Burning out is something that all entrepreneurs contend with. What you need is mindset, resilience, diversity, and inclusion to tie it all together. In this episode, Rodney Flowers talks to author, keynote speaker, and owner of Finlee & Me, Angela Henderson, about mental strength, burnout, and the strategies to beat it. Angela talks about working through grief and workplace bullying before launching her own business and succeeding! We also hear about how Angela was introduced to diversity and inclusion and what she has learned from her diversity coach. Tune in for more secrets to success for entrepreneurs and leaders.
Listen to the podcast here:
Angela Henderson On Resilience, Diversity, And Inclusion For A Better Tomorrow
As always, I’m excited about this episode. How many of you want to make five-figure months in your business? How about 6 and 7 bigger years in your business? I have Angela Henderson in the studio with me. She’s an international award-winning business coach for women, an international keynote speaker, and a podcaster who helps women in businesses get all the pieces in place to have consistent five-figure months and then onto 6 and 7-figure years without burning out in the process. She’s here to talk about the mindset that it takes to accomplish that, and any other strategies and skills that we need to have in order to be the best versions of ourselves without burning out. Without further ado, let’s welcome Angela Henderson to the show.
I’m super excited to be here. It’s so fun to always connect with amazing humans.
I’m happy to have you here. How did you get into this work, Angela?
The consulting work stemmed from my original business, which was Finlee and Me, in which I had an eComm business where we focused on creating childhood memories through play, love and travel. We started with zero products, fans, email lists and everything in between. When we wrapped up Finlee and Me around the nine-year mark, we had 1,400 different products that we were selling.
We had an amazing community of 70,000-plus people over on Facebook. It went from this small little business into a very successful business. That business also allowed me the opportunity to learn very quickly about different revenue streams. I also became one of Australia’s leading influencers and bloggers over here. I was signed with Netflix as one of their top 30 influencers in Australia and New Zealand.
I worked with similar brands that you would have in the United States and Canada like your Whole Foods, Hiltons, Club Meds and a variety of other brands. That’s where it started. This toy shop, looking at how I could better the lives of children around Australia and the world moving into influencer marketing. People wanted to start picking my brain.
I didn’t understand what picking your brain was because I wasn’t a consultant. It was never on the cards. I learned after about fourteen coffee dates, “If I charge people for my expertise, I could have a secondary business.” That’s how Angela Henderson Consulting came about. I work with amazing women around the world to put all those pieces in place to help them grab their strategy and their accountability, which helps them to become profitable.Failure was never in the definition; it was always one of those things that we will make work someway somehow. Click To Tweet
Congratulations on all of that success. I’m an entrepreneur myself and I realized that to go from startup to amazing success doesn’t happen overnight. There is a lot of development and growth that happen in between. Talk to us a little bit about what that has done for you as a person. How have you developed in order to experience this much success?
When I first started, I say to people, “How was your mindset?” The thing is failure was never in the definition. It was always one of those things that we will make work someway somehow. It’s about looking at opportunity and choice and being able to understand that things might not go the way that we want them to go. It’s going to be important to build up our resilience muscle and be able to look for those opportunities where we might have to pivot.
I also believe that every “mistake” that we have is a lesson in disguise that we need in order to get us to the next level. You either learn from that lesson or you don’t, and you keep making the same mistakes again. Once you learn the lesson, you will move through. It’s like that old-school game that I used to play, Super Mario Kart. I would play Super Mario Kart and Mario Brothers for hours. I’d get to stage ten or whatever that final stage was and I couldn’t master it. I would keep doing the same thing over and over, and I’d still end up dying. Eventually, you figure out the trick and you figure out the lesson, and then you’d finally excel and make it to the next level. It’s very similar to entrepreneurship. You got to learn those lessons to get you to the next spot.
What are some of those lessons that you’ve learned that you’re willing to share with us?
The first lesson is about understanding the ability to continue to be you. No matter what happens, you’re still going to stand up for yourself. The example that I use there is I was also working full-time as an ex-mental health clinician. My background is as a social worker with a Master’s in Social Work. I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker by trade.
I was still working 40 hours a week while getting the first business up and going. I was on the cusp of getting that second business up and flourishing. I had a situation with workplace bullying where I’m used to managing a $3.5 million portfolio for those with severe mental illness. It had come to my attention that one of the not-for-profit organizations that delivered the services for those individuals was pretty much taking that money even though a person had killed themselves.
I tried to report that back to upper management going, “This isn’t okay. This is taxpayers’ dollars. More importantly, this young human has passed and there are other humans in the mental health unit who could benefit from these funds.” I was pretty much told, “Just be quiet. Don’t stir the pot, Angela.”
Unfortunately, I don’t look at it as stirring the pot. I look at it as having a voice. I lawyered up. I asked what my options were. I had taken all of my documentation from work to ensure that I had the evidence to substantiate what was going on. They pretty much said, “We can send the letter but as soon as we send the letter, you do know that you’re going to have an X on your back.” I said, “I need to lay my head on my pillow at the end of the night.”
We lawyered up and the lawyer sent the letter. Within days, I was getting outfits that I’d worn into the office for over five years. I was getting pulled into the office for breaching the code of conduct and breaching of “clothes.” I was like, “Are you kidding me? I’ve been wearing these since my first week here.” It was very disheartening.
What happened was the bullying got very bad, and I also had anxiety and depression at the same time. I share this story because it went from casually just crucible and getting my one business up and going, and getting this. The importance is still staying true to yourself no matter what that is. It indirectly impacted my business because how could it not? Business and home life still go hand in hand.
It solidified for me the importance of you doing what you do and still staying true to your values, regardless if it’s a job or whatever. My whole thought was, “If they fire me, I’ll get a job at McDonald’s.” What’s the worst-case scenario that’s going to happen? There are always jobs. If you choose to look for jobs, it might not be the job you want. I personally didn’t want to work at McDonald’s after having two degrees in and making fairly decent money. I was like, “I’ll always find a way to make money.” There’s an abundance of money.
It’s staying true to yourself and understanding that it’s okay to also ask for help. Mental health is a hugely significant problem in both the United States, Canada and worldwide. Understanding that we start with stress, we then typically lead to burnout, and then we have a full-blown mental health diagnosis. In entrepreneurship, it’s something that I see very often.
Other than mental health, what are some of the common problems that you see entrepreneurs make?
The problem that I see them make is lacking foundation. To me, that one thing is the mindset and making sure that you’re still there, but the foundational elements that are necessary to build businesses to grow and scale up. A lot of businesses will come to me and it’s like the story of the three little pigs. They’ve got a business made out of sticks or hay. It doesn’t take much like COVID, illness or death to rattle that.
I say, “If you come to me and your business is made out of sticks or hay, we need to start building a business of bricks. We need you here for the long-term game. The bricks might be heavier, cost a little bit more and take a little bit more time but you were not here for the short-term fixes. We’re here for the long-term. That’s sustainability and growth.Every mistake that we make is a lesson in disguise that we need to get to the next level. You either learn from it, or you don't and keep making the same mistakes again. Click To Tweet
How long have you been doing this?
Collectively, it’s eleven years that I’ve been in business. On the consulting side of things, I have been in business ending our 4th year going on into our 5th year.
Do you work with businesses in the United States as well?
Yeah, businesses all around the world. I work with businesses in the US and Canada. I’ve got this amazing business owner at the moment who’s sailing around the world. She’s leaving from Spain, heading to South Africa. At the moment, the UK, Norway, Finland, and Australia-New Zealand area also.
You talked about mental health which is a common problem. As a clinician, what are some of the ways individually we can raise our awareness about mental health and also deal with it?
The first thing is it’s very simple and how I see it is very black and white. If you had a heart attack now, you’re not waiting around for someone to come. You’re probably in the US and Canada picking up the phone and calling 911. In Australia, you’re calling 000. You’re not waiting around. You’re getting the help that you need.
If you go and play a game of baseball, and the ball hits you in the mouth and break your tooth off, you’re not waiting around. You’re calling a dentist to predominantly get that fixed. That is all well and good but yet something doesn’t seem right with our emotions. For example, if you’re feeling very low, high or whatever that is, either mania or the depression type symptoms, we don’t do anything. We don’t go and get the help we need. We don’t book that phone call and then it waits and it waits.
Typically, it will start off as stress. For example, I could have been stressed. I’m going to get my alarm clock. The recording was at 5:00 AM. I’m going deep down in my head going, “I hope my alarm clock does not go off.” There’s a little bit of stress but you’re like, “It’s going to go away.” What happens is it starts festering more and more, and that pushes people to burn out. In order to get a full-blown mental health diagnosis, it has to be happening in all three areas of your life. For adults, it’s home, community and work. For children, it’s typically home, community and school.
If things are starting to unravel collectively in your life from friendships, outside of work to your work, and into your home life, typically, my first point of view, not diagnosing anyone, I say, “Book that call with your GP because there’s something that’s going on for you that we need to explore more.” It doesn’t mean that you’re going to necessarily need, pharmaceutical medications right off the bat either. They may even be able to catch it early enough to put in some other intervention.
I’m also a believer in looking at mental health from a holistic point of view. Sometimes you do need the medication. I needed medication at that one stage but it doesn’t mean it’s medication forever. There are other things that you could be changing too like diets. For example, movement, getting out into the sunshine and a variety of other things. I’m always looking at that holistic approach when needed.
What are some of the common problems of burnout?
Finances is a big one that I see, especially in the startup stage. I look at businesses’ startup growth and scale stage. Regardless of what stage you’re at, I find finances always become a problem at some stage because startup is like you’re looking for the next transaction. Where’s that money coming in or the pressure of, “I’ve left my job and I have to make this money,” but they’ve got growth and scale. If you’re an eCom business, you might have cashflow problems with the stock. I need to get the new stock in but I need to make enough money to be able to order the next stock to release the next season.
There’s also growth. For example, iOS has new rules and regulations, and Facebook Ads. I’ve got people reaching out to me who spent $100,000 a month on Facebook Ads. Now because they didn’t build the foundations and they’ve built more of a launch model, and have been highly dependent on ads, they may not be here in 2 to 3 months anymore because they’ve been so dependent. Finances is a big one that I see can lead to burnout regardless of where you’re at in business.
What happens is you’re sitting around the dinner table and you’re having a chat over with family and friends. Work comes up, and then the stressors come in, and then next thing, there’s potentially an argument. Sleep is another big thing that I can see leads to burnout very quickly. We all work long hours some days, especially if we’re going in a growth phase. That’s inevitable but it shouldn’t be long-term.
What I see especially in startups is they start working the hustle grind. They might work a normal 7 to 8-hour workday but then they’re like, “Just another hour.” That leads to eight hours, “Just another hour,” that’s now nine hours. By the time that they’re done, they’re working sixteen-hour days not seeing their family. What happens is that can also push them into those low mode moods or potentially high mode moods where it’s manic. You’re running on this manic adrenaline. I see sleep can impact entrepreneurs significantly.We're not just here for the short-term fixes. We're here for long-term sustainability and growth. Click To Tweet
Boundaries is another thing. People don’t think about boundaries but when we start in business, we start to say yes to a lot of things like, “Yes, I’ll do this.” It’s because we’re looking for opportunity but also making sure that unless it’s a hell yes, it’s a hell no. The sooner that you can learn that and put some boundaries in place, that will help to reduce that burnout too. It’s inevitably reducing your risk of going into a full-blown diagnosis also.
Talk to us about a significant challenge that you’ve experienced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The first experience is workplace bullying, which then led to my own anxiety and depressive episode. The other one is that in the last few years, I’ve had five significant people die. My grandmother died on Christmas. My brother died on Mother’s Day. A father figure died on New Year’s Day, and then I had another person die two weeks after that, and then I had a best friend from high school that passed away.
Death has played a significant role in my life. Wherever there is loss, there is grief. Inevitably grief has been around. I also get told by people in my space whether or not I’m keynoting at an event or I’m podcasting like, “How did you overcome? You didn’t stop your business. You’ve kept going and showing up on different platforms.”
Grief is different. For me, I continued to grieve. Even when I tell this story, I always get slightly emotional about it. My throat gets a little bit scratchy because it’s not easy to lose that amount of people. At the end of the day, people have a choice. I had the choice to continue showing up or I had the choice to stay in bed. I had the choice to look at opportunities or I had the choice to look at the bad parts of my day.
I chose to enhance and embrace the memories that I had with those particular loved ones. I’m very black and white. I also looked at their past, “What can I do? I can’t bring those individual humans back.” What I can do is continue to support people. I can continue to give back to the community. I can continue to make an impact with my voice with others.
I can be driving down the freeway and tears still come naturally. I will grieve when I need to grieve but I will also wake up every day because, at the end of the day, my life is my responsibility. Nobody’s coming to save me. No one is doing anything. I’m the driver of my life and that is on me to make the choices and be responsible for what happens on any given day.
What would you say to someone that may find themselves in that situation? They’re trying to make those choices and they find it very difficult. What would you say to that person?
I’d reach out to someone who can support you around that. In the past, specifically, when I got over those first four deaths, there’s talking therapy. You would go chat to a therapist, and that might work for some people. There’s working with individuals on individual mindsets that works too. I’ve been doing weekly hypnotherapy. That has been a game-changer to me. It’s something that if someone would have offered to me when all of this started to happen, I would have laughed in someone’s face. It’s getting to the root of where that sadness is coming from because it might be masked that it’s sadness around the grief of that person, but normally there are other intricacies that are weaved in together.
The example I use is talking about the grief of my brother on one of those hypnotherapy sessions. I’ve also worked with a healer. Anyone who’s following me will know that I would have never even bought into the thought of a healer. When I went to that healer, they said, “Someone’s here.” It was my grandmother and my brother. I had nine pages of notes. It’s something that people out there going, “Is this lady crazy? It’s 5:00 in the morning. Maybe she’s still sleeping. What’s going on,” but I’m here to tell you, it was one of the most riveting and uplifting experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life.
Look for other opportunities to work on that grief. It might not be talking therapy or it could be. It might be that you need to take a holiday. Those holidays are going to minimize the pain for a little while. You’re still not getting to the root of what’s going on for you. That root thing is going to continue to bleed into your home life, your work life, and your community. It’s giving and allowing yourself that opportunity to find the right person that can help you work through it.
Do you think there are some things that need to change in our society as a whole around mental health?
Yes. The stigma is still significant. I don’t know the data for the United States but eight people take their lives every single day here in Australia. Those numbers add up very quickly. We have more deaths in Australia. I think on average, there are 600 car accidents a year in Australia. We’re close to 3,000 people a year that will take their lives, and yet there are no ads on TV or radio ads talking about it.
Some celebrities will talk about it every once in a while but it’s not ongoing. A lot of times, I feel like it’s a PR stunt. They’re not minimizing their own depression. They talk about it and then all of a sudden, the depression is gone. It doesn’t work like that. It’s the same with drugs and alcohol. That’s a long-term rehabilitation that has to happen. The drips and drabs, I could say.
The ongoing conversation has to happen. Whenever I’m on a podcast or at a speaking event or doing a webinar, one of my slides is this slide of death, and it’s literally black. I always make the joke and say, “Most of you will think, ‘Poor Angela. She’s in the middle of a keynote and her slides gone dead.'” I say, “This is an opportunity for me to discuss with you that if you’re going to learn from me, you’re going to learn that not only have I run two very successful businesses, I’m an amazing mom and a great human, but I’ve also suffered from depression and anxiety. If you’re going to learn from me, you’re not going to learn that I’m posing behind a jet that isn’t even my jet. This is what you get.” Individuals that are able to have those conversations that they can weave in on any given day help to normalize what’s going on for individuals, not only in Australia and America but around the world collectively.It is important to stay true to yourself no matter what. Click To Tweet
Why is it important that you present yourself in that way? You mentioned, “I’m not by a jet. I presented myself but this is the reality. I suffer from depression.” You’re doing a keynote and you have thousands of people looking at you and listening to you. Why is this so important to you that you do that?
Because I have a voice. Use your voice. If eight people take their lives every single day and nobody’s talking about it, I’ve got the opportunity to talk about it and weave it into my story. I’m not doing a keynote about mental health, but I’m doing an opening slide about who I am and why you should learn from me. If you’re going to learn from me, this is who you’re going to learn from me. That could repel some people. I don’t care because at the end of the day, those people who are 6 feet under don’t have a voice, and those people who are suffering, typically, don’t have a voice to go to.
I can’t tell you how many times after I’ve done a keynote, the number of people that will come up throughout the day or the event, it could be a 2 or 3-day event and they’ll say, “Thank you for that. My husband tried to kill himself. I’ve tried to kill myself. My uncle tried to kill himself. I’m on medication, where do I go? That hit home for me.” If I can help someone else other than just talking about business, 100% I will always choose to use my voice and make the impact that I feel is necessary in order to break the stigma of mental health.
Another thing that I appreciate about that is it’s very real and authentic. You see a lot of social media where what’s being presented is this perfect image. First of all, success is dirty. You got to get dirty. Please leave back if you’re looking all perfect. That’s not what success looked like. In order to get to success, you got to go through a lot to make it happen. That’s the first thing, but the second thing is to present what’s real. Meaning, it’s not shiny. They stand up there, giving a keynote and say, “I suffer from these things.” I think is noteworthy because you don’t see that.
When we talk about what needs to happen in our society to raise awareness around mental health, it moves and acts like that. A lot of people are so afraid to talk about this thing because of the stigma and the judgment. They don’t feel the psychological safety that they need to talk about these things. It’s something that is pushed down. You’re absolutely right. All of us as leaders, when we get an opportunity to talk about this or if we are experiencing this, let’s have that conversation. Let’s talk about it.
When I was in the thick of it, I always want to leave people better off than when they first heard or read something whether that’s on social media. When I couldn’t get out of bed on those days with the depression, I’ve been in remission for years and I haven’t been on medication. I’m totally in remission after two years, but it could come back at any time. I’m not naive to know that.
When I was sitting there in bed and couldn’t go out of bed for a couple of days, I wasn’t posting on social media a picture of me in bed in a dark room. It’s not that it wasn’t about being real but I don’t want people to feel bad for me. I want to be able to show them and enhance this experience so that they can understand.
I would write an image later on of a picture that might be a black and white image. The one that I wrote a huge article on that went viral was around, “Just because I smile doesn’t mean I’m not depressed.” Here’s a black and white image of me, and then I go into it. It was there that I’m able to have a bigger impact versus just me in a dark room and people are going, “Look at poor Angela.”
I’m like, “In every post, keynote and podcast, I want those people that are listening to the words and reading the words to feel better off and be able to take action.” Whereas when I was showing the thick of it, it wasn’t a lot of action taking. I was in it. I saved a lot of time for me to be in a better place, to be able to articulate my story in a way that was going to be helpful versus, “I’m in bed.” That to me wasn’t a helpful post.
Finlee and Me predominantly sold to mothers who would buy our educational toys. We were at a movie theater one day. The way they go is the stairs are at the top. As we’re walking down the stairs, this man had two little girls with him. He said, “You’re the lady from the internet.” Initially, I was like, “There’s a lot of things on the internet.” My son was with me and his name is Finlee. That business was named after him. He was like, “My mom owns Finlee and Me.”
He said, “Yes. It’s because of your article that I’ve gone and got help.” I was thinking, “What article, Angela?” I would release a new blog article every week. It was that one, “Just because I smile doesn’t mean I’m not depressed.” Here it was, he’s my second-tier ideal client, a father. Typically, I don’t see a lot of fathers in my space who would follow me or see me at the expos or the markets or buy from me.
He said, “When my wife left me, things got messy, and she also left me these two daughters.” They were out of ear sight at this stage playing with my kids. He said, “I needed to step up and be the dad to them. Your website collectively with your craft ideas and how to connect with the kids has allowed me to strengthen my relationship with my children. I can also buy gifts for them right from you. It’s your ability to talk about mental health and what that looks like as a parent that has allowed me the opportunity to seek my own help. Thank you.” You never know who is listening. I wrote for females on that blog article but that dad happened to also be consuming my content on that particular platform because he needed help with his kid. Never underestimate who needs to hear what they need to hear on any given day.
What is your recommendation to all of us to influence change around this topic?
Whether or not it’s this topic because this topic might not resonate with people. My whole thing is to choose something that lights you up and take a stance for it. I was working with an inclusion and diversity specialist here in Australia to enhance my understanding of inclusion and diversity more. She did this writing scale about privilege and she said, “The way that your writing is you’ve got a voice and you can leverage your voice in certain topics. To your ability, you’re very passionate about mental health. Continue to be passionate and share that story.”
The next person that I work with might not be that mental health is what they’re passionate about. It could be about inclusion and diversity. Make sure that seeing and hearing is coming across on social media with captions. My thing to that is whatever you’re passionate about and whatever that topic is, choose to make a stand for it. Choose to start weaving it into your stories, your podcast, your social media, and choose to start bringing it into your About page on your website. Choose to start bringing that story into your space because once you do, it impacts collectively.Depression is the same as drugs and alcohol. It doesn't just disappear. Long-term rehabilitation has to happen. Click To Tweet
If you think about the book by James Clear Atomic Habits, he talks about the 1% rule. He talks about how they build from an incremental point of view. If I read three pages in a book, by the end of the month, if I read three pages every day, it will accumulate to 90 pages. It’s the same thing about sharing our voice. If I can share a voice now to a thousand people in your show, I know it’s more but I’m saying that for easy numbers, that’s a thousand people that I’ve been able to sprinkle that message through.
If I’m tactically on about 50 podcasts a year and talk about mental health a little bit on every one of those 50 podcasts, that accumulates over time. Choose a topic that lights you up and that you want to make a change around. It doesn’t mean you can’t talk about other topics but collectively, when I’ve seen there’s that one topic, you never want to stop talking about it because there’s always something to light you up and have a conversation with.
Know that the days where you feel like you’re not making a lot of change, I promise someone out there is receiving your message and they needed to hear it. I believe in divine timing. The universe is giving you what you need on any particular day. Those who are reading, it’s divine timing. You needed to know this message. The accumulation effect and choosing a topic that you’re passionate about, the bigger impact will stem from that.
How can people connect with you if they want to learn more about you?
Head to my website, which is AngelaHenderson.com.au or head over to Instagram. My handle is @AngelaHendersonConsulting. Whatever way people want to connect, I would look forward to connecting with you.
This has been a wonderful conversation and I think everyone that’s reading this can feel your passion around this topic. There are two topics that I would like society to raise their awareness on and change. This topic is about mental health and diversity and inclusion. It’s so funny that you brought that up because we have all the social unrest going on in America. These are two areas that are very important that we need to address going forward. The world has gotten smaller for one with the advancement of technology. COVID has forced us to be in this virtual environment where you can talk like you’re in Australia and we’re having this conversation. We’re going to see more of that.
Understanding the cultures from different groups is going to become even more important, and then being able to connect through a computer screen is going to take skillset and understanding on how to be more human. What does that mean? In business, that may be a challenge for a lot of people because we’re so much about business. Those are two areas that I’m passionate about, and I would love to see some change in those areas.
The amount of information I learned in my time with my inclusion and diversity specialist, I was like, “How is this information not talked about more often?” She was speaking more about our indigenous culture, our Aboriginal and Indigenous community over here versus the African-American community in the US. They are two different cultures and very different things. For example, Aboriginal and Indigenous, I wasn’t spelling them with capitals. They should be spelled with capitals. It wasn’t at the beginning of the sentence. I didn’t know.
She also talked about these things about microaggressions that people from different backgrounds are faced with every single day, and how that starts that whole accumulation thing that we were talking about. In the African-American community, one of the examples she used was their curly hair. She said, “Do you know how many people are asked if they can get their hair touched?” It’s like, “Let me touch your hair.” She’s like, “People just do it without even asking. At least if you ask, there’s a little bit of respect. People start touching their hair like it’s okay. Those are microaggressions. If you’re a little baby and after twenty years, let’s say 2,000 people have touched your hair, you’re starting to get a little bit annoyed about that.”
I can’t recommend enough for people to look for an inclusion or diversity specialist within your country and community because it will look very different from country to country. Even marking myself on this privilege ladder that she had made me look at. Why isn’t that being talked about in schools? It was a free scale that you could do and you get us pulled along. It showed me where I can make a bigger impact than not make an impact, and where others don’t have a voice because of the marginalized backgrounds. It was a game-changer. That was just four weeks of working with her intensely one-on-one. I’m all about it. I’m all for inclusion and diversity, and speaking about mental health and all of these topics. Choose one and keep having a voice because people need to hear it.
What made you reach out to her? Was there something that triggered you?
When Black Lives Matter happened, I did a lot of listening because it’s not a topic that I’m familiar with. For me, there’s a lot of push about, “If you have a platform you should be having a voice.” As you could know, I do have a voice about mental health but I’m also very knowledge-based about mental health. I can talk about it. I know the data. I’ve got a Master’s degree in it.
I wasn’t educated about Black Lives Matter. As a business consultant, I never wanted to yap for the sake of yapping, and then give wrong information. Those people consuming my content become worse off because I thought I knew everything. The last several years I’ve been listening and consuming, and then I was like, “Now I’m ready.” I’m now ready to find someone here in Australia. I found this amazing human, Louise O’Reilly. She’s a weapon. She broke it down so simply.
Funny enough, my biggest fear came true from that. I sent my very first email out and it’s all in my email lists letting them know that I’m now working with this inclusion and diversity specialist and it’s been mind-opening. I spell Aboriginal and Indigenous wrong. At that stage, she didn’t tell me about this whole capitalization thing. I got this email going, “Who do you think you are talking about this topic and not thinking that some of us are already on this journey?” I was like, “This is my worst nightmare. This is exactly what I didn’t want to happen.”
My inclusion and diversity specialist said, “You’re going to get things really wrong but this is where change comes from. I need you to continue to work through this. Continue to listen and still allow me.” I’m not a huge crier. I was like, “I never wanted to offend anyone.” She’s like, “You didn’t know that Aboriginal and Indigenous is supposed to be capitalized. Anyone else may have let that go. They know you’ve got a voice. There was something in them. You also have to remember that they have generational years of trauma. You may have triggered something inside of them on that day. You’ve got to give them that space.”Choose something that lights you up, and take a stance for it. Click To Tweet
Even though that happened, I’m not glad that that happened because I don’t want to misspell a word and upset anyone. It’s allowed me an opportunity to know that in this journey of looking at inclusion and diversity, I’m going to get it wrong. I’ve brought her on board as one of my mentors in all of my programs. I brought her on my podcast. I’ve been working with her one-on-one and with other people too. If I’ve ever had any questions, I say, “Can I please consult with my inclusion and a diversity specialist?”
It’s little by little but she also said, “People like you for a reason. I can’t have you sprucing inclusion and diversity on every other post that you do because people don’t cope with rapid change. I need you to start sprinkling the inclusion and diversity stuff in your space so that we bring people on the journey versus stop people on the journey.” It’s very interesting. I didn’t know. I was ready to go full force as we start talking about being privileged that I worked on. She said, “No. We need to bring them on the journey because people don’t cope well with too much change in transition in their world.”
Even that’s coming from her. She’s like, “I would love you to go and write 30 posts about inclusion and diversity. Even though you might be perceived as inclusive and you think you are and your community thinks you are, you’re still going to trigger people. We need to sprinkle it and bring them on the journey so they’re going to fully listen versus them saying, ‘Screw you, Angela. I’m out.'” It’s very interesting. My only regret is I wish I would have reached out earlier to her and learned earlier on.
I have a very important question to ask you about this because I’ve hosted diversity and inclusion talks. I’ve been solicited to talk about diversity and inclusion several times. What I found is a lot of people that have been categorized as privileged don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to be at the forefront. They don’t feel like they have the credentials to stand up and talk about diversity and inclusion. I clearly see that you don’t feel that way. Talk to us about that. How have you been able to navigate this, and then be confident in speaking about this in general?
When I wrote my first couple of posts about the inclusion and diversity experience that I’ve gone through, I had her read over them. I was like, “Did I say it correctly?” One of the things that she said is, “Whenever you quote another person, don’t take something and make it your own.” She believes White people do that regularly.
It’s like they’ll hear something, and then they think that they’re the experts. When I was talking about the privilege grid and so I don’t remember the name, it’s an acronym off the top of my head. Through my experience with working with Louise, one of the first things that she had me do was look at White privilege and where I sat on this particular grid. I said, “The grid was made by this university over here. Did I give credit correctly because I didn’t want people to be like, ‘Angela Henderson created this White privileged.'” No. I wanted to make sure that I was giving back.
One of the things that she set me up there was being okay to tell your story through your lens. That was important that it was my lens and my experience, and not saying that I was telling the story from the Aboriginal and Indigenous community. This is my experience. This is what I’ve had. This is how I can make a change, and then share a picture also of Louise and me on Zoom together. I said, “Are you okay?” She had shared it on hers. I said, “Is it okay if I show that image to start sprinkling?”
For me, it’s about understanding where my zone of genius on this topic starts and ends. I can talk about my experience. I could talk about maybe a book that I’ve read and say, “As per this book, this is what I’ve learned, but I have never gone through a lived experience of this.” Those are the parameters that she talked about. That’s why I feel comfortable because I’m only sharing my experience. If my experience can help other people, as I know in my community, there have already been a few people who signed up to get more help from her. My thing is I can share my experience.
One of the topics was around sadness. How sad I was about that I’ve waited so long but I had to reassure myself of that divine timing. I wasn’t ready to go into that then but now I’m ready. I’m more than happy to talk about it wherever I can. It was not a clear type of thing as to why I can talk it on someone else. It’s been the great guidance that she’s given me and acknowledging where it begins on that topic and where it ends.
It’s similar to business consulting. I can talk about strategy and accountability all day long, but I’m very firm that if someone comes to me and they need more mindset work, I can identify the mindset thing or the problem. I’m like, “You need to go and book a one-on-one specifically with the mindset consultant because that’s their zone of genius. I might be able to identify that but understanding where your boundaries are and what is your experience versus lived experience is very different for human beings.
Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that. It does bring some clarity to people and it opens up a playing field to have the conversation. A lot of people avoid it out of fear of maybe saying the wrong thing or offending someone. I get that and I respect that. In order to heal this situation, we all have to get in the sandbox.
What she said and she emphasized like, “You are going to screw up at some stage. You are going to say the wrong thing. What our community will want is for you to listen, reflect, learn and apologize for that mess up. Don’t avoid it. When you mess up, own that space but also let them know what you’re doing to rectify because that’s where humans have growth.” Even with the whole Aboriginal and Indigenous that I didn’t have the capital, she’s like, “Go back.” I was having a conversation with this person. I’m like, “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I didn’t know that this was a situation I’m still learning but if without you telling me this, I would never learn.”
It wasn’t like, “How dare you message me?” It was like, “Thank you. I was perceiving that information. Thank you for advising me of that.” This is where growth can happen, and after about 3 or 4 emails, they came back and said, “I owe you an apology. I may have been a bit touchy and hard on you because we know you’ve got a voice.” It’s pretty much what they said. They go, “Thank you for being willing to disreceive and not like, ‘Screw you. Why are you emailing me this?’ You listen to me.'” It goes back to listening. A skill that is one of the hardest skills to have.
I also know that in my mental health training, when emotion is high, the reason is low. I’ll give you one example. I run Australia’s Leading Women in Business retreat. The years before, of the seven speakers, three of them were of cultural backgrounds like people of color. When I say people of color, I’ll have to be mindful because some people don’t like people of color. They don’t like that term either.
I’m also very mindful like, “Do I say this or do I say this?” When Black Lives Matter came, one person said, “You haven’t looked at your lack of inclusion on your panel.” I had two choices there. I knew deep down that there are three out of the seven people were of different cultural backgrounds. I knew that. I could have been like, “Screw you. Why would you say that to me?” I stopped and I was like, “Hold on.” These are ancestral years of hurt and trauma that people are going through. Emotion is high.
Let them have their time to grieve and listen. I could have responded with, “This person and this person was on here, and they are from these particular backgrounds.” All I said was, “Thank you so much for bringing this to my awareness. My team will bring that on board and we do.” That’s why I was keeping these things because when I brought on Louise in the inclusion and diversity, she’s even helped me to tighten my scholarship process to be more inclusive and representative of diversity.Let people be emotionally driven. Let them have that space to grieve and go through whatever it feels for them. Click To Tweet
She’s talked to me about what I can do on my website. That’s an example of when people are so passionate about something, regardless of it’s Black Lives Matter or mental health, when emotion is high, the reason is low. People don’t know how to stop and listen sometimes. That’s what I was doing. I was listening and receiving at that stage. Even with this whole COVID scenario. People are like, “Vaccine, don’t vaccine.
Emotion is high, the reason is low. A lot of these people I’ve been friends with for twenty years. Some of the stuff they’re saying, I’m like, “What? You’re going to cut people off and do this.” The emotion is high. All I do is sit, receive and listen. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have a topic to talk about or that I don’t have something to say. If people are emotionally driven, let them be emotionally driven. Let them have that space to grieve and go through whatever it feels for them. The thing is every person is feeling something different. Especially when it comes to inclusion and Aboriginals.
I’m speaking from Australia. I can’t speak before your community, Rodney, but my thing is that this is years of stuff that their family members have to go through. Sometimes just put a sock on it and listen. That’s my biggest takeaway. It has always been to just listen. Let them speak because maybe this is the first time they’ve had a voice. Let them speak, people. Listening is a skill I’ve had to work hard on over the years.
Very well said, Angela. This is beautiful. I was going to ask you what the takeaway from all of this is but I think I’ve got it. This has been a wonderful conversation. It’s so rich, and I want to say thank you for stopping by and spending some time with us, and sharing. This has been good.
Thank you so much for having me and I hope you have a beautiful day back in the US.
Thank you. I appreciate it.
There you have it, folks. Another successful episode of the Game Changer Mentality show. For me, out of all that Angela had shared with us, what I’m taking away as a leader is to listen. My takeaway is to be more of an active listener. A lot of times, if you guys are anything like me, you want to influence change. You want to make a difference. You want to do something to impact change and to better the situation. Maybe what we need to do is just listen. Be an ear, and from the listening, we will understand and find what it is to do. Until next time, peace and love.
- Finlee and Me
- @AngelaHendersonConsulting – Instagram
- Atomic Habits
- Podcast – Business & Life Conversations With Angela Henderson – Past Episode
About Angela Henderson
Angela is an author, entrepreneur, podcaster, small business consultant, speaker, blogger and mental health clinician for over 15 years. As a keynote speaker, Angela taps into her decade’s worth of knowledge growing a thriving business with her online store Finlee and Me.
As a business consultant, Angela helps small business owners navigate the challenges of building a successful business while maintaining a life. She knows what it truly takes to have a strong brand, consistent sales and steady growth. She speaks on a range of topics including human to human marketing, gaining visibility for your business, growing through social media and challenger marketing.
Angela is fast becoming a much-requested female business speaker both in Australia and around the world.