Catalytic Leadership

Intentional Optimism: Andrea Johnson's Perspective on Leadership and Personal Growth

October 23, 2023 Dr. William Attaway Season 2 Episode 14
Catalytic Leadership
Intentional Optimism: Andrea Johnson's Perspective on Leadership and Personal Growth
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Join us today on a transformational journey with special guest, Andrea Johnson, a  coach and an advocate for female leaders. Andrea's powerful story of breaking free from societal norms and embracing her abilities for critical thinking, creativity, and leadership is not only inspiring, but it prompts us all to question our own preconceived notions. From her unusual upbringing in Seoul, South Korea, to her mother's battle with gender inequality, Andrea has gathered an array of unique experiences and insights that have shaped her perspective on life.

Andrea’s journey towards becoming an intentional optimist is rooted in personal struggle and profound transformation. Her mother’s strength in the face of gender inequality and illness has led her to redefine her beliefs and discover her voice. Imbued with the resilience of her mother and her own accumulated wisdom, Andrea shares how she cultivates a lifestyle filled with optimism, wonder, energy, courage, and resilience.

As we conclude, we turn our attention to the deeply ingrained assumptions around gender roles in leadership positions. We explore how these attitudes impact the way women are perceived and treated in the workplace. Andrea shares her insights from her years of experience and how women can unlock their leadership potential. This episode will inspire you to challenge your perceptions, redefine your path, and step into your leadership potential, regardless of your gender. Tune in for a dose of inspiration, transformation, and an enlightening conversation with Andrea Johnson.

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Meet Dr. William Attaway, your guide to peak performance. As a seasoned Executive Mindset and Leadership Coach with nearly 30 years of experience, William empowers high-performance entrepreneurs and agency owners to conquer challenges and maximize their potential. Join him on the Catalytic Leadership podcast as he shares insights on achieving Clear-Minded Focus, Calm Control, & Confidence, helping you thrive in business and life.

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to Catalytic Leadership, the podcast designed to help leaders intentionally grow and thrive. Here is your host author and leadership and executive coach, dr William Attaway.

Speaker 2:

Hey, it's William and welcome to today's episode of the Catalytic Leadership podcast. Each week, we tackle a topic related to the field of leadership. My goal is to ensure that you have actionable steps you can take from each episode to grow in your own leadership. Growth doesn't just happen. My goal is to help you become intentional about it. Each week, we spotlight leaders from a variety of fields, organizations and locations. My goal is for you to see that leaders can be catalytic, no matter where they are or what they lead. I draw inspiration from the stories and journeys of these leaders and I hear from many of you that you do too. Let's jump into today's interview. I am so excited today to have Andrea Johnson on the podcast. Andrea empowers others to take control of their lives and change their future. As an adoptive parent who grew up on the mission field of Seoul, south Korea, navigating mental and physical wellness, she learned that emotional resilience must be earned. Recovering her own voice became the key to the process that allows her clients to do the same. Andrea works with ambitious female leaders, founders, community leaders and public officials who feel stifled and have grown unsatisfied with their current level of impact. She facilitates improved communication and corporate culture in women-owned or operated teams. Her passion is equipping female leaders to define a new culture by trusting their own ability to think critically, create imaginatively and lead effectively. Andrea, I'm so excited you're here. Thanks for being on the show, andrea.

Speaker 3:

Johnson. Thank you, I'm excited to be here. I tell you what when you read it, it sounds amazing.

Speaker 2:

Andrea Johnson. Oh, my Andrea Johnson, I'm like that's me, andrea Johnson, that's you, and that's where I want to start. I want to talk about you. I would love to hear some of your story. I mean, I hit some of the hot points there, but how did you get started and develop as a leader?

Speaker 3:

Andrea Johnson, you know I was one of those strong kids that if you're of a certain age it was like the dobson strong-willed child. You know my poor mom was the one who had to chase me around and while my dad was in seminary and you know that kind of thing. But I had lots of. I was headstrong, I had lots of ability to think well and move, and I figured things out right. I mean, I was just that kid, but it just wasn't, you know, from the South and from the evangelical culture, and that's not kind of embraced all the time, and growing up on the mission field. The beauty of growing up on the mission field, though, was it gave me this ability to see a real ecumenical culture, to see in the missionary community, but also to be involved cross-culturally, to understand things from a completely different perspective, and going to school at an international school with kids from 65 different countries helped me completely. I didn't have a worldview that was just in the United States. I had a I have literally had a global worldview, and coming back to the States, trying to fit in with that, was difficult. You know, I learned in. We were on for low in sixth grade, and I learned real quick that I needed to stop talking about Korea, because as I walked up to a group of girls in a very small Southeast Texas town, I heard well, here comes Miss Korea this and Miss Korea that. Oh my Right, and we learn that stuff real early, don't we? We learn to if we want to be accepted, we learn to fit in, and so my leadership journey was a whole lot of fitting in, fitting in, fitting in, and then every once in a while, I'd pop out and say but, but, but, wait a minute, you know. And then I'd pop back down and fit in, because we all have that desire to belong, and I personally that is one of my top three core values is belonging. And so I dove even deeper into figuring out how to belong in the culture that I had been raised in and that I chose to be in. And eventually I hit a spot where it's like this just, there's too much incongruence here. I just can't do this, and I'd love to blame it on my job, where, you know, I didn't have enough money or I was given a promotion without a raise, or you know. I'd love to blame it on those kinds of things. But the reality is, william, we all know that we hit a place in life where we have to decide am I going to take all of those conditionings and teachings and assumptions and belief systems that I've been handed, or am I going to think critically for myself, examine what comes into my life and if you're a spiritual person, be able to say am I going to be able to trust what God has given me? To be able to understand things? You have to hit that point. And when I hit that point it was a scary journey, but it's been about 10 years where I just said I need to really look at this stuff and much of it I still retain, right. I mean, once we start looking unless it's a place where we really need to break out of we realize, oh, I can actually have my opinion, I can actually lead other people and I'm a talker. I mean, when we met before pre-interview we talked for like an hour. We were scheduled for 30 minutes. I relate to people well, I love relating to people and knowing that in my job I couldn't necessarily do that as well as I wanted to because I managed people right. So managing means keeping the status quo. I decided I'd rather teach people and coach people and encourage people to lead and to have a greater impact. So that was kind of how I branched out and started that big journey. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

You know, I love how you define management and keeping the status quo. You know, just hearing that it does not excite one atom of my being and I can tell the same is for you right, and I think every leader listening would resonate with that as well. Sure, and I was like oh, I mean, do we have to manage as part of how we lead? We have to do some management things? Sure, sure, but leadership is so much greater and so much better.

Speaker 3:

It is yes, and when I would have people come into my office and that's, you know, as a relator, that's just they do, yeah yeah, exactly. And I worked in university academic medicine for 23 years, so I would have everybody, from a first of the wrong secretary or administrative assistant all the way up to the chair of the department or the head of research administration literally landing in my office because I created an environment that was safe and an environment that was peaceful and I was a good relator and they would come and sit and talk to me and I learned so many things about people and I learned that there are people who are fine with number one being an employee. There are people who are fine with being told what to do. They need that definition, they need that box and their life is outside of that and I realized, okay, those are not my people, that's okay. And then there are people who are constantly struggling, you know, constantly quit this job. Today I'm like you just took that job. I mean, former employees would come back because they walked through. You know I had worked with them while they were working with me and I'd help train them and lead them and they would come back and say, okay, so I really hate this job. I'm like, because you're not and this is where I started like diving deep into why you're not honoring who. You are right, you're taking a job for the money, or you're taking a job because somebody sold you on something, or you're taking a job because you're still trying to like. I did fit into that mold of what you think people want and you know, my heart can only break so many times for people and I've cried with people. I've literally had young researchers who were brand new faculty say, when I finally left the University of Virginia, this, especially this one young guy come in, brilliant, I mean one of those rock star people that already had, you know, millions of dollars in grant funding. And he said what am I going to do when you're gone? I'm like what do you mean? You're on the fast track, dude. And he said no, no, but you give me such good advice. I'm like I'm just a phone call away. I mean it doesn't mean you need to be able to find those people that you can talk to. And I wanted to be that person and I wanted to be that person for people who really wanted to grow, because those were the highlights. But just as many people came into my office to complain because, we're in a big system and I can't fix the system. I'm like well, I know that, yeah, you just have to know. I mean, there's a certain amount that you have to accept. So when I talk about managing, there are things that we have to manage as leaders, but the definition of the term really is making sure that things don't go off the rails. That's what managing is right. And so if you're willing to go in and do change management, that's very different and then you can make a real difference. But if you're not willing to do change management, then literally you need to work within the systems that are there. If they fit you, awesome, you've found a great place for you. If they don't, let's talk.

Speaker 2:

Love that you talk a lot about intentional optimism. You know when you talk previously. This fascinates me and I'd love for you to share more about that. I don't know that I have heard anybody put those two words together before.

Speaker 3:

It's my own creation. I make words up. I love it, I do. You know, I don't take the escalator down, I take the down-a-later, so it just, it makes life a lot more fun.

Speaker 1:

That's so great.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

And you know there are certain words that we have to use that don't make any sense. You know feet. It's feats, you know so. But I do things like that and part of that is to just keep myself amused, because I think when we laugh and we're happy, we tend to do things with more fervor, and life is not worth living if you can't laugh. So when it comes to being an intentional optimist, this goes back to the story of my mother, who was my mom, was a pastor's wife and a missionary wife and turns out an amazing project manager and was head of all of the volunteers for the Red Cross for Asia and the Pacific and couldn't get paid for that because of the fact that she was a missionary and nobody else could get paid. So she couldn't. She could have gotten colonels paid, right, she was that high. But my mother was this amazing, strong woman who was smart but a little bit like me. She was called Motor Mouth and but she was raised. You know she was born in like 44. So she was raised in that environment of women are seen and not heard, and but she worked to put my dad through seminary. She went to 14 different schools before she graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland, through the military base. She, you know, she was smart, but she just couldn't catch a break half the time and she chose to work within the system that she was in, which was this like Southern kind of evangelical culture, and part of that was because she felt called by God to be there right. So there's a certain amount of that that I don't want to disparage at all. But when they came off the mission field, she went to work, for when they came, my dad came back to work for the home office and she went to work for a local country club as, like, a marketing director and then ended up at the home office working as an administrative assistant, and she retired as an administrative assistant and she could have run circles around all of the men who were higher up than her and she was diagnosed. All of this she did diagnosed with lupus and then breast cancer, and we lost her in February of 2017 to breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer, and that was the year I turned 50. And it was, or I had just turned 50 in 2016, excuse me, and so I was just a brand new 50, she was in hospice and then we lost her in February and something just clicked and I said I just I'm not doing this anymore. Why do I believe and why do I believe it? And I was I'm a little bit of believe it or not a private person when it. I know that sounds crazy, but I'm a little bit of a private person when it comes to truly sharing who I am and I don't I don't even know that private's the right word. I think a lot of it was afraid to share who I really am and so I didn't want to speak at her memorial service or anything. But when it came down to it, I did, and I, when I speak, I can speak pretty powerfully. And one of the things I realized was because when I, when a conviction hits right, it's I'm gonna. I'm gonna share it, and I'm known for having not done that with a lot of forethought before in my life. But I realized that one of the things I loved about her was that, no matter what she was dealing with, even when she was in the smaller position and kept getting passed over for promotions and, you know, when I knew she could do all this other stuff she had this personality that always saw the joy in things and she could express joy. And she could express it was effervescent like a bottle of champagne. You would pop the cork and she would just the bubbles would just come out and you know, part of that was her personality, part of it was she had learned to do that because she decided, you know, she knew for 15 years I'm basically gonna die of this disease and I'm gonna live. She had grand babies, she had, you know, daughters and she had a husband and she's like I'm not, I'm not quitting. So what I saw was a really strong woman, learn how to be joyous in really hard situations. And I didn't quite know how to do that because my, I don't know if you do the any are you familiar with?

Speaker 2:

the any. Yeah, oh yeah. Well, here's a good one. I'm a solid five, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Oh, that actually makes sense.

Speaker 2:

You ready for this one?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I am okay, I am a self-preservation counterphobic. Six wing seven, I think Interesting, yeah so.

Speaker 1:

Interesting.

Speaker 3:

Sixes are the most difficult to pin down. Yeah, we are on a spectrum of phobic to counterphobic we. And then of course there's the three types. There's the self-preservation or the social, or the one-to-one, and so what all that means is that I'm a very strong wing seven. So that's why I'm like, if it's not fun, you know yeah. Um, but what that means is I'm always looking to make sure that my environment is peaceful and happy and I'm all about kind of making sure the systems work. I do kind of get a little bit caught in how things could go wrong, but mostly I'm just looking for preventing them from going wrong. Right, it's like, so I can look down the road and say how can I make this work? You know so, but because of that, I do have this bent towards anxiety, and I always have, and I have a history of bulimia and depression and you know. So all of that is very real in my life and I believe understanding myself has helped me get to a place where, oh, I could actually do something different. This is my bent, but I could actually live in a way that brings me joy and come to find out when a six is in a really healthy place. They kind of lean towards the nine, which is a very calm place to be. My husband's a nine. It's a little bit. It's a little bit frustrating sometimes, but when I looked at my mom, I think my mom was a very strong three, quite honestly, the entertainer. She's like what's a fun and she's very much a performer. She was either a three or a seven. But all that to say, I wanted to use the word sanguine. I said she's a very sanguine woman, which is a very old fashioned word. You know we use the disc, I know you're a disc consultant, and the sanguine is the influencer. The sanguine is that side of the personality. And what I really wanted was I wanted to say I'm going to intentionally and I kept using that word I'm going to intentionally pursue optimism as a lifestyle. I want to pursue joy, I want to pursue those things, and I knew I was sort of doing that, but now I want to make it a purposeful thing. So I started writing down and you'll like this as a five oh, the pages and pages and pages and pages of all the words and all the things that I thought I believed and I have. I have it. You know, it's just like I'm never throwing that stuff away because it's so valuable. And then I kind of put them into categories and realized I had six major categories and I wasn't quite sure what I was going to call this, but these were kind of my principles. And so what I came up with was the first was optimistic, because that's very clear. I want to be optimistic, which includes hope and confidence, and prepared and positive Present. If you're not present then you can't, you know. And that being present includes having what I call a grown-up sense of wonder, not a childlike. I understand how things work and they still work, then that's better wonder than not understanding how they work. Then so, optimistic, wonder, energetic, which is producing joy and producing energy and excitement, courageous, which is perfect for a six. We have to dive into that all the time and say, whatever happens, I'm in, and so that's a constant reminding. Like you read in my bio, we learned that resilience is earned. Resilience doesn't happen when you can't just decide to be resilient. Some people are naturally so. Most of us have to fall down and get back up in order to develop that resilience. So courageous, includes resilience being undaunted, like I can look ahead and see that that is Mount Everest, but you know what? I'm climbing it anyway. Just I'm not gonna be, I'm not gonna let obstacles stop me, and as an entrepreneur, you have to do that. So the fifth one is wise and just wanting to and honoring the wisdom that comes with having been around the sun a few times and just realizing that I have a lot of life to offer people and that my brain really is quite amazing and I believe that I have been given a lot of wisdom. It's not something that I ever wanted to shout, because we're not supposed to do that, we're supposed to be humble, you know, but when I share with someone who's going through something, who's going through something I've been through this I would like to let me give you this piece of advice. You know, or would you like my advice? Every once in a while it comes unsolicited and I'll just say here's my unsolicited advice to you. But wisdom includes also respect, understanding how to respect ourselves and other people, and being willing to see the world for more than just what I can see perspective. And then the last one is the last, what I call them tenants, is intentional, which so the optimistic and the intentional book ended. And intentional means having a plan, working your plan, preparing what are the things that I could do? You know, seneca said that luck is when opportunity meets preparation, and so that's what intentional is. And when I'm walking somewhere, like when I was working, I would wear heels, of course, and when I'm walking somewhere, I had two or three people say I always know when it's you coming down the hall, it's like you're very intentional in the way you walk, you're purposeful. I'm like, well, I'm going somewhere, I'm not wandering, right. Yes, so those are very physical examples, but when it came down to it, I thought that intentional optimism was a plan. I thought it was like this is how we live. But as I've grown through learning and trying to apply them and I work with a group of ladies on a monthly basis in a small group program and we walk through all six of them twice a year and part of that is goal setting and reflection as I've done that, I've realized they're not a plan. Intentional optimism is a lifestyle to live out the things that are deeper your convictions, what I call your core values and your beliefs and those kinds of things. Now I present it a little differently. It's a lifestyle. I'm flabbergasted when some of my clients will take just the one page intentional optimism and look at the tenants. One girl said I put it in my notebook and I went to a meeting and I came back because I was very frustrated about this thing and I'm like I'm going to be courageous, I am not going to okay what it became now and the way I presented it is. It's a lifestyle of living out how I want to live. I look back and say, oh, this was my remedy for being a six. We teach what we learn and what we know. That's intentional optimism. It's not really a nutshell. I don't do anything really. In a nutshell, that's awesome.

Speaker 2:

I think that was fantastic. I love the purposefulness of it. I love the intentionality of it. You have defined where you want to be, who you want to be.

Speaker 3:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

You're like okay, this is where I'm at, this is where I want to be, this is who I want to be. Now I just have to build a bridge from here to there, right, once you've defined the two points, right. I think so many people don't define the two points. They don't come to sort of where they are-ish. Maybe sort of but their self-awareness is fuzzy. When you say where do you want to go, they can give you a couple of things, maybe, but it's not clearly defined. I love that you have so clearly defined that. I think that is so helpful. I know our listeners are going to really appreciate that. I think you would challenge them to define this for themselves.

Speaker 3:

Oh, absolutely. If intentional optimism is a lifestyle that you think will work for you, you can just download the thing. And download the one page or get them. It's free, but I'm happy to share that with everybody. But it's not. If you're not somebody who needs that, then take the time to look and do the reflection in the mirror and it's like the evaluated experience is the best. So take that time. I would definitely say, challenge yourself to look at what you need, what's your recipe, because so many clients say, well, I want to be better at blah, blah, blah. Yeah, ok, go do so.

Speaker 1:

Our time here is done.

Speaker 3:

Did you pay me? What's your plan. You know, it's like I'm glad you paid me up front because this was real simple, you know and I don't really get that snarky, I mean, unless I just really feel like there's a client that can do that but most of the time like, well, let's back it up and let's define that. And that's why I work with women on a monthly basis on goals. You know, we don't want to define ourselves with goals and break ourselves down to where we're constantly missing them and and setting ourselves up for failure. So sometimes we set intentions for the month. But you're right, having it, even if it's just a midpoint of where you want to be, makes the difference, because then you know it's. It's Remember Joe versus volcano, yeah, yeah, ok. At the end of the movie, when he's out on this in the walking down this dirt road and he gets this crossroads, like, oh, where do I go? Or when you're watching, like my son is almost 15, so we're watching Fast and Furious movies, oh, they'll go off road, right, they'll go off road, and when you're off road you don't have a map right and so you're just on an adventure. Well, what if you go off a cliff? But when you have a map or when you have a plan, then you know where you're going, and so all of those things are very helpful.

Speaker 2:

You and I grew up in evangelical church culture Right, and we spent a great deal of time there and in so often in that world and this this may be, you know, a bit shocking for people who are not in that world, but in that world so often, like you alluded to earlier, women are not valued in leadership roles. In fact, in some places, they are barred from those roles. You believe that women are uniquely qualified to be leaders, and this is something that you and I have spent some time talking about, because we agree on this topic that God has given gifts of leadership to both men and women to lead in all kinds of contexts, so many different places, so many different ways. And when we devalue that, we are devaluing not just the gift that God's given, but we're devaluing the person that he created in his image. You talk about why women are uniquely qualified to be leaders. I would love for you to unpack that just a little bit Well, if you want to go all the way back to Genesis, all the way back.

Speaker 3:

Eve's an example of stepping out in leadership. Unfortunately it wasn't the greatest example, but she did. And if you want to look at evangelical culture and interpretation of certain things, women were created to complete the whole Right and therefore you can't have one without the other. And if you can't have one without the other, then one is not the leader over the other. And, sorry, I just gave myself cold chills. These are truths, william, that I shared. I've been working through the last three to five years. These are truths that are very well ingrained in me. I call them your ABCs, your assumptions, your beliefs and your conditioning, and breaking out of those are some of the hardest work that you will ever do, and if you are not willing to challenge them, you will not ever grow as a leader. So, whatever it is that you have in your ABCs, that is what you need to challenge. For me, the very first place was to challenge some of my assumptions and beliefs and very highly conditioned understanding of women's roles in different places. I think women, for me, I think women are so uniquely qualified because we are created with a little bit of a different mindset than men, and there's a reason for that, especially in the evangelical culture. We talk about how we're both equal in God's sight, but we're created differently and a lot of times people want to say that's different roles, and I'm like, well, maybe it's different ways of fulfilling the role. Women are, by nature, usually more nurturing. Women are by nature believe it or not, more logical, and this is documented. I had two fascinating conversations with financial planners and one was like a divorce attorney that worked with women in financial matters. So for three years I did a podcast where I interviewed other women leaders and it just it taught me so much. But one of the things I learned was that women make better financial investors for the simple fact that they for two things number one, they invest in things that they understand and use, and, number two, they're not usually motivated by competition. They don't need to beat the other person. I almost said they don't need to beat the other guy, right, yeah, right, and they don't. So women tend to be really savvy investors. They invest in things that are really solid. Women were the first to invest in Amazon. I mean they understood what it meant to get toilet paper delivered to their door. So learning these things about women kind of changed the way I saw women as leaders, and women tend to be fabulous communicators because we tend to be very good relators. These are all still, and there are plenty of people who would break this down and say those are stereotypes. There is a certain amount of it that is, but there's always a reason for a stereotype. I mean, some of it is nefarious, some of it is not, but there's usually a reason for a stereotype. And I think that, especially coming out of the pandemic, with so many things getting challenged in politics and the way we do business and working from home, I loved some of the silly videos about how women were able to handle all the Zoom meetings and things when men couldn't. And the baby coming in and fry the chicken and clean the toilet and all of that while they're like in a suit on an executive call. Women can do that kind of thing generally because we've been trained to do it and there are ways in which we have been raised, in the Western culture especially, that are advantageous to us stepping into leadership roles, except for the mindset that we've been told that we can't. So we're uniquely designed and uniquely equipped to do it. Well, not equipped. We're uniquely designed and efficient in certain ways, but in other ways we still have so much to overcome in the areas of mindset and equipping, because women still get paid 70 cents on the dollar. Women still won't apply for a job unless they think they're 100% qualified, whereas a man 60% qualified. And that's all conditioning in that ABC quotient. That's all conditioning. And one of the things that I learned about myself is that I'm not that woman. I don't apply for jobs. I'm 100% qualified for those sound boring. So I learned that I could apply for a job and if they asked me if I was, are you familiar with these data or programs? Right, and it's like, yes, I am familiar, google, what does that say? Let me tell you. I interviewed, maybe from the time I was 21 till I was. I guess the last real interview I had was 45 or 6, right, because I switched departments at UVA, I probably only had 10 or 12 job interviews, because when I get in the room I can get the job. So it's rare for me to not get a job, and one that I applied for at UVA. I went from research administration back into the School of Medicine and I applied for the job and I got a great interview and I sat down with people that and I was like this is really good. I thought it went really well. Come to find out it was one of those situations where they already had somebody identified and they needed to prove that they could interview at least one more person. Well, in the room was the Comptroller, the head of one of the divisions for the Department of Medicine and the head of the Department of Otolaryngology, and I left that meeting thinking, oh, this was a great interview, and then I hear back a week later. So we already had this person identified and we're giving her the job because she's coming up the right minute to make sense, right, and even so, even if it was a man, but you impressed us so much that we want to develop a job for you. That's awesome, yeah. So these are things I stumbled into and the more I reflect and I look back, I'm like these are things that all women could have. Yes, and these are things that all women could develop, these. And it wasn't that I had that much self confidence, I was just a great performer. I could just walk in. And what would you do in this situation? And it's like, oh, let me turn on my high school acting, let me think how would I act that out? And I just would. So what I would I love to do is work with people, and especially women, and especially women who are newer in some of their their supervisory or leadership roles, or who really want to elevate up and be able to say oh, actually, even the ones who have gotten the promotions, but don't they've done this than the technical work, but they don't have the leadership skills that they need to be there, yes, and so those are the ones. I'm like oh, you have all the technical stuff, we don't have to work on any of that, let's work on you, because somebody saw something in you. So that's, that's kind of how I want to do that with people and work with people, and I think it's just really important to recognize that women have these skills that we don't realize we have. Those are not skills that are. I mean, I listened to another podcast recently because I'm going to do an interview and it's like this career series and it's like you have talked about all the little things to do with your resume and all the things to do with your network, but let's talk about you Right. Let's talk about who you are and that you don't have to wait until you're 100% qualified. So those are the things I like to focus on.

Speaker 2:

That's so good, you know, between the two of us, we are going to get this message out. I hope, so we're going to.

Speaker 3:

I hope so At least in.

Speaker 2:

Virginia? Absolutely, we can cover at least the state of Virginia, no doubt about it. You mentioned the disc earlier, and you too, you're a certified disc consultant and trainer. Why do you think the disc is such a great tool? Why do you think this is something that is helpful, no matter where you are or what you're?

Speaker 3:

leading For me to be able to take a little cheat sheet into a retail establishment that I've been going to for a year, where they've been fighting with management, and to put it up on the wall and then come back the next time. Literally, they met me at the door and said, oh my gosh, within 15 minutes we'd all figured out how we were communicating and it made all the difference in the world. And it was a piece of paper. So I think it speaks for itself sometimes, except you know. But a better explanation would be when I understand the language that you speak, or when I can recognize the language you speak. Then I can meet you where you are. I grew up in Seoul, south Korea. They love to speak English over there. They did in the 70s and 80s dating myself, and they do now. My family just went back this last summer and they all love to speak English. They take English in school the way we take Spanish right. It's just they do that. And yet, at the same time, I wanted to learn Korean, so I learned how to speak some Korean to them, and I can. I still watch K-dramas to this day, and now I have to have the subtitles on, but it just is fascinating to me to listen to the language. But I took Spanish in high school because for some reason, as a high school, I didn't understand the beauty of what I could have had if I had been immersed in the culture and taken Korean while I was there. But because of that, I understand a lot of words in Spanish and because of that I understand a lot of words in French and because of that, because of Korean, I understand what other people are trying to say when they're from another Asian country trying to speak English because of the speech patterns. When I go to another country, if I want to know where the bathroom is and they look at me like and I say where's the bathroom, and they look at me with this question on their face like I don't know what you're talking about. If I say where is the bathroom, it won't make it any better. And you know this, william, we do this to each other.

Speaker 1:

So, imagine.

Speaker 3:

But if I say don't do this right, or where's the bathroom, then I'm speaking Spanish or I'm speaking Korean and they go oh, it's right over here. And I think it's really important to realize that we all have a type of language that we speak in our communication style. And when we talked earlier about Enneagram, I'm like a geek for all this stuff. I knew my Myers-Briggs, my Enneagram, my disk, all of it. But when we understand someone else's language and we're trying to bridge that gap, like we talked about, it makes all the difference in the world. And for me to be able to guide other teams through, if you just talk, I'm meeting next week with a group and they already know that they've got one person. That's just a really high D. And how do I talk to this person? Get you know? Oh well, do it in bullet points, right?

Speaker 1:

And they're like oh okay.

Speaker 3:

And even with my boss when I was at the University of Virginia. You know, six foot three, blond hair, blue-eyed male MBA right, that's the leader right In the university setting. I learned he was a D and so I would send him an email after I'd done all this work. Here's the bullet points. If you want the explanation, it's below. It makes all the difference in the world when you speak someone else's language. They are so grateful. When I meet a Korean on the street or in a I'm sure you have plenty of these where you are a dry cleaning right or a restaurant when I say something in Korean, they're like oh, you spoke my language. It makes them feel seen, right. So when you understand your disc and how to recognize other people's disc they and they're tight then they, you can help them feel seen. You can communicate better. I think that's why it's so important. So I layer the work that I do with my core values wanting to know who I am, and then how I communicate with my disc and then how I live it out with intentional optimism. So that's how I work with all of those.

Speaker 2:

What a great way to put those pieces together, to be so purposeful, so intentional. Let me ask you how do you stay on top of your game? How do you continue to grow and develop the leadership skills that you are going to need a year from now, or five years from now, to become that version of you?

Speaker 3:

I read, but I also I hire a coach. I actually right now I have two coaches that I pay one for like they do, yeah, okay. So one is specifically a speaking coach, and that's one of the reasons why I record myself when I'm actually doing these podcasts, and she's helped me learn how to express my message better. So that's my goal this year is to become more of a speaker, and I have several things on the books. But the other coach is very much in the area of self-personal growth and development and developing my offers. So I work with her on very different things and I look inside a lot and I look for all the areas that need to be challenged. So that's one way that I grow. The other is I just I have this insatiable curiosity, and if there was one thing that I could say to people, you need to develop its curiosity, because I really wanted to come up with this test that I could give to people and I was going to call it the curiosity quotient and this was going to be my big breakout thing. And then I looked it up online and somebody already did it. So here's the deal there is no cure for curiosity, and curiosity may have killed the cat, but the cat has nine lives, and when you're curious about a subject, you're going to be interested in it. When you're curious about yourself, you're going to learn about yourself. When you're curious about others, you will learn about others. And as long as I think you can maintain that curiosity, that's what keeps me moving. Why?

Speaker 1:

does that happen that way?

Speaker 3:

Why? That's my question. Always ask why.

Speaker 2:

Yes, you know a lot of people might be listening to this or watching you on the YouTube channel and thinking, wow, she's just got it all together. Like her career as an entrepreneur must have been just straight up into the right.

Speaker 3:

Oh sure.

Speaker 2:

Right. No struggles, no challenges, absolutely yeah. Right, that's how it works for everybody, not? What are some of the things that you have had to wrestle through in your entrepreneurial journey?

Speaker 3:

The biggest one is being true to my own personal message and my own personal who I am as a person, and that's part of if you're going to be a thought leader, if you're going to be a keynote speaker, if you're going to be a coach, quite frankly, you can be a really good coach and sit and ask people questions and never divulge your own stuff ever. That's completely possible. But if you want to lead people and you want to be genuine and you want to be authentic, you have to know yourself. Otherwise, you'll have a hard time setting boundaries. You'll have a hard time figuring out how to relate to people, because you're always trying to. You know what are the rules in this particular relationship, right? So the hardest thing for me is breaking out of that shell, of all those ABCs, those assumptions, beliefs and conditioning of this is what I'm supposed to look like, and even just making sure that makeup is done and I'm wearing a good color for a video and we all have those things that we want to be professional, william, we want to be a good leader, but being willing to say I don't have it all together, being willing to say I don't have the answers, I will go look for them. I will help you look for them. That's what we have to do as parents, that's what we have to do as leaders, that's what we have to do as coaches, and I would say that is the biggest hurdle for me. That and, honestly, money, yeah, I mean I come from literally a deacon in not the too far past said, quoted the old adage of Lord you keep him humble, we'll keep him poor about his pastor. And you know, as people in ministry I mean we joke about being raised in evangelical culture. I like to say I have it in my DNA because I genetically predispose. My grandfather was a deacon, my father was a pastor and then a missionary and then worked at a mission sending agency. I met my husband at seminary. My husband is a pastor and I teach Bible study and it's just very easy to get caught in this idea that we're not supposed to be paid well, that we're not supposed to ask for money for our services. I'm still surprised when I get an email that says because I'll tell people here's my fee schedule, tell me what your budget is, will that work for you? And I got an email this morning that said we met about our budget. We can only pay you this much for a keynote. Is that okay? I looked at my husband and said and you know, it's just. These are things that every entrepreneur has to get over. Every entrepreneur deals with the whole imposter thing or this lack of confidence or understanding that what we have to offer is real, and almost every entrepreneur has to deal with some kind of money mindset and if you don't, it's not going to go well for you and it just it takes a little time. So, but every single piece this is the resilience piece. Again, every single time we do it, we build more courage. Every time single time we do it, we build more confidence. And then that's where resilience comes up in. Resilience is the definition of that is how fast you can bounce up from falling down. So being able to develop that kind of resilience and I know that a lot of your listeners and your clients are marketing people. They know all about what it's like to put stuff out there that doesn't work.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, absolutely.

Speaker 3:

You've got to be willing to take a risk, and if they're agency owners, they've got to be willing to learn what it means to have a good money mindset and how to make a good profit and how to take care of their people if they have employees, and these are all things that every entrepreneur has to work through. So I'm not exempt. I'm just really good at, like I said, turn it. I can put on a good show, but my goal too is to present that not toxic, optimistic side not, oh, if everything's going to be fine, but the realistic, intentional. If you do these things and if you're willing to confront these things in the mirror, and if you need somebody to stand there, I'll stand there with you, yeah, but if you're willing to confront those things in order to grow, you too can do all of this.

Speaker 2:

You're a continual learner and I know that that part of that involves the books that you read. You've mentioned several times that you're a reader. Is there a book that has played a really significant part of your journey that you would recommend to every leader listening? You got to put this on your to read list if you've never read it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, if you've not read it on a cabbage. If you've not read it on a cabbage, you might be under a rock, but yeah but a fantastic read. There are others that have influenced my journey in different ways. But if every not every leader needs those, but every leader, I think, needs to understand the science behind habits. And if you don't want to go down to that kind of science, there are a couple of other habit books out there. But we need to understand that automation in any form frees us up to do other things. So if it's automating your email sequences that go out for marketing, that frees you up to do other things, if it's automating how you get your coffee in and your study in in the morning or your quiet time or your meditation or whatever it is, if you're automating those because you have a habit that frees your brain up to do other things. All of it is based on a habit and the greatest inventors talk about not making things as they talk about making these a system. When you look at all of the biggest changes in the way we've done business and manufacturing, it's all based on systematizing things and making little habit changes, and I love the way Clear puts it it's like just an atomic move, little bitty. I've used the concept of habit stacking with my son, you know, when he was little like every night we do these things. Here's the list. And first we do. First we get him in the routine of taking a bath every night, and then we get him in the routine of bath and the brush of teeth, and then we get him in all of those things I've taught to my group. I don't have like authority to teach it, but we've walked through it four times atomic habits and it's. I learned something every single time.

Speaker 2:

That's so good. I love that book too, yeah, so so fantastic. Typically, people walk away from an episode like this with one big idea. If you could define what that one thing is that you want people to walk away with, what would you say?

Speaker 3:

If you want to have impact, you have got to have a clear understanding of who you are, how you uniquely communicate and the source of your unique authority. Because if you don't, you will always be under somebody else's standard, somebody else's vision, somebody else's idea of what you're supposed to be. That is my challenge, and for me that means understanding core values and then, of course, building upon that, but that is the main thing. If you want to have any, if you're not interested in impact, no big deal. If you want to have and if you're not making the impact you want, I challenge you. Look, do you really know yourself, do you understand how you communicate and where your unique authority comes from? Because our unique authority comes from who we are. It doesn't come from anything that anybody's ever given us. When I can sit here shoulders back and say those things to you is because I believe them and because I know them in my core.

Speaker 2:

Yes, andrew, this has been so helpful today. I know a lot of people are going to want to stay connected with you and continue to learn from you. What's the best way for them to do that?

Speaker 3:

Well, I am the intentional optimist, so you can find me pretty much anywhere at the intentional optimist. My website has my podcast is on there and that is called Stand Tall and Own it, and so there is plenty of places to find me. But pretty much anywhere with the intentional optimist. As long as you put the the in front of it is going to get you there.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for being so generous today, andrew. This has been so helpful, so kind and so insightful, and I know so many people have benefited, so thank you.

Speaker 3:

Good, thank you, it is my pleasure.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for joining me for this episode today. As we wrap up, I'd love for you to do two things. First, subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss an episode, and if you find value here, I'd love it if you would rate it and review it. That really does make a difference in helping other people to discover this podcast. Second, if you don't have a copy of my newest book, catalytic Leadership, I'd love to put a copy in your hands. If you go to catalyticleadershipbookcom, you can get a copy for free. Just pay the shipping so I can get it to you and we'll get one right out. My goal is to put this into the hands of as many leaders as possible. This book captures principles that I've learned in 20 plus years of coaching leaders in the entrepreneurial space, in business, government, nonprofits, education and the local church. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn to keep up with what I'm currently learning and thinking about. If you're ready to take a next step with a coach to help you intentionally grow and thrive as a leader, I'd be honored to help you. Just go to catalyticleadershipnet to book a call with me. Stay tuned for our next episode next week. Until then, as always, leaders choose to be catalytic.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for listening to Catalytic Leadership with Dr William Attaway. Be sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so you don't miss the next episode. Want more? Go to catalyticleadershipnet.

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