How do you see women and Millennials building authority in the workplace and changing the business world? In today’s time, technology has advanced the traditional business setup, bringing in more game for these sectors. The question lies whether they are reaching their full potential in the workplace. Joan Kuhl, founder of Why Millennials Matter, dives into the issues on gender roles that happen in the corporate world as she points out the things that hold women back from being achievers. An author, speaker, and champion of women in leadership, Joan gives away tips on how women can score sponsorship and get men as allies.
RJ Singh and Tofe Evans of Nxt Gen Mvmnt highlights how Millennials can start their success story through their “shared wisdom” platform. Intending to pull together all the wisdom and information and sharing with their younger Millennial viewership and listeners, RJ and Tofe dive into the value of understanding the emotional struggles of successful people to elicit their authenticity, thus motivating the youth. As they touch on the issue of substance abuse among Millennials, discover how you can be a part of their platform and how they scale their not-for-profit organization.
We have Joan Kuhl, RJ Singh, and Tofe Evans. Joan is the Founder of Why Millennials Matter. She’s a speaker and the author of a book called Dig Your High Heels In. RJ Singh and Tofe Evans are the Co-Founders of the Nxt Gen Mvmnt. They’re doing some great supportive things for people out there in the business world.
Listen to the podcast here
Empowering Women In The Corporate World with Joan Kuhl
I am here with Joan Kuhl, who is the Founder of Why Millennials Matter. She’s an author, speaker, and champion of women in leadership. Through her international speaking engagements, research and consulting, she guides leaders from more than 60 countries and transforms their internal workings of some of the world’s largest organizations. She’s worked with Goldman Sachs, Eli Lilly, you name it. There’s quite a list. She’s the author of three books, including Dig Your Heels In: Navigate Corporate BS and Build The Company You Deserve. It’s nice to have you here, Joan.
Thank you for having me.
I was looking forward to this. You’ve got quite an interesting background. I know a lot of people are interested in talking about Millennials, women in business. You hit them all with all the work you’re doing. It’s going to be interesting because I saw that you got frustrated by the boys club and that led to some of your interests. Can you give me the backstory on you because that’s interesting?
I had spent 14 years working in the pharmaceutical industry. I always had a passion for early leadership and investing in the next generation. I was always in youth leadership programs that had a huge influence on my life, opened up the door to finding mentors and building my authentic leadership style. I would see all this power and potential in the next generation. I saw the friction happening at work, between the generations and the lack of investment in young talent, which will increase their loyalty and their engagement. When I launched Why Millennials Matter, that’s what I set out to do. It’s to talk to all the leaders and engage organizations about doubling down on young people.
While I started to study what young people wanted, their motivators and the companies that were most successful with attracting, developing, and advancing them, I realized what Millennials want is what women deserve. We still don’t have equal access, flexibility, meaning and purpose at work, financial security, and access to sponsors and mentors to get to our potential. I’m a mother of two daughters and because I’ve always invested in girls’ leadership programs. It’s not enough for me to keep investing in our girls’ confidence and their future if they’re going to get into these toxic workplaces. They’re going to walk back out the door. That’s what drove me to write Dig Your Heels In and launch this Courage to Stay Movement to help companies transform and be more inclusive.
We have a lot in common. I have two daughters and I spent several years at AstraZeneca‘s pharmaceutical industry. It’s interesting when I think back in the time working in pharmaceuticals. I was young and I had good experience in terms of how they treated us at that age and there were more women. In my training class, there were seven women and one guy at that time. They were ahead of it compared to other industries. I left that, went into lending and I’d be the only woman, it’d be all men. I’ve been in different forms where I’ve seen inequality. What I’ve found in education is people would be nice and treat you well, but you weren’t given opportunities other than the administrative tasks. They didn’t take me seriously. Do you see much of that?
The first one I would say that representation is that you may feel you’re in an industry or an organization where you see a lot of women, but look at the top, look at the board room, at the senior-most leadership levels and I guarantee that it’s not equally distributed there. That’s proven through research and it’s important to share that because sometimes I’ll hear men say, “We’ve got a lot of great women,” in the leadership positions in the company. It’d be two out of fifteen. I’ll say, “That’s great, but we’re not there yet.” The second point that you’re making is it’s not always this deliberate and aggressive assaulting type culture that’s holding women back.
It’s everyday bias whether it’s the maternal penalty since you said you’re a mother as well, that people make choices for us. They think, “She had a baby. You can’t give her part of that big assignment because I’m trying to be nice to her and give her space.” We’d make all these judgment calls about our competence, capabilities, and availability without actually including women in those decisions. That’s the part that requires everybody to roll up their sleeves and that’s why a lot of the work I’m doing is workshops with women and men together, to understand everyday situations, what happens like office housework that you said, why it happened and what we can do about it to make it real world.
Do you have any difficulty with men buying-in to wanting to attend anything? That’s pro-women training. How do you get around that?
On the optimistic side, I happen to be in situations where if a company calls me in or hires me, brings near any other diversity and inclusion like a specialist on board. They’ve got all bunch of men that are leading in that want to be allies and they have all sorts of reasons. That makes me optimistic that I see men at all levels, in particular, I see Millennial men who absolutely believe that their peers, female colleagues are equals. They also want their own equal access to flexibility and to be the dads that they want to be, if they want to start a family.
The other side you’re talking about, do I face objections to this? Yes, every day. All the time. I have an office in WeWork. I also am a part of the wing, which it’s an all-women’s co-working space. That place, no problem. WeWork has a lot of bro culture. I have this one guy that runs a huge healthcare tech start-up that always says this line once a week, “I hope you’re doing well with that woman thing, ignoring half the population, but let’s focus on women.” I’m like, “That’s what you do.” A lot of people don’t get it and that’s why I use the data as often as I can and talk about how this is not about women. This issue of equality benefits everyone.
I had somebody use the phrase, “You got to pay the pink tax.” I don’t think a lot of men realize what women have extra sometimes. It’s got to be hard for them to decide whether this is a good opportunity or not a good opportunity for me to stay within a company. How do you decide whether to stay or go?
That’s a huge decision. Dig Your Heels In is personal. Honestly, this came about because in all these consulting and research, I would meet women all over the world, build these relationships and they would turn to me as having an external advisor sometimes, when they had opportunities to leave or when enough was enough. I felt easy because I’m on the outside and I can see your equity. I can see it all this power and influence that I know that you have and see the big picture. As I started to think through, how am I helping these women make these decisions because the last thing you want to do is do something on a whim and have regret about it.
I can’t make the decision for them, but in the book and in my workshops I walked through. Here are all the things to consider and think about. Take into account not only your salary and the obvious things but your total benefits, everything that is in package that you earn for your time there. Think about your political equity, relationships, results, and your brands across the board. The fact is you know the players, politics, processes, and the systems, who better to disrupt it and transform it than you. If you walk away, we lose that opportunity to have you as one of our trailblazers, being the coming up positive catalyst for change. That is the decision-making process that I help women think through.
I have people in mind who I could think of that part. Women who love their jobs but they don’t necessarily love the corporate culture. Sometimes people keep jobs because you can work virtually. You can have kids, you can do certain things. It can be challenging, but if the corporate culture doesn’t value women but you love your job, is it worth staying? What do you tell somebody who asks that question?
If you haven’t read it yet, there is an unbelievable article in the New York Times about the jewelry giant, Sterling Jewelers. They own Zales, Jared, Kay. It was all about this toxic culture, all the alleged accusations that will make your head spin and make you squirm. None of which are new to us. We’ve heard them all, but to your question about when women love their job and there are aspects of their job they love, but yet they’re feeling stifled or there are things about the culture that is unnerving to them. This article hits at this thing called a precise algorithm that we never talk about is that there’s a lot of times good with the bad and that women like men, we account a lot of self-worth to our job, our profession, the thing that we’re doing. It’s one of those things where we have this calculation of how much we’re willing to deal with and take on because if you take away the bad, you take away the good, too.Women, just like men, account a lot of their self-worth to their job, profession, or the thing that they’re doing. Click To Tweet
There’s this ultimate moment when we finally decide enough is enough. The injury and injustice I should say are outweighing the joy. This is why I’m an optimistic person in general. Even when I’ve gone through these moments with this work where I’m devastated by the stories that I hear, but I’m also hopeful because I have seen women and men turn around big companies. It doesn’t happen overnight and that’s the biggest message. We’re playing the long game here and it is worth it. You have to know how to connect that back to your personal goals. There’re a lot of elements here that you have to identify for yourself to want to keep your head in the game there and also change things around you, while enjoying the things that you do appreciate.
It’s hard to know how much you can tolerate. Disrespect is the number one thing that’ll make me want to leave. I see a lot of that, but I’ve worked in the past with some great mentors and sponsors. Can you explain what sponsorship is and why it’s important for women? Why they’re having a hard time getting it?
Sponsorship continues to be this elusive concept to many women. The sponsor is somebody that is in a position of power and influence. Their senior level leaders, specifically at your company, somebody that can weigh and have influence over your pay, advancement, promotion, and also provide you with air cover. What makes it intangible for women is we can understand the mentorship concept better because we also think warm and fuzzy. Somebody that we can identify with, we want to emulate. They have attributes that we aspire to have and that makes us trust them, want to talk to them, and value their opinion. That to me is even too loaded of a definition for mentors and that limit to us, too. Once I understood what the concept was, I was probably in my early 30s and I looked back and said, “Who are my sponsors?”
I had to have them. You don’t ever get anywhere alone. There are people that, I don’t know if I thought at the time that they liked me, they did believe in me. A lot of them were men because again, the definition, you have to be in senior-level positions and it’s a predominantly male-dominated. Even women that I thought were particularly hard for me, when I was working crazy and I felt I was putting my all into things but being direct about the thing I needed to improve or if the person I didn’t feel like knew me but they saw me present in a visible situation. That’s what I tell women. This is all of those things where you walk up to somebody to shake your hand, “Will you be my sponsor? Will you be my mentor?” You got to put yourself in those situations where those people can observe you or where they can learn about you. It could start with a coffee with someone. It’s thinking about it strategically about your brands and about the goals that you have.
I was thinking about some of the sponsors I’ve had as you were talking about that. It’s hard because I’ve worked in a virtual atmosphere so much. Even in pharmaceuticals, you’re never in the office and it’s a little different. I felt I’ve had a lot of great women sponsors in the past and there’s so much talk about how women hold women back. Do you think that they do or do you think that that’s what people say? What are the things that hold women back if it’s not other women? What is it or what are those behaviors you think?
Everybody has a bias. This isn’t a man versus woman thing. There’s definitely plenty of stories that I’ve heard where there were challenges with a conflict with a leader, whether you’re a woman with another woman. I did delve into that research a lot. The strongest thought leader on it is Joan C. Williams. She writes a lot about the phenomena, the different situations like a queen bee or being the only woman or positional bias. At the end of the day though, it’s all because of the bias that’s built into the system that we didn’t cause. We’re set up to have these certain behaviors and fight or flight, mark her territory.
A lot of this stuff takes some knowledge that the first step of understanding why something could be happening. That’s hard when it feels emotionally scarring. Women always say when they get burned by another woman, it hurts. The cut goes deeper. I blame the system and the process, other individuals that are deliberate and that discriminate. The trickier part is changing the processes and that’s why it takes some thoughtful intention and sponsorship at the top. You need CEOs, male or female, to put a stake in the ground. This is a business priority, not a nice thing to do, but this is the thing that we must change. They have to look at all those areas of the company where they can start doing the work.
It’s frustrating sometimes when you get people who don’t support you. I’ve seen some people who don’t even realize that they’re saying things that could be insulting to other people. I got one from a guy who is known for not thinking women are the best thing to work with. He sent me a note. It was something like, “I looked at your site and it looks great. You must’ve hired someone to put it together because it was designed well.” I don’t know if he meant to be insulting. How do you respond when you get these comments from people like that?
Ever since writing Dig Your Heels In, I get story after story after story, whether it’s about that or it’s about paid when you go to negotiate, the kinds of responses that you get. I take in the whole situation, which is there’s an opportunity for this to be a teachable moment? How I decide for that is, how often do I have to interact with this person and is he standing in the way of me getting something that I deserve? If this is someone that’s a here and there interaction, I don’t know them well enough to know that. I make that decision and it’s definitely never over email, it’s definitely trying to do that in person. I was speaking at Morgan Stanley and we had women in both sports, finance and events and I got a lot of questions like that. They say, “Here’s the scenario that’s happening at work,” and it’s conflict scenarios.
They’re like, “How do I go about it?” I say, “One of the most important skills that we can arm ourselves with as women is conflict resolution.” I know this about myself, growing up because we’re taught to be good girls, get along and you don’t fight it out on the playground, dust it off and be best friends, our buddy afterward. We hold things in too much and if we could get those tools and experiment with the power of language because we are powerful teachers and educators. I don’t know if you saw the RBG movie. I remember that moment, where they talk about how whenever somebody was demeaning or condescending before the Supreme Court, she thought of being an educator and like, “How do I teach you?” That’s what I think about it. You have to decide is this the situation because it takes a lot of energy. That’s why I decided, is this person on my way of getting something that I deserve and how often am I going to see them, whether I choose to engage or not?
This is somebody I’ll never see. I used to work with and I probably wouldn’t engage, but if it was somebody that who I’m working with, I would definitely do what you’re saying. If we want to have men as allies, is there any particular tips you can offer? If we notice that most of the men are in these higher positions, we need that.
We need men as our partners and allies. The first thing is, starting with data since #MeToo, the unfortunate outcome is that men are three times more uncomfortable mentoring women. We already weren’t getting that access that we deserve and we need that sponsorship I talked about. If men are actively shying away from it, that’s a problem. The first thing there that I find because I worked directly with men in healthcare, finance and other organizations, is it helps them to have some guidance and some boundaries. I talked to them about how important it is that they mentor women and men with the same boundaries. For example, if you’re comfortable taking a man to sporting events or going out for drinks but you don’t feel that same level of comfort with women.
Don’t go to sporting events or have drinks with either. Figure out the neutral ground for you. If it’s a public space, the company cafeteria, a Starbucks in the morning, it has to be intentional. The men that want to lean into this, as you said about it being unconscious. I remember a senior executive who I know sponsors women and who’s been an advocate. His a-ha moment when he realized he was only taking men to the basketball games and another man said, “I didn’t think any of the women like to golf or golf.” I didn’t want to ask them, make them feel uncomfortable or miss that time with their family. What happens? They have all these strategic conversations on the golf course. For men, it’s thinking about this intentional strategy of mentoring both men and women and having a common ground between the two.
It doesn’t occur to some men how certain things come across or that they’ve made a choice to socialize or whatever with certain people. It does have to be something that they’ve done in a conscious manner. Tell me who this book is for then, Dig Your Heels In: Navigate Corporate BS and Build The Company You Deserve. Is it mostly for women or is it for men too?
I definitely know that it’s for men and had a lot of men reach out at the corporations. I have a lot of voices from women working at big companies throughout the book and support them. They read it and learn something from it because at the end of the day, it first starts with that awareness. I have a lot of data, but I also talk about the everyday situations, we were saying office housework. Do you ever look at your team and realize there’s one woman that’s always taking the notes or organizing the food for the birthday lunch? That shouldn’t be her job. It’s taking her away from doing other credible things. It could be a shared responsibility or understanding things that men interrupt women three times more often than they interrupt other men. When men stay late on average, they get a 14% increase in their performance review at the end of the year. Women stay late, they’re penalized, they get no increase at all. They looked at it as inefficient.
I think that women, in particular, I want this to be their playbook so that they can first, make that decision if they’re going to dig their heels in. Second, have the tools to make it happen. Figure out what the thing is that they want to focus on and third, make it worth it. None of this is going ever to be sustainable if it doesn’t also lead to our personal happiness, connect with something that’s at the root of our values and goals. Of all ages, too, younger women need to read this so they will enter the workforce with eyes wide open and experience women who are trying to re-enter the workforce, as well be ready to know those barriers so that you’re prepared to overcome them.Men are three times more uncomfortable mentoring women. Click To Tweet
That’s great advice. I’m sure a lot of people will want to read your book and learn more from you. How can they find out more about what you’re working on and contact you?
Thank you. My website is JoanKuhl.com. There you can learn about the book. You can learn about all the programs and the speaking and training that I do and get updates about the initiatives we’re working on. The book, Dig Your Heels In, is sold in every major retailer online. It’s in stores at Barnes & Noble, everywhere. Follow me on Instagram or on LinkedIn. We’ll get updated about the companies that we’re working with and some of the real world things that they are doing to support women and inclusivity.
The Instagram thing, it’s been a real challenge for certain things. I’m curious because it’s not a visual thing when you go to speaking events without it being all about you up on stage. How do you use it?
I’m navigating it, too. I love looking at the pictures as well and scrolling through the stories. I have found it’s fast. I found that most people are looking at the stories and you can do Instagram Live and Facebook Live. I’m looking at it as fun now. In the beginning, I was a little bit shaky on how to use it, but it helps. It’s another way to interact with people that aren’t where you are. I had friends in the audience, Instagram Live or Facebook Live off of my phone and her phone while I was speaking. It gives you extra footage of what you’re talking about so you can dial in with other people about it, save it, post it. It’s leveraging it to find more people, introduce them to your message and the mission that you may not have run across.
It’s interesting to use different technologies. I did a tweet chat that was overwhelming. Everybody’s all talking, about 100 people typing the same stuff. It was a little bit of a mind blow to watch that experience and it’s all fun to me to see how all the different technology is out there. I hope people check out JoanKuhl.com and get your book, Dig Your Heels In: Navigate Corporate BS and Build The Company You Deserve. Thank you so much, Joan, for being on the show.
Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Recognizing The Millennial’s Worth with RJ Singh and Tofe Evans
I am here with RJ Singh and Tofe Evans who are the Co-Founders of the Nxt Gen Mvmnt, which is geared to helping Millennial audience guide their own professional and personal lives through a shared wisdom platform. It’s nice to have you guys here, welcome.
Thanks, Diane. I appreciate you having us. It’s good to catch up via the eWorld.
I know you two. I have met RJ and I haven’t met Tofe, but he is the author of Everyone Has a Plan until S*** Hits the Fan. RJ was working as a Director of Freight Concepts and you also had created this platform movement. I’d like you to give a little background, we’ll start with RJ. Why don’t you give a little background of what you were doing before you started this movement? We’ll get Tofe’s background then we’ll talk about the movement.
I’m an Executive Director in a logistics company here in Australia called Freight Concepts. We’re a disruptor in the market where we don’t have any assets. What we do is we source transport providers, logistical providers for our customers and manage them. We pieced together different bricks and mortar transport providers and offered that up as a customized solution to our customer base. That has been my day job, my career for some time. The Nxt Gen Mvmnt was something that I Cofounded with Tofe, Zak and Paris. It was born out of an idea that I had some time ago around creating a forum of young thought leaders, business leaders that are within the community and teaming up with these young people to start to source knowledge and wisdom from people like yourself, Diane.
We started doing interviews and we have a podcast. The intention is and always has been to pull together all this wisdom, information, share that with our younger Millennial viewership and listeners. Everyone benefits from this. It’s not just younger people, but we felt that the young business community, whilst there’s a lot of opportunities, there’s also a lot of disconnects and a lot of confusion because of the amount of information out there. We wanted to start to help guide our young audience in respect to their personal and professional lives.
I know we had a chance to talk when we met in person about all the great people you had involved. You mentioned Zak and Paris. Do you want to give their full name so we give them complete credit here?
Zak Abdallaoui, he’s a young real estate agent from New South Wales who comes from a real estate family. They are part of the McGrath family business. They have a couple of franchises here in Sydney, from a McGrath real estate perspective. Paris Young is the Owner and Founder of Pepebucks, which is a branding strategy firm in Melbourne, Australia. She’s a young woman that is quite successful and I met her because she’s been helping us with our brand strategy at Freight Concepts.
Tofe, how did you get involved in all of this? What is your background?
I’ve got an interesting background. I went on this journey a few years ago on mental health advocacy and endurance sports. I put my body through about 60 endurance events ranging from hundred-mile races to be in a treadmill for hours for charitable reasons. I did it for a solution to solve my own mental health struggles. I had struggled with depression, anxiety for quite some time and it was great. This journey I went on and one thing led to another then I met RJ. We were chatting on the phone because we’re from different states and we met in person finally. The opportunity arose, we bonded over adversity. We had this connection from when we hit rock bottom and how we both became endurance athletes. How we felt giving back was powerful.
I was burning out because I was doing all these crazy events and the body can only sustain for so long as opposed to doing 40 events in one year. I can do a few but I wanted to give back somehow. Practicing gratitude is the fastest way to change our definition of reality. For me, that’s a core value of mine. For us, it was the idea of how do we make a shared mentorship so that people can learn from us because we’ve been grateful to have mentors. We’re all each other’s mentors in our own way. It was the things we’ve learned, we’ve grown and become quite experts for the people, our community that want mentorship. That’s why we interviewed the powerful people in those respective fields so they’ll feel they can learn from them as well.
What type of endurance training were you doing?
Doing big races, anything from a marathon to marathon further, to doing crazy mountain runs, to big 12-hour swims, to paddle board for 60 something or about 40 something miles.Practicing gratitude is the fastest way to change our definition of reality. Click To Tweet
I could see the appeal of it, the endorphins, the dopamine, the rush of it. It is appealing. I have met a lot of people who’ve gone through substance abuse issues, where they turned their attention to exercise or some other ways. They have that need to fill that time and also to get that feeling, do you see a lot of young people who have issues with substance abuse go into activities like that?
When I first got sober, running was a real key part of my recovery. It gave me the ability to hit those endorphins and feel good, especially at that point, I was off of alcohol. I said what I needed to do was starting to become okay with myself because I couldn’t run 24 hours a day. The journey then moved from using all this physical activity to get me to feel good, to start to learn how to feel okay in my own skin without having to run kilometer after kilometer. I have picked up writing again. I think Tofe and I did connect not only on the adversity piece in our story but on how we manifested a lot of our growth was by running. I would say that there is a strong connection between people that are in recovery that have moved through addiction and physical activity. It’s something that I see not only with running but weightlifting, CrossFit, all various types of physical activity.
I’m going to go back to you, Tofe, on this because you said you interview people. What kind of people are you interviewing and what are you doing with this content?
It’s a round-robin style and we will go into their field. We will go through their emotional struggles and what they’ve gone through because these people, they’re quite successful in their respective field. It could be in business, human performance, branding standpoint. It could be what they got their doctorate in and understanding the emotional struggles of what they’ve gone through because it makes it human. It comes back down to the principle of why humans like what we’re wired for. It goes back to ancestry days, but we’re wired for story and connection. I’ve noticed a correlation when we can connect with people on that absolute bottom level that it removes all judgment, but it’s the power of being vulnerable though. That’s something that I feel that we got a good strength up and getting to that level. It’s admirable for the guests to become that open. We have to be super open ourselves.
Go ahead, RJ, if you have something to add.
It’s about moving, taking off the mask and to look good quickly. When I got sober, an influential person in my life told me because I was always trying to look good and share half-truths. He said to me, “Don’t let the look good kill you.” It stuck with me. I think that’s something that within the show that we try to do quickly remove our masks. As we say in Australia, “Go onto the bonnet.” In the US, we’d say, “Going to the hood.” We want to get to that place of deep conversation quickly because what we want to do we start to understand how our guests’ ticks and finding out what drives that person, how that person deals. Their subject matter expertise is cool and important, but it’s about how they engage life and we’re trying to disseminate that information to our viewership and our listeners.
Tofe, is this a private area where you have to join because I’m thinking almost like an AA meeting? How people have this safe space. Is this something open to the public? How does this work?
The community’s entirely open. It’s not an elitist group or anything. Funny enough, you mentioned AA. Zak’s been sober for six years and RJ is going on eight, maybe nine. I don’t go to an AA kind of group but it’s funny because the four of us including Paris have had our struggles. The fact that we’ve used those struggles as our strengths. I don’t fall under the sobriety thing. I fall under suicide and mental health that was my cornerstone and the foundation of my success in the most ironic way. I was able to harness the demons and the bad energy that I had been carrying and will those judgments and able to put that into ultra-endurance athletics. Hopefully, that answers the question.
RJ, people you talked to who want to be part of this group, do they all have similar kinds of chemistry, background and history of what they’ve lived through? Is there some commonality that you see?
It’s an interesting one because when we put it together, what we’re looking to do is build a community. That community, Diane, I think what you’re getting at is where and how has that community formed, it was predominantly through LinkedIn. We communicate to people mainly through LinkedIn and I do some coaching. Tofe does some coaching. People that have watched our shows that have reached out to us individually. It was important for us and Paris pointed this out, that when we formed the group that you didn’t have to through a life-altering traumatic event to be part of this but within everyone’s life, everyone has their version of trauma. We’re all going to go through trauma. We’ve all been through trauma. I would suggest that everyone has that thing in their life or that area in their life that may not be 100% optimal or are quite broken. What we try to do is we tap into that area in people’s lives when we’re talking directly to them or when we even have people on the podcast.
We try to understand, especially with the guests on the podcast, is how did they deal with what adversity looked like for them in their life? What have been the mechanisms that they’ve used to transcend that adversity? I personally believe that when I’m coaching anyone one-on-one, I focus on the greatest area of adversity within their life. If you can help them transform through that, it will then enable, create the realization and awareness for them that they can do anything. As Tofe said, “It’s by focusing on your Achilles heel, your demons, directly facing it and trying to transcend them that you then grow.” It’s experiential. It’s not motivation or Tony Robbins, “I’m going to come here and have to motivate yourself.” It’s more so by you challenging and knocking on the door of your own fears, facing them and transforming through them. You then create your own awareness and realization that you’re effectively capable of anything.
You started at LinkedIn. Is this something that you’re trying to grow into a large business, a non-for-profit or how are you scaling this? How many people are part of it? Tofe, do you have any of that information?Everyone has their version of trauma. We're all going to go through trauma and we've all been through trauma. Click To Tweet
We did start in LinkedIn and we’re not a non-for-profit. We were building a movement and a community. We’ve had opportunities in consulting, but it’s not our main bread and butter. It’s those opportunities that come to us, but we’re trying to build a shared platform. A platform is full of shared experiences and memories. We’re trying to have that platform where people can feel that they’re a part of when they can relate to people in a rock bottom level and feel that they can have that virtual mentorship that they can always fall back on to.
The reality is that at this point we’re focusing on the podcasts, the videos that we’re releasing to build the community. Once the community’s built, we’ll then start to engage that community in a defined, structured manner. At this stage, it’s about scaling the viewership and the base of our followers, if that makes sense, primarily through LinkedIn. We’ve looked at Facebook and Instagram. We’re toying with those forms of media potentially, but we don’t know if that’s the direction we want to go in terms of how we disseminate our information.
How would they find you, Tofe? Would they stumble across you or what promotions are you guys doing to get people to know about you other than interviews like these?
We are definitely podcasting if anyone’s listening Anchor, Spotify or iTunes. We have a YouTube channel and you can see us all there. We definitely drive everything through LinkedIn and we have our website as well so people can find all the content in there.
RJ, are you going to write a book about all the content and what you’ve learned? I know that Tofe has his book.
Diane, we’ve been talking about that. We’re looking to make a film. The reality is that Tofe, myself, Zak and Paris would be not so much in the film, but doing the project management in the branding piece and managing the project. We’re looking at doing some form of endurance events for a significant period of time. It’s all about purposeful suffering. We believe that through purposeful suffering, as Tofe has explained via our running and all the stuff that we do physically. We believe that it has enabled us to transform this concept of purposeful suffering. What we’re looking to do is create a film where we will be undergoing different types of psychological, physical, mental, emotional events and filming this in collaboration with sports scientists and doctors to make it not a film about going and doing crazy events but the effects on us and what we learn in the growth that comes out of this particular event. I’m writing a book, but it’s more about my story. We feel that the film will probably as Tofe says, “A picture’s worth a thousand words situation.”
I can imagine that it would be fascinating to document. I’ve had people on my show who’ve done other similar, not this topic, but done some amazing things with real examples of the people’s experiences like that. I could imagine that there’s a big market for people who want to feel they’re connected in that way. I think that’s an interesting outlet. Tofe, you’ve written a book in the past that got a lot of attention. That was your first book, Everyone Has a Plan until S*** Hits the Fan. What is that book about? Give you a little plug on that.
I appreciate that. It was never the intention of being known as an author. I don’t care if I’m never known as an author. The timing was right to put everything I had into a platform where I can let the primary intention, and it still is the intention to get someone out of a rut. The rut could be from one side of the spectrum of a suicidal rut to the other side where someone wants to be good and they want to do great. Part of it is a lot of anecdotal, a lot of it is my journey of how I’ve overcome suicide. I managed to collaborate on this book with a doctor in psychology and studying clinical psychology. She’s also an ultra-runner so she understands what myself and even RJ go through.
I wanted to have this medium to get someone out of a crisis somehow, whatever they’re going through and explaining through what I’ve learned and having the mentors in my life and using a lot of practicality in there, too. The message in there is entirely about practical resilience. The things and the self-awareness to get us out of those ruts and to help us bounce back from adversity. You can look at it from a business acumen standpoint, but it was the return on the impact I wanted to get. I still, to this day, don’t even know how many books sales I’ve met. We’re in the thousands, but I didn’t go off that metric. I go off how many private messages I received and I keep them in. I keep those screenshots in a folder because the money will always come for that. I want to focus on being a better writer. I think having those messages are much more heartfelt because it comes back to that primary intent that the purpose of why did this take place?
I could see that you guys are trying hard to get a message through to people who probably are letting the look good, kill them. A lot of leaders are out there who don’t realize that everybody else is feeling the same thing. There are a lot of people in my show, I have experts who have said, “Leaders all have that fear of imposter syndrome. They’re going to figure out I don’t know as much as I should know.” I imagine you get a lot of people who feel that way, especially with social media making everybody’s life looks perfect. I could see what you’re doing can be helpful to a lot of people to find out that other people feel the same way. RJ, do you have any last words that you wanted to share about what you’re doing and how people can find you?
Most people could find us through our website Nxt Gen Mvmnt. I’m on LinkedIn, RJ Singh, Director of Freight Concepts. The message that I’d like to share with anyone irrespective of whether they reached out to us or to myself is that find your version of difficult, find the areas of your life that aren’t necessarily working as well as you’d like them to. They can be areas where they’re broken, they’re obviously glaringly obvious to everyone and yourself that it’s broken or it’s areas in your life that you may be experiencing small challenges where it could be your weight, your fitness, friendships, your relationship with God or whatever is in your life that may not be working well and start to focus on those areas.
Start to try to work on those areas. Start to shine the light on that darkness because it’s going to be through that process that you start to shift, that you start to transform, that you start to create awareness. That awareness will then fuel more action, which will then fuel more awareness. That’s the process of transformation. I believe that we’re all here to transform and to become who we were meant to be. Unfortunately, life does life’s thing and we get blocked from that through trauma, through events, through circumstances. It’s important to help others start to find that purpose again and start to be their best selves as cheesy as that may sound. It’s real.
That’s some good important things for people to remember. Did you give a website?
Tofe and RJ, thank you so much for being my guests. It was so nice to talk to you again, RJ. It was so nice to meet you, Tofe.
Likewise, Diane. You’re lovely.
Thanks, Diane. I appreciate the time.
I’d like to thank Joan, RJ and Tofe for being my guests. We get some great guests. If you’ve missed some past episodes, you can go to DrDianeHamiltonRadio.com. You can also read the episodes at DrDianeHamilton.com/Blog. If you’re interested in information about Cracking The Curiosity Code or the Curiosity Code Index, please go to CuriosityCode.com. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- Why Millennials Matter
- Goldman Sachs
- Dig Your Heels In: Navigate Corporate BS and Build The Company You Deserve
- Sterling Jewelers
- Morgan Stanley
- Barnes & Noble – Dig Your Heels In
- Instagram – Joan’s page
- LinkedIn – Joan’s page
- Nxt Gen Mvmnt
- Everyone Has a Plan until S*** Hits the Fan
- Freight Concepts
- Anchor – Nxt Gen Mvmnt
- Spotify – Nxt Gen Mvmnt
- iTunes – Nxt Gen Mvmnt
- YouTube – Nxt Gen Mvmnt
- LinkedIn – RJ’s page
About Joan Kuhl
Joan Kuhl, founder of Why Millennials Matter, is an author, speaker, and champion of women in leadership. Through her international speaking engagements, research, and consulting, she has guided leaders from more than sixty countries and transformed the internal workings of some of the world’s largest organizations, including Goldman Sachs, Eli Lilly and Company, University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, and the New York Mets. She is the author of three books, including Dig Your Heels In: Navigate Corporate BS and Build the Company You Deserve.
About RJ Singh and Tofe Evans
J Singh and Tofe Evans are the co-founders of the NXT GEN MVMNT which is geared to helping their millennial audience guide their own professional and personal lives through a “shared wisdom” platform.