What if you could use your power for good?


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00:00:00: Intro

00:00:28: Today we're welcoming Brigette Iarrusso, international speaker, coach, and leadership trainer.

00:00:34: Brigette connects and accelerates value-driven entrepreneurial leaders and change agents to make a more abundant living--that means that she helps you make money--

00:00:44: while making a positive impact on people and the planet. She helps coaches, consultants, and service business leaders to attract more clients and sell with more intention and integrity, and she helps businesses that are scaling to create equitable and inclusive organizational cultures where diverse people can thrive and contribute

00:01:01: their full value.  Welcome Brigette, thank you for being on the show today.

00:01:07: Thank you so much for having me Leela, I appreciate it, and I so appreciate the topic that you are bringing to light--so freaking important.

00:01:14: I am so excited to be having these conversations; you are my fourth interview and I can't tell you what just...

00:01:22: incredible, rich material is coming out of these, so I like to keep the conversation a little bit spontaneous. We might go some places that we didn't plan... but 

00:01:35: why don't we start with your definition of power. When when I say power, what does that mean to you?

00:01:43: Oh that is so funny that you're asking this question first, because I actually had a conversation with my six-year-old daughter this morning over breakfast and I said to Talula: What do you think power means?

00:01:55: and

00:01:55: hearing her speak obviously I hear my own voice, right, because she's my daughter and I hear her echoing the things I say, and some of the things she said to me: power means speaking your truth,

00:02:07: like owning your voice and not being afraid to share that truth out in the world, so that's one way that I think of power. A lot of people think of power as dominance,

00:02:20: Or being stronger-than, and that's one

00:02:25: particular definition of power, which I think is what's problematic about the lens through which we view power--we think about dominance

00:02:32: and someone else being dominated as the outcome of power. And I think of power from the construct of using my.

00:02:40: power, my leverage, my authority, my credibility--for

00:02:46: constructive outcomes for social change; for impact to push forward through things that are difficult with strength and fearlessness, to get at truth, to get at

00:02:59: resolutions, to get at outcomes that serve all. I think that's how I'm thinking about power more.

00:03:07: So that sounds like a perfect dovetail with you telling us a little bit about what you do in the world, beyond the intro that I just read.

00:03:16: Yeah. So basically I think of myself as a disruptor. I've always been a disruptive person.

00:03:22: You know this about me, because I'm an intensive, because you're an intensive, and I never got

00:03:29: The idea of following rules and fitting in with structures. 

00:03:33: From the point that I was a child in Catholic school I remember looking around and thinking, 'This is all a bunch of bullshit--it's totally made up. I'm not buying any of it'. So from that place of disruption I've always

00:03:45: wanted to be an agent of change, and an agent

00:03:49: that helped people with less of a voice, or less access, or that were marginalized to have a voice. So my work

00:03:56: was four years in the space of Grassroots Economic Development initiatives overseas to help

00:04:01: really really marginalized communities, and over the years it's evolved into me understanding what my role is now in helping to elevate the visibility, the power,

00:04:14: the impact of less represented people.

00:04:18: And the place that I feel that I can do that--that I actually have leverage, that I actually can make an impact for now, is in the space of Business and Entrepreneurship.

00:04:28: For me that's the particular

00:04:31: place where I feel like with my life skills, with my voice, with my disruptive spirit, with my passion for

00:04:39: Being a conscious business leader--I'm all about helping less represented entrepreneurs, and when I say less represented I mean people like women,

00:04:48: queer, disabled,

00:04:51: Black, Hispanic, mixed race--not the typical cookie cutter person of privilege that you see in positions of financial wealth and authority that come from owning their business, having a lot of

00:05:02: of capital and access and power at their disposal, My goal is to get more access to capital, power, and leverage into the hands of less represented

00:05:13: people in the space of business, because for now for better or for worse we live in a capitalist society. I work with lots of people in the space of sustainability, and yes I would love to wave my incense;

00:05:24: and I would love to wave my Palo Santo and have us return to the days of my ancestors, of the Tainos, where we could trade shit but that's not what the soup is that we're in.

00:05:33: So we're the capitalist society, and for now, not having a position of authority in government to change the structure,

00:05:42: the only place I can see where I can make an impact is in the space of business--ensuring that more diverse people have more access to the mindset the tools and the strategies that are going to help them

00:05:54: get to that next level of leadership, of power, of authority, in a space that's typically dominated by people that are of the dominant class. And so I'm a subversive

00:06:05: former social justice, former human rights, former social advocate turned conscious capitalist. Right now

00:06:12: my advocacy hat is still in my wardrobe and the

00:06:18: weapon of choice--I'm sorry to have to use that term because I do believe we are fighting something here when it comes to inequity and lack of access--the way that I've chosen right now is to get more capital into the hands of brown,

00:06:31: female, mixed, different leaders so that they become those that are visible,

00:06:38: that have a voice, that are seen as the thought leaders; whose stories, whose vision, who's narrative, whose life's experience is what's informing

00:06:47: the direction that business is taking. I mean that's the only way right now I can think of how to utilize my unique gifts. I don't know if that'll change

00:06:55: in the future, but that's that's my for now, right now.

00:06:57: So you're talking about diversifying the power center in the existing systems of power.

00:07:05: Indeed, and the system of power is where the money is, where capital is, and capital unfortunately is what drives

00:07:12: everything. It's what drives elections, it's what

00:07:15: drives the political candidates we see, it's what drives what we see in the media, it's what drives everything and because capital is concentrated in the hands of a very specific demographic of people whose core values do not any longer reflect that of the universe that we live in it is very problematic, and so

00:07:33: people often look at money and power and capital as the root of evil. I disagree.

00:07:39: it's the hands that wield the capital and the power that are problematic not the capital and the power in and of themselves.

00:07:46: So talk to us a little bit--you know obviously you're focusing on the entrepreneurial space and obviously you've got a really clear mission around

00:07:55: building and diversifying entrepreneurship as a way of transferring power, so talk to us a little bit about the ways in which entrepreneurship.

00:08:05: is powerful because I think a lot of people who grew up like I did, with with you know parents or parent.

00:08:12: in my case it was one parent--who who have a kind of nine-to-five salaried job, think of that as a locus of security which is a kind of power.

00:08:23: But entrepreneurship doesn't have that certain kind of power, so talk to us a little bit about the power of entrepreneurship.

00:08:34: Yeah, and it's really a complicated thing to talk about because entrepreneurship can feel scary as fuck and it is a very disruptive.

00:08:43: And is very much at odds,

00:08:45: often, with what our family wants for us, because they may not understand that pathway. They're trying to protect us from harm and from failure and so often when we

00:08:56: strike out on the path of becoming entrepreneur

00:08:59: the narratives are very much geared toward failure, toward investing in losing money, or wasting time, right, so there's all these narratives and oftentimes that is what the path can look like for an entrepreneur. I want to be

00:09:13: fair here, that eighty percent of startups fail, and that's a particular type of business, so often we read this data and statistics and we don't understand like...

00:09:23: that data doesn't hold true for every single type of business, right, so there's other data to show that

00:09:28: starting a small business is like, one of the number one ways that women of color right now are becoming financially independent, and the largest sector of people opening small businesses and doing better in small businesses is women of color, so

00:09:41: starting your own business can look like lots of different things, and it is a path to not only financial freedom but freedom from the bullshit

00:09:50: construct, the shackles--the actual shackles, I use this word purposefully so follow me here--

00:09:55: of colonialism, of the stories that we've been fed around who should be in charge, who should run the show, who has the power, who runs the church, who runs commerce, and who is there as the worker

00:10:10: in the situation, right? So we've got these long historic narratives around who should be in which structures--in which places in society--and for many of us those narratives,

00:10:23: whether

00:10:24: We are aware of them or not, are part of our own inner beliefs around where we should fall in society. So even myself as a mixed race woman that presents white, that for all intents and purposes has a shit ton of privilege

00:10:37: and opportunity, I still have inner rat narratives that run from the Latino side of my family that's like, just work hard, have a stable job, don't rock the boat,

00:10:48: follow the rules, live a straight and narrow life, you know follow the

00:10:52: the church and the Bible, and be a good wife, and stop being so disruptive, and all this stuff that we don't realize how much stuff were told

00:11:01: around how to live, how to

00:11:04: think about opportunity and money and abundance, and for so many of us we don't actually believe that

00:11:12: financial freedom and abundance and the choice to run a business and have money is available to us, we may say it out loud like "oh I'm gonna have a business and I'm going to be successful" but we have a deeper inner narrative that is counter that,

00:11:25: and unless we recognize where that narrative comes from, that historically society does not put up

00:11:32: this independent path of entrepreneurship as for all; it is different for different kinds of people to walk that path and it doesn't mean

00:11:42: That we are less able, that we are inherently as we are born less capable of success, we may just not have the right tool kit

00:11:52: or the right access for success and that toolkit.

00:11:56: Many types of business programs and coaches is a lot of superficial shit like a business plan, and this in a marketing strategy and what is so often missing from that toolkit is the deep

00:12:07: inner work around constructing a narrative that you are actually going to succeed as an entrepreneur--that it's available, that it's possible, and then there's access,

00:12:19: opportunity, capital, and networks, and that is where people succeed and fail as entrepreneurs, so often the reason entrepreneurs fail is lack of access--to capital to grow, and they don't have enough partners, and

00:12:32: like affiliates, and people that are going to work with them to help them reach their ideal audience, to open doors, to help them get funding, etc etc so,

00:12:42: it's a complete toolkit that people need to succeed as entrepreneurs, and they can but they may not have the full toolkit or even know

00:12:51: what pieces they're missing or where to access it, and that's what has to shift for entrepreneurs to really be able to succeed. And then there has to be,

00:13:00: just like a no-bullshit conversation around, no it does not look the same for a black or brown founder.

00:13:07: as it does for a young white guy that graduates Stanford, and if you're saying that it is there's some bullshit there that needs to get disrupted.

00:13:15: It's not the same. It does not mean they're not born with equal value or equal

00:13:21: possibility, it's how it unfolds insofar as access and opportunity that's going to differ for both, and with each getting equal access and opportunity then yes.

00:13:33: they do have the same potential.

00:13:35: Yeah, I mean I think...you referred to this a minute or so ago, you know thinking about the way that the power

00:13:44: and the locus of power is so much about

00:13:46: knowing the system, about that sort of black box of whatever it is, right, when we think about people who want to go to college as part of their path and the

00:13:56: ways in which access to college is gatekept kept simply by knowledge, and then we think about entrepreneurship

00:14:04: and it's the same thing, if you want to become--let's say if you want to do corporate trainings.

00:14:11: And you've never done corporate trainings before, how do you even know what ballpark

00:14:16: to price your stuff? And how do you even know how to write a pitch? How do you know what to expect or what the company is expecting? Nobody's going to tell you that unless you know somebody who's done it or who's

00:14:27: on the other side of that to interaction or that transaction, right? If you know somebody in HR, if you know somebody who's bringing trainers in, then you can find out maybe

00:14:37: how much you could charge 

00:14:39: And then even if you get it,

00:14:41: And then what if you didn't have the information, do you have the support to go and do the things that you now know you need to do? Which is like the next factor, right, so you could have it--like you could have someone--give you a perfect example. My husband was

00:14:56: a kid in a remedial Vocational High School.

00:15:05: Incredibly smart young boy, Puerto Rican,

00:15:08: very Latino presenting, poor family, someone decided that he could be a fit for the aviation program.

00:15:16: That would get him out of his school into an aviation high school to become a pilot.

00:15:21: My husband was thrilled with the idea so the one problem was solved, so he didn't have access to his first year in high school; his second year someone found him and gave him the information and the access to the program.

00:15:32: His parents both worked multiple jobs,

00:15:35: one didn't speak English well, they were ashamed and unavailable to come in for the interview that he needed to have a parent at, to be able to get into the aviation school. He didn't get in,

00:15:44: not because he wasn't good enough that because the program said if your parents are not here to support you we can't let you in the program. He didn't get in, and it didn't happen, and so that's like the second piece it's like

00:15:54: you may have now information on how to access it, but then do you have the support

00:16:00: to take the steps you need? So again going back to the example of a founder who's a young woman, who maybe has amazing opportunity maybe she's also

00:16:10: working three jobs to make it because she's also single mom and her trajectory as an entrepreneur

00:16:18: Does not look the same as a woman who's got a husband who's bringing home 6 figures that she has a cushion to then follow her passion and launch a business.

00:16:28: And there's not the same level of risk, like to again to pretend that these two women are going to have the same experience--on the side of resilience,

00:16:37: Intelligence, wisdom--that single mom may actually have more, she may have a bigger tool kit

00:16:45: because of everything she's been through...and from the perspective of just time and sustainability she may not have enough at her disposal

00:16:55: to invest what needs to happen to grow a business, so this is the vicious cycle that has to get disrupted, and that I have to often work with my clients around, like stages and long term strategies, because you need all the pieces: you need the mindset, you need the

00:17:10: clear strategy, where do I have to go? what do I have to do? who do I have to talk to? what do I need to tell them? and then

00:17:16: Once you've got the mindset and the strategy, you know what need to do--you need to have the support,

00:17:20: and the resources to allow you to go do it in a way that's not going to make you burnt out and overwhelmed. And so without all those pieces in place it's really hard. And that's where power and privilege come in.

00:17:33: People with more access to power and more access to privilege can make those kinds of decisions, to delegate, to get other people on board with them, and that's where you leverage that. And everyone can have that leverage but 

00:17:48: is there a community of support that they can access for that? Do they have people in their network that can even afford to support them? That are available for that? That's where we have to think about.

00:18:00: How do we grow our network of

00:18:04: access and support, and who we're connected with, and then what are the ways that you do that that stay in alignment with your values because then that's the next level,

00:18:13: where it can get you to a place where you're in your desire to grow your network and connect with people that are perhaps outside of your community circle.  You may find yourself in a community where there are different values.

00:18:26: And you start to get pulled in different directions, and that's where it gets really complicated. And I see this happening so

00:18:35: frequently for female founders, for founders of color, where the only places to access capital, often, and resources, are communities that look very different than their own, with very different core values and a very different vision

00:18:47: and goal in mind

00:18:49: for supporting them, and so what are the strings attached with it? Because with money comes power, and so you would take investment or input or support from someone and there's a quid pro quo somewhere.

00:19:01: There's the expectation that you're going to deliver on something that's beneficial to them, and that may or may not work.

00:19:08: It works best when they're fully aligned with your value, which it takes us back to the problem that there are not enough diverse people in that space of power and capital, and access to that, to then fund and

00:19:21: create opportunities for others, so that's where we have to like disrupt that whole paradigm and make sure that there is diverse representation in all those circles

00:19:30: of power so that it starts to shift...and that is happening, to be fair. Like we can get super negative, and talk about

00:19:38: what's not and where we are not yet, and we can also look at

00:19:42: yes what is happening, and there are more black and brown founders now than ever before, there are more female founders than ever before, there are now more female VCs and yes there are more VC's of color. Is the percentage still paltry

00:19:56: Compared to those of the dominant class that's typically in those places? Absolutely. But are we moving the needle you better damn well believe.

00:20:04: we are, and and there are coalitions,

00:20:07: There are coalitions starting to collect, of people who are recognizing that the power is--you know it's great to have the power as an individual but unless you're really...

00:20:18: like, Bill Gates or his level, your individual power to make change is so much smaller than your power in community.

00:20:29: And so there are entire VC firms now which are focused on founders of color, focused on women, or women founders of color,

00:20:39: and...and I think that the more that we do that, the more that we create those networks and just say 'you know what,

00:20:46: I'm done.' Because there's--bringing this back to the power question, there's there's an enormous amount of power in moving the focus and decentering

00:20:59: the people who have traditionally held power; there's an enormous amount of power in moving the focus and saying, 'you know what?

00:21:05: I don't need to prove myself to you. I don't need to meet your standards.' I recently had an interview with Tiana Dodson who does fat empowerment work, and she...

00:21:18: she's talking, she's doing incredible work. She lives in France and

00:21:23: she's doing incredible incredible work around the idea that that

00:21:29: we don't have to all have the same idea of what's attractive, right, who's setting that agenda? and who's bullshit is that?

00:21:36: And how much are we--how much is everybody else turning themselves into a pretzel trying to fit that very small

00:21:43: profile? And it's similar in the world, right? You know, I don't need to prove myself to a rich white dude, because that's not necessarily who my best audience is.

00:21:55: Yeah I'm getting back to these larger coalitions and groups and business associations there is a heightened awareness of the fact that lacking inclusivity and equity is a business problem too.

00:22:08: So in the past it was like, this is a social problem, it's a justice issue, it's a do the right thing issue--yes AND...

00:22:17: It is a fucking business problem. And there are enough...

00:22:20: Right there's a business case for it.

00:22:23: Exactly. And now that people are able to make that business case, listen I don't really care how a company gets to the realization that they've got to do something

00:22:30: about it, we've just got to get everyone to the realization, and if they need to see numbers and data because that's what's happening, and even again business association, and I'm going to

00:22:40: plug one that I'm a part of--that for a while I was not clear that it was aligned for me--but I'm part of the Conscious Capitalism Bay Area

00:22:48: Community and I've been invited to take a position on the local board, and the organization as a whole is doing the work to look at

00:22:58: who is at the table and who is not, and a lot of companies are coming to that realizatio,n that there are multiple problems that are presented when there are not enough people at the table in

00:23:10: Positions of power and authority.

00:23:14: A diverse organization typically looks like what UC Berkeley looks like, I'm sorry to have to call a spade a spade (and that's not a racist term by the way, I've done my homework.

00:23:22: it comes from something that has to do with a game that was played years ago and people of misconstrued it, so a spade a spade is not a racist term) and UC Berkeley is an institution that is historically white,

00:23:33: and everyone that's in a position of financial authority and power is typically white male, there are many people of color on staff but they are in positions of less authority and power--that's not

00:23:46: equitable. So yes the institution may look diverse, but where is

00:23:52: power concentrated? That's where there's usually a problem, and that's why we have to look through the lens of not 

00:23:58: just Equity, yes diversity, yes Equity, yes inclusion, and then there's another lens Justice, which I'm actually going to plug some women that I know that if this is something you're like

00:24:09: "this is a lot to digest I don't even understand half of what this stuff is" reach out to Trudy LeBron or Louisa Duran or Diane Johnston of conscious capitalism.

00:24:19: East Bay, and have a conversation with one of these women of color that's a consultant that can help you sort through,

00:24:25: what do these different constructs mean? Because again the conversation is so often around, power needs to be distributed among diverse people.

00:24:34: Yes how is that done

00:24:36: in a way that's equitable, in a way that's inclusive, in a way that makes sense, and in a way that creates constructive impact? Just having one person of color at the table in a board of 15 white people (which is what my husband's looking at right now at his organization,

00:24:50: which is a social impact law firm) sounds like a great idea except it's not.

00:24:54: When you have one voice at the table with 15 other people there's no leverage and is that

00:25:01: environment for that person to actually feel courageous and safe to share their perspective? like let's get real.

00:25:09: Do you want to be that one naysayer in a room of 15 people always? and how often does that person want to show up

00:25:17: to be that squeaky wheel? It's emotionally

00:25:19: exhausting, and it's also not effective. There are a lot of studies now that are showing that when you have that one person whether they're one person at a board table or one person in an organization you know the organization hires one woman of color to start diversifying... there...

00:25:35: there's no malicious intent there; they hire somebody because they want to start the diversity conversation, and they want to start

00:25:42: Acting it out, and so they hire a woman of color. They're deliberate in the hiring process, and then make that a priority and then it turns out

00:25:51: quote unquote the woman of color "doesn't understand the organization," and becomes the problem, becomes a scapegoat, and then gets asked to leave.

00:26:00: And that cycle will repeat itself ad infinitum and so the

00:26:05: the questions that we have to engage especially around diversity and inclusion work, the questions that we have to engage, are why are the-- what are the holistic, ethical ways of

00:26:18: diversifying a historically white institution? Would it be possible to diversify a historically white institution when the power imbalance is so strong? 

00:26:28: If you're going to try to do that, what kinds of supports do you need to put in place to make that effective?

00:26:35: Right that's exactly right; that is exactly right.

00:26:38: I would also recommend the work of Desiree Lynn Adaway, especially if you're doing this work as an individual--she does online classes and in-person trainings, and she is phenomenal.

00:26:50: Yeah I mean the thing is, we live in the internet era  If you're going to tell me that you don't have resources, I'm going to tell you to get on Google.

00:27:00: So I think really, like I grew up before the internet, and I know what it was like to have to go to the library and look something up in the encyclopedia and hope it wasn't out of date, but that's not our world now.

00:27:12: So when you think about your work as it intersects with power and ethics and community,

00:27:22: what are the places that you see your clients most most likely to succeed in their work, to flip the script?

00:27:34: So where it becomes most likely for us to succeed is when we are in

00:27:40: deepest alignment with our true voice, with our true purpose, with who we really are and how we really want to show up in the world, so

00:27:48: one of the biggest challenges I see for women in business, or diverse people in business, is that we find ourselves morphing and shape-shifting into something that fits the mold, fits the norm, fits...

00:27:59: Which both

00:28:01: Takes us away from our true nature and how we really are in the world, and how we want to show up, and for women of color and people of color and people who are queer that then gets exacerbated at that intersectionality, right, so then they get to

00:28:14: even further tone it down and rein it in,

00:28:18: to conform to the dominant culture. When I find my clients are most successful is when they disrupt the fuck out of that:

00:28:25: first internally, in owning that, like "this is me fully, who I am and how I show up in the world, literally ass out.

00:28:33: this is my true,

00:28:35: being, this is how I'm meant to be in the world, and I'm going to find a way to have my business allow me to show up this way fully and attract those for whom this is resonant.

00:28:50: And those are my people. And then I build my business on a foundation of a niche of people who

00:28:56: work with me because of the way that I am, not in spite of it,

00:29:01: and then all of my efforts in the world: in my messaging, in my marketing, in my branding, don't have me twisting and figuring out how to create

00:29:11: an illusion of something other than what I am, so when we can be our brand as my client Halle says, "be the brand you want to be in the world,"

00:29:19: you just show up with your deepest truth right? your core values--like I'm a freaking social justice advocate at heart, I'm a disruptor, I'm no bullshit, I'm this way...and people come to me .because. of that and if they'd be repelled by it

00:29:34: Then I'm okay, and they're not for me--they're for someone else--that's when my clients are successful. When they're trying to be professional or fit someone else's mold of how they should be... and this is what happens

00:29:47: with women that are diverse and different differently oriented,

00:29:52: people that orient differently in their gender and their expression...they feel like in order to fit the mainstream or over here and

00:29:59: those that are disrupting and doing the best or like, no I'm going to be this way and then my people will come to me and then there are people in the mainstream that that's going to resonate with and they're going to come my way.

00:30:10: And maybe there's some people that are going to run screaming for the hills.

00:30:13: Please do! Please run screaming for the hills if you don't like--

00:30:18: God bless you on your way out...

00:30:19: One of the classic most most obvious moments of that for me happens and I would say probably at least once a month, somebody says to me that I don't talk like a minister, don't show up like a minister, and well you don't--

00:30:33: Thank God! no offense, but thank God.

00:30:38: Right?! You know there's a story about who a minister is--and you know what that story is rooted in? l19th century patriarchy. Am I interested in perpetuating 19th century- does anything about me say that I want to perpetuate 19th century patriarchy?

00:30:52: No.

00:30:54: So for me having the opportunity to get out there and and saying, listen if you don't like the way that I do ministry

00:31:06: that's cool there are lots of people out there doing ministry in a different way, probably more like what you're expecting.

00:31:13: That's more comfortable for you, and that's the thing--if you're seeking comfort with the dominant culture you've got choices.

00:31:20: There's plenty of people for you, but for those and I think that the direction is that there are more people that are seeking something different and business people

00:31:30: are changing their values, the're changing who they want to do business with; there is a deeper awareness now of conscious businesses and businesses that are creating and people have more choices now, and they get to like be picky and choosy and

00:31:44: more and more younger generations--they're more educated

00:31:48: around their choices and they are choosing differently, and companies that are not paying attention to that are going to fall by the wayside--they're going to have problems, they're not going to be able to attract young talent; they're going to have a bunch of dinosaurs that are eventually going to age out,

00:32:01: and then they're going to be kind of screwed in truth. And so you know

00:32:06: companies need to pay attention to the direction that things are moving in, and the fact that 

00:32:12: For better or for worse there is a shift happening, there's a deepening awareness around environmental issues, equity issues, sustainability issues, and the rest, and

00:32:22: companies that are clear around those issues and are clear in their commitment to their core values and are walking the talk, they are coming out ahead.

00:32:30: And there is enough evidence to show that that is the direction that things are moving in, and pretty soon it's like if you're not on the bus you're not in the game.

00:32:37: You may be on the bus and be lost, and the bus keeps going off the road it's okay.

00:32:44: That's the journey--like that's the other part of this work it's like if you're thinking like I'm on the bus because I'm woke and I've got it on lock and like you're not... that's not...

00:32:56: Yeah we're all floundering through that; no one has all the answers; it's complicated as hell

00:33:01: and the only way forward is to be curious around how do we keep doing better, what's working, what's not working, and then listen to people that are not the dominant culture, because they're the ones that are having a different experience than the rest of us.

00:33:12: Right so that's--I mean those are my three things that I would say, to consider, to continue to think about, which is you know: are you on the bus, are you with the direction things are moving in at this point, are you aware that this is important,

00:33:26: Are you willing to fumble and fuck it up,

00:33:29: Are you available for feedback and guidance, and are you listening to people that don't look like you? If you look like me for exampl,e are you looking to be looking to other people that don't look like you, that don't have the same background, that don't have the same life journey and life story to see what it's like through their lens,

00:33:44: right and if we keep those things in mind we're going to do better.

00:33:46: Absolutely.

00:33:48: Absolutely and from the business of not looking through other people's lenses I can't speak for most of the rest of the world but we certainly don't do a great job of it and in dominant North American cultural spaces.

00:34:01: So one of the things I'm really interested in, and I think that you might have some really really specific things to say about this:

00:34:11: as we think about ourselves as power holders, because almost every time I start a conversation about power it starts out with the -US- of the conversation locating us outside of the power holding circle and you're

00:34:25: intimately involved in moving people from from placing themselves outside that circle to placing themselves inside that Circle--

00:34:34: So when

00:34:36: we are power holders, which we are now but especially as we move--as your clients move-- as your as your target clients move from

00:34:46: positions of less power to positions of more power to positions of enough power that they could reasonably be called power holders culturally.

00:34:55: What are the things that you think they need to pay most attention to so that they don't lose their inner compass?

00:35:05: Keep thinking about the we and not the me, because as we gain more power and more authority and more

00:35:13: possibility for ourselves we can get lost, in the sense that we feel pulled to keep going after the next big thing and

00:35:23: I'm constantly in that place myself, of like, this is how far I've come, who's who have I brought with me?

00:35:29: Who am I going to continue to partner with to go to the next stage together? versus how far am I going to get ahead on my own because then we're going to wind up isolated lonely and feeling disconnected,

00:35:39: and from where we've come, and so for many of us it's that balance of like yes, there are some people we will naturally lose connection with because they're not aligned with the direction our life is going in, maybe they're not ready,

00:35:51: or they're too at odds or they're too triggered by what's going on, and that's going to happen and that's part of this journey is

00:35:58: you know we do have to experience some loss when we are leveling up,

00:36:04: and moving to that next face of power, opportunity, and privilege, and we don't have to leave people behind, we can continue to offer opportunities to come with us and for those that want to get on the ride and go with us they'll come. Those that aren't ready,

00:36:19: we can't force them but we can continue to make ourselves available, and make it clear that we're not just in it for ourselves, that there's something greater and more collaborative, so when I think about the one value, the one thing that I'm

00:36:33: Most committed to and most afraid of losing as I scale and grow, is that we mentality.

00:36:41: Like it's not just about me, it's about-- every time I'm successful in my business, I think about clients and other people in my circle like how can I help them

00:36:50: Also benefit from this next level of success or opportunity or access that I have, so I think if we all keep that mindset.

00:36:59: We're going to do fine.

00:37:00: The only thing that I find interesting and you know you talked about losing--

00:37:06: there are some people we're going to lose, and there are some values we're going to shed, right, if you grew up

00:37:11: nine and in an environment like the one that you just described it like the one that that my partner grew up in where you know it was work hard every day you know basically be a good cog in the wheel, because that's the only way we're going to get ahead

00:37:26: you have to shed that value right away, if you're going to become an entrepreneur because entrepreneurs are not good cogs in anybody's wheel.

00:37:35: But then there are other values that you might have to shed, -- I know that that my family of origin often speaks pretty badly of people who are wealthy,

00:37:46: And if I hadn't started and didn't continue to do work around shedding that,

00:37:55: I would be very conflicted about wanting to build wealth for myself because

00:38:02: although I'm still building wealth as a path to power, I see it and when I when I say power, it's like well...what do I mean by power? what am I going to do with that power? well,

00:38:12: I'm going to keep the door open, I'm going to pull people up behind me, I'm gonna you know open possibility. I can only do that if I have certain resources including a certain amount of wealth.

00:38:24: And so there's this loss of community, there's this identity shift, there's...

00:38:32: I know for a lot of folks--this is less true in my my community of color, but I know in a lot of communities of color there is an association of becoming wealthy with selling out.

00:38:45: Indians don't have that problem in the same way that a lot of other communities do, we're pretty comfortable with the idea of being wealthy,

00:38:55: But I think that as we as we put these pieces together and as we move and as we grow, one of the things that I'm realizing is that we need to make sure that we have a community that is aligned with us.

00:39:09: Yes exactly we can't--I mean that's the whole thing, it's not going it alone because

00:39:14: it gets incredibly isolating and difficult when you don't have other people that you can be honest and talk about the things that you're grappling with. I can't tell you how many women I see in my space of coaching and consulting that are suddenly you know, making six figures, doing pretty well, and they're embarrassed

00:39:30: to talk about their new problems with their friends because they feel guilty like how dare I

00:39:39: talk with another woman of color about "my problem with my business" when she's got totally different problems and I do-- I feel

00:39:45: horrible. I feel embarrassed, I feel ashamed to have this much, and if I could pinpoint one of the narratives that I see time and time again

00:39:54: that my clients share with me in earnest that keeps them from growing, is they literally feel guilty for having it easier.

00:40:02: Then their parents or their community or their brothers or their sisters or their cousins--and I've grappled this with myself like when we're in that space of guilt, we get paralyzed

00:40:12: and it's it's like we can be the duality of still loving and honoring and staying connected with who the people are that we grew up with, or where we came from,

00:40:22: and we can build and construct new communities of people around us that are in a similar place or ahead of us. and

00:40:30: it's a yes-and, right, and so often we think we have to like separate and choose and it's not easy--it's not easy because we also have

00:40:39: limited space for social interaction, and time, and how do we prioritize? and that's all that stuff that we have to constantly be doing, that inner personal development or awareness of like

00:40:50: what matters? Who am I surrounding myself with? We may have people in our family that we love dearly and they're draining and they're mentally exhausting and they're always upset and they're never happy and they're always dissatisfied and

00:41:04: is it our job is it our dharma to always be available to them for dumping that on us?

00:41:10: you know again, these are these family narratives that somehow it's our job or our responsibility to have to hold space for everyone when we're doing wel,l and those are those narratives that can really

00:41:20: undo us. I mean I grew up with the narrative of like, you never put old people in a home you take care of the elderly like that shit is all great in theory like.

00:41:29: God love the elders and the ancestors that said this shit because they were living in fucking ancestral land, and they had a big goddamn fucking community of everybody living in tents five feet away from each other

00:41:40: so that made a lot of sense.

00:41:42: It does not make sense when you live in a modern society and you have a fucking 2500 dollar mortgage and three thousand dollars in property tax to keep your elder in a home

00:41:54: that you could rent for for three thousand dollars a month, and pay $6,000 in care costs which then causes you to put yourself in a grave and leave your child parentless.

00:42:02: So maybe it would have made sense 50 years ago for me to take care of my elder myself; that

00:42:10: narrative doesn't work now. And in choosing to disrupt that narrative I saved my mother from further decline because I couldn't care for her at home the way she needed to be cared for with her level of disability I saved my kid

00:42:24: From being the next kid who has intergenerational trauma because her mother's a hot mess because her mom's depressed because her mom doesn't take care of herself because her mom had a stroke taking care of her mom, right... and this is the cycle,

00:42:36: it's just complicated stuff, so how do we continue to navigate the new alignment for who we are and how we're showing up in the world...and there may not be a model for it.

00:42:45: We may have to create our own.

00:42:47: And how much more power do we have when we make appropriate decisions for ourselves? I know some people who are caring for their elders at home, some people who are putting them in care facilities, which let's face it are a lot better than they used to be so that's another piece of that...

00:43:01: Right it's about the care facility opportunities--if you find a good one care facility is now are not what they were fifty or a hundred years ago and so putting someone quote in a home is a completely different conversation than it used to be but.

00:43:16: And also when we when we make the space--like I notice is true for your story because because you and I have worked together.

00:43:25: and I've heard your story, you know I'm that that.

00:43:30: when you make the space in your life by

00:43:35: leveraging the privilege you already have, it allows you to create more power, which allows you to create more resources, which allows you to be more present for the world in whatever way you're called to it.

00:43:49: So by making a choice you made you created space in your life to really dedicate yourself to your business, which you couldn't have done otherwise.

00:43:59: No it would have been impossible. And it's like you said it's the the shifting the mindset of: a care home

00:44:07: could be this dark scary horrible depressing place for your elder, and when you create that narrative and that's what you're seeking because you've created that story, that's what you're going to get. And that was what I got when I had that narrative; those are the kinds of care homes I found for my mom.

00:44:21: And it was a nightmare and it was

00:44:23: self-sabotage and it didn't work, and I'd have to bring her home; when I had a mindset of abundance like, 'I'm going to find the smallest best care home with the best care staff and Latino people that get her and its small blahblah, looks like a house...'

00:44:38: I set the ideal, I went in search of that, and it was expensive and then I said, "I'm going to make this.

00:44:45: I'm going to afford this because this is what I really want for her." that's when it shifted, and that's the scary part because we're not conditioned to think like that,

00:44:55: that "I get to have

00:44:57: the best" but that's the power of entrepreneurship. You know I asked you earlier what's the power of entrepreneurship... one of the powers of entrepreneurship that I keep bringing into everywhere I go including my nonprofit clients and my institutional clients and my my one on one clients...

00:45:11: run your one word.

00:45:14: Thinking like a salaried person, you look at something and you evaluate whether or not it fits into the budget you have; when you're thinking like an entrepreneur you look at something and you evaluate how you're going to make the money--

00:45:25: evaluate it on its own merits--and then you're like oh I need that, how am I going to make that money? How am I going to bring that money in the door?

00:45:33: There's a tremendous amount of power in not allowing someone else's idea of  your value--literally like how much money are you worth to this company--that idea of your value to dictate what you can and can't do. Now obviously

00:45:46: we both live in the Bay Area, there are people who have salaries that are so large but it doesn't really affect their ability to do the things they want to do,

00:45:55: And so they don't need--we need to get out of the salary model in order to have that kind of freedom--but for those of us who aren't working in high-level tech jobs.

00:46:05: I really like one of our only gateways to that kind of freedom is to say is to say. well okay, I'm going to treat this like assume that it's something I can change, rather than a thing that I'm stuck with; you know just like you said

00:46:19: finding the vision of the home, and then "I'm gonna go find the home" and then finding the money to pay for the home because you found what you wanted and it just cost money.

00:46:30: Yep exactly.

00:46:32: And an old Mentor of mine...

00:46:33: yes exactly.

00:46:34: an old mentor of mine used to say that's the easy kind of problem--you throw money at it and it goes away--and when she first said that I was in college, and I...

00:46:45: I was like I don't understand what you're talking about, the hard problems are the ones with money but...

00:46:51: she was the moderator at the Unitarian Universalist Association for a large chunk of her post-retirement career and

00:47:03: she was right; people are complicated as fuck; by comparison problems that are solvable entirely with an infusion of cash are very easy to solve.

00:47:17: Mmm indeed. And that's the thing I mean: it doesn't mean money solves all your problems, but money can help

00:47:27: solve a problem. Absolutely it's not the only thing because

00:47:31: I probably could have found the money to take care of my mom--again, the money was probably going to be available no matter what, but for me it was the mindset of

00:47:41: doing something that scared me, that I was unfamiliar with, that I had a negative false narrative around that--I had to like really look at where's this story? where is this fear? where is this belief coming from? And it literally took me four years.

00:47:55: Of coaching.

00:47:57: And I would have never got there with traditional therapy; it's not to knock traditional therapy for trauma, for certain types of depression, it's absolutely necessary for certain things.

00:48:06: Therapy's the

00:48:08: route because you sit and you tell them the same bullshit story over and over and your therapist goes "I hear you that's really valid" versus saying "are you sure we can't call bullshit on that?" are you...

00:48:17: That

00:48:18: depends on your therapist, but yeah when you reinforce your neuronal pathways over and over and over again, you build that narrative and you just build that--you keep that superhighway,

00:48:28: --you're never going to take another path if that's the Super Highway you've offered yourself.

00:48:37: Absolutely.

00:48:38: Absolutely well Leela, it's been so awesome doing this with you, and I just again, I appreciate so much that you're having these conversations with people--it's so freaking important and I just love it keep doing what you're doing lady.

00:48:52: Thank you, it's really--the conversations are turning out to be so rich and so diverse, it's a wonderful opportunity, so before we go...do you have any last words about power for folks?

00:49:10: Yeah. I feel like power is a choic,e and it's available to you and

00:49:18: When and if you have opportunity to access it, do it, and then

00:49:24: just notice what happens when you step into that place of owning, that power is something that's available to you, and try it on and then.

00:49:33: Figure out what's aligned for you, in that in the having of that power think about the power, in having it and the options and the possibilities you have and notice that you get to create a different story.

00:49:46: Around how you,

00:49:47: leverage and use your power for for the outcome the impact that you desire right so just play with power as possibility and something that you perhaps already have at your disposal if you're not used to that

00:49:59: as part of your mindset or beliefs has and just wake up with the mindset of like I have power I have opportunity I have something at my disposal what might shift.

00:50:10: If you woke up with that belief what choices might you make.

00:50:14: Yeah excellent and and finally where can people find you online if they wanted to learn more about your work or work with you.

00:50:25: Yeah so I am

00:50:27: on LinkedIn at Brigette Iarrusso on LinkedIn it's really easy to find me, my last name starts with an I. I am on Facebook same name Brigette Iarrusso-Soto, with my husband's surname; I am also

00:50:39: on my website, you can find me there and find access to videos, podcasts like this one (which I'll put up soon at.

00:50:48: EmbraceChange.us, and thank you so much again Leela for giving me the opportunity to talk about this important topic with you.

00:50:57: It's been a pleasure. I always love to get the opportunity to turn--toss this stuff around and you have some really interesting perspective so thank you for coming on the show.

00:51:09: Thank you for listening to this episode of powerpivot; we'd love to hear from you.

00:51:15: Please rate and subscribe in apple podcasts Google play Stitcher Spotify or wherever you get your podcast to support powerpivot and get early access to new episodes go to intensives Institute.com / patreon for information about coaching and consulting or to book lie low for a talk or Workshop go to intensives Institute.com.

About this podcast

Power is everywhere, and it's fabulous!
Or dangerous?
Or creepy.
Or amazing.

Where do power, ethics, leadership, and community intersect? What if you could use your power for good? What does that look like?

Join me, Leela Sinha, as I talk with all kinds of people: founders and CEOs, entrepreneurs, sexuality educators, coding geeks, artists, coaches and therapists, religious professionals and many more--to find out what they encounter when they hold, interact with, create, cede, and claim power, what their challenges are, and how they make their power better for everyone.

...because power CAN corrupt...
but it doesn't have to be that way.

by Leela Sinha


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