would remove her bone marrow from her hip bones, they would scrub it and cleanse it, and they would put it in me. And they would hope that my body wouldn't immediately rejected and die and shut down or over time, which is called graft versus host these that it wouldn't kill me or potentially that it would work and it would actually reset my immune system. And it would take over the malignant cells and set my set me back straight, which it ended up doing. And so having a twin was another blessing miracle. You know that, you know, that happened to me. And I did some immunotherapy called interleukin two that was like, like the grandfather of immunotherapy that strengthened my system. And then I moved to Florida to get out of the cold weather and then I moved out to California to rebuild my life. I call that Humpty Dumpty building Humpty Dumpty version one. And that's that's how I got to California in Southern California. Michael Hingson 32:15 So once again, your big sister savedthe day, Howard Brown 32:19 as usual. Michael Hingson 32:21 That's a big so we go, Howard Brown 32:23 as we call ourselves the Wonder Twins. He's more. She's terrific. And thank God she gave part of herself and saved my life. And I am eternally grateful to her for that, Michael Hingson 32:34 but but she never had any of the same issues or, or diseases. I gather. She's been Howard Brown 32:41 very healthy, except for like a knee. A partial knee replacement. She's been very healthy her whole life. Michael Hingson 32:48 Well, did she have to have a knee replacement because she kept kicking you around or what? Howard Brown 32:52 No, she's little. She's five feet. 510 So she never kicked me. We are best friends. My wife's best friend. I know. She is just just a saint. She's She's such a giving person and you know, we take that from our parents, but she she gave of herself of what she could do. She said she do it again in a heartbeat. I don't think I'm allowed to give anybody my bone marrow but if I could, would give it to her do anything for her. She's She's amazing. So she gave me the gift, the gift of life. Michael Hingson 33:21 So you went to Florida, then you moved to California and what did you do when you got out here? Howard Brown 33:24 So I ended up moving up to northern California. So I met this girl from Michigan in Southern California, Lisa, my wife have now 28 years in July. We married Lisa Yeah, we got married under the Jewish wedding company's wedding canopies called the hotpot and we're looking at the Pacific Ocean, we made people come out that we had that Northridge earthquake in 94. But this is in July, so things are more settled. So we had all friends and family come out. And it was beautiful. We got it on a pool deck overlooking the Pacific. It was gorgeous. It was a beautiful Hollywood type wedding. And it was amazing. So we got married in July of 94. And then moved up to Silicon Valley in 97. And then I was working at the startups. My life was really out of balance because I'm working 20 hours, you know, a day and I'm traveling like crazy. And my wife says, You know what, you got to be home for dinner if we're going to think about having a family. And we're a little bit older now. 35 and 40. And so we've got to think about these things. And so I called back to Newton Wellesley hospital, and I got the specimen of sperm shipped out to San Jose, and we went through an in vitro fertilization process. And she grew eight eight eggs and they defrosted the swimmers and they took the best ones and put them back in the four best eggs and our miracle baby our frozen kids sickle. Emily was born in August of 2001. Another blessing another miracle. I was able to have a child and healthy baby girl. Michael Hingson 34:58 So what's Emily doing today? Howard Brown 35:00 Well, thank you for asking that. So, she is now in Missoula, Montana at a television station called K Pax eight Mountain News. And she's an intern for the summer. And she's living her great life out there hiking, Glacier National Park. And she ran I think she ran down to the Grand Tetons and, and she's learning about the broadcast business and reporting. She's a writer by trade, by trade and in journalism. And she likes philosophy. So she'll be coming back home to finish her senior year, this at the end of the summer at the University of Michigan. And so she's about to graduate in December. And she's, she's doing just great. Michael Hingson 35:35 So she writes and doesn't do video editing us yet using Abbott or any of the evolutions from it. Howard Brown 35:41 No, she does. She actually, when you're in a small market station, that's you. You write the script, she does the recording, she has a tripod, sometimes she's she films with the other reporters, but when she they sent her out as an intern, and she just covered the, this, you know, the pro pro life and pro choice rallies, she she records herself, she edits on Pro Tools, which is super powerful now, and a lot less expensive. And then, when she submits, she submits it refer review to the news director and to her superiors. And she's already got, I think, three video stories and about six different by lines on written stories. So she's learning by doing, it's experiential, it's amazing. Michael Hingson 36:23 So she must have had some experience in dealing with all the fires and stuff out at Yellowstone and all that. Howard Brown 36:31 So the flooding at Yellowstone, so I drove her out there in May. And I didn't see any fires. But the flooding we got there before that, she took me on a hike on the North Gate of Yellowstone. And she's she's, you know, environmentally wilderness trained first aid trained. And I'm the dad, and I'm in decent shape. But she took me out an hour out and an hour back in and, you know, saw a moose saw a deer didn't see any mountain lion didn't see any Grizzlies, thank God, but we did see moose carcass where the grizzly had got a hold on one of those and, and everybody else to get it. So I got to go out to nature weather and we took a road trip out there this summer, it was a blast. It's the those are the memories, when you've been through a cancer diagnosis that you just you hold on to very dearly and very tight. It was a blast. So that's what he's doing this summer. She'll be back. She'll be back in August, end of August. Michael Hingson 37:22 That's really exciting to hear that she's working at it and being successful. And hopefully she'll continue to do that. And do good reporting. And I know that this last week, with all the Supreme Court cases, it's it's, I guess, in one sense, a field day for reporters. But it's also a real challenge, because there's so many polarized views on all of that. Howard Brown 37:44 Well, everybody's a broadcaster now whether it's Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and all the other ones out there, tick tock. So everybody's sort of a reporter now. And you know, what do you believe, and unfortunately, I just can't believe in something in 140 characters or something in two sentences. Yeah, there's no depth there. So sometimes you miss the point, and all this stuff. And then everything's on 24 hours on CNN, on Fox on MSNBC, so it never stops. So I call that a very noisy world. And it's hard to process. You know, all this. It's coming at you so fast in the blink of an eye. So we're in a different time than when we grew up, Michael, it was a slower pace. Today in this digital world. It's, it's, it's a lot and especially COVID. Now, are we just consuming and consuming and binging and all this stuff, I don't think it's that healthy. Michael Hingson 38:36 It's not only a noisy world, but it's also a world, it's very disconnected, you can say all you want about how people can send tweets back and forth, text messages back and forth and so on. But you're not connecting, you're not really getting deep into anything, you're not really establishing relationships in the way that as you point out, we used to, and we don't connect anymore, even emails don't give you that much connection, realism, as opposed to having meaningful dialogue and meaningful conversations. So we just don't Converse anymore. And now, with all that's going on, in the very divided opinions, there's there's no room for discussion, because everybody has their own opinion. And that's it, there's no room to dialogue on any of it at all, which is really too bad. Howard Brown 39:21 Yeah, I agree. It's been divisive. And, you know, it's, it's hard because, you know, an email doesn't have the body language, the intent, the emotion, like we're talking right now. And, you know, we're expressing, you know, you know, I'm telling stories of my story personally, but you can tell when I get excited, I smile, I can get animated. Sometimes with an email, you know, you don't know the intent and it can be misread. And a lot of that communication is that way. So, you know, I totally get where you're coming from. Michael Hingson 39:55 And that's why I like doing the podcasts that we're doing. We get to really have conversation isn't just asking some questions and getting an answer and then going on to the next thing. That's, frankly, no fun. And I think it's important to be able to have the opportunity to really delve into things and have really good conversations about them. I learned a lot, and I keep seeing as I do these podcasts, and for the past 20 plus years, I've traveled around the world speaking, of course, about September 11, and talking about teamwork, and trust, and so on. And as I always say, if I don't learn more than I'm able to teach or impart, then I'm not doing my job very well. Howard Brown 40:35 So that's exactly and that's, that's where I'm going after the second health concern. You know, I'm now going to teach, I'm gonna inspire, I'm going to educate. And that's, that's, that's what I do, I want to do with the rest of my time is to be able to, you know, listen, I'm not putting my head in the sand, about school shootings, about an insurrection about floods about all that. You gotta live in the real world. But I choose, as I say, I like to live on positive Street as much as possible, but positive street with action. That's, that's what makes the world a better place at the end of the day. So