How to Make A Global Impact And Operate As An Empath With Isabel Hundt

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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Isabel Hundt and I learned a lot about trusting your gut and understanding people that are different from you. Listed below are some thoughts on the episode as well as questions to cause you to critically think in a way that allows you to use your difference to make a difference.

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When she was 12, Isabel had a vivid, prophetic dream. When she was 18, Isabel decided to venture to the U.S. to make it a reality. This dream stuck with her despite the difficulties she encountered on her journey, but wasn’t she sure how to make it real and didn’t understand where she was going wrong. As a result, she experienced some setbacks and fell into a deep state of anxiety, depression, and overwhelm. She didn’t know what to do about it, and started wondering, “Is this dream really for me?”

  • Sometimes, people let their dreams fade when they get too hard, or when they find themselves defining their identities through the lens of other people. Has this ever happened to you? If so, how did you deal with it?

  • Do you trust your gut? To what extent do you allow your intuition to influence the choices you make about your life?

  • Have the assumptions or doubts of others ever led you to question yourself, your dreams, or your path in life? How much weight did you give to those assumptions? What was the outcome?

  • What is a dream that you want to make a reality? What are you going to do about it?

At several points throughout her journey, Isabel tried to change her path, but always found herself coming back to that same vivid dream. Although she was deeply affected by the obstacles she faced and the negative assumptions of others, the recurrence of this dream was so impactful that it eventually  became her truth. It became so normal to her, that at the end of the day, there was no alternative and no option but to continue pursuing it.

  • Think about a big, maybe even outlandish dream you’ve had. How has it influenced your life up to this point? Is it at the forefront of everything you do, or does it live in the background while you focus on other pursuits?

  • How do you decide who to turn to when you feel lost, confused, or unable to figure out the next step?

  • Is there ever a point at which we should rethink our dreams or abandon them entirely?

  • When you find yourself faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, how do you break out of your own mental prison and move forward?

After years of feeling disconnected and struggling with her identity, Isabel experienced a breakthrough during her ontological coaching training. Through working with her coach, she was able to confront her biases and work through her identity crisis. She came to understand that we are all connected on a spiritual level, and that where you’re from, what you do, and where you live do not define who you are. By finding her place “within”, she realized that home is a state of being within yourself, and not necessarily a physical place.

  • How do you characterize your identity?

  • What is it that defines you as a person?

  • How much does your career or professional life influence the way you view yourself?

  • Where is your home? What does “home” mean to you?

Transformational coaching deals with the inner workings of the individual (as opposed to external situations or circumstances), and always comes back to the question, “What’s going on inside of you?”

If we can learn to observe and understand our emotions, we are better able to connect with ourselves and communicate with others. This is no small task, as we are often faced with misunderstandings about what we feel, how we’re supposed to feel, and what emotions are good or bad. According to Isabel, “Your emotions are a reflection of your alignment with your soul.” By reflecting before reacting, and learning to express our emotions authentically and without judgment, we can cultivate a deeper level of understanding and connect with people all over the world.

  • Isabel says that, “Our first and foremost communication tools are our emotions.” Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

  • Do you feel a sense of alignment with your emotions? Is it ever difficult for you to understand why you feel the way you feel? How do you deal with that?

  • To what degree do external forces affect the way you view your emotions? Do you ever feel like you shouldn’t feel the way you feel? How do you overcome this?

  • Think of a time when you reacted before reflecting - what was the outcome? What would have been different if you’d reflected before reacting?

  • What role does your ego play in understanding your emotions, or the way you interact emotionally with those around you?


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Become an Effective Cross-Cultural Communicator & Connector

Three Ways To Make An Impact Today!

I spent the last week being part of three panels in events filled with many current and aspiring thought leaders and we discussed a range of topics within the diversity, inclusion and leadership field.

My favorite things about being on panels is the moment when the audience gets to ask questions. You get to hear their pain points. One such pain point that kept coming up was how to get over the barrier of not feeling qualified enough or ready to start. Listed below are three things I recommended.

Be A Curator: If you're struggling with just starting, think about being a manager or overseer in your industry or field of interest. You can add value by sorting through large amounts of content on the web and presenting the best posts in a meaningful and organized way. The process can include sifting, sorting, arranging, and placing found content into specific themes, and then publishing that information. People will find value in this because you would have saved them time. It also allows you to become the Google of your niche.

Be A Creator: This one is self explanatory. It is the contribution of information to any media for an end-user. Typical forms of content creation include maintaining and updating web sites, blogging, photography, videography, online commentary, the maintenance of social media accounts, and other forms of digital media. If you do this right, people will find value in this because you will be able to be an educator and thought leader that people will crave information from. Your thoughts and opinions will help guide others as they make important decisions. You're essentially a mentor from afar.

Be A Connector: Connectors are the people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions. If  you believe that this is you, create a list of as many people you know in your social, cultural, professional, and economic circles, and then make a habit of determining who needs to know who on a weekly basis. Once you have that list, make the intros. According to Malcolm Gladwell, connectors have some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy. People will find value in this because you will literally be connecting people to things they need to grow.

You could identify as one of these, two of these or all three but whatever you discover, remember that doing is the best form of experience so go out today, do and use your difference to make a difference.


Become an Effective Cross-Cultural Communicator & Connector

How I Survived My Crazy 2014 Summer Of Goals

Before the summer of 2014 started, I knew I had to make a change in my life. It would be time for me to turn my dreams into actions. I had many many dreams but how would I channel these dreams into actions? These were some of the things running through my mind as I came across a free invitation to cover a Arianna Huffington event as a blogger so i took it.

So there I was sitting in Ariana Huffington's Thrive event when she made one casual statement that went over most people's heads. She joked about how her kids made fun of her Greek accent even though she had been in America for a long time and that resonated with me because of my Third Culture Kid background.

I was covering the event as a blogger but the main reason I went to the event was because I wanted to hear her speak as I am a huge fan of her work. Anyway back to the statement she made. She said her kids sometimes asked her where she was from because of her accent and went on to discuss how she embraced it because it was who she was and boom! My creative juices started to flow. I thought back to a Buzzfeed article I had read earlier that introduced me to the term "Third Culture Kid" and I began to dream up ways that I could help people who identified with different cultures and many homes. 

All of a sudden a lightbulb went off in my head and I immediately wrote down the title of what would eventually become my first book. I said to myself  "I bet there are a lot of people out there who don't look like how they are supposed to sound and/or don't sound like how they are supposed to look so why don't I reach out to them and share my story of growing up in four different continents and five different countries.

This was exciting to me because for as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to make a difference in people's lives especially the youth. I felt like it was my calling but I just was never sure what my vehicle would be so it felt good to be able to finally feel the passion one usually feels when you find your calling.

But had I really found my calling? As an untraditional visionary I tend to have tons of ideas running through my head constantly and not all of them are as good as I think they are so even though I felt strongly about being a voice for this audience, I still wasn't sure. I was fearful.  

So during the intermission, I ran into one Dave Gambrill who told me about his coaching business and how he was growing his online brand and I was amazed by what he was doing so I told him what my vision was for Third Culture Kids and global nomads and how I wanted to start building content to inspire people to become global leaders and he flat out told me to do it and that sometimes you just needed to start something despite your fears. I knew this of course but it felt good to hear someone else confirm this for me before I let self doubt creep in any further.

Validation shows value!

So goal one was established. Write this eBook

Lesson one: Ladies and gentlemen never let your fear prevent you from going after something you envision. What's the worst that could happen? Failure? Maybe, but the you will be getting one of the best teachers that money can't buy. It's all about perspective.

That weekend I wrote about the Thrive event and called one of my mentors to tell him my plans of building content for my "would be audience". Although he wasn't familiar with the term, he liked the fact that I was passionate about it and I felt even more confident after that. Then another idea popped in my head. I decided that I wanted to do a podcast that dove into issues and opportunities present to multicultural people. I love media in all forms so I thought why not take advantage of a medium that is growing?

However, I knew nothing about about podcasts. I had done a few interviews in the past but I had never packaged them into a podcast ready format. I floated the idea around but it was not as well received as I thought it would be. I got questioned about my audience and why I would use podcasting as a medium. It stung a little I can't lie. I mean I was on such a high. I thought that I had escaped doubters but an amazing thing happened. I decided not to listen to them. The doubt fueled my passion even more. 

I decided to proceed with my podcast idea because I felt like it would be a great way to spread my message to the world and I said to myself. "What's the worst that can happen?" I was also extra motivated to prove people wrong. I spent two days building lists on Twitter of people I wanted to interview to and I started reaching out to them saying I wanted them to share their nomadic experiences and what they learned from it.  Mind you I did not have a product, interview format or even know how to put together a podcast but I felt so strongly that this would work and so I went to work. To my surprise I got a lot of yes's and why nots from the people I reached out to and all of a sudden it became real! I knew I had to launch this podcast now because I had told the people I reached out to that I would be launching around the end of summer or early fall.

Lesson 2: It pays to have faith in yourself even when others doubt you. It's also not a bad idea to promise something without initially having what you will offer. If you believe strongly enough in yourself, you will deliver! I told my myself

Also so what if you fail, at least you will have experience as a teacher and she is the best type of teacher anyway.

Goal two launch a podcast!

I feel like now is as good a time as any to mention that I am in the process of completing my MBA so I have classes virtually every week. Mostly at night. I also happen to be on student government. When i got elected as the social chair on campus, I decided that I would do things a little differently. Instead of focusing on just happy hours, I would create events that I feel like would provide the most value for students so in May I told the student club leaders that we would have the first ever Career week on campus- a week focused on bringing together alumni and professionals from the different areas of specialization in the school to discuss different ways to become employable. and I decided that it would be a great idea to launch a career week in the fall that would bring alumni, and professionals from different fields to come speak at my school.  I thought it would be the easiest thing in the world if I got buy in from the clubs but that was not the case. Again as an untraditional visionary, I tend to think faster than I can speak and sometimes I assume that everyone is following my train of thought which is hardly ever the case. So throughout the summer, I learned that I needed to learn how to articulate my thoughts and better communicate a sense of urgency. I also learned that I could not do everything myself so I had to learn the art of delegation.

Goal three: Launch Fordham's inaugural Career Week

Lesson three: Delegation is key. We aren't all built the same way and we don't have the same skill sets. Also ALWAYS communicate with teammates and colleagues through every step of the way so everyone is on board.

Lesson four: IT IS NEVER TOO EARLY TO PLAN FOR AN EVENT & always secure a location as early as possible.

At this point with three goals, I had my hand full but I decided to take summer classes so I that i can graduate next May. I also wanted to learn more about media relations so I could learn more about how to reach audiences and influencers so I took an internship with a PR organization. This essentially meant that I would would have 12 hour days with working full time, taking classes at night, writing my book, figuring out how to podcast, and helping to plan the conference.

On top of this, I also am a fitness junkie so I knew I had to find time to work out so I decided I would wake up at 5:30 every morning to do my workouts. This way i'd start my day off feeling energized. With workouts comes food so in order not to lose myself to unhealthy eating habits that can become accustomed with someone who is hardly home, I started cooking in bulk and making sure I had enough food for at least four days. For someone like me who eats six to seven times a day in two to three hour intervals, that's a LOT of food but I had a fitness goal to maintain.

Goal four: Learn about media relations to help me better understand how to reach influencers and an audience.

Goal five: Get more defined and build more muscle

Lesson five: Prioritize! Prioritize! Prioritize! I knew that if I wanted to achieve all my goals this summer then I would have to prioritize so I cut out a lot of TV and replaced that time with a lot of reading. I only selected three shows to watch religiously. This is a big deal for me because I used to watch a lot TV! I'm talking close to 20 shows haha.

Lesson six: Take care of your body. Just because you are ambitious doesn't mean you shouldn't treat your body right.

I started doing research on podcasting and during one of the weeks of my research, one of the internet entrepreneurs I follow religiously Sean Malarkey announced he was partnering up with Kris Gilbertson for a webinar to discuss podcasting and I knew I had to attend. I attended and immediately enrolled in Kris's Podcast school. This of course would take another chunk out of my day but I knew it was worth it.

I should pause here and say that at no time was I feeling over worked and there are are a couple of reasons why. I loved what I was doing so it didn't feel like work and I was taking care of my body by eating right and working out.

Lesson seven: It's very important to be passionate about what you are doing you often feel more productive.

Along the way I decide it would be fun to write another book. This time a fictional book about a character that would loosely have elements of myself. Why? because I like writing and I always wanted to be a published author so why not. I also decided that it was best to start rebranding my website and shift my focus to talking more about third culture things.

Goal six: Write a fiction book

Goal seven: Rebrand my website

So there you have it seven goals and four months to complete them?! How would I accomplish all this. I had to learn how to delegate and multi task even more than I could.

To delegate I started using Fiverr for almost everything that I did not need to do myself. Fiverr essentially brings together a network of freelancers that can do almost anything so I used Fiverr for aspects on my podcast I was not good at so the artwork, intro & outro, editing and some research for topics I discussed in the summer.

While things were working on Fiverr, I was focusing on other things like writing books and networking online. By the time some of the work was done on Fiverr, I had done about five to six things simultaneously. So how did I do?

Goal 1: Here's the eBook-So far it has introduced me to a lot of people who share similar experiences with me and I have made new friends because a lot of people identify with what I wrote. (Way more than what I was hoping for)

Goal 2: Here's the podcast. I am probably most excited about this because I got the most resistance from this and so far it has ranked at one point as the number one podcast in my category and overall is doing well on iTunes

Goal 3: The inaugural career week just wrapped last week and it ended up being a success. The students liked it and I learned a lot about leadership and event planning.

Goal 4: I applied lessons I learned from media relations during my summer internship to get published in an amazing travel magazine. You can read the article here.

Goal 5: My goal of building lean muscle and becoming more defined was met and surpassed!

Goal 6: I just submitted the first draft of my first fiction book to a publisher

Goal 7: You are reading this blog post on my rebranded site.

I decided to write this because I believe in the power of the human spirit. I wholeheartedly if we put in the work ethic, discipline, and time while seeking mentorship we will be able to achieve our dreams. Some days will be long and hard but your passion will fuel you to where you need to be. Being realistic keeps you average. The wright brothers decided to build a plane that defied gravity. NOT REALISTIC! but now we have all sorts of planes and it is the safest form of travel. Thomas Edison developed the light bulb after many failures. NOT REALISTIC! And now a lot of people can't imagine living without electricity. 

Over the summer I came up with my mission statement: "Use Your Difference To Make A Difference" and now I live by that everyday.

What are your dreams? What are your ambitions? Write them down and go do it! Share your goals and aspirations I want to hear!

Become an Effective Cross-Cultural Communicator & Connector

Interview With Best Selling Nigerian-Canadian Author Yahaya Baruwa

Today's interview is with Yahaya Baruwa who is one of North America's youngest bestselling author. He is originally from Nigeria but is now based in Canada.

Tayo Rockson: Can you talk to us about your background and childhood?

Yahaya Baruwa: Yes sure! I was born and raised in northern Nigeria. Kano state to be specific but I immigrated along with my family to Toronto, Canada at the age of 12 to pursue greater opportunities both academically and career-wise. Also, I am one of 8 siblings. 

TR: Eight?! Wow that's a big family.

YB: Haha Yes indeed.

TR: You have a very inspiring story can you tell me about a time when you were challenged and how you overcame it?

YB: Absolutely! I was challenged (indirectly) in 2012 by a famous internet marketer when I first became a published author. He basically said that without much authority that, “one can not succeed financially as an author.” This was upsetting to me because as you can imagine I was upset to have heard that. It can be quite discouraging to hear someone cast doubts on your vision. Fortunately though, I was not deterred. I said to myself that yes he is a famous internet marketer and I respect him for being good at what he does. However, I will not heed his advice on something as unfamiliar for him as becoming a financially successful author.

I overcame this by ignoring his comments and began instead to dedicate full attention towards my book. I worked hard and kept a close mind to nay-sayers who said negatively about achieving success in the publishing world. Today, I have not achieved my goal of selling 1 million copies of my novel, nor have I become a millionaire yet, but I am getting closer everyday. I have continued to achieve above average financial success while making a positive impact in the lives of thousands of readers every year and that's really important to me.

I had a vision to touch, move and inspire 1 million readers with the courage to take the first step towards achieving their positive goals in life, and in the process sell 1 million copies of my novel, Struggles of a Dreamer: the Battle between a Dream and Tradition.  And as a personal reward of having served my readers, I would achieve my personal goal of becoming a self-made millionaire - to improve the quality of life for my family and community.

TR: That's amazing! Speaking of impact what type of impact do you see immigrants making in the future?

YB: Hmmm. Well from my personal experience, Immigrants can impact their new country both economically and socially. These men and women arrive from their former countries, not only with their pieces of luggage but with hope and a burning desire to make their sacrifices of leaving everything they know, behind worth it. They usually have an intense work ethic driven by an ambition and if channeled in the right way, this can bring about economic benefits due to increased production in quality, labour and service. I can see them being entrepreneurs. Also from a social perspective, the new country benefits from a diversity that enriches its national identity.

TR: OK. Let's talk about your book. What is it about?

YB: My novel Struggles of a Dreamer: the Battle between a dream and tradition is about the stories of Tunde, a beggar on the streets of New York City, and Toku’te, the son of a farmer in a faraway land. The two stories are woven together in a charming tale full of intriguing characters and adventure. You will encounter the struggles of a dreamer as he faces the challenges of the limiting boundaries of his tradition. You will laugh, cry, experience romance, be frightened, and be held in suspense as you find out how Toku’te manages to remain afloat in a world that requires everyone to fit the same mold.

TR: Spoken like a true writer!

YB: Haha I try.

TR: So what inspired you to write the book?

YB: The book was inspired by a misunderstanding that I had with my father. As a second year student at York University, I decided to write a book as a challenge. For me it was to achieve a goal I had set for myself which is to like I said earlier touch, move and inspire 1 million readers with the courage to achieve their positive goal(s) in life or goals they have procrastinated on. However, my father urged me to focus on school and not be distracted. I took that to mean “do not pursue your dream of writing a book.” As a result, I became angry and decided to write the book in secret. This misunderstanding inspired with the theme of the novel. Fortunately, the relationship with my father has flourished as a result of writing and publishing my novel.

TR: Now this book led to your business. Can you talk about that also?

YB: The novel has made me a hybrid of both an author and business man. Unlike traditionally published authors who have a publisher or publishers, I established my own publishing company, Tapestry House Publishing. Hence, not only do I write my novels, I also lead the production, distribution and marketing of my novels.

**Note: Struggles of a Dreamer is a 3-part book series with part-2 scheduled for release in early 2015.

TR: That's impressive! You touched on something I agree with there. The idea that we all need to pursue our dreams. Why do you think it is important for us to be dreamers?

YB: It is really important to be a dreamer. Think about it. Nothing in the world today was accomplished without someone having dreamt of it first. This is the only way that the seemingly impossible can become possible. But I also strongly believe that in addition to being a dreamer, one must be active and take action. A dream without doing anything to realize it is just that- a dream. In fact it is nothing but a wish. To quench your thirst, you must stand up and go to the tap and get water, it is a waste of time to wait for the water to come to you.

TR: Love it! What is one quote you live by?

YB: “Keep going no matter what.” - Reginald F Lewis

TR: If you could give 11 year old you any piece of advice what would it be?

YB:  I'll use a Warren Buffett quote to answer that question. More of a paraphrase really. Find a really big hill, gather as many snow flakes as you can, make a snow ball and start rolling it down the hill. Your time is finite, the earlier your start, the bigger your snowball

TR: Deep! On that note i'll conclude the interview and thank you for your time today. how can people reach you?

YB: Thank you for this opportunity Tayo and people can reach out to me on Twitter, LinkedIn, my website, or via email on ybaruwa@yahaya.ca.

Become an Effective Cross-Cultural Communicator & Connector