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Originally published by Thrive Global.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

Some people are born entrepreneurs, and I would say I fit into that criteria. There are always early signs: The proverbial lemonade stand, an innate youthful rebelliousness, a way of seeing things differently, and an early discovery of the power to manifest.

I knew as an 8th grader that I could manifest whatever I envisioned. Every milestone I reach comes from an inspired flow state — a practice of inner work I leverage now as one of Canada’s leading Real Estate Coaches and Trainers, delivering my proven success techniques to Agents and Teams across North America.

I have never done things the easy way. I had a tumultuous childhood that culminated in me leaving my home while still in high school. I self-funded my university education and completed it as a new mother.

I saw a need for more women voices in a female-dominated industry (Real Estate), where there were predominately men being highlighted.

The more that we show and highlight women in these professions and positions, more women will follow them to lead successful careers.

We can have a landslide of valuable women, but if we don’t learn to listen to and respect their voices as valuable, then is it going to matter in the end? Women leaders are only as valuable as the people they serve are open to hearing value from them and other different perspectives.

At the end of the day you have to be committed to getting there, and even though the disparity is there, in most industries, the top 10 percent of performers or skill sets, the disparity is almost invisible.

You have to be so good that people can’t ignore you, and that is what I chose. I wanted it to cost others more by ignoring me. I chose to build and offer results so good that they spoke for themselves.

We all have a simple choice, to plant and nurture seeds with our focus and determination, or to attempt to will ourselves through ceilings and obstacles. I built my own stages to house our message, network, and results. we do not need to play in broken houses, when you can build your own.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho tells the story of a young shepherd named Santiago, who is able to find a treasure beyond his wildest dreams. Along the way, he learns to listen to his heart and, more importantly, realizes that his dreams or his Personal Legend, are not just his but part of the Soul of the Universe.

It tells and captures an amazingly beautiful story that deserves to be heard. The book resonates with me so much, as the constant theme in The Alchemist is to pursue your dreams by following what your heart desires. During the young boy’s journey, he learns to listen to the heart and to follow the language of omens. With each passing obstacle and hurdle that the young boy encounters, there is a lesson to learn.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

My favourite life lesson quote is something that I’ve heard in my head since I was very young and that’s “You’re built to win”, and when you believe that, when things get hard, you’re going to lean in and really win or learn, so either way you win overall.

Some of my most devastating losses in life and in business catapulted me forward ten times more than I could have ever gotten without them.

‘I was built to win”, allows me to see things in my favour as I’m working in a place of abundance and I’m trying to see myself in the world.

I’ll always try to be better because I want to do good here and I want to have the resources in order to be and do good.

I need a strong business in order to make the changes and impact I want to make for myself and in order to contribute and have a positive impact with as many people as possible.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership isn’t a title or position that is held to one person when you’re a part of a team or a company. In these businesses, you have many moving parts, and each one of those parts are their own leaders.

I’m grateful for our team, I have an amazing group of people who support me and there’s no way I would be able to do what I do without them.

We have a collaborative leadership team who are very entrepreneurial, and who take ownership over what needs to happen. It’s very collaborative without a director style delegation, everyone owns their portion of the business. That is how we thrive.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

Everyone feels nerves and anxiety from time to time, even those with high levels of confidence. But when it comes time to perform under pressure, how can stress impact performance?

When I get tired, stressed or frustrated, I’m a typical entrepreneur. Instead of thinking ‘take a day off’ or ‘take a week off’ i think ‘okay maybe I’m done’ or ‘maybe I’m not meant to do this business’. But the reality of it is, I get a good night sleep and I know that this business for me, is not about money, it isn’t about a business, it’s about a purpose in my life and I believe that I’m destined to be doing what I’m doing.

This mentality has dragged me to the future, even when I feel exhausted and burnt out. To build this business, I had to run and jump off of a cliff. There was no ability to hesitate or play it safe, I think for me I had to believe it was my destiny to do it, or I wouldn’t have been able to take the risks that I did.

Tension creates focus, and if anything, you want to elongate the amount of time that you have that tension. The focus that is created from tension is invaluable to any business owner.

I like to say that if you could bottle that tension, that fear, that little bit of angst that is created in turmoil and sell it to people when the sun is out and the economy is strong, and confidence is high, you would make billions of dollars.

It’s one of the best times to align a team when you lean into that tension and use it. The tension will allow you to be 10x better than you were when you came into this situation.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This is of course a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?

I believe this crisis has evolved to this boiling point it’s currently at is due to overpower. When one is overpowered, it communicates a message to the world that this is what it means to be powerful or to be powerless.

Who then should others overpower to elevate themselves? Their community, a certain race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, their family, or their children?

Force and control disguised as leadership trickle down to affect us all, and to effect some much worse.

Let’s call leadership by force, control, and oppression what it is: hate deeply rooted in fear.

The most dangerous act of oppression is to believe the other is powerless, or seek to make the other powerless, and convince their victims of this false truth.

We stand with leadership that stems from love, that mirrors the immense capability of all people, and serves with compassion. It would be impossible to stand with leadership that does not honour black lives, because that is not leadership in the first place.

Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion? Can you share a story with us?

Recently, my company, Kathleen Black Coaching & Consulting, has partnered with teamwork strategist and inclusion specialist, Faith Clarke.

Faith started as a computer programmer on Wall Street, but quickly identified her passion for teaching and she spent several years teaching undergraduate and graduate-level computer science. Her fascination with human motivation and her personal experiences as a mom of a child with autism led to her doctoral studies in Performance Psychology. She is also the author of Parenting Like a Ninja, an Amazon bestseller and the Co-founder/CEO of Melody of Autism, an educational organization helping families with autistic children.

As a teamwork strategist and inclusion specialist, Faith combines her degrees in Computer Science, Adult Education and Performance Psychology and focuses on helping individuals, startups and social impact organizations increase their productivity through their people and processes.

Faith is also helping her younger 2 children (Simonne, 19, Zachary, 16) with their first business: InspirAction, a creative art company that offers illustrations and inspiring stories in art. Jaedon, 21 with non-verbal autism is interested in writing a book about his experience with anxiety.

We’ve invited Faith to speak to our network on two different occasions, once for a masterclass, and another time for a session with our Ultimate Team Summit, the real estate event of the year.

Both of her sessions have outlined the importance of building an inclusive high performing team that will give you the advantage in these constantly changing, disruptive times. Teaching our network and attendees, that their team will be able to pivot, adapt and meet organizational goals while dealing with whatever is thrown at their business by being more inclusive.

This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

We find it integral to model success, by providing clients access to the top business expansion experts, we connect them with our team model of honouring diverse personalities, perspectives, and leveraging the GENIUS expertise in others. This allows us to support client growth faster, with a lower rate of error, and less wasted resources for everyone involved.

It’s important to connect our team and network with people like teamwork strategist and inclusion specialist, Faith Clarke, as mentioned above, to create an inclusive environment, to welcome diverse individuals to an executive team.

If we’re lacking a diverse team, we are only telling one side of the story, whereas we need to be able to have different perspectives, experiences and backgrounds to form a cohesive team.

I firmly believe that the time has come for collaborative leadership models. As leaders we are still learning to hear and interpret different voices and perspectives as valuable. The more we move from “us” centric to “we” centric, the quicker we can all evolve and grow together. We need the GENIUS and gifts of all people, aligned, conscious, and focused on values that unite us to reach our full potential in carving out the future, and our choices today are doing just that, defining our collective future.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. You are an influential business leader. Can you please share your “5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society”. Kindly share a story or example for each.

  1. We need to mirror strength and capability to those around us, and that includes women, and diverse backgrounds.
    For example, a score report from 2018 showed entrepreneurs with mentors are 5 times more likely to launch a business. It is extremely important to mentor and promote excellence and advancement in all people around us.
    Sometimes leadership is going to look different in a woman or a man, the purpose is to have multifaceted leadership, so that we’re always moving forward, while encouraging those walking beside us.
    We can’t just look to mentor those who look, think and sound like us, we need to mentor everyone who shows they have that entrepreneurial spirit and grit. Mentor everyone with a will to expand. Mentorship can be as simple as your sharing the potential you see in that person. I believe we must plant seeds for others to see what they can achieve and step into. This is a core responsibility of leaders: to build more leaders.
    Those who have it in them are going to see that vision, and be more encouraged to step forward and take on new roles.
    Mentoring those around us is a part of the leadership in our industry, and it can make a massive difference.
  2. One of the most important things that we can do is encourage our ears to listen for value and find data-driven tangible results.
    In Real Estate we build our businesses by being outgoing and networking with others, but we expand our businesses into actual efficient, productive, profitable models based on data, strategies and results.
    If we look more to what’s working and what’s making a difference, and put that on our stages, instead of what’s political and who’s your friend, I think we’ll be able to encourage a lot more women into sharing their leadership.
  3. After coaching hundreds of Real Estate teams full-time for nearly a decade, I have seen the power that a team can achieve within their environment by utilizing properly structured collaboration and synergy.
    Through my experience coaching teams, I have learned that the power of team synergy can increase conversion, driving your team into the top 1%!
    Teams thrive in the unique synergy that a hyper-focused, unified approach with a shared desired outcome or bullseye can deliver. On the other hand, inclusivity is important to grow and allow other people to penetrate the nucleus that is the in-crowd on your team. Everyone should be included in the in-crowd.
    If new members cannot merge with existing members, you will cap your growth, whereas a recruit that just does not believe what you do and, even with training, does not seem to fit in will be worked out of the team with hundreds of small reminders a day of how they do not belong. You want a culture exclusive enough to give you an edge and inclusive enough to attract great people, grow, and thrive together.
  4. You have to be able to stand strong in a storm and rise out of lots of little fires that will surround you, because in my experience a strong woman leading is not seen as naturally positive when compared to a very strong man leading.
    To be a top leader in this industry you need to be unapologetically strong in order to be capable of carving out an efficient business.
    This is a difficulty for women, but it can also be seen as an opportunity. You’re either going to hit ceilings, or plant seeds, you cannot do both. If as a woman, you’re looking at your restrictions and the reasons why you might fail, those are not going to propel you further. If you look at those things and create for the future, you can plant seeds and nurture them to create things that aren’t in existence yet.
    As much as you do have a statistical bias against women executives, you also have the power to be positively disruptive to change the system and give the spotlight to the voices that haven’t been heard.
  5. Continue to invest in our own personal development, I can only see as far as what I know, and if I have inherent bias, whether that’s in gender, culture, background or colour, I’m going to continue to make choices based on those biases.
    The more that I can invest in expanding myself, and in asking myself why I’m choosing to do what I do or what my responsibilities are in making sure my decisions are coming from a place of abundance, love, evolution and capability, instead of out of fear, scarcity or competition.
    Those last three have been the motivators in our industry for a long, long, time so it’s important to have new motivators that allow us to be advocates, not only for our clients, but also for our colleagues and the leaders around us, to remove biases and barriers.

We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?

I am optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved. But only when we all take the time to truly learn about the issue that is going on. To not read propaganda in the media, and take it at face value, you need to educate yourself about the deep-rooted issue that the US is currently facing.

As the words of the powerful Toni Morrison remind us, power based on an intention to belittle, hurt, or harm, are a force of fear and lack.

When one is overpowered, it communicates a message to the world that this is what it means to be powerful or to be powerless.

Who then should others overpower to elevate themselves? Their community, a certain race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, their family, or their children?

Force and control disguised as leadership trickle down to affect us all, and to effect some much worse.

Let’s call leadership by force, control, and oppression what it is: hate deeply rooted in fear.

If I oppress what I fear in a plight to elevate myself, at some point, shouldn’t I question why if I am so secure, confident, and truly powerful, would I act so excessively?

Why then, am I behaving with such absolute force to control what I perceive myself to be above?

Maybe because it distracts us from facing the truth that true power never comes from being above anyone and is not meant to be limited to some people and not others. But instead, that authentic power lies in our ability to see ourselves, and others, as leaders, only when standing in the truth, that strong leaders build from a source of love, compassion, and service intended for the good of all.

The problem with fear and hate is that it never stays stagnant. Stress under tension needs to go somewhere. It trickles down, around, and up. We want to throw the pressure at someone else so we don’t have to hold it or see it. It moves through everything we do, and everyone we interact with.

Fear and pain without transformation into love and forgiveness become contagious, or worse, normal.

The most dangerous act of oppression is to believe the other is powerless, and convince their victims of this false truth.

We stand with leadership that stems from love, that mirrors the immense capability of all people, and serves with compassion. It would be impossible to stand with leadership that does not honour black lives, because that is not leadership in the first place.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Glennon Doyle’s most recent book ‘Untamed’ has had a very deep impact on my thinking. I can honestly say that I have never read a book that I could relate to such an extent. I felt like I could have written that book. I have such an affinity for her values and the need for relentless leadership.

Her book demonstrates such a remarkable message to stand-up unapologetically and build what you’re meant to build.

Her book has been a treasure to me because it’s allowed me to feel less lonely, some people say that alpha women don’t travel in packs, but I’m lucky to have an amazing leadership team and I would never get anything done without them.

It’s also inspiring to me that she works on the ground with charities to get average donations of 25 dollars. Glennon founded Together Rising as an expression of her belief that the surest way to lift a family or community is to lift one woman at a time — that when a woman rises, she brings her people up with her. Her charity initiatives are incredibly inspiring and life-changing.

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