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Entrepreneurial soul coach Rha Goddess discusses why we are at a ripe moment for corporate change and the invitation for white male leaders in terms of allyship. She reveals the conversations that we need to be having as a society in an open and transparent way and the work that needs to happen to shift culture and embrace inclusion. Discover how to liberate yourself and others, and how to use your voice to stay true, get paid and do good.
In this episode you’ll discover:
- Rha’s diversity story and the key influences in her life (1:36)
- Why we are at a perfect time for corporate change (5:39)
- The expectations that younger workers have for their workforce environment (8:50)
- An assumption that keeps leaders from sharing their diversity story (14:30)
- The opportunity for white male leaders (20:30)
- The need for bottom up and top down change (28:00)
- The importance of authenticity and connection (32:20)
- How to find positive cross cultural and cross gender relationships (34:00)
- A key responsibility for all leaders (38:20)
- The 3 primary concerns for all people (46:00)
Listen in now, or read on for the transcript of our conversation.
JENNIFER BROWN: Welcome to The Will To Change. This is Jennifer Brown. Today my guest is Rha Goddess. Rha is the entrepreneurial soul coach behind hundreds of breakthrough changemakers, cultural visionaries and social entrepreneurs. Her work has focused on issues ranging from racial justice and equality to youth and women’s empowerment, and contributed to initiatives that have impacted millions of lives. Her work has been featured in publications including Time Magazine, Forbes and Fast Company. As CEO of Move The Crowd, Rha is galvanizing a movement of one million entrepreneurs dedicated to re-imagining work as a vehicle for creative expression, financial freedom and societal transformation.
Rha, welcome to The Will to Change.
RHA GODDESS: Thank you so much, Jennifer, it’s my joy and privilege to be here.
JENNIFER BROWN: The privilege is mine. I’m so excited that you’ve joined us today.
I have so many things to ask you, but I always make it a practice to ask people about their diversity story on The Will to Change. Our tagline is, “Everyone has a diversity story, particularly those that you don’t expect.” I would love to hear, when I ask you that question, I know there are so many things you could share, but what would you share as your diversity story?
RHA GODDESS: Anytime I go to my journey, I have to acknowledge my parents. So I am what I would like to describe as a “change of life baby,” born into the intersection of civil rights and hip-hop. Those are my movements.
My parents were born in the 1920s and survived over two decades of Jim Crow segregation in this country. So that is very much baked into my DNA—that lineage, that journey, that struggle. And, of course, we know these are issues that many people are still very much on the forefront of today within our nation, and of course within all of the infrastructure and systems that make up our society.
So those are my roots and my foundation. Growing up really instilled in me this commitment to family, to community, and to education. And they were deeply passionate about those three values, and this idea that if you ever had any opportunity, it was your responsibility to give back and your responsibility to make a way for others.
I am one of the few people in my family that even went into the corporate ranks. Most of the members of my family, my aunts, my uncles, the generations that came before me, they were military people. They were heavy in education, some of them worked in government.
But I came into the ranks of corporate. I’m dating myself here, oh well, Jennifer, it’s done now. (Laughter.)
JENNIFER BROWN: That’s right.
RHA GODDESS: In the ’80s, I went into corporate, and I was one of two African-American women in my particular industry. I worked in the specialty chemicals industry in plastics and polymers. I worked for a Fortune 50 corporation at the time that was named Union Carbide. That come has since been sold to ARCO, parts of it have been sold to Dow Chemical, but I came in through this very highly technical—my background was in chemistry and computer science, so I was a geek. I was one of very few women, and then one of two black women in the industry at the time.
JENNIFER BROWN: Gosh.
RHA GODDESS: So that was a real learning experience for me, carrying this lineage of civil rights and this lineage of hip-hop on my shoulders.
JENNIFER BROWN: But then you can’t stay away from that world, because like me, we see this tremendous potential in that, quote/unquote, corporate world because corporations are just made up of people. There are so many who don’t have a voice in corporations—that was you, and that was me. How do you think that environment is ripe for being where change actually happens? Obviously, we’re going to get right to Me Too, even though we’ve just been talking for five minutes, but there are some painful, but useful things that have happened in the corporate space that keep throwing challenging, juicy problems to me as somebody who’s trying to figure out how to support people who share my story or the metaphor of my story, those who are still toughing it out in that environment, and desperately need to make it work. I’m curious what you think is actually really cool about how change can happen in a corporation, even if maybe it didn’t happen for you all those years ago.
RHA GODDESS: Yes. I think we are at such a ripe moment, particularly for corporate change. And I say that for a number of reasons. One is the demography within corporations has dramatically shifted. When I look at the top six in conversations with many of the leaders that have the honor and privilege of being in community with and working with. I’m hearing 70 percent millennial in terms of the talent pool and the talent population. And a lot of what we’ve attributed to millennials is that they are really serious about purpose. They’re really serious about change. They’re really serious about work/life integration. They’re really serious about authenticity and transparency. They’re walking in the door with these values.
When your critical mass as a corporate structure is about that and you aren’t—or let’s say traditionally have not been, it creates this sort of “perfect storm” opportunity.
Now, what we all know is that culture change is the hardest work there is. A lot of those ways of operating and ways of being are probably going to go, to some level, kicking and screaming. But if companies are going to want to survive and operate in the global landscape and be really successful, and be seen as a part of the global fabric—I say that because I think when we first heard the legislation come down that corporations were going to be treated as individuals, there was all kinds of backlash around that for lots of reasons.
But if you consider it in a positive way, that means that corporations have a role to play as citizens. And if we’re in the conversation of citizenship, then it does mean that you have a responsibility and an opportunity to start to think about the entire ecosystem and all of the things that you touch and affect. So it is no longer just about shareholders, but it is now also about the clients you serve and the consumers you serve, depending upon your industry.
But it’s also about the people who you bring into your community, your internal community, to do that work. And an accountability that I think the millennial generation carries that is forcing corporations to look potentially in ways that they’ve never looked before.
JENNIFER BROWN: And thank goodness for that. I always say we in the generation X didn’t have the critical mass from a numbers perspective to push that along.
RHA GODDESS: Yes.
JENNIFER BROWN: And I think we were the disaffected generation. So in many ways, you and I are probably—the cat is out of the bag, we’re gen X’ers, news flash, and it was a cynical generation, it was very independent—I don’t know, a loss of innocence in many ways, a loss of trust in institutions and the hope that an institution could be a good citizen. We didn’t have our voice. We didn’t have the hopefulness and the optimism and the self-assurance that you really see amongst particularly younger talent, and the expectation that they can bring their full selves to work.
When you and I might have cowered in a way, covered our identity, minimized things or distanced ourselves from the stigmas of our various identities. We got good at that—we got scary good at that just to survive.
RHA GODDESS: Yes. Yes.
JENNIFER BROWN: Just knowing you, you probably fought against it, as did I, but it’s incredible to see how uncompromising they are. I just hope they recognize, too, there is so much work that has to be done and valuing diversity and inclusive workplaces are not a guaranteed thing. You and I have seen how hard change is to sustain. In particular, the leadership of companies, there’s a lot of resistance to change for all sorts of reasons.
RHA GODDESS: Yes. Yes.
JENNIFER BROWN: Staying on leadership for a moment. Right now, we have a largely male leadership rank for most large companies. I spend a lot of my time talking about and encouraging male allyship and welcoming people into this conversation, seeing that they all have a diversity story, and that being an ally, advocate, or accomplice—which I love—for others is really going to be the change we need because we’ve got to engage people in this conversation who haven’t traditionally been engaged or are sitting on the sidelines.
RHA GODDESS: Yeah.
JENNIFER BROWN: Me Too has dragged many people kicking and screaming into the conversation, but I feel like I’ve been inviting it for a long time because I’ve known it’s so important. There are some of us carrying the bulk of the water for the discussion. I really want to change that.
Do you agree with that? How do you think about that opportunity?
RHA GODDESS: I think it’s imperative. And I think that white male leaders—it’s interesting because even if I think back to my own corporate experience, there were white male leaders who were excited about the possibility.
Now, they didn’t know what to do, right? They would say, “Listen, I know this is a problem, I want to help figure out how to solve it, but I have no idea what to do. Can you tell me?”
JENNIFER BROWN: Yes.
RHA GODDESS: And to your point, very often people of color in corporate institutions or women in corporate institutions feel that additional burden, right? Not only are you expected to excel beyond potentially what may be expected of your counterparts, your male counterparts, your white counterparts, but you’re also expected to educate them and make them comfortable and make them feel okay, right, in however they’re showing up. And there’s a lot of conditioning, a lot of societal conditioning, a lot of cultural conditioning, and a lot of family conditioning, truth be told, to get you ready to be able to be in those environments that enable those in power to feel comfortable.
Part of what the invitation in terms of white male leaders is a few things. One is to recognize that they aren’t thriving either in the way that they maybe think they are or in the ways that they maybe had been told they would be in the context of power.
And I say that because when we start to think about broken families, when we start to think about heart attacks, when we start to think about fathers being estranged from their children. There’s also a challenge for women particularly in the work environment who come with that familial orientation and who are struggling with how to be a mogul and how to be a mom. Right?
There are all these tradeoffs, and we’re not having the conversation about all of what we’ve traded. And I think men have been conditioned on a lot of levels to assume that that’s okay.
And to your point in terms of the shifting tides, there are studies happening in these larger organizations and corporations where they’re discovering that men are wanting the same things that women are wanting. The men are no longer wanting to be on the road or willing to be on the road 80 percent of the time away from their families. So some of these issues that were traditionally known as women’s issues, quote/unquote, or women’s concerns, are not becoming people concerns when we look at the way that work is changing.
Part of that is the millennial invasion, for sure, but there are other factors. There are other things that are happening. I think 9/11 shifted the paradigm in ways that we still don’t even fully understand or talk about. People called it “the new normal” when people came back to work after 9/11. But there was a way that people were forced to have perspective and gain perspective around what was really important. And I think the challenge and opportunity for corporations is to discern: How do we engage the best that people have to offer while enabling them to feel empowered in that contribution?
And I think that white men are a part of that conversation as much as anybody else is. So I say all of that to say that white men have the opportunity to also look at, “Well, where have I been trading? Where have I been struggling? Where have I been conforming in ways that haven’t worked?” And if I could create room for different kinds of perspectives, if I could create room for different kinds of talent and different kinds of brilliance to be at the table, how might my reality also get better?
That’s the fundamental opportunity or question that I don’t know necessarily that they’ve been invited to engage.
JENNIFER BROWN: I don’t think they have been. In my experience, there is a devaluing of your own story, whatever that story may be that you’re carrying, that you’re downplaying. There is a shame around it, there is a waiting for permission or being invited to share it, but there’s an assumption that it’s not legitimate or maybe it’s not painful enough, it’s not a challenging life circumstance like somebody else might have had.
RHA GODDESS: Yes.
JENNIFER BROWN: But sometimes it’s equally challenging, if not more. My heart is broken, and I’ve been so touched by people feeling inspired by my keynote or whatever will come up and grab me and say, “I’d like to—you reminded me of something that I don’t really talk about and I wanted to be vulnerable and share this.” And you feel all of a sudden like you’re carrying that now, you know? And that has been a thread I’ve been pulling as a consultant to think about, “Am I being inclusive?” When I look at somebody, I’m assuming they don’t get it—you can never do that. It’s a behavior you’ve got to unlearn, especially when you’re on the side of the equation that you and I might be on.
When you spend so much time in a stigmatized or underrepresented group, you have to be so vigilant about continuing to keep the channels open and continuing to be gracious and supportive. You can give into anger, you can give into the pain of the community. You and I talked about the trauma of the workplace experience. You’re making a great point, all of us actually carry trauma. We’ve all separated parts of who we are when we come into work. That separation of all of who we are and leaving behind at the door is something LGBT people are incredibly good at—changing pronouns, not telling stories, or answering questions about our weekend by saying, “Oh, it was fine.” It’s no big deal, right?
And those little choices we make around trying to fit in are probably not great for us. They may be old behaviors. I have to ask you, Rah, you mentioned a little earlier. You said, “We were conditioned in our families to enter systems…” and I’m trying to paraphrase this, “…enter systems where our job was to make others comfortable around us.”
RHA GODDESS: Yes, absolutely.
JENNIFER BROWN: Can you tell me, what was that like for you? What form did that take for you as you were in the chemical industry? I can’t even imagine.
RHA GODDESS: Well, I’ll speak in terms of myself. My parents were really adamant about how we spoke, how we presented, how we dressed. My mother used to say, “You need to speak the King’s English.” You know, and she was an English and grammar teach. Every other word was corrected.
I also will say to you that when you look at the stories—and it’s interesting that we begin with the diversity stories. If you look at the stories that have traditionally been told, particularly about the African-American experience in America, you’ve seen lynching. You’ve seen families disowned. Let me say, you’ve seen some semblance of that.
Now, lots of people will argue we’ve not gotten the real story about slavery and what that era and that part of our history really looked like. And a lot of people are very intimidated to confront that history and face that history and look at that history, right?
But there is a societal indoctrination about what side of the road you walk in, and a societal indoctrination about how you hold your head or don’t hold your head. And that conditioning is baked into the way in which societies and systems operate, embedded in the DNA of systems, and we as people internalize it on both sides of the equation. We internalize those behaviors.
When I say that you’re prepared in your family, it was about survival. You were taught those things in order to keep you safe. Again, if we look at what has happened, whether we talk about Ferguson or St. Louis or Minneapolis—there are all of these frontiers in which we’ve seen these kinds of things go down in the streets because people feel intimidated. That has been the justification for why we’ve seen black men slaughtered in the middle of the streets, right?
I’m saying all of these things to say that these are not conversations that we’re having as a society in a very open and transparent way, and they’re certainly not conversations we’re having in corporations in a very transparent way.
I remember recently, I want to say probably about a year and a half ago, I think it was AT&T—I hope I’m right about this, Jennifer, correct me if I’m wrong. The CEO actually gave a keynote at their global gathering.
JENNIFER BROWN: Yes! I love that video.
RHA GODDESS: He talks about racism. He actually began to talk about his own internal awakening and the challenge and internal struggle that he was going through to come to grips with his own privilege in the way that he recognized that they as a corporation we’re going to have to take it on.
We’re not seeing that kind of bold leadership yet across the board. But I will say to you, the climate is ripe for it. And it will be interesting to see how that unfolds.
And I think back to this conversation about the opportunity or the invitation for white male leaders. It is, first, coming to grips with their own indoctrination and recognizing that, “Oh, well, maybe it’s not been so great for me either. If I look at what I’m protecting, am I really protecting the thing that I want to be protecting when I think about the things that I’ve compromised, number one.” So, overall, maybe we may discover that the system in general is broken.
But then, two, am I willing to do the uncomfortable work of starting to meet people eye to eye and heart to heart? And I willing to do the uncomfortable work that’s required to begin to sit in people’s humanity?
Yes, we all have stories to bring to that. Yes, some people’s stories are harder than others. How do we begin to be okay with that? Be willing to confront and be uncomfortable with that, and be willing to look at that, face it, and not turn away because we feel guilty or because we feel ashamed.
Again, this is the real work. Part of what I talk a lot about in the context of leadership is, “How do you do your work?” Your work isn’t just about those hard skills, but your work is also about your own growth inside of your own humanity as a human being. You’re a human being before you’re anything else. Whatever those roles and titles and initials are that you put after your name, those came after. You had to come through your momma’s womb first. Your initiation began as a human being, and there’s a way that we get so away from that when we get into these larger ecosystems, structures, and organizational structures that don’t enable us to stay connected to our humanity when we’re making the kinds of decisions that we’re making, and when we’re shaping a culture inside of these communities, these ecosystems of humanity. That’s really what corporations are, they’re ecosystems of humanity, but they don’t operate that way.
There’s an invitation across the board. No matter what identity you occupy as a leader, to begin to tap into that, to begin to face that, and to begin to come into full awareness of that and to ask, “Well, what is my responsibility if I do have purview over 60,000 souls in a global organism?” 60,000 or 70,000 souls when we start to think about these larger corporations. “What is my responsibility to humanity if that’s my purview?”
JENNIFER BROWN: That’s so good. I always think that if you make one move, there are so many eyes on you. You can affect so many lives. I love your word “souls,” it’s absolutely true. For so many of us, work is our breath. Your contribution and your purpose and all of it comes through. We do what we do with love, it’s an offering. Imagine if you had organizations that built the optimal place for you to feel that you belong, that you’re seen and heard, that you can contribute. And you look up at your leadership, and you feel that they see and hear you, even if they don’t look like you, even if they don’t share your identity—maybe especially if they don’t.
RHA GODDESS: Yes.
JENNIFER BROWN: I love imagining that we will have a day—the CEO of AT&T you were talking about is Randall Stephenson, and that video is literally one of my favorite things ever. You and I are obsessed with storytelling, and it is as much who the storyteller is as it is the story. And the fact that he, looking the way he does, and us making assumptions about whether he gets it or not or who he is as a person, the fact that he stood up and said, “I’m learning, I’m doing my work. I’m alarmed, I’m disturbed. We have a role to play. We are this massive company with power. How are we going to use that in the world?”
I couldn’t agree more. I think we’re seeing a new age of corporations—maybe as individuals, hopefully well-intended individuals.
RHA GODDESS: Yes.
JENNIFER BROWN: Really, it starts with that CEO. I always go straight to the top in our work. The first question is always: Where does the CEO stand on all of this? Did he or she come up with the initiative to bring us in to do this work and really have the hard conversations? It’s got to start there.
You know I’ve got to ask, but I am concerned. Me Too is a tricky spot. At the same time that you and I are saying we need more vulnerability, we need to hold the door open, we need to relate to each other in a different way, seeking what’s shared and what’s human about us and seeing the whole person. And then we have this very—I don’t even know how to describe the fear that’s causing male leaders—and Sheryl Sandberg is talking about this recently—pulling away from those relationships that matter at work so much.
RHA GODDESS: Yes.
JENNIFER BROWN: Which is the sharing of power. That is the main thing—I don’t want to say the only thing, but study after study has shown that particularly for women and people of colors and others who are underrepresented, the sponsorship that we have, the fact that somebody is looking out for us and pulling us through a system that we didn’t build, that we don’t understand, where we don’t hold the keys. The fact that someone is pulling you through that is the number-one factor for success.
I always remember that. That’s not at all known, and it’s not happening to the extent that I would like to see it, but then you have the Me Too ramifications of, “Oh, I’d better just hide out. I’d better pull back.” It’s the last thing we need, but what does a leader do to continue to push into the discomfort when you’re getting the collateral messages of Me Too?
RHA GODDESS: For me, there’s so much in what you just said. There are a couple of things that I really want to underscore. The first thing is we want to commit to working for organizational paradigms that don’t require a small percentage of people to have to pull the rest of the folks through.
JENNIFER BROWN: Wow, yes, indeed.
RHA GODDESS: I want to say that.
JENNIFER BROWN: Yes.
RHA GODDESS: And I want to reference the brilliant conversation that Bozoma Saint John had at South by Southwest a couple of weeks ago. There was this whole way that she has been branded as this black woman coming in to fix the culture of Uber. And she said, “There’s one of me, and there are 50 white guys, why is it on me to fix it?” (Laughter.) You know, right?
So there’s something about the way that we set up dynamics and the way that we set the table that’s problematic. You know, Jennifer, I want to say that in this new paradigm of how we shift culture and embrace inclusion, that we are actually creating a world that doesn’t require only the top to have to say yes to it, but that it actually can be a top-down and a bottom-up movement, and that there is 360-degree buy-in to the agreements and the values within which corporations get to express themselves when they’re committed to being healthy. Right? I just want to say that. I feel like that’s so important.
JENNIFER BROWN: I love that! And you checked me, and it’s so good. I’ve been thinking more and more that I believe in flat organizations. When I think about the future of work, I’m simultaneously telling leaders they’re not doing enough, but at the same time, I don’t want leaders to have all the power to shift cultures. I don’t want that to be the reality, because then that disempowers of. Then when you think particularly of the millennials with their own voice, they get made fun of for this, but they want to the corporation to shape around them.
RHA GODDESS: Yes.
JENNIFER BROWN: Really, they are the majority now in many companies. If they’re not yet, they will be in your organization. They’re bringing those values and expecting the system to reflect it. I love that. I love the bottom-up energy, I love the size of this generation. I love the non-compromising identity, the pride in their identity. It’s really exciting.
The next evolution you’re pointing us to, which is that the traditional way we thought about how leaders can shift things with one action or one set of remarks is just one input, but there are so many others that matter. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for contributing that.
RHA GODDESS: There has to be. That’s really what we’re saying. The last thing I’ll say about that, and then I want to come to the sponsorship, because I think the sponsorship question you’re raising is so important.
We want to create environments where everyone gets to bring their leadership to the table. If we really want to win in the mission of what we’re creating, and if that mission is about good, if we’re really looking to make a positive contribution to society as a business, as a corporation, whatever form of entity, then we want to be empowering the leadership of all. Part of the challenge is when we say, “Well, it has to come from the top,” there’s also a way that everybody else gets to say, “Okay, since it can’t come from me, I don’t get to own my power, I don’t get to have any responsibility, I don’t get to have any accountability for being a contribution into the environment.” Which then means I’m only perpetuating the same paradigms that got me here. Right?
We all have a role to play. And, yes, the invitation ought to be front and center for CEOs because of the role that they play, but everybody’s got a role to play.
We talk so much in Move the Crowd about the age of the citizen. I want to say that corporations are citizens, right? In the age of the citizen, we’re all owning our role to play. This is our world, this is our watch, we’ve all got a role to play in it.
To the point of sponsorship and relationship, what I know in my experience is that leaders of all shades and persuasions lean in through intimate relationships, through authentic connections, through the ways that we come to get to know who each other is as people in our heart of hearts and soul of souls. Whether that’s through the work that we do on big initiatives or projects together, whether that’s through the ways that we all unite to get something over the threshold. Whether that’s winning a new major client or whether that’s saving a sinking ship, right? There are all of these experiences that cause people to galvanize and come together.
I think that we need to recognize and understand that having authentic relationships matters across all forms of organization and structure. Having authentic relationships matter. And we have to pay attention to the cultural indoctrination who is really rooted in systems of power that have caused dysfunction to happen in those interactions. And we all have to check ourselves, right? So not only is the burden on men to check themselves there, but we as women also have to check ourselves. When are we not standing in our power? When are we not?
I think that this Me Too and Time’s Up is as much for us as it is for them in a reclamation of our full embodiment. There are things that we tolerate because we have assumed that they have been part of the rights of passage. The only reason there’s been a Me Too is because there has been this cultural right of passage where we as women have swallowed hard and taken behaviors or tolerated behaviors because we felt like that’s what we needed to do in order to get to the C-suite or in order to get to, you know, that plum opportunity, whatever that opportunity is.
So we’ve also participated in that tradeoff. So I think that the time’s up for us as well. Moreover, I think we’ve got to learn how to be in healthy relationships. Thought’s us as humanity. That’s a baseline conversation. And then if you move beyond that, there is the conversation of, “How do we find cross-cultural relationship? How do we find cross-gender relationships? And how do we find the health and wellness of those relationships and work to be good stewards of each other in those relationships?” Then the kind of mentoring that needs to happen and wants to happen—which I think is reciprocal, 360 degrees—as well this kind of sponsorship happening, being 360 degrees. There are all kinds of ways that we can sponsor one another in these organizational structures. But it all begins with true and authentic relationship as the base.
JENNIFER BROWN: Very well said. So many pearls. I know you walk the talk, Rah. I hope our audience knows who you are, but talk about being a steward of others. You have been coaching—and I don’t know what your preferred word is—but you have been holding the space and stewarding the birth of and the broadening of the platforms of some of the women I look up to the most, who have found their voice on a global, massive scale. Some of the people you’ve coached and work with include India Arie, Reshma Saujani from Girls Who Code, and Gabby Bernstein. You’ve practiced this and you’ve felt drawn—I don’t mean to speak for you, but what I read in it is you have been fascinated and involved from a heart perspective in supporting and holding the space for people to emerge, find their greatness, stand in that, reclaim that spot, really change the world and become movers and shakers. You have helped to instill something in so many, and helped crack them open, encouraging them to take their spot in the dialogue to change the world.
Yet, you have your own beauty on the stage that I have seen many times. I’m fascinated because I love mentoring speakers as much as I like speaking. I feel like we have that in common. It’s so exciting to be able to see who someone really is, knowing that’s emerging, but it’s not as powerful as it could be.
What drew you to that work? I want you to tell us more about Move the Crowd, which you created, and what it exists to do, because I suspect that it’s related to that love of stewarding leaders and their messages, and supporting them to get out on the edge of the stage and change the world.
RHA GODDESS: Yeah. Thank you for this question. It is my life’s work and it has always been. We move through different structures, through different vehicles, different formats, but I feel like my life’s work has always been about the liberation of people, and the liberation of people in service to the highest contribution that they’re here to make, which is for me, all about moving humanity forward, you know, into the best expression of ourselves that we possibly can be and into the best expression of our world because there’s a planet that we steward, along with our own stewardship.
I feel like that’s been my call, and I feel like Move the Crowd is an extension of that call and an evolution. It’s the next vehicle or the next structure through which I’m moving that call.
The commitment to other voices is about the commitment to movement, to know that we’re all standing on the shoulders of amazing souls, whose names we know and names we don’t know, who have come before us to make this world possible that we get to live in and enjoy. And we get to do that for the generations that come behind. Like there’s an inherent agreement that I think is embedded in the DNA of what it is to be human or what it is to be a species. I imagine, on some level, tigers are doing this for the tigers that are coming behind. You know what I mean? (Laughter.)
It is what it is to be alive. What it is to truly be alive is to give life the that which is coming behind you or give life to that which is around you. True leaders give life to other leaders. That’s what we’re here to do. Any leader that’s not about that causes me to question what kind of leadership are they operating inside of.
I know that’s a really bold statement given the current state of our world, but we all ought to be questioning that, regardless of what corner of the globe we occupy, leaders that lead us into harm, leaders that lead us into danger without any clear vision about what’s on the other side or what they’re moving towards other than attempting to regain some sense of ego, we all ought to find problematic. And that’s not about party designation—you hear what I’m saying—it’s not about race, gender, class, or generation event. But it is about the fundamental agreement that we stepped into when we said we were going to populate this planet, when we said we were going to populate this universe. That is about giving more liberty and more life. And when I say “liberty,” it is about liberty to be the truest and most authentic sense of yourself, the truest sense of who you are.
My life’s work is about that, the work of Move the Crowd is about that, we have the honor and privilege of serving some of the amazing people whose names you’ve given, and other names who have not been uttered today, but who are committed and passionate about more life and thriving for other people, and are utilizing all of the different industries and all of the different designs and ways that can be organized to be about that.
I’m going to die trying. Trying to get that done.
JENNIFER BROWN: I can so relate. (Laughter.)
RHA GODDESS: New cultures, new economies—that is what our work is about, and it’s an honor and a privilege to do that work.
JENNIFER BROWN: I love what Move the Crowd is about and the emerging generation of voices. We’re all links in the chain. We are all products of what’s gone before. I very much agree, when a leader is not motivated by legacy—and I don’t mean legacy in terms of building the biggest and most lucrative thing—it is witnessed in the people you’ve supported who take your place and can take things to a whole new level, exceeding what you were capable of, and celebrating that. Not being threatened by that, but actually relishing see others take the mantle, including others, letting them shine, giving them the floor, and leading from behind, underneath, or whatever it means. It’s not a vertical or a hierarchical dynamic. It’s leading through others, servant leadership.
We’ve been talking about some of these concepts for a long time, and they are inclusion concepts. Sometimes I feel like we’re having the same conversations. This is humanity, it’s good leadership, but it is in short supply. These days, I feel like we’re giving into some of our more base instincts, perhaps our primitive brains.
RHA GODDESS: Yes.
JENNIFER BROWN: We’re not where I really wanted us to be, which is to be living in that future possibility that we could all be deeply fulfilled by our contributions and the people we get to do it with every single day. I want the workplace to become a more fulfilling place, and not everything to everyone.
It’s also interesting to look at some of the tech companies. I think it’s Google that is building a whole community, a residential town next to their campus. We do everything for you, we want you to live here, we want you to live and breathe your workplace. I don’t mean that. I don’t know how that whole experiment is going to turn out, but the lines are blurring so much. I welcome that, because I love what I do. I’m always on, I’m always thinking about it, and I feel lucky. You and I get to work from purpose and from so much of our core and our hearts every day and be validated for that, we are loved and find community. I just wish that for people who feel alone and isolated in these workplaces where they look around, they feel alone, they don’t see people that look like them or share their story. There might be a lot of unconscious bias that they’re experiencing.
That’s what gets me up in the morning—I want to change the system that’s making people feel that way so that they don’t have to manage their energy and they don’t have to feel depleted. They should feel empowered, filled, and have more than enough energy. I know you and I probably feel as though we have an abundance of energy doing this kind of work. There are tough days for sure running your own company as you know.
RHA GODDESS: Right. Right.
JENNIFER BROWN: Rha, before we’re out of time, I wanted to share the news about your new book, if that’s okay. You shared a little bit with me that you got some clarity on that. I want to know when people can expect that, and what is it that you decided to write about? So may are going to get introduce to you and Move the Crowd through your book. It’s an amazing accelerant to have a book. Tell us about it, and when can we get our hands on it. (Laughter.)
RHA GODDESS: I won’t have the official publication date yet, but I’m hearing fall 2019, winter 2020.
JENNIFER BROWN: Okay.
RHA GODDESS: So it will be somewhere in there, Jennifer.
JENNIFER BROWN: We’re breathless. Such a long way away!
RHA GODDESS: But I’m honored to say we just sold it, I’m so excited about that.
JENNIFER BROWN: Yes. Congratulations.
RHA GODDESS: It is the movement. It is the blueprint for how to stay true, how to get paid, and how to do good and what’s at the center of it. Right now, the book is tentatively titled The Calling. At the center of it is this idea of the fact that all of us are being called whether we know it or not, whether we recognize it or not, and sometimes that call is like a kiss on the cheek, and sometimes that call is a kick in the rear end. (Laughter.)
JENNIFER BROWN: So true.
RHA GODDESS: It comes in all shapes and sizes and in varying degrees depending on how long the universe has been trying to tap you on the shoulder.
What would it be if we began to lean into that impulse, those impulses, if we began to really listen? What becomes possible? And how do we navigate what I consider to be the three primary concerns? The three primary concerns from my perspective have been: Do I get to be who I really am? How do I eat and survive and care for myself and care for my family? And can I make a contribution that matters?
And so the book is all about how you answer the call, and in answering the call, how you stay true, get paid, and do good as a result. They are connected, they are interwoven. One proposition feeds on the other, and I actually believe that they are now the prerequisite. In other words, if we want to experience true fulfillment, we’ve got to get closer to our purpose, we’ve got to get closer to our most authentic self, and we’ve got to get closer to strategies and opportunities that enable us to thrive mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially.
JENNIFER BROWN: You’re talking about the age of the conscious entrepreneur. Stay true, get paid, and do good. That’s beautiful, Rha. Thank you for holding the potential of so many of us to experience our full potential and joy in what we do, and the ability to take care of ourselves in the process. Thank you for joining us today.
RHA GODDESS: Thank you so much, Jennifer, it’s my pleasure. Thank you.
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- Owning Your Power: Jennifer Joins the Beyond Barriers Podcast
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