Tesse Leads

Tesse Leads is a safe, sensitive and supportive place and space to share, hear and tell your stories and experiences.

You will hear from top experts and thought leaders strategies, tips and techniques they have found useful in navigating a diverse range of challenges, difficulties, dilemmas as well as how you can create and shape opportunities.

Carol Weisman

Carol Weisman shares her story of being a selfless caretaker of her husband, Frank who was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s disease. He also has spinal stenosis. She also talks about coping with Covid and gives tips for self-care while running a business and not losing your mind.

Mick Rogers

Mick Rogers or the self described “Accidental Doctor ” is on a mission to improve how we work together in the organizations we find ourselves in. He’s also a champion of empowerment and collaboration, and he has successfully initiated and led “OD” change programs that have ranged from involving a handful of people to many thousands of process users.

Marta Maretich

Marta Maretich was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.  She thought it was the best and coolest thing ever. With a different background from most families in Bakersfield, Marta says she always felt different but that was also because she felt that she and her family knew about a bigger world.  Whenever she spoke to people in Bakersfield, they were often met with incomprehension.  

Carole Levy

Carole Levy is an avid cartoonist with a unique combination of wit and depth. She loves analysing the tricks of the human ego on her popular blog. And she’s published a humorous illustrated book called “The Bumpy Road To Collaboration”  (paperbackKindle, iBook). Read more..

Sharon Newport

For Sharon Newport ” As an actor, I watched amazing people struggle with life.  I was interested in helping people see each other through the experience of each other and hope that they are going to now together do really important work in the world.  Sharon talks about DEI which stands for “Diversity Equity and Inclusion”.

Renee Reisch

Renee Reisch’s  personal story is about honesty and vulnerability. As Renee speaks we hear her thoughts about care, her thoughts about compassion, and her thoughts about kindness . She says something very poignant – ” I had to learn a new way to communicate from all the years of just speaking with my own voice but never speaking my true voice. And then losing it was the way to be able to find the true voice that was always within.”

Deborah Barker

Deborah Barker has lived in rural Sussex most of  her life. For over 40 years  Deborah has woven a path through all of her different roles, bringing together all the different strands of her life and loves together. Finally in the last five years, her different  worlds have   come together

Andrew Temte

Andrew Temte author of Balancing Act talks about why we all need second chances.

He believes that most of us are out of balance, and most of us need that kind of heavy introspection at times. He feels that we really need to look inside and ask ourselves questions about who we are, who we want to be, and the impact that we’re having on others. 


Professor Binna Kandola

Professor Binna Kandola says being a part of an inclusive environment is a process of learning, being self-reflective, getting feedback and actually trying to do better. He says that he had to educate himself when he was writing the book Racism at Work; the Danger of Indifference.   He admits that he is always learning because there are lots of other things that he does’t know about. 

Desiree Anderson

For Desiree Anderson, creating new relationships and developing connections with people has become part of her DNA and better still part of her superpower.  Over the years she has developed a strong set of habits that worked for her.   After many years of extreme hard work, Desiree realised that she did not focus on herself…  she was excellent at caring for other people, helping them shine, putting them first and herself last. That’s when she saw that she needed to create a change and start loving herself.

Max Ekesi

Max Ekesi connects multi-generationally across the generational gaps and fosters an understanding and a respect for older people. “I put myself in other people’s shoes” recounts Max.  Empathy is speaking to courage and boldness and forgiveness and the capacity to be agile and to diversify.  I learned to navigate those different cultures.”  

Max says he loves getting involved with people outside of his professional work and helping to solve problems and this may stem from him being brought up in a multi cultural home.

Tomide Awe

Tomide Awe is a management consulting and tech professional at Twitter specializing in strategy, process improvement and project/program management. She is also the founder of Olori an African Inspired Handbag company that inspires women .

Tomide believes “If you can change the life of one woman, a woman in Africa you’re having an impact on not just her, but her family generations that come after her.  Women need to  be equipped with the right resources to enable them occupy places of power. Every purchase that is made in my business, supports the education of girls in Africa. We partner with CAMFED, which is campaign for female education, to support the education of girls in Africa because I’m a direct recipient of that investment in a girl child.”

Robert McCrea

Robert McCrea’s personal journey screams “resilience through adversity.” Robert is a successful producer and actor. Rob’s father was a refugee from Burma at the end of the second world war . He managed to escape from the prison camp and his reference for fathering Rob was the Japanese prisoner of war camp with was filled with many horrifying experiences. This shaped his upbringing making him a resilient child who grew into a resilient young man. 


Nate Regier

Switched on with Compassion came to Dr Nate Regier during the pandemic. The work with clients became even more important at that time. A time when compassion needed to be reconciled with accountability.

As covid-19 evolves and seems to open a different chapter daily the need for balance has never been more important. Every day compassion mixed with accountability takes on a new meaning.

Kate Hammer

Invoking the call of Madonna  or Mother , our guest Kate Hammer  believes that Life can be Poetry in Motion

Seeing events unfolding , inspired Kate to write poetry or “poem” as she described it . Tesse’s response to one of those poems led Kate to dedicating a poem “Jigsaw “ to her.


Nancy White

 Nancy White tells us why  self love matters!  She says self love  empowers us and it also helps us  to love and empower other people.  She acknowledges that all people are unique and different so not loving ourselves means  we can not love others.

Nancy feels that self love affects us spiritually, emotionally and in our physical and financial arena . It’s  about setting goals as we go through healing processes and making these things a priority in this season in life. Self-love is the fuel that enriches our lives. Sometimes  poor self image gets in the way.  Thats why it  is so important for us to have people around us  that we know, like and trust. 

Esua  Goldsmith

Award winning author, Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith (Esua) was the first and only woman of colour elected as President of Leicester  University Students Union in the 1970s. She talks  about her first book called “The Space Between Black and White”, which was published by Jacaranda#2020.

Esua grew up in a working class neighborhood in the 1950s in south London. She was the mixed race daughter of a white single mom and a Ghanaian father who she never knew as a child. Often being “an only one”,  Esua describes the feeling of being “an alien dropped  from outer space”.  This pervasive emotion ran like a thread  throughout her life.  She did not see herself, in  books she read , or on the television,   or  in stories told  or anywhere else.  Literally she had to build her  identity from the ground up. It was a real kind of challenge. She hopes her book will resonate with anyone who feels they don’t quite fit. 


00:00:00 Paula: Welcome to “TesseLeads” with your host Tesse Akpeki and moi your cohost Paula Okonneh. “TesseLeads” is a safe, sensitive, and supportive place and space for people to share hear and tell stories and experiences. You will hear from top experts and thought leaders, strategies, tips, techniques, that have been found useful while navigating a diverse range of challenges, difficulties, dilemmas. And you can also use this opportunity to create and shape opportunities. So our guest today is Esuansuwa Jane Goldsmith, and she grew up in a working class neighborhood in the 1950s in south London. She was the mixed race daughter of a white single mom and a Ghanaian father who she never knew as a child. Esuansuwa who is also called Esua is a highly celebrated feminist and political activist. She has dedicated her life to fighting for social justice and towards gender and racial equality. She was the first woman, and I may stress the only woman of color elected as president of Lester university students union in the 1970s. She was also the first black woman chair for the faucet society chair and co-founder of the gender and development network. Vice chair of action aid UK, and many more. Her roles have included being the trustee of the equality and diversity forum, as well as the ambassador for the women’s resource center. Wow. I could go on and on and on. But I want you to know that she was appointed the queen mother of development in her home village in Ghana in 2015. And she was also awarded an honorary doctorate for her work in women’s rights. We are going to be talking today about her book called “The space between black and white”, which was published by Jacaranda#20 and 20. And that was her first book. And I’m sure the first of many more to come. Welcome to “TesseLeads” Esua. I mean, I could go on and on about you. We can have the whole podcast where we just read in your bio.

00:02:37 Esua: Honestly.

00:02:43 Paula: This was good. I enjoyed that

00:02:46 Tesse: Esua thank you so much, Paula and I are so glad to welcome you to “TesseLeads”. And personally, I feel privileged to have you as a guest. I love you as a friend and you’ve been a coach and a mentor to me through the years. And through my own walk in leadership and governance and personal life. I’ve seen you of a humble woman who walks your talk and you just change the world. Today it’s a pleasure to hear more about this wonderful memoir you’ve written, which is “the space between black and white”. And I’m really curious now. Tell us more about what your book is about? Why decided to write your story in this format? Cause I noticed that it’s in present tense, it includes stories and anecdotes and speeches and diary entries and dreams and visions. It has humor and it also has lightness. But for me, it’s so touching because it’s revealing very raw and personal moments of your life.

00:03:50 Esua: Well, I’m very thrilled first of all, to be with you both. And Tesse we are long, long time friends, so it’s a real pleasure to be talking to you on your show. It’s an honor, and also to meet Paula as well, and to be working with the two of you. And Yeah, you’re right I was a late starter. My first book published when I was 67, so absolutely crazy in some ways. And it’s been a long time coming for sure. I had the idea to write it a long, long time ago. But I think the thing with the memoir is that it’s actually about real people that you know, and to tell your truth to people who have lived with you all your life and very important and intimate members of your family but who have no idea what you’ve gone through. Because I was born as Paula says, as a mixed race kid, the only brown kid on the block in the 1950s, when there were very few black people around in the UK. And we were in very small communities in working class communities. So like the Windrush generation had been put in roots down about six years before I was born in Brixton, which isn’t far. But I very rarely saw any black people, because I lived in that estate and I went to school on this working class estate, and I just didn’t see anybody else apart from my family and neighbors and family friends. So I really felt what I describe as being an only one. And I wanted to describe this experience of being like an alien drop from outer space, if you see what I mean. But throughout my life and what that felt like when you don’t see yourself anywhere in the world. In books that you read in anyone around you on the television, in stories or anything, there is no representation of you. So literally you have to build your identity from the ground up. So that was a real kind of challenge. And I was thinking, how do you actually tell this story? Because sometimes life is a bit mundane, but at the same time it’s punctuated by moments of kind of real drama. And the only way I could really bring people with me was to tell the story in my own words from the point of view of the age I was at the time. The first few chapters are in my child voice, where I’m actually in the present tense describing to you what I’m seeing and hearing as a child. And then in my adolescent voice and the rage that you get, and you get everything out of proportion, you know. I wrote something like, oh, I went on a family picnic and there was all these beautiful flowers in the fields and my little brother and sister were rolling down the hill and my mum and dad were laying out the picnic and I was sitting in the car and I felt like death. You just think that is very teenage, isn’t it? You know, and you’re just. Cause I didn’t know who I was and I just didn’t feel part of this family, you know? And I think when you write that down, I think your family feel oh my God, we should have known about this. Or else they deny it and say, oh you didn’t feel like that, you’re making it all up you know? And you get gaslighted. So it was a way of saying, this is my truth, this is my story. And I know that people are going to tell me, I didn’t feel like that. But basically you have to still tell that story because there’s plenty of people that know exactly what you’re talking about and we don’t get heard. So I hope my book will resonate with anybody who feels in “the space between black and white”. Not necessarily racially, but in any way sort of even metaphorically. Where they don’t quite fit, they don’t know who they are. All of that. We all feel like that sometimes, but I think to feel like that the whole of your life, it’s a real kind of trauma and we need to see racism as trauma. And we need to isolation and exclusion as trauma. But at the same time, I didn’t want it to be too heavy. I didn’t want people to feel that it was a, what they call a misery moi, rather than memoir. I wanted it to be full of light and shade. Sometimes it was funny and sometimes it was tragic and sometimes I went through nervous breakdowns where I literally hit rock bottom and I couldn’t get out of bed. And I wanted to describe how that felt from the point of view of here I am sitting in bed and I can’t get out of bed. And I was helped because I had all these memoirs. I realized, even though it wasn’t published until the age I am now, I was always writing. So I had all that original testimony, plus I was a student activist and leader from a very young age, as Paula has said, by the age of 22. I was actually addressing audiences of a thousand students sometimes. And so I had all these speeches and they’re all in the records of the student’s union at my university. So I went there and lots of back,you can see my 19 year old self, my 20 year old self writing articles, giving speeches, which were printed in the local paper and in the student union paper. Talking about anti-racism, anti-apartheid, feminism, anti sexism, all the things I talk about now. And I just thought this is recognizably me, it is me, definitely. I mean, I’ve expanded my views but I had them you know, age 15, 16 I definitely knew who I was in terms of my radical politics and my feminism.

00:09:55 Paula: Wow. I sit here and listen to you and I say, wow. I need to stop saying wow, well that’s the only word I can think of right now.

00:10:03 Tesse: Wow I’m joining you. Wow. So double wow. Double wow, triple wow.

00:10:09 Esua: Wow.

00:10:12 Paula: Two things. Well, I am going to ask you therefore because you said you’ve gone back and you’ve seen all the speeches that you wrote way back then. And now you read it you’re like, this is me. Can you read an excerpt from your book that picks up some of these speeches that you wrote way back then but arerelevant now?

00:10:32 Esua: Okay, let me just see if I can find the reference. Let me see 196.

00:10:40 Paula: Is that the one about the student union that you wrote? About the student union

00:10:43 Esua: Yes. If you want me to read that one. Yes.

00:10:45 Paula: Sure

00:10:45 Esua: So, this is just a meeting that happened because the rugby club at the time that I was a student. I was in the women’s lib group when I first started at the university and the rugby club for ragweed which is a sort of charity week in which students raise money. It was notorious that the rugby club would put on some really kind of sexist strip show or something like that for the entertainment of students to raise money for charity. And they thought I could do anything cause it was for charity. So we went down and complained about this and did a protest outside and it was female nude, mud wrestling. So we all got all the feminists got covered in mud and got chucked out of this protest. So I thought, right okay, I’m going to change the law, I’m going to change the world. And I was 19 at the time, and I thought I’m going to go into the student’s union the next day and organize a meeting, an emergency meeting and call all the students together and put a stop to it. So I went into the students union, I said, I’m going to call an emergency meeting and the motion is “this house is against sexism”. But nobody knew what the word sexism meant. It was a new word that had just come over from America, nobody knew what it meant. So then I went into the student’s union the next day for this meeting, right? And there was like nearly a thousand students in the room. They all saw the first three letters “sex” and thought ‘ it’s going to be a really good meeting’. Right. So anyways I was absolutely terrified I can tell you, as I saw that. And no women used to speak at student union meetings because any that did they’d start shouting off, off, off as soon as she got up. Get them off and just heckle her and howl abuse to stop women’s speaking. So I was there you know, little brown me and I was the only black student in the whole room, nearly a thousand student. So anyway, I’m getting into my stride okay, in the middle of this speech. You think it’s just a bit of fun to shout off off off when a woman comes up here to speak, but we have the right to free speech as well. The very presence of strippers in our union undermines us, it robs us of the confidence to speak out and know will be heard. Call yourselves revolutionary, socialists, rebels. Sexism is the deadly weapon used by our oppressors to divide us. Is our students union on the side of the oppressors? Or do we support women’s liberation? Another huge roar goes up from the audience, they know whose side they ought to be on at least, but I haven’t finished yet. This motion, we’ll make sure this kind of thing never happens again. That when we women walk in here, we will be listened to, taken seriously, treated with respect. We deserve that every bit as much as you men do. We are fighting for our freedom. Are you with us? I urge you to vote for this motion and banish sexism from our union forever. A sudden surge of energy and dilation courses through me as I raise my clenched fist above my head, there’s a fraction of a second pause. And then yes, everybody’s up on their feet, clapping, shouting, stumping their approval. I realize I’ve gone well over my three minutes, but the speaker has lost count, he just shrugs his shoulders. He can see there’s no stopping me. It is on my side. Speeches against abstentions? He asks when the cacophony has subsided. No? Thought not after that performance, nobody would dare. Okay then let’s go straight to a vote. All those in favor raise your hands. All the hands are shooting up. I can see the crowd spilling in through the door and out into the foyer also have their hands up carried Nam Khan bang goes the gavel. I turned round to Fran, the secretary in her usual place on the platform next to the speaker, taking the minutes, she grins at me and writes “standing ovation loud and sustained applause” in the red minute book. We won.

00:15:13 Tesse: Wow.

00:15:15 Paula: Fantastic. And that was 19 year old you.

00:15:20 Esua: Yeah

00:15:20 Paula: I can only imagine that it got better. Oh my word, you were radical, but I like

00:15:30 Paula: yeah, no change

00:15:32 Esua: It’s funny, because at the time I thought people thought I was completely mad. I mean, the feminists they’re just in a few of us and people thought that we were absolutely crazy. And when I left there, I’d organize all these sittings and everything, and I thought, oh, everybody would be so glad to see the back of me. So I was absolutely amazed when 2015, 40 years later, they invited me back and gave me an honorary degree

00:16:03 Esua: women’s rights. So it just shows you, people do forgive you in the end.

00:16:10 Paula: Yeah, that’s fantastic. O, my word. And you said you’re 67. So I’m just trying to do the math. Whoa, that would have been.

00:16:18 Esua: 68 Actually. So I was born in 1953.

00:16:21 Paula: You’re 68, I cannot believe that.

00:16:26 Tesse: I want to take whatever you’re taking, drink, whatever you’re drinking, do whatever you’re doing, because I cannot believe you’re a day over 40.

00:16:34 Paula: Yeah, that has shocked to me.

00:16:37 Esua: Well, I’m powered by my own sense of light you know, getting the revolution done, you know. We just kind of, we got to do it sisters you know. I admire younger women like yourselves who aim for the struggle. And I feel that sense of sisterhood. And I also feel 19 in a way. That the ideas I had then I still have them you know. I’ve learned to give more examples and enrich my knowledge, but the basic tenants on which I based them, my ideology and my basic beliefs and principles, I think haven’t changed since that time.

00:17:19 Tesse: I’m going to give a kind of shout out to you and the energy that you are bringing. We’ve had, on the show. We’ve had Nancy White, we’ve had Bonnie Marcus, we’ve had Carol Wiseman. These are women who are like you empowering other women and you’re women who are so generous with your spirit and you’re giving. So thank you for bringing it to us in this loving way. Generous leadership is beautiful.

00:17:44 Esua: Thank you for asking me to be here because I think if we can get the word across to people, especially in this time, because I think it’s very easy to lose heart and to lose optimism. My heart goes out to young sisters today who are 19, who have been locked up for a year and a half. And haven’t been able to speak to, even if they wanted to, to a thousand students in a room. Because it’s not been possible. So just to think by the magic of audio and zoom and all of these things, we can reach out to each other and that your time will come. You have a huge contribution to make any young women out there listening. And we support you all the way. People’s starting to talk about standing on the shoulders of giants, like the women that you’ve mentioned. But actually the women who are standing on our shoulders can see higher and further than we can. And that means that we have to rely on the younger generation to take the torch and take our legacy forward. And that’s what gives us all hope. And I hope it gives our young women hope to know that we are with them all the way.

00:18:53 Tesse: Amen to that. Amen,

00:18:55 Paula: Amen, because I was going to ask you,

00:18:57 Tesse: the key messages, yeah she just kind of like said it all. I mean the thing about standing on the shoulders of giants is I’ve always loved, but what you’ve added to that is they’re able to see further and that’s something about visionary, that’s something about perspective, et cetera. You know I’m going to ask a question because at the moment, one of my biggest passions is wellbeing and resilience. You know, as I was saying earlier, I actually set up the wellbeing and resilience leadership initiative, which is a virtual network. And it’s actually brought such joy to my life and to the life of people connected, because we can connect with each other and support each other and listen to each other and just care for each other. So, you know, when you reflect back at your life, Esua, different bits of you, the 19 year old, the four year old, the different bits. And I would say to anybody, if you haven’t got the book, get it. I got it, and I haven’t regretted it. In fact, if anything some people are going to have it. Paula listen to this stocking, come to mind at Christmas and you know, kind of reflecting back at your life, the highs and the lows. What are your learning about wellbeing and resilience? What are those things that you can say to other people listening to you and reading your story? What emerges for you looking back and looking forward?

00:20:19 Esua: Well, I think what emerges for me is that we were definitely expected to do the resilience bit. Like whatever was thrown at us, we had to get on with it. And you know, just power through it and keep going. And I think we gave ourselves a lot of sisterhood and support through that. And during the seventies, consciousness raising was a very important part of the women’s movement. And so we used to gather in small groups and do this sharing of what happened to us in our childhood and how we’d been traumatized by oppression and patriarchy and those small incidents that really shaped our lives. Being told what we can’t do and what we mustn’t do and what was expected of us as little girls. So I feel that there was the sort of birth of that kind of self care, we didn’t call it that. But I feel that consciousness raising was about that, it was about therapy in a way group therapy of survival as women survival and thriving and strength as women. So I think there’s a really long historical tradition of that in feminism, which I think we definitely had it in the seventies, but we lost it in maybe the eighties and nineties in the sort of power era of Thatcherite get the shoulder pads on and go out there and be as good as men you know, and act like we were sort of super women and we could do all the house thing. And act at work like we didn’t have any family and act at home like we didn’t have any work sort of thing. And so you’ve got this incredible kind of stress and burden on women to be everything and to do everything and to excel. And at the same time, you didn’t have that same kind of self care. So there was this culture of burnout and I’m afraid it infected the not-for-profits possibly as much, if not more as the corporate sector that we were in for the thigh and the struggle and that if necessary to the detriment of our own health and our own families and our sanity and burnout and all that stuff. So that I’m very, very pleased to see all these years later that people are beginning to realize if we don’t take care of each other, ourselves, our own selves and the planet we are doomed, you know. And as I say, the whole thing around COVID that I think was incredibly traumatic for the younger generation and feeling locked in and very often for the benefit of the older generation. At the same time, we did have this outpouring of selflessness and of support and of kindness and of so many young people volunteering. There were almost not enough spaces for them to do that volunteering in, if you see what I mean. So I do think that self care is really important and at the moment I’m working with a feminist collective called “healing solidarity”. And the interesting, I think the most important thing about what we do is the healing as well as the solidarity. And you can’t do one without the other, really. So they go together for us in terms of healing ourselves, healing the world, healing the planet, healing each othe., and that word healing is even more powerful than self-care. Because it’s not just about taking care of ourselves, it’s actually about healing from all the past things that have been done. Robbing us of our history of our identity, of our power, of our will, of our stories. So it just seems to me that the healing thing is self care is part of it, but it’s a whole lot bigger than that, actually. So I would say again, I’m an optimist and I’m very inspired by that whole movement. We’ve got the multiracial movement and it’s involving all generations, young women and older women. Very much based on feminism intersectional feminism, saying there is a whole plethora of identities, plural in being a woman. And one of the most important ones is race. Women races, Y and women races of color, and the different experiences we have. But the healing and the solidarity that has to come with that, dealing with whiteness, dealing with oppression. And we are working hard on that. And I think it’s definitely a new era in that way, in the way we’re talking about race, the way we’re talking about the way forward. I see in my lifetime, although I’ve always had the same ideology and the same values. I’ve seen them evolve in very different and powerful ways. All of which were of their time. The black power movement, and then the internationalist movement of the nineties, and now the healing and the solidarity of the two thousands. Of all being part of the movement, it’s not that we were wrong, it’s that we grew and this is what is so wonderful and keeps me going. I have so much to learn, we have so much to learn from younger women who are growing up in an age of internet and an age of global connection. But also an age in which a lot of the assumptions we made about the structures and the systems are falling apart. And that is both scary, but it’s an opportunity too.

00:26:18 Tesse: That’s so beautiful. I love the bit about younger women. I love Paula’s daughter Amaka. I learned so much from her. Because she’s a woman with a heart and a head and a spirit and I’m like, oh awesome. What comes to mind is that South African, Swahili saying, which is “Mbuntu”. “I am what I am because of who we all are” that comes to mind. There was another one that I came across a few weeks ago is sour burner, which is I see you, I see the value in you, I see who you are. And what you are seeing just encapsulates that thing of oneness, but also visibility unconditionally in who we are. Paula, your last thoughts.

00:27:03 Paula: My last thoughts are, everything you’ve said resonates with me about healing and solidarity. We talk a lot about self-care, but as you rightfully said, self care can only come about through healing or they go hand in hand in some way we can’t have one without the other. And that’s vital for us to hear. And then for our young people give them a shout out recognize that what they’re bringing to the table is important. Their voices matter, because they have a different outlook on a lot of things and we have to keep remembering that we are the generation that we are moving out and they’re the ones coming in. But we can learn from them. I learn every single day. I sit in here listening to you and taking notes because I’m like, I’m learning him from Esua today. And the next podcast we do, I’ll learn something new from somebody else. But this is amazing. As you also said COVID has helped us become the solidarity to grow because now we are not bound by physical locations. We can connect all over the world. And if we have a common message, that’s not going to be lost because of a time difference. So anything we can still come together and have our voices matter. And one thing we haven’t asked you though, Is what are your social media handles? We need to get that out there when we post what you’re doing.

00:28:25 Esua: I think I sent Tesse a list of them. So yeah, they’re on my email and the same with my website address.

00:28:33 Tesse: Yeah, you had to send a whole pack and thing so we can just get them all out there.

00:28:38 Esua: Yeah. And I’ve got images on there as well.

00:28:41 Paula: Thank you so much Esua.

00:28:44 Esua: It’s a real pleasure talking to you on your show. It’s an honor.

00:28:50 Paula: To our precious listeners, your stories and your lives matter and have always mattered on “TesseLeads”. So feel free to share your stories with us. Many here are supported, encouraged, and nurtured when they know that they’re never alone. And that’s what this is about to let you know that you’re never alone. So please head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere else you may listen to podcasts and click subscribe. If you find “TesseLeads” helpful, please let us know in your review. And if you have any questions or topic you’d like us to cover, please send us a note. If you’d like to be a guest on our show, please head over to “Tesseleadswww.tesseakpeki.com/tesseleads” to apply.

Melody Song

Searching for meaning and providing meaning and purpose are very important for  Melody Song, co founder of Do Good Here ; an  organization that works and empowers people embracing positive change. As a child, Melody Song immigrated to Canada with her mum, a translator for cultural ministries. Her mother introduced her to ballet  and Melody served  15 of her 20 years in Canada as a fundraiser at Alberta ballet.  Moving to new places, learning new languages and were part of her childhood experiences.  Melody Song now lives in Berlin, Germany.


Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to “TesseLeads” with your host Tesse Akpeki and me Paula Okonneh the cohost. “TesseLeads” is a safe, sensitive and supportive place and space where we share where we hear and where our stories and experiences are told. You will hear from top experts and top leaders strategies, tips, techniques that they have found useful in navigating a diverse range of challenges, difficulties, dilemmas, and it’s in this space that you can create and shape opportunities. Our guest today is Melody Song, and we’ll be talking about her personal story through the lens of design thinking. Let me tell you a bit about Melody. Melody is the founder of “Do good here .org”, a network of professionals, delivering design labs to foster collaboration and connectivity in the social sector. They combine data science and design thinking and Melody uses data-driven and empathy based methodology to help build capacity for nonprofits. She’s a certified fundraising executive and her area of expertise includes major gift funding, prospect managing sponsorship and international fundraising. She is also an alumni coach for “IDEOU”, which is an online learning community created by IDEO a leading design agency for design. And she’s also a former board member of the association for professional researchers. Wow. I can’t stop being amazed by your biography, biog as you say in England bio as we say in America, whatever the case welcome to “TesseLeads”.

00:02:12 Melody: 00:02:12 Thank you Paula, it’s a great honor to be here and I’m very excited to talk to you Tesse and you about my story.

00:02:21 Tesse: 00:02:21 Yeah, Paula thank you for introducing Melody in that way. I actually met Melody at a professional fundraising conference and was immediately drawn to her spark and her enthusiasm and her knowledge. Oh my goodness. And her humility as well is a word that comes to mind. Melody I’m really interested in knowing more about your story, your journey. What pathway led you to where you are now.

00:02:50 Melody: 00:02:50 So before answering your question, I really actually want to say that Melody is not my real name. As we all say, I have such a beautiful name with very musical. I can sing, break out into singing dance because of my name. First name Melody and last name is Song. Song is my last name and it’s pronounced Sung in chinese.

00:03:15 Tesse: 00:03:15 Oh, wow.

00:03:16 Melody: 00:03:16 And it just happened to be spelling the same as song and it happened to have that meaning. So my first name is Qian and it’s spelled Qian, and that is my Chinese name. So in China they call me Song Qian. We say the surname first in China, that’s the beginning of my story. I was born and raised in Beijing and my mom is a translator interpreter who does English Chinese translation. So I was taught English from a very young age. And my mother was saying, your name is so difficult to be pronounced in English. Therefore why don’t you, like all the cool kids who are learning English have an English name because we assume that people can’t pronounce our Chinese name, which is true sometimes. That’s why I have Melody as my name, is really was given to me by my mother. I know a lot of my friends who just give themselves names, right? Like, Hey this is so fun. I’m just going to give myself any name. The reason why I said that is because recently I just feel that maybe we should make more of an effort to actually use our real names and not afraid that other people can pronounce it, because just trying to get other people to pronounce your name or us making an effort to pronounce other people’s names correctly, I think is the first step of empathy of trying to understand, trying to connect with somebody. Our names all have interesting stories to it and meanings, you know? So my name Qian means pretty in Chinese, very boring. But no means exciting, but that’s what it means. I just found this really interesting when it comes to names, because I’m really curious now about your names you know, what is the story behind your names? I think that could be an interesting question for everyone.

00:05:16 Tesse: 00:05:16 Oh my, I’m just loving what you’re doing, you’re going in there isn’t it? I’m going to start with my name and then Paula I’m going to go over to you. Cause my surname is actually Akpeki, Akpeki, Akpeki yes it’s Nigerian name. And actually the meaning of Akpeki is the world is a marketplace. That’s the meaning of Akpeki, the world is a marketplace. And my first name is actually for full is Teresa and Teresa is the name taken from a Catholic Saint –  Saint Therese de Liseux , it’s French. And she was a Saint for small things, the saint of the flowers – The Little Flower, known for her simplicity and practicality of her approach. So it’s like doing small things well, yeah doing small things well. So I am Tesse doing small things well in the world is a market place. That’s my name.

00:06:10 Melody: 00:06:10 Wow, that’s amazing that is definitely more exciting than my name. Paula what is your name? What’s the story there?

00:06:19 Paula: 00:06:19 My parents are from two different parts of the world. And I was born in my mom’s country and my mom has a sister called Paula. So I was named after Paula, my aunt Paula. And my last name, my husband passed, but I’m married. I still wear my wedding band and consider myself a widow, but I’m married. I don’t know the meaning of my last name, a lot of people when they hear it they’re not too sure. Because in Nigeria, my husband is Nigerian. In Nigeria the names tell you what part of the country you’re from your ethnicity. My surname, many times people can’t figure out where it’s from. But it’s a Nigerian name.

00:07:10 Melody: 00:07:10 Hmm, that’s very mysterious. I feel, yeah. The reason why I asked is because recently I was at an event where we have speakers from different countries. And the organizer of the event I asked, I noticed that you have Chinese speakers on your list. Do you want me to record how their name would sound? Because it would be nice if you can pronounce it better. And this organizer said, oh I wouldn’t even try to pronounce their names, we’ll try not to. But I feel like that’s the least thing that we could do is to try to pronounce the name correctly. That’s why I’m just making a point every time now to tell people about the correct pronunciation of my name and finding out the stories behind your name so that we can know each other better. That’s the start of my story and my name Song, which is my maiden name. But also in China we don’t change our surname, and that is after 1945, which is a communist thing. And before that, we kind of jumped from really bad to really good, I guess. Before that women lost their name altogether, they just have their surname. They lost their first name when they married. So they’re just kind of like the Handmaid’s tale you know, they’re just like you’re off somebody’s, you know, somebody’s wife, that was before. But nowadays in China no one’s changing thier name so I kept that. Plus my first name and last name is going so well together, I don’t want to change it. I feel like it’s my personal brand. So I came from Beijing, a very old city and born and raised in Beijing. When I was 21 I left Beijing to Canada and then I stayed in Canada for 20 years. I studied, I got my degree there. I also started at first as a marketing professional. I have a master degree in communications and I always loved dance, I always loved ballet. When I was little my mother used to take me to ballet because she’s a translator for the cultural ministries. So in the eighties, we got access to all sorts of ballet shows and she was the translator for those ballet companies. So I love ballet, so there’s a job opening at the local ballet on Alberta ballet for a fundraiser and I absolutely have no idea what fundraising are, but I love ballet. So I was like okay, I want to do fun things and I love dance, therefore I want to apply for this job and they amazingly took me in. So that’s the start of my career as a fundraiser. I started with the ballet company doing what I love, and stayed there for a while because working for non-profit there’s a completely different feeling, as opposed to working for for-profit organization. You kind of feel at first a little bit more purpose, but in the end I feel this purpose I cannot live without. I need to have a purpose to what I do. I cannot do something that is just to increase revenue for somebody else or the shareholders or whatever. I’ve worked for a bigger corporations, like Schlumberger, like oil and gas industry before in China, but not until I started working for non-profit I felt like this is a great job for me. I feel that I have found the purpose, so I stayed there and I was a fundraiser for over 15 years. I’ve worked with Alberta ballet and then I worked with sate Polytechnique, which is a college working on education. But going back to a fun job, you know, I always liked do things that are more fun. I started working for zoo, also doing fundraising. And that’s when I feel that this purpose part becomes more important in my life. In the zoo we have a program we call wildlife reintroduction program. So their wildlife were extinct in the wild regionally. For example, certain wildlife like blackfooted ferrets for example, extinct in Canada for 75 years. And what we do is we carefully  breed Blackfooted ferret from somewhere else, and then release them back into the wild. So that’s a specialty that the Calgary zoo who I worked with was doing. And I got to learn a lot about that and it’s very very interesting and fascinating. And I actually got to be very involved with some programs. And once I was translating, I translated a guide for re-introduction from English to Chinese. And the conservation director looked me in the eye and he said, you helped wildlife today, you helped someone you helped to make the world better. So I was like, oh my God you know, I actually helped someone. I actually helped people to understand about wildlife reintroduction and how to get the environment better. It’s the feeling of directly being involved makes my work a little bit more meaningful. So I think that’s very important and very interesting part of my job before. However, I think when I talk with you Tesse, you know, I’ve mentioned that I’m in the transition period right now to do a career change. Which I feel a lot of people in my age, which is 47 this year, are thinking about transitioning and changing careers. And that happened when I was on a trip and I was listening to a podcast on a trip because it was a long drive and the podcast guests, just like your podcast. It changed my life and your podcast will one day change somebody’s life. So the guest was, Aisha  Tyler. She is a comedian in US, I don’t know if you heard about her. But she’s the girlfriend of Ross in Friends, you know. So Ross come back from China and brought a girlfriend back and she’s black. That’s her, that’s Ayesha Tyler. And she was telling her story about working for environmental organization after university. And she felt so purposeful you know. She felt that she’s living her dream, that’s what she wanted to do. She learned about nonprofit management. She’s working in the environmental organization with purpose. But she thought like still something’s missing from her life. She thought that she needs to be more creative. She didn’t fulfill that creativity in her life. Therefore she became a comedian from somebody who learned political science or whatever that is. She started doing stand-up comedy and I just, I was blown away by her courage and how she would you know, just go pursue what she wanted to do. And looking back on my career you know, I’m a fundraiser doing good things. I think I’m making a difference in the world. But I’m not being creative enough, and that’s something that I really miss. And therefore I started, like you mentioned to learn more about design thinking. And that’s something, I think it is very creative because design thinking is all about facilitating workshops with diverse teams together and co-create solutions. And I feel like I need to make that career change where I need to know what I want and then just do it. And then talking about being creative as well. I made a goals for myself to doodle every day for example you know. I feel creative doesn’t have to be like inventing a new thing or the next best thing for the world. It just, sometimes it’s just doodling and sometimes just having a little moment of yourself and just create something, do origami or something like that. That to me is very nice as well. So that is a career change inspired by podcast, and therefore I think there’s a lot that you guys could do. There’s a lot of lives you guys can change.

00:15:57 Tesse: 00:15:57 Wow, I love that story. Paula you have a question for Melody, haven’t you? I see, you know for our viewers, we actually are doing this and we can see each other, but you’ll be hearing us. And I see Paula’s eyes with a lot of questions behind them. So Paula what’s on your mind?

00:16:13 Paula: 00:16:13 Wow. Her story is so engaging, I’m like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I thought of how you reallty are a citizen of the world. You were born in Beijing and your mom was a translator, which meant that you were exposed to a lot of things different from your normal day-to-day life. You moved to Calvary, you worked as a fundraiser for a ballet company, you worked at nonprofits Slumberger we call it slum begah in Nigeria.

00:16:43 Melody: 00:16:43 Yeah, that’s oil and gas, that’s not non-profit.

00:16:46 Paula: 00:16:46 That’s oil and gas that’s true, that’s true. And then Alberta ballet, the Polytechnic. Then you did a fun job, the zoo, and you realized there was something missing. And you said you really wanted to have that purpose in your life. You heard about Ayeesha Tyler who was on a podcast and now you’re doing design thinking. Wow. So what lessons have you learned with all these things? I mean, this is just so amazing.

00:17:20 Melody: 00:17:20 Yeah. So to actually round up that story as well, I’m not even in Canada anymore. I decided to move to Berlin Germany of all places in the language that I completely don’t get at all during the pandemic last year. Because my husband, he’s a German national and he got a really good offer the year before. And I was like, let’s just go for it because I’m very much about new experiences in life and moving to new places and learning new languages. Sounded very romantic and very nice at the beginning. But now I’m regretting because I never get it. I thought that I never would get german. So that’s to round up that global citizenship there. I’m a Chinese Canadian who lives in Berlin, Germany with a Chinese Canadian German son and my German husband; so he’s the most diverse person in our family.

00:18:28 Paula: 00:18:28 At the moment, because when he was in Canada,

00:18:31 Melody: 00:18:31 Oh yeah I think in Canada he was more diverse now.

00:18:33 Paula: 00:18:33 He’s home Yeah. So maybe at some point with your design thinking who knows, you may end up back into Beijing and then you’ll be home and he’ll be the one having to be culturally diverse because he’d be in a brand new environment.

00:18:50 Melody: 00:18:50 I wish that he’s as open as me because not everybody can do that. And especially Germans. How can you both the most unadoptable? Sorry, I married one so there must be good.

00:19:07 Tesse: 00:19:07 You know Melody you did something amazing today. You actually introduced design thinking with us with our names and I have been researching Okonneh, the personality behind Okonneh, which is Paula surname. And what’s come up is wellness active, dynamic enterprising consistently in action, always planning with movement challenge and bounce. That’s what has come up. And I’m thinking, Paula, does that sound like your husband?

00:19:45 Paula: 00:19:45 It does. As you were reading it, I was like that sounds just like him

00:19:51 Tesse: 00:19:51 I mean, you know? It’s just kind of like that isn’t meaning. Does not like doing nothing constantly busy getting stuff done.

00:20:01 Melody: 00:20:01 That’s amazing.

00:20:03 Tesse: 00:20:03 Yeah. Did you know that Paula?

00:20:05Paula: 00:20:05 You discovered it at the same time that I did, probably a little earlier than I did.

00:20:11 Tesse: 00:20:11 And that’s what Melody did for us. Melody has introduced design. Because it’s just like, what is in a name? And boy oh boy. I knew Henry and this sounded like Henry to me. So names matter.

00:20:24 Paula: 00:20:24 Oh, yes. Yes. The parts of the world we come from all names, most names have meaning. So you don’t just have a name because you like it. You’re given a name for a reason.

00:20:35 Tesse: 00:20:35 Yeah, yeah.

00:20:36 Melody: 00:20:36 Yeah lots there.

00:20:40 Tesse: 00:20:40 You know, we’re kind of getting ready to wrap up your story, but I would love you to leave any key thoughts with our listening viewers who by now I think there’ll be riveted by hearing what you’ve said. What thoughts would you like to leave with our listeners Melody?

00:20:57 Melody: 00:20:57 I think another, I failed to mention which now is a good opportunity to mention is that. I hear you Tesse mentioned earlier that there are perfect clients for you and not necessarily everyone can be that ideal client for you and you may not be the ideal client for them. I think it’s just recognizing that difference and how we always try to fit in, and maybe it’s time that we don’t. That’s another reason I have left what I did, because I’m just tired of fitting in. Especially being the one who’s always different in environment. I definitely don’t feel any negative thing about it. I like being different and I tend to be a different. But we do that, we do try to fit in. We were like, oh, we’re just trying to be what everybody else is being. And I think I’m just really tired of doing that anymore. That’s why I’m creating my own company because I don’t want to fit in anymore. I want to find people who like my style, who likes my approach and consider me as valuable for being who I am. I think Margaret Lee, who is Google’s UX design director. She wrote a really great article called reluctant leader and talking about being Asian and how being Asian you’re always taught when you were little to fit it in. You’re not supposed to stand out being Asian. You’re like that quiet person at the back of the line. But you know, sometimes we really need to stand out and be that reluctant leader. Although we’re reluctant, it’s important to say that. And the concept that she introduced is not the cultural fit. You know, when you hire someone, you say, oh that’s person’s cultural fit. No, we need to talk about cultural add. What are you adding to this mix? And I want to be that add, I don’t want to be the fit. That’s what I would be doing.

00:23:11 Tesse: 00:23:11 That is so beautiful, I mean it’s amazing. Again, this comes back to how much I read because I actually have read that work. Yep. And I love that thing about cultural add. I love it. And I started integrating it into my mindset about cultural add and how I could add what Paula add. That is such a beautiful thought to leave listeners with. What can you add? It’s not about fitting in, it’s about adding. And I love the bit you said about being valued.

00:23:44 Melody: 00:23:44 Yeah, and everybody can add you know, don’t think that you can’t, you’re not bringing anything to the table. You can, that’s the point is that every one of us is so different and we add something.

00:23:56 Paula: 00:23:56 Oh lovely. It’s a profound saying. Because as you say, everyone can add, there’s a difference when you try and fit, you know you hear people say you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole. Yeah. But it’s different if you say, well I’m adding pegs and I’ll add in squares to this whole equation, then you get more. As opposed to having something there a set thing. And you’re trying to put things into it whether they fit or not. I love that bit. I have to admit that this is something else I’ve learned today. I don’t want to be a cultural fit, I want to be a cultural add. Yep. That can apply to all of us here on this podcast because we all live abroad. And so we bring our cultures and we are going to be the cultural additions.

00:24:47 Melody: 00:24:47 Exactly.

00:24:48Tesse: 00:24:48 Yeah.

00:24:48 Paula: 00:24:48 That’s the design thinking we’ve learned, learned, learned. This has been amazing. So because we are wrapping up now, Melody we’d love you to tell our listeners where they can find you online.

00:25:00 Melody: 00:25:00 So, you can find me at “dogoodhere.org”. So dogoodhere as one word and.org. So that’s the easiest way to find me.

00:25:11 Paula: 00:25:11 So no social media handles.

00:25:13 Melody: 00:25:13 I tried and then deleted my social media because they’re just too much to follow. And to try to wrap up you know likes or follow other people, then you have no time for yourself. And I need to limit that as much as I like it.

00:25:31 Paula: 00:25:31 That’s fine.

00:25:32 Tesse: 00:25:32 Lovely.

00:25:33 Paula: 00:25:33 We love it. We love it. I’m going to close out here. To our listeners, your precious stories and lives matter. Please share them with us. People always feel supported and encouraged and nurtured when they know that they’re not alone. In addition, we’d love our listeners to head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast. Spotify, or anywhere else that you listen to a podcast and please click subscribe. And if you find “TesseLeads” helpful, please let us know your reviews. If you have any questions or topics you’d like us to cover, please send us a note. And finally, if you’d like to be a guest on our show, “TesseLeads”, please head over to “TesseAkpeki.com/Tesseleads” to apply. Thank you Melody, you’ve changed my life. You said a podcast changed your life

00:26:30 Tesse: 00:26:30 I told you that Melody is a joy, a joy, a delight, a spark and a transformer. Melody it’s lovely to have you on the show. Thank you so much.

00:26:41 Melody: 00:26:41 Thank you guys, honor to be here

Sade Marriott

Sade Marriott, podcast host at Banana Island Living talks candidly about relocating to the UK and living in a village there. When she discovered that she was the only Black woman in the villages she volunteered, reached out, made connections and cared for other people.  

Because she was determined to find positivity wherever she became part of my village community.    She believes “Providing solutions rather than problems is key.  If there’s anything I’ve learned is humility.”   


Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to “TesseLeads” with your host Tesse Akpeki and co-host Paula Okonneh. “TesseLeads” is a safe, sensitive, and supportive place and space to share hear and tell your stories and experiences. You will hear from top experts and thought leaders strategies, tips and techniques they have found useful in navigating a diverse range of challenges, difficulties and dilemmas as well as how you can create and shape these opportunities. Our guest today is Sade Marriott and we will be talking to her about her personal story through the lens of inclusion. Sade Marriott started out studying modern European languages, but changed to studying law. After qualifying and practicing as a barrister in Nigeria and as a solicitor in the UK. She obtained an MBA and then she changed to education and studied for a P G C E. She has served as a magistrate, volunteered in her community and has a passion for helping children to enjoy reading. Welcome to “TesseLeads” Sade.

Sade: 00:01:31 Thank you, thank you for inviting me.

Tesse: 00:01:35 Hi Sade welcome, I’m so delighted that you can join us on the show. You know through the years that we have spent knowing each other. I think since you were 16, 17, so many years. I have really been struck by how you find a way of building an inclusive environment around you and how you are able to galvanize that bonding that participation to build different communities. Well, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts and what works in blending communities.

Sade: 00:02:09 I’m not sure what works, I can only talk of what worked for me or what I’m trying to make work for me. I’m in a particularly interesting blended community. I live in Nigeria part of the time I also live in the UK. I married in a multi racial marriage where I lived in a village in the UK. I live in Nigeria as well. I’m in education I also do a podcast and yeah I just. I think wherever I am, the important thing is to just to get into the community, get to know the people. Like when I first moved to the village, when I moved to the UK, It was a particularly difficult time. My husband was traveling quite a lot. He was, he’s an international lawyer. And I was left in the village with small children, I didn’t know a soul. I was probably the only black person in the village. And that was interesting that was my thing. Oh, I’m the only black of the village, I wonder if another person will come. But I mean this is not what you’d expect, but I found everybody quite welcoming. Maybe cause I wasn’t expecting them not to be welcoming. I was naive maybe in a way that works, I don’t know. But I found most people welcoming. And the first thing I did was to say, look. This was during the foot and mouth disease. So we lived on a farm and they couldn’t even deliver oil. It was Jolly cold. I was miserable. And I thought this is sink or swim time. So I went to the church and I said, look I’m going to volunteer. So I started volunteering to deliver the village magazine, so that way I’d knock on doors. I volunteered to take old people to the surgery. I did the open garden scheme. I, when they were raising a roof for the church, we organized it. The only thing I didn’t do was join the amateur dramatics society. And if you remember I used to do university acting. I drew a line at that. But it was either that or just break down and cry. And when it came to the local faith, I went with some friends and they said, you know more people here than we do and we have lived here forever. I said, well it’s not difficult because I’m easy to pick out so everybody wants to say hello to me. But to be honest, I genuinely felt most people were positive because I was determined to find positivity wherever I am.

Tesse: 00:04:46 Wow , that’s really interesting that you were determined to find positivity wherever you were. And people looked at you saw your inclusive feel and responded positively to that. Paula curious?

Paula: 00:05:04 Yeah, such an interesting story. But I like what you decided to find positivity. I can’t remember the exact phrase I never do. But the long unsheltered that you decided that this is where I am and I’m going to make the best of it. Listening to you, as you said you’ve come from a unique blended community or you now live in a uniquely blended community. How has that been? I know you took a stand and said, I’m going to be part of this and I’m going to make the most of it. But are there any other stories?

Sade: 00:05:36 I think when you’re putting one foot in front of the other, you don’t really think of it as a story. It’s just that now 20 something years for the down the line you think, oh gosh, that was a journey. But it’s like being on a treadmill you don’t really see, you don’t feel any reaction while you’re on it you’re just going through the motions. It’s when you get off that treadmill that you said, oh gosh how did I do that? I didn’t. So maybe looking back there were difficulties and it wasn’t terribly easy. I had to learn to cope with an auger for crying out loud, that’s character building. I had young children to look after and meeting parents. The school gate has its own particular mafia, especially when you’re the only black woman there. Unfortunately, I didn’t even see myself as a black woman. I was just there getting a job done. And then I was determined to keep up my career as well. So they had to navigate the au-pair and doing my law commuting, rushing back, leaving the house sometimes at quarter to six to catch the  drive to the station, cause we live in a village. From the station you catch the train then from the train you take the bus and go into the city and then do the same thing over again. And halfway through they’ll call you that your daughter is ill. And then oh my goodness what do I do? Now it’s not that it’s insurmountable but it just added an extra layer. And in Nigeria with all its problems, one thing you do have is help, you know? You always have help. And that’s why it’s helpful to have that to look at. Because career-wise if you’re not careful living in the UK. There’s nothing wrong with being a housewife if that’s what you choose. But if it’s not what you choose, it’s so difficult for you to keep your career going and keep a family. Make sure the children, you know the homework is done, they’re doing their. I always try to be at all the matches. My daughter was running for arraps. All of that. I wanted be a touchdown mom. At the same time I didn’t pay all that money for an education to sit at home. It was just, I just felt guilty that how can my parents and my mother pay all that money. I did an MBA, I did this. I remember I had this conversation when I was trying to re qualify as a solicitor here. My husband said, oh why are you putting yourself through all this stress? Why don’t you just take a simple job around the corner? There’s nothing wrong with just working a few hours in the shop. And I said, I have every respect for people working in our shop, but in my family if you’re not a lawyer you’re a doctor, if you’re not a doctor. My uncle is a judge. How can I opened my mouth. I mean I have what I call MCH minimum criteria for happiness. You have to identify what your MCH is. And my minimum criteria for happiness is to use my education. So, and so we came to an understanding and he supported me through my conversion course, working in the city, getting an au pair .Until I decided I don tire, let me do something else. So I decided what I really enjoy. I was a terrible lawyer, but I was just so focused on not wasting that education. I wanted to do everything because he was a lawyer too you know? I thought his education is not better than mine, but I was better educated than him. There’s no way I’m going to be anything less than a lawyer. I had to come to that realization that, that’s not it. What do you enjoy doing? And my passion was always to teach children to read. So I went back and that’s when my friend said another career cul de sac. You’re going to do it in PGCE, and I said “shut up jor”, I’m doing it. Shangri as they say in Nigeria. I did that I did my PGCE, I had to do my placements in schools. I mean from somebody who was used to employing people. To now go to where I’m going to be talked down to. You have to just calm down find some humility and just take it from there. I’ll tell you one funny story. I was having a particularly hard time at one of my placements and I knew they couldn’t fault me on my work. But this lady marked me down, my mentor who was younger than me, marked me down for interaction with the other staff.And my daughter who was home from school that time when I was really having that hard time. She said, mommy you’re too well dressed, I said what? She said, honestly you’re going to this school and you’re dressed like this, you have to fit in. And I thought out of the mouth of babes, you know? I’m used to being a professional and you have to bring your A game every time, coordinating to shoes you know. But you have to have some self respect. And I come from a private school background where the teachers have to look the part and my mentor was rolling into school with leggings and sometimes with a baggy shirt. Hey, once I took it on board, I was making her cups of tea, I was rolling in baggy pants I didn’t sweat all. I didn’t do all that stress for some baby snapper to come and fail me at the last minute. So yeah, who I became sloppy, I became her new best friend. I  got my papers and they never saw me again. And they were offering me a job after I said, oh you know I’m a bit old I think I’m just going to take my time and I should fight my battles somewhere else. And I think that’s one thing I tell young people just pick your battles. There are somethings that are not worth the pain. I could have made a spang, I could have reported her, I could said she was unprofessional. And where does that leave me. I do another 6 months. I did Naija for them. I was making them cups of tea I was, oh would you like me to organize your desk for you? At the end of the day she was happy I was happy and I just ticked her off my box. That’s one number I’m never gonna call again you know. What did it cost me a little bit of pride. I was disappointed in myself that I didn’t see it, that it was my daughter that saw it for a 12 year old to tell me, mommy you’re too well dressed. So you have to read to the room. Sometimes you have to forget your own ego and try and make other people comfortable. I may have been intimidating. Maybe as someone said, how can you be black and blue eyed? You know, you’re too self confident. And that can come across in a certain way. So wherever I am, I retained my Nigerianess, I retained my authenticity. But I also think it’s important to make other people comfortable. And it’s like going into a room and saying, you’re shy. What about the people who are talking to you? What makes you think that they’re not shy? Put yourself in their shoes and make them comfortable. So, if there’s anything I’ve learned is humility.

Tesse: 00:13:24 That is so beautiful. I keep laughing at what you’re saying. The lessons that I’m taking away from that is read your situation. Situational awareness, read through the eyes of young people, through the eyes of young people you can see things you know. Different things, the emperor with no clothes and the child that sees them, that makes a difference. Something else comes to mind Sade and that’s the whole thing about inclusion. I’m building inclusive environment you know, with Hamilton and Hamilton is one of my favorite plays of all time. They say, be in the room when it happens, come back to the room when it happens you know. Oh, I love rapping not well, but in the room when it happens in the room when it happens, I love it. And I like to be in the room when it happens and what you’re saying, those kinds of practices of being humble and doing what it takes you are in the room. So I welcome your thoughts around the black lives matter movement with the now everyone’s invited movement or with the me too movement. These are all about building inclusive environments where people are seen, heard and felt. What are your thoughts in relation to inclusion?

Sade: 00:14:30 Oh I mean, I’m totally up to being woke. Good Lord. I think especially those of us coming from Nigeria. We were so unwoke, I mean I speak to some of my friends and I’m like my eyebrows and my hairline there to the right of Attila the hun. Really they really are not as woke or. I hate that word because it has been so bastardized. But they’re not as inclusive as they like to think they are. I demand when that Black Lives Matter situation happened. As you know I’m involved with a school and we had a discussion. And what stories do we tell our children? How do we get children to discuss this with them? And these are young children, the oldest would be about 10 or 11. We want to make children positive. I don’t want children to have a hangup and say, is it because I’m black that this has happened? No, that should not be your default position. But at the same time you know, you want them to be aware and be prepared. So it’s that fine line of being aware, but not making excuses for themselves. The only mantra that I sort of gave to them is treat everybody as you would want them to treat you no exclusions, everybody. And that includes your househelp, your cleaners. So what I’m asking somebody at work who sees you as black or not good enough or whatever, are you giving that same worthiness to the person cleaning your room? That is just respect and worthiness. So if you see everybody as worthy and start from a position of, am I treating this person the way I want them to treat me? And no exceptions then yeah, like I said, I may be a bit Pollyannaish. I totally support the Black Lives Matter, but I also don’t. A part of me did not want really to lead with that with the children, if you see what I mean. Having a multi racial child, this was a conversation that my husband and I have had. Do we talk to them about this? Or do we just leave them and let them experience? The jury’s still out. We’ll let you know what the argument was and what came through. I can’t tell you that we got it right I can tell you we got it wrong, but she’s happy enough.

Tesse: 00:16:56 Yeah, she sounds from what you tell me about her. I’m looking forward to meeting her, she sounds really awesome that just like her mom and I’m not biased.

Sade: 00:17:05 She warned me never to talk about her on the podcast so scratch that bit.

Tesse: 00:17:11 You know I am, I hear from what you’re saying that a lot of this is about respect and dignity and love. And I think that my thoughts in hearing what you’re saying, which aligns to mine. Is that thing about embracing ourselves as human beings and respecting our differences and being aware of our similarity. Because as human beings we are more similar than we are different. Sometimes that’s not a message that is spoken about our similarities and our humanity. So I’ll take that inclusion, loving, caring, respecting empathy, compassion. And also tolerating the fact that we are different and celebrating that as well. Paula, over to you.

Paula: 00:17:55 Yeah to follow up on that. I know most of us were taught to treat others as we would like to be treated. But what I learned recently within the last year or so was also treat people the way they want to be treated. You know that’s a big part and I wasn’t brought up to think in fact until my daughter pointed out to me that mom, you got to look at that, read the room and see how people want to be treated. And then, because you like things a certain way doesn’t mean that they want to be treated the way you want to be treated. So you know, turn it around too, so how do they want to be treated? And treat them that way. And I found that has been very helpful in me becoming woke like you Sade.

Sade: 00:18:38 Yeah, well, I mean the thing is when I was younger, I would want to win an argument for the intellectual rigor involved in that. But now I just let it slide. What does it cost me to let that person win they argument and let them feel better about themselves. Even if I know the facts, I know they’re positively wrong in what they’re saying. Because Google is my friend, as they say. But for that time, you know they feel happy. It doesn’t cost me anything,it’s not great skin off my nose. I just let it slide.

Paula: 00:19:12 Well as usual talking with Sade is always so invigorating, but all good things have to come to an end. So before we wrap this up Sade are there any thoughts, any last thoughts for our listening audience?

Sade: 00:19:26 Oh, be happy, choose happiness.

Paula: 00:19:33 Is there a song we can sing for that?

Tesse: 00:19:35 Don’t worry, be happy.

Paula: 00:19:41 There’s another one. I’m be happy happy. I don’t know, I don’t know

Sade: 00:19:46 The one I seen with the babies is if you’re happy  and you know, clap your hands

Paula: 00:19:51 Clap clap or we all know that.

Sade: 00:19:54 Yes we do, yeah.

Paula: 00:19:56 Wow oh, right. This is always so interesting hate, to go, hate to go. But where can our listeners find you online? Because you’re such an incredibly interesting woman. Your stories never cease to bowl us over and have us leaning in. So for our listeners who want to find you, where can they find you online?

Sade: 00:20:20 Well, they can listen to my podcasts. I’ve only done a few episodes, but I like to think they’ll get a flavor of me and of my life and the people I come across. Banana island living podcast, you can get it wherever you get your podcasts. And on the website, “bananaliving.com” on Instagram, you can slide into my DMs, “@banana island living” and on Twitter, “banana island living”. So yeah, I look forward to hearing from you. And hey whatever you do, make sure you subscribe and tell a friend.

Paula: 00:20:55 That’s it people, that’s it, that’s it. And so to our listeners as usual, your precious stories matter and your lives matter. Please share them with us. We support many, we encourage many and we nurture many. So always remember you’re never alone. And just as importantly, please make sure you head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, spotify, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts and please click subscribe. If you find “TesseLeads” helpful, please let us know in your reviews. And if you have any questions or topics you’d like us to cover, send us a note. If you’d like to be a guest on the show, “TesseLeads”, please head over to “www. Tesseakpeki.com/tesseleads” to apply.


Nadine Robson

Nadine Robson’s mum’s inspiration lives. Nadine, the founder and self-titled ‘Chief Wellness Advocate’ at Dragonfly Wellness Dorset recounts that her mum was all about love and just being a mum. That was what she really wanted to be and do but went through her own experiences of mental illness resulting in some really difficult decisions and some poor judgment calls.

Nadine was taken out of the family home and put into care when she was 11 years old – the impact of her mum’s mental illness. This stoked her passion in mental health and mental wellness. 

Today, Nadine is a creative facilitator, coach and founder of Dragonfly WD where she supports others to have the confidence, clarity, support and practical tools to have energising conversations® about mental ill-health.


Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to “TesseLeads” with your host Tesse Akpeki, and cohost Paula Okonneh. “TesseLeads” is a safe, sensitive, and supportive place and space to share hear and tell your stories and experiences. You will hear from top experts and thought leaders strategies, tips and techniques that they have found useful in navigating a diverse range of challenges, difficulties, dilemmas, as well as how you can create and shape opportunities. Our guest today is the Nadine Robson and our topic today is “Nadine Robson a very personal journey”. Nadine Robson is the founder and self-titled chief wellness advocate at dragon fly wellness Dorset. A creative facilitator and coach who founded dragon fly WD to support others to have the confidence, clarity, support and practical tools to have energizing conversations about mental ill health. Nadine is also a founding trustee of the MOE Foundation. The MOE Foundation is a community of positive change makers. Welcome Nadine to “TesseLeads” I’ll hand it over to you and Tesse. Tesse: 00:01:34 Thank you Paula, and Nadine I am excited to have you on the show. For years I’ve followed your work, I admired you from a distance and now I see you close. Oh wow I’m excited. You know I hear your brother Darren mentioning your mom. And he mentioned you, he described you as his guide, and he’s spoken about your mom in such a flavorsome way, we would love to hear about your mom. Tell us about your mom. Nadine: 00:02:09 Thank you Tesse thank you both oh gosh. Our mom was, she’s just incredible really. She, all she ever wanted was to be a mum that was her thing. She said there’s four of us, I’ve got three brothers, and she loved being a mum. She absolutely embraced it and not just the mum to the four of us, but she was a mum for the community that we grew up in. She was a mum on the estate, there were always hoards of children around our house and yeah it was just, that was what she loved about life really. And I say was because our mom passed away gosh nearly 21 years ago now in the early 2000s. Very sudden she had epilepsy, she had an epileptic fit and she was gone, and that was that. We had no buildup we had no warning. So as you can imagine, it hit all of us really hard. I was 20 years at the time, my younger brother was only 16, and he was very young and we were all going through life and you just never see it coming really. But she instilled so many fantastic qualities in all of us that I think we can only be grateful for the time that we had her in our lives, really. And that’s what we really hold on to, and that’s what we really have taken forward through these years. And as anyone who’s been through grief knows it does change, the grief definitely changes. 21 years down the line, it’s not the same as when she first passed, that’s for sure. But for me the thing that I always hold on to, I never forget. We found this little note that was just a little scrap of paper. And my little brother one day had obviously been out at school and had come home and unusually mom wasn’t there and he’d written in her book or on a piece of paper, “where’s my mom” and she replied very little note back to him and said, “never more than a thought away my son”. And that’s our kind of saying that we all say to each other now to just keep us all going in those times. He’s just remembering that she might not be with us physically, but she’s never more than a thought away. And it just is one of those things that just warms your heart, really when you think about that. But yeah she was a wonderful lovely person, not without her faults. And we didn’t have, it’s not as if we had to, it was not all roses and sunshine growing up, there was definitely some real challenges that we faced as children. But at heart she was just all about love and just being a mom. That was what she really wanted. Tesse: 00:04:27 All about love, just wanting to be a mom, that sounds so soothing. When you described the suddenness and what happened, what in relation to one minute your mum was there and the next minute nothing prepares you. What got you through that time of this sudden loss? What helped you to get through as a family? What helped? Nadine: 00:04:47 I think we were just so fortunate that we had each other, because what made it even tougher was actually. My middle brother was in Australia, so he’d been traveling for a number of months at the time so he hadn’t seen her. It wasn’t like it is now remember back 21 years ago, we didn’t have phones where we could stay in contact constantly. And I was traveling I was in Europe at the time. I had spoken to her on the Sunday morning and she passed on the Sunday afternoon and my brothers were desperately trying to get hold of me because they couldn’t contact me. And so I think it was the Tuesday where they finally managed to reach me. So that was really difficult for them desperately trying to get hold of me at that time as well and going through all of that. But we really just we’re so grateful to have each other and to have our family and our friends around us at that time as well. And like I say again, for anyone that’s been through grief you know that it is an individual journey. You just have to go through it and, we all had our own difficult times at various stages. And sometimes we’d be laughing other times we’d be really angry, then just laughing. And I remember like driving along and I would just burst into tears and that happened for a good number of years afterwards. And then just the raw emotion, I think is the thing that I really remember that kind of almost animalistic expression of grief that we all went through at different times as well. And as I say for me, that’s definitely ease, it’s nothing like that now for me when I think about her not being part of my life. Being a mum now, myself, there’s times where I do just well up and I catch myself because I think, oh my gosh, you would just, oh, I’m welling up now. But she would just love to be a grandma, she never got that opportunity. She wasn’t alive to see any of us with our children. My middle brother has got one on the way currently and it’s just. My eldest, brother’s got three, three children of his own, and then we’ve got extended family as well with kiddies and mum would have just loved it, she would have loved it. And so that’s the heartbreaking stuff for me when I think she’s not here physically with us to be part of that, but she’s absolutely with us in spirit and with energy and in how we all are and how we carry her forward through us really and just seeing her in our children as well it’s really magical it’s really incredible. Tesse: 00:07:09 Oh wow Paula your thoughts. Paula: 00:07:12 What a touching story, I feel your pain. You rightfully said that after a number of years the pain goes away, but they’re never forgotten. Just hearing you talk about your mom, she just sounded like an incredibly warm person. I love that story about when your brother wrote a note, “where are you mom”? And she wrote back, “never more than a thought away”. I love that, I love that. And my question is has that helped in craft in your career as the chief wellness advocate at dragon fly wellness set? Nadine: 00:07:48 Yeah absolutely has. One of the things that we do on training courses that I deliver is we look at something called our frame of reference our window on the world. All of us have that don’t we all have our own frame of reference and what shaped us. And I know that for me, as I sort of briefly said our lives weren’t perfect. Mum went through her own experiences of mental illness. And unfortunately through some of those experiences, she made some decisions that were really difficult and she made some poor judgment calls. And unfortunately as a kind of side effect of that. I was actually taken into care when I was 11 years old. So I was taken out of the family home when I was 11. So I didn’t grow up with my brothers from that age. And now that’s really tough, that was not easy to go through that and experience it. And so I saw from a really young age the impact that mental illness could have if someone didn’t have the right support, if it wasn’t noticed, if yeah just really that support that people need as they may be going through experiences. And as I say, mum made some choices that weren’t great and unfortunately that’s part of what we don’t get to work through. As I say I was 20 when she went, so we didn’t have the chance to work through some of that stuff about our relationship that would have been really useful. To have that chance really, to work through and just explore together now from my perspective as a mom and as an adult. Seeing what she was going through at the time, but it absolutely has shaped me and why I do what I do today. Because like I say I know through lived experience the ripple effect of what impacts mental health can have and not just on the individual, but the people around them as well. And to me it’s simple some of it not saying the experience is simple. But actually if we were just kinder as a society to ourselves and to each other, that would be a big step towards some of these things not having such an impact as well. Being open to explore and to understand and to be alongside each other. This is the sort of stuff that really I think can make a difference. And we’ve all got that in our gifts, this isn’t something that we need to pay somebody else for or so. Yeah to go on this, I don’t know epic course or journey or anything. Things that we can all just do is a sort of, day-to-day just noticing for ourselves what’s going on for me? How am I doing? And being kind to ourselves, not being judgmental to ourselves as well. These are some of the things I think we can all put in place really. Tesse: 00:10:16 I really like that. It’s when you say be kind, it doesn’t take a lot for people to be kind and be caring and be compassionate. And I see that lived out in you, Nadine I didn’t know about the story around mental health and your mom. But it actually lives through you in the way that you are so non-judgemental about people who have mental ill health and have to walk that journey. Another thing that kind of strikes me about you as your brother talks about you and as you talk about your brothers, what I would call brotherly love. That kind of the Osmonds, when they call by the brotherly love. I love music you can tell, but when you talk about your brothers with such warmth, and Darren in particular talks about you as his guide. I would love to hear what your brothers mean to you. You’re even smiling now that happened at the zoom call and Nadine she just lit up. Brotherly love tell us about that. Nadine: 00:11:16 Yeah, I just it’s something that I’m just so incredibly grateful for the fact that I’ve got three brothers and they’re all so different, we’re all so different. And like I say, it’s not that we live in each other’s pockets or that we, everything is always been roses between us. It’s not it’s difficult at times, we have difficult conversations and we move away from each other at different times. But there’s always been this connection between all of us, where we come back together and just all knowing that we are so much stronger together. And it doesn’t matter if something’s happened, if we’ve had times where we’ve had arguments, where everything’s exploded and we’ve yeah kind of moved away from each other, and then we’ll come back together again. And that’s it for me, it’s really, that’s what family is. And I feel so fortunate that I’ve got that in my life, because I know that’s not true for everybody. Not everybody has got that with their siblings, even if they have got siblings that’s just not the norm maybe for a lot of people. And I can’t even really, I couldn’t tell you what it is that has been the thing that’s created this for us. It’s just as I say, I didn’t grow up with my brothers for a number of years of my life. And maybe that’s why it is, because I wasn’t with them when they were going through their horrible teenage years, then with me when I was going through my horrible teenage years. I don’t, yeah I couldn’t quite tell you what it is, but it’s just this feeling that we have between us already, that we know how much stronger we are together and that when we come together there’s this energy that’s between all of us really. And then so that’s why I smile whenever I think of my brothers, because I know that they’re always there no matter what I’ve always got my brothers, so I’m incredibly grateful for that. Tesse: 00:13:01 Brotherly love stronger together love it, Paula? Paula: 00:13:05 Yeah such a touching story. And it’s even more impactful hearing that you didn’t grow up with your brothers, but you’re so close to them. That tells me a lot, it tells me that there was a foundation that was set early on for you to reconnect with them and be so you guys would be so much you know, still that love still runs through.Your bones, your blood. That says a lot because with some families once they’ve been split up like that’s it. They get back together, they’ve had different life experiences and they’re, well you are my biological brother or sister but we have nothing in common. So I love to hear that story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Because we about to wrap up, I was wondering is there any question that you really would have loved us to have asked you that we haven’t? Nadine: 00:13:57 Oh gosh, any question I would have loved for you to have asked me? Yeah there’s nothing that comes to mind at the moment. I think just even having this opportunity to even talk about my family and my mum and my brother has just been incredible because it’s, yeah. It’s not something that I do on a very often. So just being able to have this platform to do that is really lovely. Because as you say, it makes me smile so it just warms me all the way through. So thank you so much for that I really appreciate it. Paula: 00:14:27 Absolutely thank you thank you thank you. Tesse is there anything else? Tesse: 00:14:31 Yeah, I just wanted to ask Nadine if there’s any last thoughts for people listening in anything at all, top of mind. What’s flowing through you right now? Because this is a natural moment. There’s just so much love in this place. And Paula and I, I’m looking at Paula and I’m speaking for Paula so forgive me. But just feeling that the strength of hope and love and connection and knowing that it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to have arguments and work through them. It’s okay to listen to each other and to learn from our mistakes when we get it wrong. And so any last thoughts for people listening in? Nadine: 00:15:12 I think that’s, you’ve just said there really. I think there are some of the real key things for me is that, that sense of hope it’s no matter what you’re going through right now. If you can find that glimmer of hope, if you can know that, as I say that the challenges and the things that I’ve been through in my life. Just knowing that was a moment in time and you will find a way through it. There is a way through it, there is that light, there’s that glimmer if you can look for it and hold onto it. But also as I was saying about with my brothers as well. It’s yeah not being too fixed in any kind of mindset with things being really open to know that sometimes we just say stuff or we just say it in the moment and that’s really the beauty of what my conversations with my brothers bring as well is that we might say stuff in the moment and we know that’s not, we were just saying it just needed to get out and hear what that sounded like. And to know that it’s not a deal breaker, it’s not what if I say something it’s going to cause offence and that’s it, it’s over. But knowing that you’ve always got that kind of central love come back to you really. So yeah for me, it really is about holding onto that hope. And just knowing that there are people out there who love you, never forget that, never forget that. It’s no matter how much in despair you might feel always remember that there are people who love you and really care for you as well. Tesse: 00:16:34 Beautiful, Paula. Paula: 00:16:36 What a powerful message to end this with. No matter how tough things are, know that there are people out there who care for you and who love you. And you’re a testimony of that because obviously to be separated from your siblings at such an early age must have had its own. I don’t want to say negative effects cause I’m not you, but just listening to that, that must have been traumatic on its own. But in your comeback saying, no matter what happens there are people out there that care and your life matters. That means a lot, and that’s the theme of “TesseLeads”. Now to our precious listeners, your stories and your lives matter. Please share your stories and your life with us if possible. People are always supported, encouraged, and nurtured when they know that they’re not alone. So for our listeners, please make sure you head over to Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or any where that you listen to podcasts and please click subscribe. If you have found “TesseLeads” to be helpful, please let us know in your reviews. And if you have any questions or topics you’d like us to cover, send us a note. If you’d like to be a guest on our show “TesseLeads”, please head over to “www.tesseakpeki.com/tesseleads” to apply.

Sarah Giles’ Delicate Balancing Act

During the pandemic Sarah Giles plucked up courage and quit her job. Why?  She wanted to follow her passion. She also wanted to face her fears and. most of all stop worrying about judgment from people . “Clarity around my values, beliefs and purpose helps me stay on track.  Launching “It starts with me” was a strange experience for me, I found it hard to be excited, having not done promotions before…   I stepped out of my comfort zone and I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way”. 

Paula: [00:00:00] Welcome to "TesseLeads" with your host Tesse Akpeki and co-host Paula

Okonneh. "TesseLeads" is a safe, sensitive, and supportive place and space to share here and

tell your stories and experiences. You will hear from top experts and thought leaders,

strategies, tips and techniques they have found useful in navigating a diverse range of

challenges, difficulties, dilemmas, as well as how you can create and share opportunities.

Our guest today is Sarah Giles and we will be talking about "my delicate, balancing act".

Sarah Giles is a confidence and mindset coach for quietly ambitious women with purpose.

She provides women with the tools to help make some positive changes to enhance the

health and wellbeing. Sarah is passionate about coaching others to build the confidence and

resilience so that they can be their best self and step into their potential. Sarah has a

background in HR spanning over 16 years and has operated in a variety of roles leading up to

head of HR director level. Wow! Sarah I told you, you look like you're 10 you're 20. Okay 16

years! Oh my word. Well welcome to "TesseLeads".

Sarah: [00:01:39] Thank you, thank you for having me.

Tesse: [00:01:41] Yeah. Sarah I'm really delighted to meet you again. I heard so much about

you and I also heard about your book as well, your chapter, and it's just well done. As Paula

has said, you've achieved so much. And I love the fact that your title was "stepping out of

the shadows". And I was struck by a paragraph in your book, which said "after a 15 year plus

career in HR I quit", in the lockdown yes I resigned from my head of HR position back in April

and left in June. Some might say that was mad during the pandemic. Quite often we get so

caught up in our busy lives that we play it safe and stick with what we know. It was finally

time for me to step out of my comfort zone" wow. So that leads me to my first question.

And I'd love you to share what being a mother is like for you? How do you tackle the constant

juggling of motherhood, your career and everything else?

Sarah: [00:02:54] It's certainly a challenge, for sure many women will relate to. I think trying

to balance a busy career with young children, my children-were young while I was still

working. And I was traveling in the early days as well in my career. And I was just running,

now I look back I don't know how I did some of it. But the point is we just get through it. But

I think there comes a point where we're just so busy running on autopilot all the time. And

we look like from the outside, I probably looked like I had it all together, but inside I didn't. I

was running from meetings to meetings having to worry about leaving on time to pick the

girls up from nursery. And I think, for me it's just we have to try not to put too much

pressure on ourselves. I think as women we've got to obviously be a good mom, we've got to

be good in our jobs or whatever we're doing. We've got a home to look after, partners,

whatever. And there's a lot of pressure that goes with that. And I think that the thing that

really helps is trying to set these clear boundaries, which is something, I'm going to be

completely honest I'm still working on. I think we're always having to adapt and tweak things

as we go, as we change things. But I think it's really, you're setting those clear boundaries so

that you feel that you've got that time where you can be mum and have that time with your

children. When you're at work, you've got your work head on and you've got that time for

you as well. It's really important to have time for yourself. Cause we're so busy looking after

other people that stuff the thing that we lose. We put our own self-care off and just that

time to be ourselves.

Paula: [00:04:54] I listened to that and I can relate fully to that. The juggle oh my gosh. I told

a friend of mine Sarah, your kids get older the problems change, you're still their mother.

You may not be going from dance to football, but you're juggling other things. So that was

good to hear you say that. But what really stood out for me was that you quit during the

pandemic. Oh my word, that is brave Sarah, I'm going to ask how have you rediscovered

yourself now that you've quit? And what have you found helpful?

Sarah: [00:05:33] I started training as a coach whilst I was still in my role because it was

something. I've obviously worked in HR for a long time. So been always doing coaching and

mentoring, but I wanted to do some proper coach training, so I'd already started that. And I

hadn't been happy if I was honest for probably a couple of years. Just felt like I was just the

same old thing rushing around nothing was ever changing. Although I'd worked so hard to

get to a point in my career where I thought I'd finally think, wow I've achieved great things.

And I got to some levels and then thought well, actually I'm not doing the part of the roles

that I love anymore. I'm just not feeling fulfilled anymore. Spending my days in meetings and

looking at spreadsheets. And it wasn't really what my true passions were. So when we first

went into the first look down, I was homeschooling busy role, my husband was obviously

working as well and it was just chaos. And it was just the catalyst for change to me. I just

thought life is too short,; now is the time that I need to follow my passion, do something

that I really feel fulfilled in. Before I'd previously put off making this decision, but as soon as

lockdown hit, I just thought this is the time,this is the time. And that's really where my

journey, I think cause I call it a journey because it just keeps evolving because I've discovered

so much about myself since leaving my career. I think you almost work out once she leaves

that title. Who am I now? Who am I?

Paula: [00:07:18] Yeah, I've been hearing a lot of that from different people, who am I? The

pandemic hit everybody had to regroup. And now that we have the other, I want to say the

other end of the pandemic, where we've gotten vaccines and people are emerging. It's like

am I emerging, you know?

Sarah: [00:07:37] Yeah exactly. Who is the person I want to be now?

Paula: [00:07:41] Yes I love that. So Tesse?

Tesse: [00:07:45] Yeah, I really am struck of what you're saying about who am I emerging?

So Sarah not putting you on the spot, but I am trickily curious about who are you?

Sarah: [00:07:58] That's a good question. I think what I've noticed is since leaving my career,

I've learnt so much about myself. A lot of that is through my own coaching journey. But lots

of it is come through my business journey as well. Because as a business that you are your

brand and having to show up as the real you can be scary sharing stories on a podcast. I

think it's things that I might not have ever done before. So for me, who am I? I feel like I'm

constantly evolving because I think as soon as you get to a place where you think that's the

person I want to be, we're always growing amazing. So I think you then move into a different

zone of where am I working towards now? Who is that person? And for me, it's been that I

had the confidence to leave my career behind. It's not easy to do that. I'm really work out

who I was, and having that courage and being brave to follow my passion.

Tesse: [00:09:09] Following your passion that's beautiful. The question that comes to my

mind is about you, you know. You said, who am I? And it's, how are you investing in you?

You've taken this big leap into the unknown. You're following your passions, you have these

lovely children, you are a business owner. That's must be pretty scary. So how are you

investing in you?

Sarah: [00:09:36] I talk a lot around values and beliefs and all purpose, because I think when

you're very clear on that it really helps you stay on track. I talk a lot about boundaries as well,

because especially when you come into the business world, perhaps we leave our careers

behind because you think you want more time with family and children. And then you start

in business and you're suddenly thinking I'm working even more hours now than I was

before. So it's just continually not now, but at the start it's that roller coasters of just almost

you've changed identity again. It's kind of working through that now. Who am I as a business

owner? And how do I stay true to myself, my values? If my values is all around my family and

that balance, then what do I need to make sure that my goal was all to make that happen.

Because I think we can easily get sidetracked by what others are doing and thinking that

that's what we have to do to be successful. But actually success is whatever you want it to

be. Sorry, I've probably completely gone off- piste with the question.

Tesse: [00:10:51] Absolutely not. I mean what you said is beautiful and elegantly put about

success is whatever you want it to be. Success is whatever you make it. Success is your

purpose that you're working towards. And I noticed in your book again, you give a quote

which you loved, and this is one from Helen Mirren, where you said, "look fear straight in its

ugly face and barge forward".

Sarah: [00:11:19] And the reason I love that quote. It's because I think that we have so many

fears worrying about judgment from others. Lots of it is if I use the example of the book

chapter, the book collaboration that I was part of. I would have never necessarily had the

courage to do anything like that before. And I remember the week that we were launching

this book and everyone else that had been part of the collaboration was so excited about it.

And you know, it was all over social media. And inside I just felt, I couldn't understand it

cause I wasn't feeling that excited. And it was because I'm not used to that promotion and

doing all of that. So I've learned a lot of lessons along the way, myself there.

Tesse: [00:12:08] Paula over to you. I think yeah, you can resonate with it.

Paula: [00:12:12] Yes. "Looking fear and its ugly face and barging forward". I love that, that is

bold, that is confident, that is speaking with authority. I like that because the acronym that I

heard recently, that fear is false evidence appearing real just seems so real. Look at the false

evidence appearing real and barge forward. Great.

Sarah: [00:12:38] I always think, take action when you normally wouldn't. Because I've had

so many occasions where I've procrastinated, been overthinking. And then you'd sometimes

don't take action because you've talked yourself out of it. Whereas if you just do it, even if

it's that small step again, you're on the way. And you'll look back in six months time and

think, wow I've actually achieved quite a few things there.

Tesse: [00:13:06] Yeah, it's kind of at the back of what Paula is saying about false evidence

appearing real. There's the other thing, which is F.A.I.L an acronym, which is First Attempt In

Learning. And I think that whole experimentation and stepping out and knowing that if we

don't make it the way we want to, we've learned one way not to do it.

Sarah: [00:13:27] Yeah, it's all about the learning key for me. I have been a bit of a

perfectionist before, so that would hold me back as well. Because I think I can't do it because

it's not perfect, but there's no such thing as perfect. So I think if anyone's ever worrying

about time for everything to be perfect, you just need to get to a point of where it's

acceptable for you. That you're comfortable for that thing to go out or get done. Cause

that's what's really helped me now.

Tesse: [00:13:56] Wow, wow. And for people listening in, what would you like them to take

away from hearing your story? It is a lovely story. Lots of parents out there during this

pandemic and post pandemic could be juggling the way that your juggling. What would your

encouragement be to them?

Sarah: [00:14:14] Don't put too much pressure on yourself is a big one because we do

naturally. And just try and take some time for you and do something that you enjoy. Do

something if it's daily that's brilliant, but even weekly. Do something I will say to people

because it will light you up. It lights that spark inside you. I think we easily just get lost

amongst helping others. And this is why I talk a lot around wellbeing because it's our

wellbeing but it gets neglected, then it gets into that negative spiral doesn't it?

Paula: [00:14:50] Yes it does. There's so many things I can think of, off the top of my head

that I was so afraid to do. One was public speaking, and so doing the podcast helped me.

Now as you know I do four. But yeah, that's procrastination. Oh my gosh, you just give up

and say, I'm not going to do it sometimes. And then the time when you do do it you're like, it

was so easy what was I thinking?

Sarah: [00:15:19] Yeah, and also a big thing is don't forget to celebrate your achievements

because again, all those little steps things that you might not think of that big it's a massive

achievement, and sometimes we forget that.

Paula: [00:15:33] Yes, that's so true. So Sandra we've really enjoyed talking with you. One

thing I wanted to do is apart from our listeners, where else can people find you online?

You're on that podcast for sure, but where else?

Sarah: [00:15:48] Well, I'm probably everywhere, on my website is probably the easiest

place to direct people to cause then my links to social media in there. So my websites


Paula: [00:16:05] So you're on Facebook, you're on LinkedIn, you're on Instagram. That's

cool, that's cool.

Sarah: [00:16:13] Loving to learn the tech.

Paula: [00:16:16] I understand.

Tesse: [00:16:19] You know Paula, I think that am curious to know the answer to one of our

favorite questions. Which is Sarah's emoji that connects with her. It's just because of all she's

been saying, I'm thinking okay, what emoji would adopt or use? What's your favorite emoji?

Sarah: [00:16:38] My favorite, actually the ones I probably use the most is there's a little

leaf, like leaves for growth. That's my kind of thing. Or I use a star they tend to be mine.

Tesse: [00:16:49] I thought so. Curious you have that playful you know, collective style and

then belief for the growth face.

Sarah: [00:17:00] Yeah.

Paula: [00:17:01] The star an exploding star you know. Growth, new birth outbursts.

Sarah: [00:17:08] Yeah.

Paula: [00:17:09] I love that.

Tesse: [00:17:10] You've been a great guest. I just love your quiet confidence, and I love your

encouragement to step out of the darkness and into the light. Thank you.

Sarah: [00:17:20] Thank you.

Paula: [00:17:21] Thank you, Sarah. It's always so great talking with you.

Sarah: [00:17:25] Thank you for having me.

Paula: [00:17:27] So we are wrapping up here and to our listeners, we want you to know

that your precious stories and lives matter. Others are supportive, encouraged, and nurtured

when they know that they are never alone. So for our listeners, we encourage you to head

over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere else that you may listen to

podcasts and please click subscribe. And if you have found "TesseLeads" helpful, please let

us know in your review. If you have any questions or topics you would like us to cover,

please send us a note. And if you'd like to be a guest on "TesseLeads", head over to

"www.tesseakpeki.com/tesseleads" to apply!

Tesse – Changing The World With Wellness

We all want to change the world with wellness, but it helps to remember that “Resilience helps us to stay grounded no matter what happens to us”- Resmaa Menakem ‘ My Grandmother’s Hands.’

We close our expectation gaps by actually acknowledging each other, acknowledging ourselves.  We acknowledge what we do well and learn what we do not do so well.   Rather than see failure as something that is bad, we see failure as something that helps us to do even better. In fact, some people say of failure that its first attempt in learning.  Agility is using this time as experimental space to fail forward, to succeed more, and to sustain success through purpose, intention, commitment, and impact.


Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to “TesseLeads” with your host, Tesse Akpeki and cohost Paula Okonneh. Today, we are doing a special type of recording. It’s special in that we don’t have a guest the table has been turned. I am interviewing Tesse on wellness and resilience, a personal journey. We doing this from a different point of view because Tesse started a wellness and resilience group some time back. And today was a day which she wanted to talk and educate, audience a little bit more about this. So Tesse this sounds strange, but welcome to your own show.  00:00:42 Tesse:  Thank you, Paula. I’m one that likes distributed leadership so it’s our show. I couldn’t do it without you thank you so much.  00:00:51 Paula:  All right. So as I said, we are going to be talking about wellness and resilience, Tesse’s personal journey. And my question for you today is, since you set off on your resilience and wellbeing, leadership initiative, what has been your experience? 00:01:11Tesse:  Well I’m going to roll back. My passion for resilience and wellbeing started about five, six years ago. And I thought it would be really good thing to look at what made people, governing bodies, executive teams and senior leadership teams. Well, you know how could they be functional? How could the relationships be healthy? And I did a lot of research, I worked with organizations and I worked with myself to explore the reality of this. And I got locked down in Lagos during the beginning of COVID. I went out there for nine days and it turned out that I was there for three months. And it was while I was there that I decided that I was going to set up a virtual network called “the wellbeing and resilience leadership initiative”. And my thoughts were that if I got interest from about 50 people or organizations, that was good enough. But then that interest went up to thousands. And then I found that I was accepting an avalanche of invitations, and these invitations through LinkedIn came mainly from coaches and mentors and psychologists and psychiatrists and counselors. All the individuals or the groupings that deal with human skill, people say soft skills, but I call them human skills because it’s about human beings. And I was invited to my first mindfulness conference, which I accepted it was virtual so I could go. And it’s taken off from there, it’s just created a whole ecosystem for me. Which showed that, that intuition that there was a need for exploring wellness and wellbeing, and also looking at resilience and their kind of scope of leadership. It became very clear that there is a need for that, and other people were doing that. So for me, I felt that I found my tribe. I didn’t realize that I have been looking for this tribe all along and there that tribe was and is. So I’m a happy camper in that tribe actually.  00:03:42 Paula: That’s so good to know. So talking about your tribe, what have you found particularly helpful about your tribe?  00:03:51 Tesse:  That’s a fantastic question, Paula. That’s why I admire, you asked great questions and more. I love the thing about belonging, affiliation, being part of a community. Being part of the consciousness that not only are we worth something, not only are we valuing ourselves and being valued by others, but there’s a whole network, a whole movement of people that bring us together. And more recently, I came across a lovely resource, which is called the “Unlonely Planet”. And the writer of this resource introduces the reader to the concept of congregation. Now you think that congregation is just about churches, no is not just about churches. Yes it is church, but actually she was taken into consciousness that so many people in our planet are lonely, so many people in our planet are anxious. A lot of people are suffering depression. And her thinking very much was let’s create something that is different, that people can meet each other where they’re at and form communities together. So if there’s one thing that has emerged from the wellbeing and the leadership initiative for me. It is that community matters, community helps, community is health. So it really is not going to it’s in that common sense, that people would need each other. But sometimes we ask ourselves, do we have anything to offer? And the answer is yes we do, in community we can build each other up, in community we can listen to our stories, in community we can actually ask for help or support or resource when we need it. So community matters. 00:06:03Paula:  I love that answer, community matters. And as we talk more about that, especially as we are. I don’t even know whether to say we at the end of the pandemic. Well, most of us have had our vaccines, I have had my two doses. And you mentioned to me before we got on, this, that you’ve had your two doses. 00:06:23 Tesse:  Yeah 00:06:23Paula:  And so as you talk about community mattering, I know that this also brings us back to a special topic of wellbeing and resilience. Because doing the past one year plus the lock down  started in the states in March of 2020. And it started when in your, probably about the same time in England. But wellbeing and resilience has been particularly important during this pandemic. And so how have you seen that coming to play? Can you give us a little bit more details and how it’s coming to play? Because I know there’s been loss. Loss sometimes physical, when I say physical, human beings loosing their lives, but in other ways there’s also means loss of certainty. We’ve always lived in an uncertain world, but this seemed even more pronounced. There’s been the loss of freedom in a way, because we were under lockdown for a long period of time. Can you talk a little bit about that and how it comes into play with wellbeing and resilience?  00:07:27 Tesse:  Oh that’s really a good question. Loss, grief, loss of the pleasures that we’re used to, loss of hugs, loss of closeness to people physical closeness to people. These are things that impacted us during lockdown. Yes the UK were easing out of it with a basic set of vaccination program. But it’s going to take a long time to actually begin to feel comfortable with being physically close to other people. People are anxious and there’s a lot of fear around and actually getting the confidence to not be afraid is going to be a big thing. There’s a professor that you and I talked to called professor Binna Kandola, OBE, and he has been doing a lot of application of what he’s calling the capsule environment. Which was mainly known to space travel or places like the big brother house, where people don’t have the level of interactions that they normally would. And so that is a loss of interactions the way we know it. That being said, what took its place was virtual interactions. So. The rise of virtual networks and the whole thing about connecting through podcasts, which is what we are doing, the rise and success of Clubhouse and others. Ways of communicating with people other than being physical is one, but the other thing is the big thing that we all started working from home. And so we had the blurring of lines between professional and personal. We have working at home, and actually, where was the difference between the dining table, which at one minute was a table for food and the next minute became the place where we put our laptops and started to work. And the whole thing about virtual backgrounds and what those are, I have to say  that has been my highlight of the working from home thing. I’m always looking at other people’s virtual backgrounds I have to confess, I love when children come in and sit and demand that they want to do poo or something like that, which they have done. I love when you know, we see taps and places and we see dogs and we see people strolling in thankfully usually clothed. But that thing has to me brought a sense of humanity and that human feel, that we were those people who had these things going on before. But what we are now doing in this environment is that we’re seeing that, and that speaks to vulnerability and that speaks to authenticity. There is nothing there that wasn’t there before, it’s just that people didn’t see it. And I think that what I experienced as somebody who’s a leadership strategist, is that experience is softness in people is softness in teams, is softness in organizations and I’m hoping that we don’t lose that. I saw more empathy and more compassion coming through, and I hope that we won’t lose that either. I feel that there’s been so much positivity in that, but allied  to that have been in level of anxiety as well. And I know that in the United States, as well as in the UK we have people who are on furlough. And some people were still working virtually and stuff like that. And the impact of furlough is going to be felt for quite a long time. So the looking at things around anxiety, looking at issues of depression, which the “World Health Organization” has told us that this is going to be the next pandemic, anxiety and depression and loneliness, mental health. This is going to be the place. So what I think was that these things that were happening in the pandemic, will continue after pandemic – post pandemic. But I think that we have an opportunity to choose to work through how they can be platforms for hope to move forward to a future that we choose and we can craft, and to put in place in our environments, cultures that are anti loneliness, anti depression, anti the loss of hope. That we actually build those environments intentionally and mindfully. And that rather than be things that will break us down, we actually use them as platforms to stand on and build ourselves up. So that I and you become we and us, and we continue to have even more of an impact because we do together more than what we would have done alone. I come back to that thing about what I said before about the “Unlonely planet” that we begin to be those people who build congregations that matter but have meaning and that book, which the author have to give her a shout Julianne Richardson wrote. She never knew that it would be such a great seller, but I think it became a best seller because it led to other ways of people building communities and strengthening things that meet ups and strengthening other kind of platform that Clubhouse and so on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, whatever all these platforms became stronger because people want to be in community.  00:13:25 Paula:  People do want to be in community and something you just said that jumped out at me was that, so we can change our communication from I and you to we and us. 00:13:43 Tesse:  You know we are together doing more than what we would have done alone. And I think if your people talk about building back better building back better. But I think that building back better will not mean the same thing if it’s done without “we” together in community, in our “we-ness,” actually creating an infrastructure where “we” matter to ourselves and we matter to each other. 00:14:13 Paula: So that’s another one. And for us, it was “community matters” and now “we matter”. We matter to ourselves and we matter to others.  00:14:22 Tesse:  Absolutely.  00:14:24 Paula:  I love it. So we’re going to wrap this up and I would like to hear from you any key messages that you’d like to share with our listeners.  00:14:37 Tesse: Yeah, a number of things, you know I just don’t do one or two have to be greedy and do a few more. The first thing I would say and this is something that MIND, the organization that deals with mental health keeps reminding us. That is okay not to be okay. I mean the mental health work which has been absolutely supportive of people as individuals and collectively, encourages us to look for help, to seek help, to ask help when we need it and to reach out. But I also think that there’s something for us as individuals looking out for other people. And if people feel disconnected in some way, disengaged in some way, you know looking for meaning or purpose that people are able to notice that and reach out. There has been an increase in mental health first aid and first aiders. And I think that’s important that people know how to support others and how to encourage others to seek professional help if they need to. But I’m also looking at it on a broader theme because what the network I have founded does is look at the area of wellness and wellbeing. And that extends not just to mental health extends to things like financial wellbeing, it extends to things like emotional wellbeing and spiritual wellbeing. It just means that we need to be intentional about us as whole people taking care of ourselves and taking care of others. It means that we are empathetic, that we are compassionate, that we are hopeful and that we are embracing and inclusive of others other than ourselves. And it starts first with us, but it reaches out to others and it reaches out to the wider global society. To do that we start with ourselves first and we reach out and we embrace others. That has been one point, so I know I’ve cheated and loaded that one into that wellness and so on. So I smile Paula, I got away with that. But there’s another thing about structure, and I think that the bit about structure is that. I never really used to be one of these people that was big on structure anybody who knows me will say I was like half 1000 flowers and let them bloom as is, that was my thing. But actually I’ve changed that. I believe that structure is important in order to form a container that we put things in. And so what that means is even if we’re working at home, we actually have a structure of how we do things when we do it, we build in breaks, we build in rests, we build in times to play. We focus on our work and by doing that, we actually are able to do things that, because the structure is there, it guides us and guards us and steers us towards something that matters. And the other thing I would say is celebration acknowledgement and affirmation. By this I mean that we close our expectation gaps by actually acknowledging each other, acknowledging ourselves, acknowledging what we do well and what we do not so well, but rather than see failure as something that is bad we see failure as something that helps us to do even better. In fact some people say of failure that its first attempt in learning and we actually use this time as experimental space to fail forward, to succeed more, and to sustain success through purpose , intention, commitment, and impact. So that would be some of the things I would say that have emerged for me as I’ve thought of this journey intently about wellbeing, resilience, and leadership.  00:18:34 Paula:  Thank you, Tesse. So we close with those four things, you stressed on purpose, intent, commitment, and impact. 00:18:45Tesse: Absolutely. 00:18:47Paula: They matter. Just as you said, community matters, instead of talking about you and me we talk about “we”. So we matter interestingly you and me becomes “us”, which is also “we”, so you can’t say us matters, but we matter.  00:19:08 Tesse: You can always create another term, “us matters” why not dear? why not? 00:19:15 Paula:  Why not? Yeah there’s so many new words now, who would have thought. Yeah, would have thought that zoom would be an adjective. Is it a noun now, are you going to zoom with me? 00:19:27 Tesse:  zoom with me, zoom with us, “us and us” 00:19:31 Paula: We start somewhere, we start somewhere. So with that I want to tell our listeners again, thank you so much for listening to “TesseLeads”. We as you see, we matter because I have turned the table and today I spoke with none other than the main host of “TesseLeads”. We want you to know that your precious stories and your lives matter. We want you to share your stories with us. And we also want to say that not only are your stories important, but everything about you supported, encouraged and nurtured. Because we want you to know that you’re never alone. So please head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere else where you may listen to a podcast and please click subscribe. If you find “TesseLeads” helpful, please let us know in your review. And if you have any questions or topics that you would like us to cover send us a note, or more importantly, if you’d like to be a guest on our show “TesseLeads”. Please head over to www.tesseakpeki.com/tesseleads to apply. Thank you again our wonderful listeners. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.  00:20:57 Tesse: Thank you Paula, you’re a star.  00:20:59 Paula:  Thank you Tesse, you’re the star.  00:21:02 Tesse:  We are stars together. Us, we not I, we. 00:21:08Paula: That’s true, that’s true.

Bonnie Marcus – Not Done Yet!

Bonnie  Marcus author of Not Done Yet recalls  her first big job, “I had no qualifications what so ever for that job. I was barely managing my own check book, let alone running a business with 30 doctors. I somehow did really well in the interview convincing them that I was the right person; or let me say that I was smart enough to learn. And they hired me. And a year and a half I ran a eleven centers. Up and down the East coast in the U S for that company. And that was the beginning of my business career. So I often say I’ve always learned business on the job. And I had mastered how to show up confidently and own the value that I could bring. Not faking it by the way, because I couldn’t”




Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to “TesseLeads” with your host, Tesse Akpeki and cohost Paula Okonneh. “TesseLeads” Is a safe, sensitive, and supportive place and space to share hear and tell your stories and your experiences. You will hear from top experts and thought leaders, strategies, tips, and techniques that they found useful in navigating a diverse career of challenges, difficulties, dilemmas, as well as how you can create and shape opportunities. Our guest today is Bonnie Marcus, and we will be talking about the book. “Not done yet” A Bonnie Marcus story. Bonnie is an award-winning entrepreneur, forbes contributing writer and executive coach. She assists professional women to successfully navigate the workplace and position and promote themselves to advance their careers. She has over 20 years of sales and management experience. And her extensive business background includes being the C E O of a service master company and the VP of sales of a medical staffing l network, as well as two other national companies in the healthcare software industries. She has held executive positions in stock of companies and fortune 500 companies. I could go on and on about Bonnie. Bonnie Marcus, please tell us about yourself and again, welcome to “TesseLeads”.  Bonnie: 00:01:34 Thanks for having me.  Paula: 00:01:37 Tesse over to you. Tesse: 00:01:39 Wonderful. Bonnie, I’m a fan of yours and I followed your work for many years. And you know, I just get into that feeling of the passion you have and women earning a recognition that they deserve. I love your books, I love your talks, I’m really big on that. So “Not done yet”, you know it resonates with me because what I pick up is your take on how women can enhance their own value and have experiences and wisdom that they can see whether adding value. But I’m curious, this is why I like that story. I’m curious to know what led you down this path of inspiration and encouragement? Bonnie: 00:02:21 As you mentioned in the introduction, I was in the corporate arena for over 20 years. I worked my way up from an entry level position to the C-suite. And I was very fortunate to have a lot of great doors open for me and, and opportunities. I never turned them down,you know, I was always ready to show up and take a leap and take a risk and not necessarily telling myself I couldn’t do a particular job. And that would hold me back from putting my name out there. But one of the things that really bothered me throughout my career. Was seeing so many talented, ambitious women being passed over. And Tesse, the reason wasn’t necessarily, well it didn’t have anything to do with their performance. It didn’t have anything to do with the effort they were putting in because they’re working hard, but they weren’t getting that recognition. And I just wanted to make it my mission and my passion to help women advance, to help women learn how to own their talent, own their value, and learn how to advocate for themselves in an authentic way. Because that comes from really understanding the value you bring. And understanding how you can use that value to help others in the workplace reach their objectives. To help your business your organization reach their goals, because of the value you can bring. It’s really important for me to help women in this way. Not that we don’t have the talent or we don’t have the ambition, you know. All these years you hear about. Well, there isn’t a pipeline of women; there aren’t qualified women and yes there are. No you can’t give me the excuse that women aren’t in more leadership positions or on boards because there aren’t qualified women. So my goal is to help women position themselves for success. Know how to advocate for themselves and own their value.  Tesse: 00:04:53 Wow. Advocate for success, own their value. This is key it’s golden. Paula you had a question for Bonnie. Didn’t you?  Paula: 00:05:04 Yeah, “TesseLeads”, as you heard from our intro is about sharing, it’s about caring and about hearing each other’s stories and experiences. And your message is about confidence, your message is about reclaiming power. This is a universal message. So can you delve in a little bit more so that our listeners can gain from like your own personal story. I know you said you started from entry level and worked yourself up. But I know there’s a lot more. Bonnie: 00:05:32 Oh yeah, there’s a lot more. I started my career as a kindergarten teacher. I’ve got a master’s degree in education and I was teaching kindergarten and dance at a private school. And I got a divorce and my kids were six and eight at the time. And I just couldn’t make ends meet being a teacher. Now that’s a whole separate topic of discussion about how we undervalue teachers, but we’re not going to go there now. I just want to make that point that teaching wasn’t going to pay the bills. So I looked for a nine to five job. I saw a job in the paper for medical secretary and I had called up and they said, come on in for an interview. And they told me I couldn’t have the job because I was overqualified. I had a master’s degree, they thought, Oh we’re going to teach you this job, and then you’re going to leave. And I was, please give me the job. I practically begged them, you know. I just want a nine to five job. I’ve got two young children, I’m recently divorced. They didn’t buy it, they turned me down. But two weeks later I got a call from them. And this was a large medical practice. And the HR department called me and they said we are starting a new joint venture with a healthcare management company and about 30 docs to open up a cardiac rehab center. And the management company is coming next week. And they’re interested in interviewing people to run the center. Would you be interested? Now here’s what I was talking about earlier. I said yeah. And I went in, I had no qualifications what so ever for that job. I was barely managing my own checkbook, let alone running a business with 30 docs. I somehow did really well in the interview convincing them that I was the right person; or let me say that I was smart enough to learn. And they hired me. And a year and a half I ran a eleven centers. Up and down the East coast in the U S for that company. And that was the beginning of my business career. So I often say I’ve always learned business on the job. I have never said no to opportunities that I thought were a good opportunities for me to pursue. And I had mastered how to show up confidently and own the value that I could bring. Not faking it by the way, because I couldn’t I just, you know. So people will say to me wow you know, you made it to the C-suite. You must have an MBA. You must’ve gone to business school or whatever. No, every job that I’ve had in my career so far. I have learned on the job Paula: 00:08:45 So you brought your authentic self into every job. That’s what I’m hearing.  Bonnie: 00:08:50 So that’s my story. I left the corporate world in 2007. Started my own business as a coach, with that mission to help women position themselves for success. I wrote my first book in 2015. “The politics of promotion”. How high achieving women get ahead and stay ahead. And this last book, which is not my last book, but my most recent book. “Not done yet”. How women over 50 regained their confidence and claim workplace power. Is simply unindentive. You know, it just continues the story of how women need to position themselves to stay at the top of their game. Yeah I’m thinking about another book now. And perhaps in the” Not done yet” series. And I’m by no means done.  Tesse: 00:09:44 By no means done. I love it, I love it. Every time I meet you Bonnie, I experience someone who’s very humble, very confident, very competent and very compassionate. It’s just the combination. And, and I feel reassured anytime I encounter you. Whether it’s email or you know, whether it’s through you know, digital or whatever. I just feel that sense of your authenticity and your vulnerability. So in closing this off, I wonder if you have any words about how people like me, like Paula, like others listening in. Can write a new empowering story. Bonnie: 00:10:27 Well, the first part of it is to write the current story that you tell yourself. And you then can say, does that support you or sabotage you? And if it’s not an empowering story. Then you need to recognize the power, that negative story has on your life and career and write a new story. One that supports whatever your goals are in, in life and in business. Paula: 00:10:56 That sums it up. Oh gosh, I love that. Start with your current story wow. You are doing what you have said to do. The current or the aspiring.  Tesse: 00:11:07 Yeah, thank you Bonnie. You’ve been, I mean I get emotional. Emotional, in a good way because I, I hear, I hear what you’re saying. And I know that no matter where we are in our life, we can always do that. Check in itself. Check in with the narrative, check in with the action, checkin with the mindset. And tell ourselves the story. I can tell myself a story that empowers me and that builds me up, so that I can better build other people up and serve the world better. Paula you thoughts?  Paula: 00:11:42 I’m just so impressed by Bonnie’s story. She didn’t take no for an answer. She was overqualified in one sense, and they didn’t take her in that interview. But the one that she wasn’t really qualified for qualified in the sense that she didn’t know what it entails. She went in full force and her authentic self showed up. And a year later she was managing 11 companies nationwide. That’s so impressive. I love that story, I love it, I love it. Just before we wrap up, I realize that we didn’t ask you this early on. Where can we find you online?  Bonnie: 00:12:15 Well my website  is “BonnieMarcusleadership.com”. You can listen to my podcast every Tuesday. “Bad ass women at any age”. Many inspiring stories of women who are sharing their stories about how they arrived, where they are today.  And that’s on Apple and wherever you listen to your podcasts. My books, both “The politics of promotion” and the current one. “Not done yet”. Are available on Amazon, Barnes and noble, wherever you buy your books. Independent bookstores you can support. And yeah, I think that’s, that’s it.  Paula: 00:12:55 So to our precious listeners, your stories matter your lives matter. Please share them with us. Please also know that others are supported, encouraged, and nurtured when they know that they’re never alone. So for listeners, please make sure you head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to podcasts. And please click subscribe. If you find “TesseLeads” helpful, please let us know in your review. And if you have any questions or topics you’d like us to cover, send us a note. Last but not least. If you’d like to be a guest on our show,”TesseLeads”. Head over to “Tesseakpeki.com/tessieleads” to apply. Thank you again Bonnie. Tesse: 00:13:45 Thank you, thank you Bonnie. Thank you so much. we’ll be in touch. Paula: 00:13:49 Thank you  Bonnie: 00:13:49 Thank you so much. We’ll be in touch.  Paula: 00:13:52 Thank you to all our listeners. You make doing this just the best thing ever.

Steve Morris – People’s Precious Lives Matter

“People’s Precious Lives Matter” says Steve Morris, Vicar of St Cuthbert’s, North Wembley

“I made a decision when I became a Vicar that I actually would not cover up the fact that I’ve had problems in the past, sometimes with depression and anxiety, I just wasn’t. I was going to be honest about it, cause I didn’t want people thinking that I was some kind of superhero and I found it one of the most useful parts of my ministry is just to say, if you’re feeling bad, talk to me about it, tell me what’s happening says the gifted Steve Morris.”   His sharing with TesseLeads takes us through the highs and lows of life, his father, his wife and himself.   Yet these struggles have served to strengthen his resolve and to cast a light on what really matters to him.

Steve is also  the author of “Our Precious Lives “



Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to TesseLeads with your hosts Tesse Akpeki and co-host Paula Okoneh. Tesse Leads is a safe, sensitive, and supportive place and space to share, hear and tell your stories and experiences. You will hear from top experts and thought leaders, strategies, tips and techniques they have found useful in navigating their diverse range of challenges and difficulties and dilemmas, as well as how you can create and shape your opportunities. Our guest today is Steve Morris and we will be talking about precious lives. Steve is a vicar at St. Cuthbert’s Northwest London, before that he ran a brand agency and was a writer. Woo, woo. He became a Christian in his forties, went to Oxford and studied science, suffering and faith. Wow, and he was  ordained into the church of England. His book, “Our Precious Lives” is published by Authentic. Steve loves hearing people’s stories and everyday courage of keeping on. One thing that I didn’t know, and many of you may not know is that Steve is also a music journalist, he ran a small record label and he met his wife, Christine, when they were in school together. Well apart from having two beautiful daughters, Steve and Christine, his wife, and two friends formed a band at UEA Norridge, called red Arbus and red harvest song world one, listen, charted on college radio in the U S. Steve you are amazing. Steve: 00:01:56 I didn’t even recongnize myself,very good.Thank you, lovely Paula: 00:02:04 There is something Steve about this record, I got a surprise for myself. Can you hear this? Oh, my word. This is amazing. Steve: 00:02:18 It is a beautiful sound Paula: 00:02:20 We have never had. Wow. All right I’m going to stop here because the whole podcast may be taken up with just listening to all of your releases. “The world will listen” right?  Steve: 00:02:32 I hope so one day. Tesse: 00:02:36 I love it. I totally love this song, I actually tapped my fingers to “The world will listen”.  Steve: 00:02:43 Yeah, it was a great time. We went to Paris to film the video there and, we didn’t realize you’re meant to have a permit to film. We spent three days being chased around Paris by the police. Paula: 00:02:57 Oh, you’re serious Steve: 00:02:58 Yeah Paula: 00:02:59 Well yes, that is in your bio, why don’t you tell us a bit more? I know It didn’t say everything because I was so blown away by, wow. Somebody who had a release in the U S. So tell us more about you, Steve. What did I leave out?  Steve: 00:03:12 Oh, I think you’ve got most of the stuff there. I mean, yeah, I suppose thing that I always think shaped me most is that I was born in Northholt which is a kind of, you know, is right on the end of London. And there’s nothing there, you know, it’s, you know, when we always say Norwich, but everyone else gets all the other stuff we’re just left, you know? So I grew up in a place that was neglected really, and was on the edge of things. I’ve always had that kind of restlessness, you know, wanting to be somewhere where things are more interesting. I’m like a lot of people, I think from the outer suburbs. That’s still in there, I’ve still got that. And, you know, when I left Norwich , I said, I’m never coming back to, but now I love Norwich. So I’m grateful for, and also it’s the greatest. Honestly I call myself Lord Morris of Norwich. I mean, honestly I say it is the as a sense of the universe and I’m sticking with that, you know. So I love Northup, my mom still lives there, so, I’ve gone full circle. So I think that played a really big part for me in my life. Just where I grow up, where I came from  Paula: 00:04:10 That’s what makes you who you are, right?.  Steve: 00:04:13 Yep, that’s right, definitely. I went to a comprehensive school and not just throughout my life that I was almost the only comprehensive school child in almost everything I ever did. I was at a university, I was the only person who hadn’t been privately or grammar, school educated, and in the whole of my course. When I worked in advertising, I was again, the only person that had gone to a  comprehensive, as far as I could tell. In the church of England, we’re a rare breed. We really are. So I’ve just known this, I’ve always in a way had that. And I’ve noticed that really, they all run though.  Paula: 00:04:45 Fantastic. So are there any lessons you learned while growing up that you want to share with us?  Steve: 00:04:51 Yeah, I think, I think we always had, as a family work hard, work hard, protect each other. So that was the thing, you know, family stick up for each other, that was the thing. And don’t expect anyone to ever give you anything. You got to earn everything yourself, you’ve got to make everything yourself, no one will ever do you a favor, whatever you do, you get through your own hard work. And that has broadly been true, I think that is true. And I think the other thing I learned when I was growing up is, you know, how tough life had been for my parents and my grandparents. My dad left school at 14, he couldn’t read or write, and he had an appalling childhood that was absolutely, devastatingly bad. And yet, and yet, you know what? He never laid a hand on us, he worked hard his whole life didn’t cheat on my mum. For all of the faults we all have. I think that’s an achievement in itself. I really do  Tesse: 00:05:42 Wow, that’s so fascinating, Steve. And as I say, I learned about you every day, it’s just so many layers and each layer is very interesting and you know, I love music, and I know from reading about you, that your band played in some of the roughest pubs in London. You know, and you describe as being very character building. And I was so interested when I read that you used to support a “Hells angel band”, which was quite scary. And you also tended to play in good old Irish venues in North London. I grew up in Ireland, so I love Irish venues I think there’s such a hoot. But really this whole thing about the challenges, cause I’m reading about you and I hear what you do and they have lots of highs, but also I get a sense of quite a number of lows. So I’d really be curious to you to share a bit more of the challenges that you’ve faced and how you overcame some of these difficulties? Steve: 00:06:37 I think, well, the first one, I mean, there was always challenges when growing up. Just before I went to the university, Christine and I met, I knew immediately I met Christine, who’s my wife, now, that was the only person I ever wanted and that’s still the case. And so I really didn’t want to go to university, I was just so scared, really. That was a really difficult time, and the first term, I mean, I knew I’d never give up, but you know, I was hanging on, you know, the handson my fingertips being at university. The thing that really got me, that was when I left university. Because, I built all my hopes on staying there, I wanted to be an academic, I wanted to study books for the rest of my life, and my teachers said to me, Steve, you know, you’re never going to be an academic you’re going to be a journalist. I was heartbroken, and I think for the first year, I mean, I never really wanted to work for a living, I’ll share that with you. I was much happier, not sitting all day in that office really. I was just in autumn morning I was really low, I couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed, I felt that all the things I’d wanted to happen. Weren’t going to, and I was terribly sad about that, it took me years to get over that kind of, sense of loss and looking back on it, it does, it sounds a bit flimsy, but to me I’m an all or nothing person, you know, and absolutely I put everything into everything and, I had all my hopes pinned on staying, studying books. So ,when that crumbled and then when the band fell apart so badly for us, I think it took a long time to kind of be anything like normal again, really.  Tesse: 00:08:09 And some of the things you, you mentioned to me in the past of being your dad and your dad’s health, what went on there?  Steve: 00:08:16 He had problems with his nerves really, most of the time after he was growing up. And I suppose we knew that as his family, you know, so it’s difficult when you live with people who, are having a hard time, really. But he got motor neurons. And so, that was very hard to see because my dear old dad, you know, he’s a big, tough, old fellow really. He’d been a debt collector in the East end of London.   He would  sort anything out, you know, he was going to go and sort it out. And then to see what motor neuron does, it just made me realize no one is tough enough on their own absolutely, in the end, whatever it is, something will get you, and you will never be tough enough on your own to win that battle. No, the, the intriguing thing there was, you know, we became reconciled my dad and I, and he became a Christian. And I remember him saying to me, right at the end there, you know, I’ve had a fantastic lifestyle go and enjoy your life. And I was astounded I thought he would have said, I’ve had a rotten old life, you know, grew up in poverty, grandfather used to beat me, you know, this comes blah, blah, blah, whatever it was. But no, no, and when I read the bit of the Bible where it says about defeating the world, that’s what I think defeating the world is. Against all available evidence, my dad could say I had a really good life. Yeah, that’s amazing, it’s is really, really something. So I suppose in a way, the wonderful thing, you know, my father thanked me, you know, right at the end of his life, he said, thank you, you’ve made my life. And so I’ve never had to feel guilty. I occasionally think, I wish I’d been nicer to him, but that was his gift to me, his gift to me was, go and enjoy your life. Yeah. I think that’s something which I always, you know, I treasure really, I hope I can do it for my own children. I really do. Tesse: 00:09:59 Yeah, thanks for sharing that, Steve, did I read somewhere that your father was in the army as well?  Steve: 00:10:04 Yeah, he was in the army. He had a really difficult time because his friend, they signed up together and his friend was, was killed. It it was in service actually it wasn’t the war, it was in service and his friend was murdered by terrorists. I’m not going to call them terrorist because they murdered my dad’s friend, you know? Other people might call them freedom fighters. And my dad saw it and you know, he left the army soon after it just affected his mental wellbeing, that kind of thing. But he loved being in the army, you know, we would March around the front room, the military bands playing on the stereo, you get the flag out and wave it around, and you know, he absolutely loved the army, because it got him out of the East end, got him out of the east end of London got him put him around the world. It, it, he met my mum because my mum was a pen friend, you know? So the army had a lot of friends, family friends, old soldiers,old paratroopers and I loved them every single one of them is dead now, everyone’s died now. I used to love as a boy sitting there and hearing, you know, on my mom’s side, they were all paratroopers as well, talking about their, their exploits. So I suppose in a way, you know, I was never going to go in the army myself, that was never going to be me, but I admired them, I did. I still do.  Paula: 00:11:24 Wow. You, love stories, I can see that. Yeah, that’s kind of dictates, I guess what you’re doing because your book “Precious Lives” have so many heroes in it. Obviously your dad, your mom, both sides of the family, they were your heroes. Right? And so coming back to your book, Can you pick two heroes in that, that impressed you?  Steve: 00:11:48 Yeah, thank you. I mean, what the idea was was that there’s a kind of heroism in everyday life and that we often don’t acknowledge it. And in that heroism, God’s in that heroism, the incarnation God lived an ordinary life. Jesus had a completely ordinary life, until he was 30, it worked in his mum and dad’s business. They employed people, he would have mucked around with the kids on the, in the area. And so as part of that formation of a person that ordinary life is really important. And so I think that the ordinary life honors God, and I think ordinary people are saints, in the way that the big saints are. There’s a kind of, something very Holy about ordinary life lived well. Those are the people that really, I write about someone called looky, looky Fitzpatrick, and, he was really my friend. He took me under his wing, a big, really big kind of Irish fella, would bear hug me most days. I’ve come to my victory Ridge, sit down and pray with me. And he came through, you know, horrific upbringing, and at one point he was a banned knuckle fighter for money too drunk, drinking. Goodness knows, and his life was turned around by becoming a Christian. But it was just that this is the thing was just, he was just so wise. I’ve just been thinking about the limits of intelligence, the limits of intellectualism, how far it gets you really? Because, looking, I don’t think he even even got a GCSE, but you know, he was the wisest person I ever met and I think that’s something I want to reclaim, I want to reclaim the kind of wisdom. The kudos, the prestige of working class people who are frequently looked down upon because they haven’t done what other people have done. So Lukey is in there, and the other person I think is, is Steven  Chamberlain he is another friend of mine. He now runs a soup kitchen, but he, he was maitre D at the Gavroche, and he was earning such a fortune. I knew Lady Di and everything else. And then one day went to the London lighthouse that was   the early days of HIV AIDS. And he suddenly was so convicted by seeing people, and he looked down at his very expensive Gucci shoes and just the I can’t account go on a truck, his job in training to be an AIDS counselor   flew to San Francisco, visited AIDS patients in the hospital where no one else would go cause they were, they were too scared and then he’s come back and he now most gorgeous thing, you know, so I suppose those two people, and then there’s loads of others, but those two kind of particularly, you know, unlikely heroes, I suppose. That’s what I described them.  Tesse: 00:14:25 Wow. I’m privileged to have met both of these people you talk about, and I feel very inspired by both of them, but there’s somebody else who inspires me, and that is your gorgeous, lovely, gentle and kind wife, Christine, I know, having met you and Christine about her story, would you like to share a bit of her story? Because I knew she had a pretty rough time with her health and, but you will tell that story better than I.  Steve: 00:14:53 Oh, thank you Yeah. So Christine and I, we’ve just always been such tremendous friends, you know, that’s the thing I think we, we, that’s the thing that’s, that’s there, is just that we admire each other and we like each other, which is really helpful. But, that was probably something like 14 or 15 years ago. I knew she was getting ill, but I could’nt kind of stop her, you know, she was training for the London marathon and I could see, I could see there was something really seriously wrong and I knew it, but it was a life’s ambition to run the marathon. And at, 16 miles, she collapsed, and, it was just this wretched thing of if only things had been different. She wanted to stop after four miles, I was meant to be there to wave at her, then she would have stopped, but she missed me. She hadn’t got her phone, she was running, so she didn’t wanna let the children down so they could see her, you know, all that stuff. And then, so we had a, she had a  jewel tear, which is basically a tear in your brain. And, what happens is. It’s like I’m in a pressurized system, pop a nail   into it, you get it, all those kinds of pressure drops out of it. And that’s what happened to her brain, you know? And so for a year she had to lay down. That wasn’t the worst of it, the worst of it was that she was in hospital, she had a procedure on her brain, we took her home. She nearly died on the streets in Ealing. The ambulance wouldn’t pick her up. I mean, it was just, the authorities were just conspiring to try and kill my wife. I felt like it, at the time that was. You know, in Star Wars, the force gets kind of disturbed, that was what happened in my life in our family, cause Christine was really indestructible. And, yeah, she’s a great deal better now, but you know, it was, it was a, a massive thing. I mean, in a way, a lot of things came out of that. Our business, it was really the beginning of the end for that, I think because we’d worked together, we were a great team member, when one of us wasn’t able to do it, it just, you just couldn’t really hang together. Christine is brilliant, right? She just gets on with life. But if I were to be honest, it’s left me with this kind of sense of peril that I’ve never really. I’ve never shaken, I’ve never quite got rid of it. It’s somewhere in the back of my mind is the feeling that one day it’s all going to go wrong again, you know? And, um, I kind of live with that now. That’s where I’m at really.  Tesse: 00:17:22 Yeah, Steve, thanks for sharing that because you know, when I encounter you and we have our chats and I listen to what you do, you come across as being a really like solid rock, you know, just dependable, just so there. Has It always been that case? Did you have your lows and, you know, anxiety, depression, any of those things? And if you do, what have you found helps you to get back to, to kind of be resilient, to be strong?  Steve: 00:17:47 Thank you, for all people who suffer from anxiety and depression, we’ve become very good actors. We’re really good at, as a defense mechanism of presenting a face, a persona. And I come to think that I probably inherited it, you know, from my dad. I think these things are sometimes  partly nature and partly nurture. So yeah, I mean, that’s something I’ve just, I’ve lived with really, since I was a teenager. And most of the time I function many all the time I function well. I’ve never, never taken the time or anything, but there are good times and there are less good times. And for me, the only thing that works is talking, that’s it, if I’m, if I’m in a bad place, I just, you to just talk about it, that’s it, talk to Christine. I generally feel much better than I’ve done that. I’m glad that we’re much more honest these days about mental health, I really am because it was a taboo subject. And I made a decision when I became a Vicar that I actually would not cover up the fact that I’ve had problems in the past, sometimes with depression and anxiety, I just wasn’t. I was going to be honest about it, cause I didn’t want people thinking that I was some kind of superhero and I found it one of the most useful parts of my ministry is just to say, if you’re feeling bad, talk to me about it, tell me what’s happening. I cannot make anyone feel better, but I can pray for them and I can listen. Those two things are our lifesavers. Paula: 00:19:09 Yes, indeed they are. Having listened to you talk about what happened with Christine your wife, and talking about your mental health and how you serve the people now, you know, you’ve let people know that you’re vulnerable, that you have suffered some of the things that they think like Tesse just said, you’d look like a pillar of strength when she looks at you. She almost feels like, Tesse correct me if I’m wrong, you almost feel as if there’s nothing that jolts you. But having heard this, and I’m just meeting you for the first time, I know that you’re  a human being, and even though you’re a pastor at church, you have feelings and you’ve gone through trials. So I’m wondering in this pandemic, if you’re finding out, you know, that people are coming to you, what are you using to encourage people at this time? Steve: 00:19:59 Oh, thank you. I think this pandemic has been very interesting in a way, because it’s, it’s brought us as a church so much closer, very strange, we can’t meet and yet we’re closer and closer because we’ve done a little phoning of each other, we do a bit of zooming and I think we’ve been able to share that we’re all to varying degrees no one has found it easier. And I think in a sense that oddly encouraging is a lot of the older folk that went through the war have said to me, things like this is worse than the war. I mean, if they can say that, then it means that, you know, it’s okay that this is difficult for people. I, I think that  we haven’t really been in church for a year. I haven’t done all the normal things of church and a lot of those are very fiddly and that’s not my strengths really. And so going back to a kind of complexity is something that I find a little bit daunting. I speak to some of my friends last time, the thought of going back to the full church experience, getting everything together, music, this, this, this, and everything else. You know, i just, I think it was going to be a bit of a shock to the system when we get to do it really. But to answer your question, I think that, you know, I’ve just been here. I think that being present is the thing that’s important. I think at the beginning, you’ve got lots of churches who are very well resourced, brilliant on the technical side. And it became clear to me that I could get to a certain level of technical I’ve got a lot better, but that wasn’t where we were itching as a church it was simply just to talk to each other and to see each other on zoom. And I think that’s been, it’s kind of analog ministry, some of it, and I think it’s really strong. Tesse: 00:21:27 That’s fascinating, because what I’m hearing is that even though the pandemic has been very difficult for a lot of us, including yourself, it’s also brought people together and help people to prioritize what is really important in life and to take care of each other. As we kind of wrap up a conversation.  I’d like to hear a few more of your triumphs, you know, the things that you’re proud about, you know, and when I read about you, I was really chuffed to hear about the fact that you worked with the great Pete Shelley and Adrian Bolan, I was also by proxy taking your, your past glory by the fact that a red harvest single was playlisted on radio one and MTV, I thought yay! And what other triumphs do you have? What else? You mentioned your dad and what your dad said to you, and that’s very moving. Are there any other ones that you’d like to share?  Steve: 00:22:20 I mean, I’m not very good on the triumph things, i got  this funny thing where, when something is finished, it’s finished and I just barely ever think about it again. I can hardly remember it strange, isn’t it? I just, I think it’s because I did a job. I was a credit director of the agency as well, and the, and the job was to generate ideas. and the only way, I can do that is `having an empty mind. Now, it there’s an interesting  toss up between a kind of Christian says, you’ll say, fill your mind up with God and let the ideas…. But in advertising, you’re going to have a completely empty space up there and let the ideas come. So that’s really where I’m at. So I don’t remember things. I think the thing that I’m most miss really, the thing that I really enjoyed was the initial couple of years when by pure chance, really our single got played on the radio. And I’ve met my hero, who was Adrian Borland and Adrian was in a bank or the sound for me that the greatest eighties band that there was. And I just really looked up to Adrian, I genuinely did. And that period was so, so exciting I mean, I just, it was all I ever wanted was to make records and to, and I met so many extraordinary people in the music business. I actually, I just made contact with my old friend who runs, ran the music label, my publisher after Oh, you know, 20 years. And we had such a lovely talk, you know, and I suddenly realized speaking to him about the business, you know, I, sometimes I was better than that than I’m not being a victim. I knew so much about it, it was as though the years of just constant tainted. I was back there with Dave, with the label and. I’m really  competent at this, you know, I’m really, I know about this and that’s one of the things about coming late to a career. You know, I’m never going to learn enough at a time I’ve got left because I’ve come late to all of this, I haven’t grown up in church, I haven’t, it’s all, to me everything’s new. I’m not adult fish swimming around, or it was always that again, it’s that again? It’s all new. And so I suppose that was one of the things that I really thought was something I was proud of because I love making music and I love playing live. I look back now at those dodgy old venues and I think, well, I’d experienced is that most people haven’t had. And at the time I didn’t value them, but I think my daughter now has been more, she was back home, was she was living up in North London and we’ve walked past some of those old pubs that we used to play in. And then there will be gastro pubs and bistros and what have you honestly. Oh dear, dear. you turn up, and all the windows are smashed. There’s the bouncer, and then there’s, there’s a guy who owns it with his Alsatian on the door. Oh, happy happy happy times. There was one game we used to play. I love this guy. He was an irish guy really good friends with him and we do the gig and if you’ve got 50 people, you’ve got 50 pounds, that was the thing, and every time we finished the gig, It sent me down to see him, Sean. So I go down there, knock on the door, tell me hello Steve how you doing. Sean, had two the biggest Alsatians you’ve ever seen that sat next to him. And he said, how much you think you got in this tournament? So I was over 50. I sort of counted. It’s 49 you’ve just got the 49 again. And honestly we play there about 15 times . I never got a single penny out of Sean. I’d love to meet him one day, i want to talk to him Tesse, thank you for reminding me of it they were some really, really, really brilliant times really.  Tesse: 00:25:48 Paula Paula, over to you, I can see Steve becoming this dancing singer, you know, kind of, I can see you doing amazing things still. There’s still a long way to go, but I pass over to you Paula.  Paula: 00:26:02 So as we chuckling here over your memories, Something you said just now was that, you know, you kind of came late to the game, but what I hear as I’m listening to you is that even though you may have come late to the game, you came with experience that can never be matched. You came with knowledge that people can draw on. As you walk down some streets in North London, and you remember how you played gigs, all those things are relevant today. I mean, we are on a podcast, some of the things that you did while playing music can be brought into a podcast, so many things, I mean, no one knowledge is ever wasted. That’s really what I wanted to say. As we are wrapping up. Oh wow, quick, 25 minutes into this already. I wanted to say, what else can you share with our listeners? You’ve taken us down memory lane, you’ve brought us back to something you said about when you worked in a creative agency, you had to have an empty mind, but now as a Christian, you fill your mind up with the words of God, you know, and that’s what gives us life and hope. What else can you tell us?  Steve: 00:27:06 And what I’d say is if you’re doing something, if you’re wanting to find out about the faith. There’s lots of good news stuff written, but CS Lewis used to say, read three old books and one new one. And I think there’s a lot of truth in that because I I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading CS Lewis, GK Tresteton  and you know, it is astounding what they wrote it isn’t just good, it is wise, it’s funny, oh, my word. And so I suppose, I mean, I think that probably applies to any area, there is an interesting point here. I write for, an organization called the center for ethics markets and entrepreneurship it’s a think tank based on Oxford. And one of the things I’ve been doing is looking at management theorists from the ages, rereading their books, and just had a really funny thing is when you read that stuff, it doesn’t last. It’s incredibly dated. I have not found one ages management group that has got anything in it to say to me. Now that’s a really interesting thing isn’t it. There’s something about where wisdom really comes from at the time, you know, Charles Handy, you might remember him or John Harvey Jones, Tom Peters, all those kinds of people. We quoted them as though they were God himself, but you read them again and these small minded people trying to kind of scramble around in the dark. And that has been a most interesting kind of thing for me I mean, some of them, I can’t even read you I can’t bring myself to read more than a chapter that just whizzed over the, over the room and into the, into the bin, you know? So I suppose that’s just something I’d say. I mean, I think that’s, there’s a lot of wisdom to be had out there, we are overwhelmed with it . I’m becoming more and more enamored with going back to the old stuff Tesse: 00:28:46 That’s beautiful because what I’ve been hearing you say is importance of wisdom and lived experience the suffering and the hardships,give  wisdom as well. But also I’m getting a sense from you about the place of love and care in spite of race, in spite of age, whatever we bring with us as our unique points to value those things and that never ages and, and that makes a lot of difference. And the thing I’m also hearing is your take on reconciliation and healing and bringing communities together, bring in broken families together, building communities, building back, better, building back strong in spite of the hardships. Are there any thoughts you have that you can say to people listening in about pandemic post pandemic to give them a sense of hope? Given these hard times that globally, we are all facing.  Steve: 00:29:46 Yeah. I mean, I think the one thing is we’re never going to take life for granted again, I just, I cannot imagine ever, I mean, I used to take life so blindly and I thought we go out for a meal and I thought I’m bored here bored. I’d do anything to go out for a nice breakfast somewhere. You know, I was usually, it was obscene in the way I took these things for granted, really. So I think that that’s something I’m definitely going to be just the simple pleasures in life and being with the people that I love, you know, these kinds of things. I don’t think this generation will ever lose that I’m really, really don’t. It’s a bit like the war generation ended up not being warmongers, you know? One of the things about parliament was that while we had people who’d gone through the second world war, it was very unlikely we’d ever have another war because they’d fortunate, today’s politicians have never, fortunately. Can I I’ve never done it. They’re more likely to war mongers because I don’t know what it’s like. And I think that this January we’ve gone through this and I think we’ll carry it right through the rest of our, rather than the rest of our lives. I just hope we have a society that values the people who do the things that people survive and keep us going. But there’s nothing wrong with money when we’re making money, nothing wrong with making lots of money. Because you need to make money to pay tax, and when you pay tax, you can have National Health Service. There’s not that there’s nothing wrong about entrepreneurship or money or anything, but if we’re not going to pay people, lots of money, they’re doing a kind of altruistic job. Like the National Health Service we need to look after them and we need to honor them, and I think that’s very important.  Paula: 00:31:19 Well said, Steve, what better closing was, do we need then that you need to take care of those who take care of you, I love it. So we going to wrap-up now to our precious listeners and our precious audience, we want you to know on TesseLeads, your stories matter and your lives matter. We encourage you to share them with us and know that you are supported, you are encouraged a new and nurtured, when you know that you’re never alone. So for our listeners, we ask that you head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere where you listen to podcasts and please click subscribe. If you have found TesseLeads helpful, please let us know in your review. If you have any questions or topics you’d like us to cover, send us a note. And of course, if you’d like to be a guest on our show, “TesseLeads”, please head over to “www.tesseakpeki.com/tesseleads” to apply. Thank you all this has been amazing, I really, really enjoyed being hosts on “TesseLeads”, and I’ve really enjoyed talking with you, Steve, take care. Steve: 00:32:38 You’re very welcome, I’m really, really grateful and I just think this is the most brilliant kind of innovational thing you are doing and God’s speed to you dear friends. I really hope it does, I know it’s going to make some real difference. So thank you.  Tesse: 00:32:51 Steve you’re amazing.

Presence Plumb – When It’s Ok Not To Be Ok


Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to TesseLeads with  your host Tesse Akpeki and cohost Paula Okonneh. TesseLeads is a safe, sensitive, and supportive place and space to share, hear, and tell your stories and your experiences. You will hear from top experts and thought leaders, strategies, tips and techniques that they have found useful in navigating a diverse range of challenges, difficulties, dilemmas, as well as how you our listeners can create and shape opportunities. Today, our guest is Presence Plum, and we will be talking with her about “When it’s okay not to be okay”. Vulnerability is strength. I’ll tell you a little bit more about presence. Presence is 20 years old. She’s an economics students, she’s a coach, she’s a podcaster and she overcame anorexia and depression from alopecia, and that made her develop an interest in understanding the mind and habits of top performers. She started her podcast, it starts with action. When she discovered that the only way she could get to where she was, was by taking action, when she didn’t feel ready. She has a curiosity on why and what she could do to help others take bold action. And that became the mission of her podcast. So today she’s going to tell us a bit about that, but I want everyone to know that she’s studying and working on other projects with the aim to become a better human being for herself and for others. Presence, we’re so happy to have you here with us. Presence: 00:02:00 Thank you so much for having me, Paula and Tesse Tesse: 00:02:03 am so delighted to have you on the show, and Paula and I couldn’t wait to hear what you have to say. You know, you mentioned to me that you had overcome anorexia and depression, and you’d also overcome alopecia and you’re happy with who you are right now. But I’m curious as I’m sure Paula and our listeners are to hear more about your journey to what I would term victory. Presence: 00:02:29 Let’s do a journey. So I guess it started from when I was. So I was born in the UK and then it was nine years old, I moved to Hong Kong to study. That was when there was a massive culture shock, I didn’t know the language, everything was super different. I didn’t expect to stay there for seven years, so I just like went there planning to come back. Okay. Ends up being seven years. So yeah, I started, like completely going to chinese school, and I realized that, yeah, I was kind of different, even though I’m half Asian, I was different, I didn’t know the language and i didn’t know how the school system works. And I guess when, you know, when you’re very young,  bullying is quite common then. So I was bullied a lot for mainly having really bad grades, literally just. Every time I would, have an exam, people would see what score I got. And then on the way, home in the bus, people would start talking, it would be a main discussion. And so that continued for a few years, and that was when I started to become more self-conscious about grades and stuff, and just didn’t feel confident. And then it got to the point where like, ah, I know I just, I really need to change or do you want to do something about it. So I realized I’m just going to stick my head in the book and just care about nothing. I became really focused on like studying in school and that’s all I cared about, only exams. And so then I improved over time, I got to the best in the year, but that kind of, even though it it’s like, Oh, that’s amazing, you did so well in school, I was still super self-conscious and I changed high school. And then I started being bullied for how I looked, because I wouldn’t say I was fat at all, but they said I was so yeah. I was bullied for how I looked to mainly, and because I was so obsessed about wanting to fit in you know, I thought that getting the best grades, no one would bully me again, but i was wrong. And then when I got the good grades, people stopped bullying me for my, like my grades. So I thought, okay, so that must be a need to change something about myself to stop being bullied again. So I thought I need to lose some weight, have no clue what it meant to be losing weight, so I just Googled go on a diet for one week Apple diet, when, when i went in a diet and then that spiraled into six years of anorexia. And then I just became, I don’t even remember how I was, I don’t know how I did it, but just didn’t eat for a few years. And then it got to a point I was 14, It was at one week before our school ceremony and I had this goal, I wanted to get this, School trophy thing. It was like kind of my target, and then I knew I was going to get it, but then when we, before the ceremony I was sent hospital because I was too weak. And so yeah, I was in hospital and then they sent it via mail to me, and then I was just, I just remember the scene I was in bed, being super weak and looking at my heart rate, It was just really low. The doctor was saying that if I don’t do anything, then I’m going to die if I don’t choose to change. And that my goal was to do really well in school and to look my best so that I would fit in, but then I realized I don’t actually have any friends, I did. I worked so hard for everything, and then now I’m here, literally dying, I got what I want, but actually I also didn’t get one because no one actually likes me. That really kind of made me wake up to the fact that, chasing everything like chasing success kind of led down to just nothing really. I was killing myself for all of this, that didn’t mean anything. That’s when I realized  staying three months in hospital, I learned a lot because I wasn’t allowed to do any schoolwork. I was actually forced to eat, and then I was separated from the family as well. But basically three months of, Looking and observing my environment, different children coming in, going out. The girl next to me who was paralyzed for life, it made me realize just how lucky I am to be alive, and I realized how I was in control of the whole time, you know, it was because of my actions that led to me being in hospital, and therefore I had the choice to recover. And that’s when I realized, like, I wanna do something about it, and so I dunno, I’m just mind blanking. Paula: 00:06:43 You are saying the right thing. Tesse: 00:06:46 You’re doing great. You’re doing great, and you’re just telling this story and that’s a story that is, is really impacting on me, I’m looking at Paula’s impact on her, impact on our listeners that you are saying it as it was for you. That journey that you, you made and, and what I’m hearing is your, you know, being a young person and the pressures that were on you and how you decided to live, because that’s what I’m hearing, how you decided you made a conscious decision, not today. And in addition, you made another conscious decision to live. Those are two different things and you’re very, you’re very brave. Presence: 00:07:32 But I guess like the reality was, even though I said that I wanted to recover, it actually still took me another  another,  four nearly four years to actually finally take the leap and fully recover. Because even though I wanted to recover when you’re like really, really anorexic it’s all in the mind, it’s like, you want to do it, but it’s just so hard to change. And I just, I hated myself so much, like I just, there’s a point where I got to this stage, because of me, cause I know that I did this to myself and so I ended up hating myself even more, but then I wasn’t allowed to go out. I lived the hospital’s really far away from home, no one visited me, but my family and mainly my mom. And then I distinctly remember that I was not allowed to eat anything outside of hospital. But I was finally given the permission to eat with my mom, and she made me this quinoa like beef, really healthy beef stir fry, because I’ve never eaten anything with her or like a food for like years. And finally I had that move her and we were both sitting there and like eating and just like crying. That was kind of the, the moment where I realized that I, I know I want to recover, but I just can’t do it for myself. But like that meal, I realized that, actually, you know, recovering is not just for me. I’ve, because of like what I’ve done to myself I’ve made, and I’d been lying about as well, like lying about the meals I’ve eaten and everything. And so with my mum, and that moment is just when I realized that I need to recover for myself, but for her, because I really hated myself, I didn’t think that I deserve to really recover at alll. If it was one, one thing that got me to take the first step that was, yeah, that was my mom. So yeah, that’s kind of how it got the ball rolling. And there was a lot of ups and downs, and then three months on, I was supposed to stay in hospital longer, but I just couldn’t take it. So I kind of also wanted to like sign the papers and promised her that yeah, I would recover by myself thinking that will be easy.  And then we decided to move back to the UK. And then, try to do it myself, it was like, I did really well, and then I went all back down, it says, Oh, up, up, and down, up and down. And then something happened when I came to the UK and changed school, thinking that i am going  leave this anorexic identity behind, restart my life, no one knows me, I can just like, forget about anorexia, never say it again, never say I had it. That was kind of going well, but then in one month I lost all my hair out of the blue, and they realized that scored alopecia and as someone who was already  self conscious trying to gain some weight, then losing all my hair, I was just like, ah, yeah. It was like the hardest time putting off losing all my hair was what really got me to realize that I need to do something to recover from anorexia. Because like for my weight, I can control it, I could consciously control how I looked and stuff, but for alopecia, I had no control over it, I had like, you know, just suddenly my hair decided to just go, I just couldn’t control it. And I was crying every single day from morning to night, it was so hard to go to school for like the rest of the two years. Because like, imagine just waking up and then you look down on your pillow, a bunch of hair you walk around,   and then you sleep and it continues, and then to the  point where you literally just like, yeah, i’m just  going to shave my hair off and then wear a wig and then you wear a wig, and then you realize that people noticed, obviously it was, it was funnily enough, it happened over summers break but then I went to school with a new wig and I didn’t want to be bullied for a third thing. But yeah, people did see it and I did it hear stuff behind my back and stuff. So I just was again, very depressed, but then it got to a point where I just like, I feel the same as if i  had anorexia, and, is this the same as just living like, this feels like this doesn’t feel like I’m living at all and then I reflected back on my time at hospital and realized that just how lucky I am to be where I am, and that this time I decided that I kind of need to do something, something, but maybe it’s not about controlling the outsiders, it’s about controlling the inside, that my mind. And that’s when I started to delve into podcasts and interviews and books about personal development and self love, and started to change how I talk to myself, and really just start to not think about what other people think of me, but more so how I think about myself, because I really did not like who I was. And I realized that was a problem, that was the main problem. It was not about anything else, it was just about how I see myself, not how other people see me. So yeah, I just went on to use a bunch of different methods like affirmations and just having conversations with myself. And then slowly but surely I felt comfortable, with everything and started to enjoy life a bit more. But then it wasn’t until lock down came, and I decided to share my journey on a podcast episode that I realized sharing my biggest insecurities was what led to the best relationships and was what led to my tribe. I think the main thing that I realized is that it’s not my problem, that people don’t like me, it’s just. I’m not with the right people. I’m not with my tribe. And once I found that I realized I can just be myself, like I can, I have different colored wigs, and I just wear it when I want to, with my friends and they were chill about it. And it’s just amazing when you find the right people who love you for who you are, and it’s not about changing who you are. You don’t need to be with the wrong type of people, you don’t need to change who you are. You just need to change the group of people, people you hang out with. So that’s kind of what I realized and what really changed, everything for me. And now I just hope that I can use my story, but also talk to other people who are going through something similar or something different, but just have a healthy relationship with themselves and realize that no life there’s so much more to life. Like I feel I’ve wasted so much of my time worrying about how I looked worry about everything, but now that I’ve overcome that, I just realized there’s so much stuff to learn in life that is, way more worth my time and focus. Because when you have anorexia nothing, everything is just food, the mind is just consumed by food or like, am I, and I don’t look like this. It’s just, you just don’t have enough time or space in your brain to think about the different topics I want to learn about and I want to learn about in economics right now, and i was really interested in psychology. There’s just so much in life that’s so exciting. But it’s not until you allow yourself to have the space in your brain and mental focus that you can really focus on the exciting stuff Tesse: 00:14:37 That is so touching. I’m having tears in my eyes, but then I hear the pain and I, I, I hear your determination, but also what I hear is your self-awareness of what you needed to do as a result of what was happening to you and the things that you can control and those that you couldn’t control. And, and that’s just so exemplary of a, of a journey of a victorious woman. Thank you for sharing. Paula?  Thank you Paula: 00:15:15 I’ve Been quiet because I’ve had tears in my eyes too. Presence I had wanted to ask you, what would you say to young people on a similar journey? But I think you’ve said it all. You’ve mentioned that, you know, change of mindset, change of friends change. Presence: 00:15:37 I think that’s the key Paula: 00:15:38 Yeah Presence: 00:15:39 It’s really like, yeah. If someone out there someone young or old is going through something I’m really really focused on the environment. I think if you can’t cause. It’s it’s sometimes really hard to you can’t change your mind. Like it takes time to change your mindset, but if you don’t change your environment as soon as possible, then it’s often a lot harder. So definitely I think like just seeing the other people around you and are they serving you in a way that’s getting you to where you want to be in terms of energy wise? Or are they really negative all the time? I surrounded myself with friends who just complained every single day or would point out their own flaws. And now my group of friends are just way more like, not self-absorbed, but they’re way more happy with who they are and then we will come confident, and they’re all exploring life and not afraid of failure. So like see life as a game, just, yeah, just the environment is just so important. I never really thought about back then, but what I realized is just key now. I think. Paula: 00:16:49 You have struck gold. I think you have hit the nail on the head, which is, you realize now that this is what you have to do. And is that something that you would advise like parents? I know you’ve talked about people your age, who are probably going through similar things to you. What about parents here in this? I’m a parent and I’m listening to that. I listened to what you said intently because, yeah, my children may be older than you, but there’s always something that I can gain. And so I would love for you to just give a word to parents of children going through difficult circumstances. If you were a parent, what would you have done? What would you do? I should say. Presence: 00:17:41 I think. If your children are young, then I definitely think it’s about feeding them with the right information in their minds, feeding them positive, words of encouragement, being there for them, and just like telling them and showing them that they can be whoever they want to be, as opposed to limit their goals. That if someone with their child says, Oh, I want to be an astronaut one day, then just go and like, say, Oh yeah, you can’t do that, only certain people can do that. That really affects someone over time. But I think thinking about, for me, like if my mom wasn’t there for me, when I was in hospital every single day, she would travel at two hours up to work to come to see me. And if she wasn’t there for me, then I genuinely don’t think it would be here today. So I think definitely if you know that your child or someone’s going through something, then the easiest thing that I think you can do that,not everyone really does all the time, it’s just be there for them and just really show that you are there for them. I think that’s the simplest thing that really makes the big difference. Yeah, it’s, it’s funny that I don’t really think about that much, but, I think definitely if she wasn’t there for me when I really needed her, I didn’t have any friends at that time. My mom is divorced, so I only have her. So if she wasn’t there for me, then I wouldn’t be here today. So I think like some thing just like showing that you’re there for your child or kid when they’re going through something, it’s just, it’s the simplest, but also most important thing, I think, because oftentimes we go through our days and we work to rarely spending time. But just making sure that you check in with them. I don’t know, I guess teenagers, I used to not really care, I mean, you know, my mom will come in and say, I don’t really want to talk to you. I would just really busy with work, but still I think just, just really checking in. Cause sometimes we don’t really like to say things to our parents, unless where we trust them, like we would trust them to be comfortable with them. And so I think like being consistent with showing up every day for them shows that you care and when they know that you care, then they’re more likely to, if not. Yeah, I don’t know if that helps. Tesse: 00:20:07 Yeah. It, it really does help. And, I can see my, my co-host Paula is very touched by this, you know, she’s a mom, she has two lovely children, and then mum, the mother’s heart, there’s nothing like a mother’s heart, and if father can also have a mother’s heart. And what I’m hearing from you is the place of trust, but also the place for abiding, just staying away, being conscious of. Being present with, and that that’s so powerful. And, I’m thinking about, you know, we’ve talked about parents  possible sponsoring. But these days, a lot of people in organizations in university and so on, they get mentors or get coaches. What would you be saying to a culture, a mentor listening in? What would you be saying to them about some of these kind of presencing? Examples that you’re sharing with us today. Presence: 00:21:06 I think for me, people, coaches who have changed my life are those who, really help you gain clarity over who you are. Like those who’ve really helped me change my life and who I know like change other people’s lives are those who focus on helping like anyone from the young person, but helping the mentee or coachee, helping them really realize the truth I think. Oftentimes we either avoid the truth ourselves or avoid what you want to hear, but I think the best mentors, the best coaches are those who are straightforward and tell you what you need to hear as opposed to what you want to hear. And sometimes it can be hard and harsh, but I think those mentors who are really real and honest and tell you the truth, are those who really change people’s lives. Tesse: 00:22:06 That’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. Paula thoughts Paula: 00:22:12 I have been tearing up here, tears streaming down my face. So that’s why I’m quiet, but my thoughts is. Presence, I love your name, I think it encompasses everything. My thoughts that your name says it. You have to be here, you are present, you have to be present. I heard what you said about your mom, and I could relate to that 100%. I’m happy you said your story because I know a lot of young people and even their parents are going to listen to this and it’s going to make a world of difference to young people, knowing that their lives matter, that they being around means a lot to their parents and to so many other people that sometimes they don’t even realize are there, as you said, rightfully change of mine, brought a change of attitude, brought a change of friends, and that made a world of difference. And so many young people need to know that, that if you’re not in the right crowd, that doesn’t mean there isn’t another crowd for you, not a set of people who won’t celebrate you. Because, we all bring something unique to this world and no one can do it like you. Presence: 00:23:19 Pick your friends carefully for most, like I said, I just wanted to fit in. That’s all I cared about is I fit in with a group of people, I don’t mind if it’s the wrong group, I just want to fit in, but now I’m like, I don’t want to fit in I just want to make sure that I pick, I like, I pick the right people for me. I don’t need to fit in, they need to fit in with like my values, why I think it’s important. So it’s like kind of changing the perspective, realizing your worth. I guess, that you get to choose your friends. It’s not about like wanting your friends to like you, if you don’t have friends then especially to not have friends than to have the wrong friends. Paula: 00:23:57 You are right. Oh, my word, you just said something that I think we need to wrap up with, which is your friends don’t have to choose you, you choose your friends,  you make a difference it’s better you don’t have friends than to have the wrong friends. I think that’s a key note to anybody, whether you’re 10, whether you’re 20, 30, 40, sometimes, I mean, age is just the number. So thank you so much Presence for sharing that beautiful nugget, that makes a difference because now, as you said, you don’t want to be here some years ago, and now you realize that there is something about you being present. You’ve got some things to do in the world and no one else can do just like you can. Tesse: 00:24:42 Presence your you’re just fantastic. Presence: 00:24:45 Thanks for having me. Paula: 00:24:47 Absolutely. So I’m going to wrap up with these words that pertain to you, Presence. Your precious stories and your life matter on ” TesseLeads” we asked you to share them with us. Because many are supported, encouraged, and nurtured when they know that they’re never alone, like Presence said, she knew she wasn’t alone because her mom came even if it took two hours each way her mom was there. Ladies you have been amazing. For our listeners, make sure please that you head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to your podcasts. And please subscribe to “TesseLeads”. If anything that you found today resonated with you, please let us know in your review. And if you have a question or topic you’d love for us to talk about, send us a note. We’d love for you to be a guest. Finally, head over to “www.tesseakpeki.com/Tessie leads”. To apply and become a guest that can help change the world, one story at a time.

David Taylor-Klaus – The Magic of Thinking and Transformation

Lisa Richards – Resilience Finding Hope


for Lisa Richards 00:00:00 Paula: Welcome to TesseLeads, with your host Tesse Akpeki and co-host Paula   Okonneh, where we share with you top leadership and management strategies. Tesse Leads is a safe, sensitive and supportive place and space to share, hear and tell your stories and experiences. You will hear from top experts and thought leaders strategies, tips and techniques they have found useful in navigating a diverse range of challenges, difficulties, dilemmas as well as how you can create and shape opportunities. Our guest today is Lisa Richards. And we will be talking about resilience. As a grief specialist, Lisa enables businesspeople to thrive rather than just survive and be weighed down by the pain of loss, following any life change. Welcome Lisa. We are very happy to have you on the show.  Lisa: Thank you very much, Paula. And thank you very much Tesse, for inviting me to be on the show. It’s lovely to be here.  Tesse: Thank you, Lisa and welcome. 00:01:00 It’s lovely to have you. And you know, there’s never been a   time like now to talk about resilience. Is there, I’d like to ask you the first question. What does resilience mean to you?  Lisa: Thanks. Tesse for asking resilience means so many things, but essentially it means overcoming a big challenge. Whatever that challenge might be. And it might be a very small thing, but it might be a very, very large thing. A life change that happens to you as it happened to me at several points of my life. And that is why really, I do what I do today. It’s. The reason why I do it and my life’s purpose, if you like, that’s what I, I believe now through the journey that I’ve made and the fact that I can stand in dark places with people and hold their hands. And 00:02:00 if necessary, walk with them on their journey for just a little while, while they overcome whatever challenges they face in their life.  Paula: So, is this something that you can teach people or do you think people are born with it? Lisa, as in resilience?  Lisa: I think both actually I think you can teach resilience and I think you are born with it. I think your parents, if your parents are particularly resilient, I believe that you probably are too. The issue is really when you are confronted with a particular challenge, how you deal with it. And in my case, that fateful day where I got up one day and decided I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it to the end of the day. And you, you sit there and you think, wow, 00:03:00 What am I going to do? Am I going to end this pain that I’m obviously suffering? Or am I going to try and live and push through it? And the reason I kind of got there was because several years earlier, my mom had tried to enter her own life. And that’s why I kind of got to that stage myself. Except in contrast to her, I decided to live. And that is really where my journey started in terms of resilience and building that resilience, building that confidence over many years, to the point where I actually found what I was looking for. It took me a long time. But when I did it gave me so much in terms of letting my guilt that had built up and the weight of distress and emotion that I had inside. 00:04:00 And I let it go and suddenly let in an amazing life that was obviously waiting there for me. And I just hadn’t realized. And in learning the process that helped me let this go. It also gave me some tools. So yes, I believe very firmly that you can teach resilience. The issue is how open you are really to dealing with that. Sometimes you have no choice. Sometimes you are put in a situation where you are tested and that survival fight or flight kicks in that is a learning process, but you can teach skills over and above that. I believe so. It’s both really. Thank you, Paula. Tesse: I was very touched Lisa, when you shared your story with me, um, and I’m sure it would resonate with a lot of people. Um, it speaks to personal resilience, you know, in that moment when you chose to live, what was really going 00:05:00 through your mind? What was it that propelled you to choose that, yes. I want to be here. I want to be with people. I want to continue my life. What was it that went through your mind then?  Lisa: The day it happened Tesse, I just really, over the last week, I’d come back from a big trip away. I’d been around the world. I had had a wonderful time. But what I hadn’t realized was I was trying to escape the feelings that I had. And I went around the world and I got to Australia and I remember picking the phone up to my dad and talking to him down the phone. And suddenly this little light bulb went off in my head. I said to myself, Oh, wow. Actually, I can’t escape this it’s inside. It doesn’t matter where I go. I will not be able to hide from this. So really when I came back from that amazing trip away, I gave way under the 00:06:00 weight of all this grief. And that was when I woke up one day. And really there was just this black feeling I felt in emotional distress. I felt in pain. I was pacing up and down the house. When I should have been getting ready for work and not really understanding why I just couldn’t do that. I cried, I wailed, I screamed, I, I didn’t really know what to do. And in desperation I did the only thing that I could do, which was I picked up the phone and I found the one person who I trusted the most in the world who was my father. And. It was the thing I didn’t want to do because I thought, Oh my goodness, why would I put my dad in this situation again?  When several years earlier he had been faced with my mom trying to take her own life. And I thought I 00:07:00 can’t do that to him. But then I thought, I just want to see what his reaction will be. I just need somebody to talk to. And he was amazing. He stayed so calm, even though I guess he was wondering what to say to me, because he was an hour away. He couldn’t turn up on the doorstep and he was amazing. He listened, he gave me a simple plan and he said, when you’ve done the simple plan, come back, phone me, let me know you’re okay. And in that moment, he had to let me go. He had to trust me that I would do it. And I did, and I phoned back, but the moment of that pain had passed, you know, where the fog descends, and you don’t know what to do. Suddenly you have a plan, you go and do it. And that was really the first step to the rest of my journey.  Paula: Would you mind sharing with us? I mean, this is very 00:08:00 painful, I’m sure, as you recall it, but because you’re here, there’s hope. So. Would you mind sharing with our listeners what that plan was that your dad told you? You said it was a simple plan.  Lisa: It was a very, very simple plan. It literally Paula, it was ring your GP (your doctor). Get in to see your doctor. Do not take no for an answer. Say it’s an emergency if they won’t listen. Speak to your doctor, see what she can do for you and take whatever she will offer and then come back and speak to me, nothing complicated. Just one thing that I had to concentrate on. And I think that’s probably the key at that point; listening, understanding, and actually just empathizing and say, I understand your upset. This is what you need to do. Because I was confused.  Paula: That’s 00:09:00 very powerful. And I know it will resonate with a lot of people who need to hear that. Lisa: Thank you.  Tesse: I was just saying, like you said of that, I’m really struck by Lisa’s story, a very human story. And you know, you said that at that point in time, when you had the choice to make, and your dad gave you that simple plan and you, you took that advice and you followed it, and he also gave you something about having an accountability partner in a way, which was going back to him, someone who love and trust and what came into my mind was. What gave you the clarity, you know? Cause you see, you’re confused. What brought clarity to you as a result of going through this journey that continues to help you to travel on in life?  Lisa: okay, this, this is the resilience part because that day was the worst day of my life. I was 27. I had a mom who had 00:10:00 essentially left me several years earlier. The slight twist to this was my mom didn’t die. She was still alive, except she wasn’t the same mom that I knew and loved. She died that day and she was replaced by somebody who looked like her, but it wasn’t her. So sadly, she damaged her brain and she had to be looked after for the rest of her life. And she died in 2011. And it brought it all back, sadly. And it’s interesting that even though it happened in the 1980s, that thing where people say time heals, wounds, it didn’t for me. I don’t believe that it does. Because when, when she physically died in 2011, it was a grieving process. Then for the mom I had lost all over again. And in 00:11:00 that moment, when I got up and realized what was happening, the comparison was, forgive me, your listeners listening to this. If I couldn’t do it properly, this is what happens. So I don’t want to go there because my mom gave her power away on that day. And I don’t believe she would have wanted to do that. And I didn’t want to give my power away. Because the moment you do that, you lose control. You lose your sense of you, your sense of everything that you know. And I didn’t want that. That was the comparison. I had something to compare it to, and I didn’t want that. So I almost did the complete opposite. I said to my doctor, I don’t care what you give me, but please give me something. I’d rather do talking therapies than 00:12:00 antidepressants because antidepressants just mask the problem. And she said to me, That is fine. We may have to wait for a while because this was in the 1980s when there was very little support. I mean, people think there’s little support now. There was no support then. And then yes, we were lucky. I was assigned to psychotherapist in that time. And I worked with psychotherapist who put me back together so that I could function. And for all intents and purposes, I looked the same. I just, inside. I wasn’t healed. And that is the difference. So outwardly you can look as though you’re okay, but this thing about you really don’t know what’s going on behind somebody’s smile or somebody’s eyes. Usually, you can tell with their body language, but that only happens when you know somebody or you notice their body language, and it’s not congruent with what they’re saying.  Paula: I agree 00:13:00 100%. And because we’re talking to listeners, you’ve told us on that particular day, how your dad helped. Do you have any additional tools that you can share with our listeners that they can use? You know?  Lisa: Absolutely. And this is the thing, I think everything that you go through in life, especially when you’re feeling low and you’re feeling that you. You have to dig deep. Brandy Brown says about digging deep and really sucking up the difficulty or the challenge. Everything that you do in that respect teaches you something. And by learning those things, you learn to look after yourself., you find out who you can trust. You can find a safe space. If you can’t initially. Try as much as you can say, right, I’m going to do that today. Don’t 00:14:00 beat yourself up if you don’t do it, but that’s kind of your plan. And I didn’t know how I was going to heal myself, but I set out on this journey and I promised myself at that point in time, if I ever got to that point where I felt whole again, that I could enjoy life and I could have fun again, I would help other people. And that’s kind of what I do. But in terms of the tools that we have, it can be as simple as breathing, breathing, deeply, breathing in a very mindful way. And when I say mindful, I don’t mean mindful of thoughts. The idea is to try and empty your mind of thoughts, let them come and go. And I know there’s a lot of people who do teach mindfulness these days. So breath work, I think is very important because the more you can breathe, really breathe and fill your lungs. So 00:15:00 and really do it in a considered way. There are lots of breathing exercises. I do something called square breathing, which is breathing in for four or six. So breathing in. So I’ll do, I’ll do it. Then you hold it for six. You let it out for six and you, you pause for six. So it’s, it’s almost, you kind of go round and you mindfully do this. So that’s one little exercise, things like laughing. Laughter is such an amazing gift that we are all given as children. And we take it for granted as children. Now I know when you’re feeling low, that may be, there is not a lot to be happy about or feel light about, but I went to a laughter workshop recently where the guy said, even if you don’t feel like laughing, 00:16:00 if you make yourself smile, you start to release those chemicals, those endorphins. And for me, the laughter workshop was great because it simply was people laughing and because they laugh so much, you laughed more. The sound of laughter is infectious. It really is a good stress buster. So I think that’s another tool that is very underrated and can help us all. Walking to get out in the fresh air, releasing those endorphins, that kind of thing. I’m trying to give you tools that are at anybody’s disposal, really, because I think we’re so busy looking externally for tools to help us. And yet actually we have resources in ourselves for free to access anytime we choose. And that’s really, really important. There’s another nice 00:17:00 exercise that I’ve come across recently, which is five, four, three, two, one. It’s a mindful exercise. So if you’re feeling a little bit frazzled, if you can just sit there and think of five things that you can see. Literally in front of you. So you kind of see them and you name them, you know, Oh, I can see a tree or I can see a bird or I can… so five things that you can see. Four things that you can touch. So, what can you touch? How does it feel? How does it look? Does it look rough? Does it look smooth? Because touch is a very underrated sense too. I think hogs, I know the COVID thing. It’s not really hugging, but even anything that you could do, we do virtual hugs sometimes on calls like this and just touching yourself and saying I’m okay. I’m okay. So that’s something good to remember as well.  The 00:18:00 third thing. So, so seeing touching, basically you go down five, four, three, two, one. One is probably something that you taste. How does it taste? How does it feel your new, your mouth? Smell’s the third one? What can you smell? I have essential oils. I don’t know whether people have sort of come across those where lemon is a citrus flavor. If I smell a lemon, it wakes me up and those smells, you could have that from coffee. You can have that from smelling a flower. You know, all of these senses that we, we rely on our visual sense, but actually we have all of these five senses and those are really, really important. So if we can use those as well in a mindful way, I think that’s great. But what I like at the moment is the power posing. So there’s a Ted talk by a lady called Amy Cuddy, and you can probably see that and you stand, you make yourself big, you build yourself up and 00:19:00 by doing that, you give yourself confidence. And that’s what it’s all about is building your confidence to say I am okay. I, am, enough. There’s a guy called Dr. David Hamilton and he says there are four stages to this sort of confidence and resilience thing. So when you’re feeling down, I’m not enough. Oh no, I’ve had enough. And I’m going to do something about it. I am enough. And then the fourth stage, when you really move on, is I just, am. You become that confidence, you exude that confidence, that positivity. And that’s really, really amazing when that happens, because you start to engage people in a way that you haven’t before. Sorry. That was a very roundabout way.  Paula: I love it, Lisa. I really do. I think these are real life things. These are simple things that people 00:20:00 can do without having to have another step outside of themselves. You know, I mean, citrus is easy, enough. Tasting is easy enough. Touching is easy enough to know what I mean? These are really things that people sometimes need to hear at that time when they’re finished so down.  Lisa: Those are the things. And I’ve got another nice little one. If, uh, if you kind of put it’s a touch one. If you put your two fingers, um, your sort of index finger and your middle finger on your forehead, yeah. Just above your eyes and you do a figure of eight. So you do this and you count as you do it. And it’s an infinity thing. So you count each one. So one, two, three and you do 20. And when you finished, you feel a lot calmer. Don’t ask me how to explain it. It’s something to do with neuroscience. I was shown it on a zoom call, but it works. And that’s amazing. So you have all of these tools at your disposal. We just don’t 00:21:00 think about them in that context.  Paula: This is absolutely amazing. How are you now?  Lisa: I’m very relaxed because I’m talking to some lovely, lovely ladies. And I’m laughing too. It’s fun. And that’s the thing. If, if you, if you can find something fun, it just. Yes releases those endorphins makes you feel better, makes you want to laugh and smile. It all builds. And that’s the important thing. And yes, we can all eat properly, rest properly, all the kinds of things that we’re told that we should do. Sometimes we don’t, we just don’t do them. We work too hard, but it’s all about balance and keeping that balance. If we can.  Paula: Love. It you’ve been an inspiration to me because I say to my children, I tell myself about to every day. Look forward to something simple. It may be like when I wake up in the morning, maybe something as simple as, Oh, I have some grapes downstairs. 00:22:00 I love grapes. I’m going to go eat him.  Lisa: Yeah. Paula: Simple.  Yeah.  Lisa: And the joy of just eating and feeling that taste sensation in your mouth and thinking, Oh God, this is wonderful. I don’t drink alcohol or smoke. The taste of food now, because I don’t have caffeine or the alcohol in my, in my system, the taste of food is just so much more, so I want to slow down. And I think when we slow down, we start to appreciate actually I’m okay. Things are okay, we just get overwhelmed or we get too busy and then we start to fall over.  Tesse: Lisa, what you are saying has touched both of us. And I’m sure people who are listening that will touch them as well. And this question is really about who do you admire when it comes to personal resilience? Lisa: Wow, that’s a great question. I admire lots of people. The person I admire probably most recently is 00:23:00 a lady called Angela Marta. She is somebody who. I saw it on a television program about four or five years ago, she was an art director. She worked in a gallery and they approached her o make this program. And at first you thought it was about her work in the gallery and what she did for a living. It turns out that they wanted her to talk about and go on a sort of personal journey to share this personal journey about. Her husband who unfortunately had taken his own life and how that had felt full her and her family. And she went and met families around the country to talk about how they felt when it happened to them, because it’s a lot more common than I think people realize. And in that program while it’s, it was a very hard watch,  something resonated so strongly with me because it was the first time I’d 00:24:00 heard somebody say publicly, how they felt on camera, about somebody close to them, taking their own life.  And nobody had kind of spoken to me in that context, not my dad, not my brother. And I’d hidden it from the world for so long. And I thought, wow, finally, somebody understands. Somebody out there. Because your own grief isolates you so much and you protect yourself so much. You cannot see beyond that sometimes. And this lady has done amazing things with her work. Recently, she’s been an advisor on a, they call it soaps. So like any standards here Holly Oaks, and it’s for young people, it’s for teenagers. They watch this soap every week. It’s a storyline about somebody taking their own life and the impact that has, and they tried to do it 00:25:00 in a very sympathetic way to obviously educate young people on how this might feel for others.  And I thought that was a most amazing thing. It was sensitively done. It was trying to do it in an educational way, in a very soft way, but in a way that kids would digest without even realizing. And I think that’s really education about what grief is. What grief isn’t. And how we can overcome those situations is so, so important. So important. In fact, that I’ve started speaking back to younger children, you know, children in schools, because I think it’s really important that they get the message that taking your own life isn’t the way. Actually, moving through and yes, it’s hard. I don’t pretend it’s anything 00:26:00 else, but when you come through it and you look back and you think, wow, I did that. I’m okay. I can do this. And that’s what resilience is all about. That self-belief that confidence that you can get through it. And when you look back, you think, yep, I can do this. And that is something that then if you live through your worst day, nothing will ever be that scary again, I’ll just share with you. I go cold water swimming these days. And people say to me, Oh God, that, you know, that’s so brave. It’s just cold water. It’s water that is cold. It is a shock when you get in. But actually, it’s just like swimming only colder. And my perception of that has been turned around so much that I now just get in. I don’t think about it. I know it’s going to be 00:27:00 cold. I push through that. But the benefits of doing are phenomenal. That’s why I do it. And that it’s, that hope the hope of a better tomorrow and being able to connect, you know. I never thought that my journey would bring me to sit here and talk about resilience with you. And that’s amazing. I am so thrilled and delighted to be able to share these things with you today. So thank you for inviting me. Tesse:  Lisa thank you so much. I mean, again, it’s so touching and, you know, you’ve talked about what resilience is a lot of people and are reading books about what resilience is. But one thing that I see that is not in these books is what resilience is not. So, so are you able to say a few words about what resilience is not?  Lisa: Gosh, to me. Sitting there and waiting for somebody to come and say view isn’t 00:28:00 resilience to me, it’s having the courage to step outside your comfort zone. The work that I do, we ask people to trust in the process. We are, we create them a safe space. And they have to want to be there. They have to want to commit to moving forward. We’re not going to cure them. We don’t know how they feel, but the process is really bespoke to them. So we give them the tools that they need to have their own journey. And basically, I walk with them. And they, each week we build through that. So we take one topic, we look at it, they do some additional reading in the interim. Then we look at it for the following week and it literally is one hour, a week, seven weeks that the thing 00:29:00 is, do not sit there and wallow. It’s fine to wallow to begin with. You know, when it happens, there’s shock. There’s numbness. There is disbelief that it’s happened to you? The thing I would say to anybody is yes, wallow for a while, but then actually start to look to see, to get yourself out of it. Because nobody else is going to, sadly, people are busy people, even your loved ones can only help you so much. You have to want to do it.  Paula: Incredible advice. You have to want to do it. It has to come from within you. No one can make you do what you don’t want. Once you make up your mind. This is it. There’s no going back. The world takes on a new dimension because then there’s hope. It’s something to look forward to. Lisa: Absolutely. And you’re right, Paul, it just those little things every day. One of the things that somebody told, taught me. I’ve learned 00:30:00 lots of things along the way, but I’ve done neuro linguistic programming, a sort of crash course. And the lady said, the one thing that I took away from that is notice what you notice. Because little things, when you start to notice and you start to put those things together, then you can actually weave yourself a plan. You can build yourself a network, a support network, whether it’s tools like I’ve shared with you or people that you trust and are your go-to people, because I understand you and Tesse are each other’s go to people sometimes when you have a particular issue. It’s all about building your support network to build yourself up. And then for me, I think I’ve got the support network I need. Now I’m ready to look to other people and say, would you like to come with me and share in this journey or learn some of the 00:31:00 tools that I’ve learned? Because I think they can really help you. Not saying you have to learn this, but I have this range of tools. If you’d like to see some, pick some, take them away, play with them if they work for you. Great. If not, we can find some other tools  Paula: That’s given them hope.   Lisa: Absolutely.  Paula: That’s what a lot of people need…hope. Lisa: Absolutely they do. And I learned a really nice thing from somebody the other day about fail. What the definition of FAIL is First Attempt In Learning. Every time you try something, and you don’t get the expected outcome, that’s not to say you won’t achieve it. You just have to find an alternative way and you will achieve it. And that’s building resilience. You know, inventors in the world didn’t give up at the first attempt, they went around, they saw an alternative, you and they took it and eventually they got to where they wanted to 00:32:00 be. And we all know those kinds of people like Einstein and the Wright brothers. They had a lot of failures on the way, but on the way, they learned a lot. Paula: This has been incredibly helpful. It’s been a learning experience for, I know me possibly  Lisa: Thank you for Tesse  and I know the listeners, I have definitely got some things out of this. I hope so. I’m so grateful that you asked me it’s been lovely to speak to you both. And I love doing things like this that are fun. Thank you for making it fun for me.  Paula: The pleasure is ours. But, talking about fun, we always try and end our program or our podcast with some fun touch questions, we call them.  Lisa: Okay. Paula: One of them is what’s your favorite emoji?  Lisa: Oh, I like the 00:33:00 emoji that kind of pulls its tongue out and has one eye, sort of like this. That is a bit kind of zany. I don’t use it very often, but that’s my favorite. Although. The one I use for sort of my sign off on all social media is, is a heart almost. It’s kind of got like a little plaster on it, but I’m a heart with ears. And it’s important that I listen and really understand what people are saying. That’s my job to understand, listen, no judgment, no expectation. People need to be heard and respected. And not criticized or made to feel small. The journey is about them. I walk with them and that’s really important.  Tesse: I really love that. I mean, recently I’ve been in a lot of walks. Lisa and you’ve put those walks in contents. I’ve been on an empathy, walk, a, been 00:34:00 on a grief walk. Lisa: Ok,  Tesse: I’ve been on a compassionate walk. And the, that’s why my favorite thing at the moment is I will walk with you. Because on those walks people walk with me. And I can’t tell you the extent of the healing that I’m experienced. And then it’s just kind of expanded my, not just my worldview, but it’s expanded my capacity to notice what I notice. Lisa: Yeah. Because you will notice things and maybe you will kind of tuck them away until you need to. And then, wow. It’s almost like the little light bulb goes on. So, so yeah, I think it’s a very powerful thing. It’s very simple, but very powerful.  Paula: Notice what you notice. I love it. I love, and that’s going to be my new phrase in this house. Notice what, you notice,  Fantastic!  Lisa: Let me know how you get on with it, Paula. Paula: I love it.  Lisa: Fantastic.  Yeah. So, 00:35:00 after this incredible talk. Lisa, you talked about social media. Where can our listeners find you online or even offline?  I am Online. I am on social media. I do a little bit of Twitter, but I don’t do a lot. My main platform is LinkedIn. So you can find me on LinkedIn as The Heart With Ears. You can find me on Facebook as The Heart With Ears. And I do have a website which is a hosted website and it’s through grief UK. I’m sure Tesse, you’ll probably give the links out at the end of the show or what have you. But yeah, so I have a website, I have email. I have phone, you know, you can find me,. You can Zoom call me. I’m very happy to talk to, to really, if people are in need, that’s why I’m here.  Paula: Awesome. Awesome. So, um, we are coming to the end of this incredible 00:36:00 moment with Lisa and I know that this has been. Well, there’s been a journey. It’s also been a, a learning time for me. Um, I felt your pain. I felt your compassion. I felt. Um, your genuine care for others who are hurting like you. Um, you’ve told us where you can be found online. And sometimes it’s just hearing that one voice like your dad did for you. You, the ability to call somebody who put confidence in you because he trusted you, just, hearing that he had confidence in you to do the next, I mean, to do the right thing, kind of pushed you along, from what I gathered. Lisa: Yes, his belief that I would do as he asked and that mutual trust that we had just tipped the balance really. I mean, sadly, he’s no longer with me, but he is with me in spirit. You 00:37:00 know, the fact that I’m actually sitting in a, in a workspace that was inspired and kind of paid for by some of the money that he left me. And it’s almost I’m carrying on that work to make a difference. You know, that is his gift to me to allow me to help other people. He was, he was a teacher himself. He taught painting. He was very engaging, and I learned a lot from him. So, if I can pass on things to other people, then I’m delighted.  Paula: Amazing. So do you have any closing thoughts? You’ve said so much, and we’ve gotten so much nuggets from you. Is there anything left? Lisa: I’m trying to think now. We touched on dancing. I love to dance. I love music. Music is, is a great one for lifting the spirits because of the vibration of the music, the beat. And just last night, my husband and 00:38:00 I were dancing in the kitchen to Bruce Springsteen. So I’ll leave you with that thought. And we were so lost in the moment. It was just. Fab. My 12-year-old kind of came and looked. He was standing in the doorway and sort of, Oh my goodness, what are you doing?  It does’nt matter. Uh, you know, it’s, it’s, we have that childlike quality. We’re not childish. We, we have that childlike curiosity and we just want to enjoy life. And having been through such adversity that is fantastic, that I can now enjoy life to the full. And try and do anything that I want to, and I can put my mind to, and you can too. Tesse: You know, it reminds me of something, a sign I saw in Bass Station when I was going away for a little break. And it says a 20-minute conversation with someone I’d never met, lifted a fog. 00:39:00 And it was signed by a guy called Steve. And everything you said is about hope. It’s about optimism. It’s about believing that you can do it and having people to. come alongside that. Now Paula has asked, you know, any last thoughts. But I still have one last question. Lisa: Ok, ok. Tesse: For our listeners.  Is there any gift or anything that people listening in can be given by you that would be useful for them?  Lisa: There are things that I do every day and one of them is positive affirmation and yes, you can use somebody else’s to get you started. But when you kind of carry on doing it, you start to realize it needs to be for you. So there are things like I used to say, and I still do all of life, comes to me with ease, joy, and glory, which is something that I was taught by Access Consciousness. And if you want to kind of look that up, 00:40:00 there are an amazing set of tools there. All of life comes to me with ease, joy, and glory. So I used to say that to myself every morning, as many times as possible as many times as I could remember through the day and end on that positive thought as well. The more you can think positive, you will be positive. And the more you think low and depressive thoughts. That’s where you be. You know, your whole being follows your thought pattern. So the more you can fill your mind with positive things, laughing, dancing, something that raises you up. And it doesn’t have to be, as we said, it can be something within you. It could be it matter what it is. If it raises you up, you’re in a much better place. It’s hope it’s. It’s great. Oh, I tell you, what I will say is for many years, my mantra was: “What doesn’t kill you 00:41:00 makes you stronger.”  So I’ll leave you with that.  Paula: So I’m going to wrap up, well, this podcast, make sure you head over to Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else, where you listen to podcasts. And click subscribe. If you like what you’ve heard, please write us a raving review. If you have questions or topics you would love us to cover related to leadership and governance on TesseTalks, send us a note. Remember it can be personal as well as professional. And if you want to be a guest on TesseTalks, head over to tessy@paki.com/TesseTalks, to apply.  Thank you to our wonderful listeners. And of course, a big thank you to Lisa Richards for all that she has taught us today and shared with us today. Thank you, Lisa.  00:42:00 Lisa: Thank you. Thank you, Paula. Thank you, Tesse. And thank you listeners for having me on the show today. I’ve enjoyed it so much and I hope I’ve given you some hope and things to take away. So thank you.

Why TesseLeads


for TesseLeads Launches Paula: 00:00:00 Hi everyone, today I am with Tesse Akpeki, Tesse , and I co-host TesseTalks and now we decided to launch another podcast called Tesse Leads and Tesse, you came up with this idea. So today, as we launched Tesse Leads , I’m going to throw that question on her and say, Tesse what were you thinking about when you decided that we should have something in addition to TesseTalks  was so why TesseLeads in other wordsa? Tesse: 00:00:34 Yeah. Thank you very much, Paula, first and foremost, I want to say a big thank you for the way that people have supported TesseTalks  and continue to support TesseTalks when we launched TesseTalks. I actually thought, you know, if we get like 50 people who tune in to the launch and listen, that was enough for me because it’s not about numbers, it’s about what it could do. And we ended up having almost 3000 views of the launch and people tuning in and I was blown away by that. And the comments and the way it is. And so I want to thank people who listen in, who tune in, who tell their friends. Now quite a bit has happened since then. It’s more to do with how our lives can change and how we need to find a place to tell our stories, how we need to listen to the experiences of other people and know that we’re not alone. How we need to navigate a world which keeps on changing sometimes at pace and how we need to be able to explore our opportunities and create different things, but also to encounter and live alongside our adversities and things that don’t go right. Places where we fail ,places, where we struggle and life is both the things that work for us and it’s also the things that don’t work for us. It’s about our gains as well as our losses and TesseLeads  is about that place of telling our stories, of sharing our stories. Of hearing about the experiences of others, of sharing our own experiences. And it’s meant to be that place where we can create and shape our opportunities as well as to be supported at times when we need it most. And my thinking behind this was that that space that we create is an authentic place to be vulnerable and creative place to think and a soft place to fall. Does  any of that make sense to you, Paula? Or is it just something that you think? Actually, I need to ask more questions and explore a bit more. Paula: 00:03:37 It makes sense. It makes sense in that you’re talking about life, you’re talking about which being a place, which is different from TesseTalks. And I’m sorry, I’m making reference to the that, the host and the cohost are exactly the same two people. But what you’re essentially saying is that TesseLeads is a place for stories, stories about life and how raw life is. And caring how people got over these things that happen. Some planned and some not planned and some random and some not random, but they happened. So this is supposed to be, uh, Safe place for leaders, influencers people wherever you may be to come and tell your story because it’s real. That’s my understanding. Tesse: 00:04:38 Absolutely. I’m glad that that’s your understanding, cause that’s my understanding as well. And you would say why TesseLeads? And I say, because. I have to lead myself first, before I can think of leading others. In many ways I can role model what leadership means to me and live as authentically and vulnerably as I can. And until I do that work from the place of reality and from the place of vulnerability, I will be really fake in kind of leading other people I’ve got to lead myself first. And I think if being in the, um, environment, which is professional, personal leadership has taught me anything. It’s that the only person who I can change is myself and the only place where authentic leadership can come from this from me and over the years, what I’ve learned is that my progression. And my growth is from the inside out, rather from the outside in and yet over the years often when I’ve looked at indicators for success, I have to confess that my indicators have usually been extrinsic. So outside of me, rather than inside of me and what I’m learning now every day, is that the measures and indicators for success of testing need to be for insights. And that intrinsic thing is still important because that’s what makes me real. And then I can have external measures, but that would not be what defines me. And so testing leads is about creating that same space with you my wonderful cohost for other people, as well as for ourselves. Paula: 00:06:32 I think that says it all. So what would we say people are going to get out of this? Tesse: 00:06:38 Well, this is a really good question about what people get out of it. And I hope that they do, and they make it other things and let us know as well. But as I had this kind of thought around testing leads, I had a conversation with my brother, Anthony Paul Akpeki, and Anthony said to me, sister Tess, because that’s what he calls me. He said,” No matter how bad our experiences are no matter how painful they are, there are people who have been through worse and we can benefit by hearing those experiences that other people have. And even if it’s not worse, it’s could be similar or the same. And we know that we’re not alone because nobody has been through that before. And he said “sister tests. I think we should create a place for people to tell their story, to tell their stories about their precious lives, to tell their stories that will help them to feel supported and encouraged and nurtured, to tell their precious stories in a way that they will feel that they’re never alone because he says whatever happens. Tesse: 00:07:53 No matter what we’re going through. They’re never known whether the things that we’re celebrating or whether the things that we are mourning or whether the things that we’re gaining or whether the things that we’re losing, we are never alone. And that was what Anthony said to me. What I didn’t realize at the time was that was going to be my last conversation with my brother and my brother, Tony was killed tragically in a hit and run accident four days after that conversation. And what I benefited from listening to Tony’s very wise words was his encouragement and his supportive voice that nobody is ever alone and tanning our precious stories and sharing our own experiences are ways that we can support ourselves and the ways that we can support others. So I hope that by tuning into TesseLeads, that people will be able to feel the support of others. And they’ll be able to support themselves as they give themselves the place where adversity  can become gifts and where they can feel happy in what they are gaining. Through things that are working for them and where they can feel that they have a purpose and a meaning. Their purpose matters. We all have a purpose. And when we realized that many times it gives meaning to our stories and our meaning to things that have happened in our lives. Because sometimes it’s nothing else, but other ban make others understand that they’re not alone. And Paula might have gone through this test. He might have gone through this, but through that, they have grown they’ve matured and they can help. And so I guess that wraps up our launch TesseLeads in which we are able to share with you, our amazing listeners, why we are doing this, how it came about, and we encourage you to listen in to the wonderful people that we are going to be bringing on, to share their stories the good times and not so good times and the bad times. Because that’s life and that’s what happens to each and every one of us. So with that, I am going to close out to our amazing listeners. We want you to know that your precious lives and your precious stories matter. Please share them with us so that you can feel supported and so that others are supported as well as encouraged and nurtured and never feel alone. Please make sure you head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere where you listen to podcasts. And please click subscribe. If you find testing leads helpful. Please let us that is Tessie and Paula know about this and your reviews. If you have any questions or topics you would like us to cover, please send us a note. And if you would like to be a guest on our show, TesseLeads. Please head over to www.tesseakpeki.com/tesseleads to apply.