In this episode Annie
and I talk about
Annie Gichuru didn’t start out intending to become a DEI specialist focusing on supporting coaches and online service providers to lead racially inclusive businesses. However, Annie’s rich and diverse lived and learned experience was, in many ways, leading her to this exact opportunity.
Having moved from Kenya to Australia to study close to two decades ago Annie found herself in situations she had never experienced in her home country. Having called Australia home for a long time now, she has drawn on her wisdom and determination for more equity in the world to lead high-quality programs and experiences as a phenomenal coach.
We talk about Annie’s call to work in the DEI space, her life experiences, and why she is now committed to this work in a big way. We also talk through my experience of learning with Annie in a number of ways over the last couple of years, including in Annie’s signature program Represented.
Meet guest Annie Gichuru, DEI Coach
Annie Gichuru is a leading racial equity coach & consultant for online entrepreneurs. During the past two years she has helped many prominent online business leaders build intentionally inclusive businesses – the most notable of which is her partnership with
The Beautiful You Coaching Academy, where she supports trainees and emerging coaches.
She is deeply passionate about representation through a racial justice lens, and combines her experience as an internationally certified life coach, her love of storytelling, and her extensive career as a Human Resource specialist to deliver REPRESENTED – a transformational online program, which has been described as ‘a
must for all business owners who are ready to build a racially diverse, inclusive and equitable business’.
Annie’s grace, gentle spirit and passion for a racially equitable world is setting her apart in the coaching and personal development industry as a compassionate educator with an incredible space holding ability.
Annie has called Australia home for more than 20 years, having relocated from Kenya as an international student.
Connect with Annie here
She Lead She Thrives, the home of inspired conversations, practical and creative wisdom, expansive leadership and business insights, abundant Bragaudacious moments of celebration and useful info you can actually do something with.
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From solo shows to guests you’ll definitely want more from, there’s something for every ambitious ingenious soul.
I’m Shannon Dunn, a true OG of the business coaching space, with an obsession with thriving. You are so welcome here. Let’s dive into today’s episode.
Visit ThriveFactorCo.com/links for all the latest news and offers.
Welcome, everyone, and thank you so much for tuning in. I’m Shannon Dunn host here the She Leads She Thrives podcast, and I’m back with a brand new guest. So Annie and I have known each other I don’t even know how long Annie doesn’t matter. We’ve known each other for some time now in Annie used to live on the West Coast of Australia where I am. And that’s how we first met in some business networking. When as I’ve said this recently with something else, Annie was doing a whole different thing then.
So you’ve had such a big shift and change that I remember being instantly connected to you. And I know you were doing a lot of storytelling, and just the way that you were, you know, it was just this genuine captivating energy around you at that time. And I was like, I want to know more about this woman, and then you’ve all gone and done a whole change. And I’m going to ask you specifically to share about that. And then, you know, my relationship with Annie has deepened in the last one, probably 18 months as I started to take some of her programs and her courses. And I’ve just recently not long ago finished her amazing signature program called Represented. And I’m going to let Annie tell you more about that.
But my experience was such a positive uplifting one. And I know you know, Uplifting Studios is the brand that you have been going by and in evolution, which is very exciting. And I have loved Annie’s work so much that I invited her to come in to be the DEI specialist in relation to leading a racially inclusive business for our Thrive Factor community. So we’ve just had our first masterclass recently, and that went swimmingly. And it was such a fabulous thing. So Annie a huge welcome to you beautiful woman, please tell us a little bit more about you. What else do you want to add kind of from a Who is Annie perspective before we get into some awesome questions for today.
Annie Gichuru 03:41
Firstly, thank you so much for having me, it is a joy to be in conversation with you again. We over the last few months or so we’ve just had so many conversations. And so it is such a pleasure to be here and to talk about this important work.
Annie Gichuru 03:58
There are not many leaders who are leading the way in this way, Shannon, in terms of inclusive leadership, it’s something that has been a hot topic as we know since you know 2020 when we there was sort of like a resurgence on you know, Black Lives Matter and a lot of white people in particular becoming very aware of the you know, just the the differences that exist and the lack of in you know the inequities as well. And so for us to be doing this work from a personal but also a professional or business perspective is such an important thing as human beings.
Annie Gichuru 04:42
And you actually don’t realise the impact that it is going to have, and is necessary, but it’s such a key ingredient to who we are as human beings to understand this work and to be part of this work. If we are going to truly have an impactful difference and build legacy, because I know you’re big on legacy Shannon.
One of my favorite words.
Annie Gichuru 05:06
This is legacy work. This is legacy building work. And it is necessary for each and every one of us in business.
Yeah, I so agree. A million questions, you know, jumped to mind just with that little piece that you shared there. But just to go back to as you said, in 2020, it felt like, there was almost like an a fresh or a brand new awakening for so many people. And yeah, as you said, particularly white people around this, such a key topic of, you know, diversity, equity, and inclusivity from a racial perspective, which is I know what we’re going to talk about today.
So I’m grateful for the opportunity to have seen things differently, to do the learning I’ve done with you, the learning I’ve done with others, the kind of often shocking, learning, and unlearning I’ve done in some of the books that I’ve listened to that were recommended by you and the podcasts and things, and so many things. But as I’ve kind of a first question for though, today, I’d love to get you to share how you ended up doing this work, because I have, I have loved when you shared that it wasn’t something that you felt, you know, like you necessarily jumped in and went “I’m doing this, like I’m all in” it was, there was some hesitation. So I’d love to hear a little bit about the story about how you got to be where you are Annie and doing this such incredible, as you said important work.
Annie Gichuru 06:31
There was a lot of hesitation, because I don’t think l said, “well, I’m going to talk about racial equity matters and that’s what I want to be known for and those are the difficult, uncomfortable conversations I want to be having with predominantly white people”. I don’t think there’s any black person who has that kind of a dream. No, I feel like because I’ve alled Australia home for over 20 years. I feel like every single thing that I have gone through was preparing me for this moment, Shannon.
Oh, I just got goosebumps when you said that.
Annie Gichuru 07:11
Because I came here as an international student from Kenya. I was here to do a three year degree and head on back home, that was the plan. But things changed. I fell in love with this country. And I wanted to stay. I really, really did want to stay despite the subtle, you know, subtleness of experiencing racial aggression and lack of opportunities and just differences from a race perspective.
Annie Gichuru 07:46
Despite that, I still wanted to stay. And, you know, finishing my studies in university, doing a Master’s degree, getting into corporate, doing HR, being part of diversity and inclusion projects, but very much from a gender and disability perspective. And then becoming a life coach and really very much wanting to support migrant women of colour, who I felt very, very connected to and wanted to help particularly within the corporate spaces, having been in human resources and wanting them to unshackle their self limiting beliefs to, you know, grow and build a career that they’re proud of and be in positions of leadership things that we often do not see.
Annie Gichuru 08:36
And being here in Australia being so multicultural, yet not seeing that representation when it comes to leadership, business ownership, when it comes to influence and power. We’re not seeing that representation from a race perspective. And also, I guess, becoming a mother, you know, I’m a mother of two incredible human beings, and sharing stories. And I think that’s where we connected first and foremost, when I was doing documentaries, and sharing good news stories. And I just felt drawn to share our stories of migrant people of colour who are rising, because ours has often been a story that has been told that is has merged so much with the lack of “you’re here because you need a hand up, you’re here because you’ve come from a continent that is so impoverished, you know, with illness with disease with lack of poverty, and so you’re here to seek assistance”.
Annie Gichuru 09:36
And whilst that narrative does exist, and it is true, it is not the only one. And so I felt very much called to share our stories of rising of our stories of success stories of how we are contributing to the Australian in economy, making a difference and slowly by slowly kind of led me into you know, diversity, equity and inclusion work which I was doing incorporating a different way but really seeing the gap being in masterminds and seeing, you know, I’m the only black person in that mastermind and seeing where is the racial representation.
Annie Gichuru 10:11
And then, of course, through the murder of George Floyd, really, that, for me was the catalyst. That was when I felt I cannot be silent anymore. I know I have a skill as a coach. And I have so many people I am connected with who are business owners, coaches, who have no clue about racial inclusivity. And that is an area that I can speak to, that is a gap in our industry. And I would like to speak to that. And I’d like to help them understand how they can do better and build businesses that actually lead to sustainability and profitability. Because when you begin to serve people of color, who are now classified as a global majority, and when you think about it logically, when you look at, you know, countries like China and India that have billions of people, you’re talking about 1.5 billion people in each of the countries. And then by rankings, when you look at the most populated countries in the world, you know, you’ve got Nigeria, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mexico, America is there, and Russia is there.
Annie Gichuru 11:22
But a huge amount of the top 10 are countries where people of colour come from. And so as a business owner, if you are not being inclusive, you are leaving out amassive, huge amount of people that you could potentially be serving, and really growing a business that is sustainable for years to come, that it’s profitable. But by simply having one that just looks and sounds like you being a white business, you are missing out in a big way being of service to the global majority. And so that is how I arrived at this work. But it wasn’t what I ever thought or saw myself doing
But, as you said any right at the beginning of sharing that. And thank you for sharing that, that. It’s like your entire life has been moving towards you doing what you’re doing, even though you didn’t necessarily see that that was the path that was going to unfold. And one of the things that I was thinking about is you know, just recently, for everyone who’s listening, I have had the opportunity to introduce Annie to her Thrive Factor Archetypes, and she has three.
And the work you’re doing now, having taken in the lived and learned experience that you’ve had from your lifetime, up until this point. And even if we think back to your stories of your family, your ancestral stories and all of those things, your Archetypes are such a beautiful combination for you to be expressing your truth you with the Mediator Diplomat. And if it feels like that you got to that place where as you said, you could not be silent any longer.
Yes, yeah, your Mentor Teacher, you tapped into the wisdom that lived and learned experience and you as I said, I have skills, I have gifts, I have a way to work with people that is going to be important and of value.
And you’re Inspirer Believer, and I love when I see you get your coach on because that’s pretty much like me the Inspirer Believer like get out, you know virtual pom poms out and cheer everybody on through whatever it is that they’re experiencing. That was like such a perfect combination of Archetypes. And the way that you’re expressing them without even having known them. And this is one of the magics things of the Archetypes is that you just you listened to your soul if you like, you listened to your wisdom, you listened to the stories of your ancestors, and you reflected on the world and went, This is what I’m going to do.
Annie Gichuru 13:45
Yeah, we are. I think there reaches a point in your life, you know, now I mean, well into my 40s. And there’s just a tugging on your heart. And it just, it tugs on you so hard that you you have to listen at some point, you just have to listen and honor yourself in that way. And I think for me, one of the biggest drivers, you know, obviously my children being a huge, huge reason why I do what I do.
Annie Gichuru 14:13
But the thought of this life coming to an end and never ever having done anything of significance of impact of really something that kind of pushed the dial or moved the needle forward in work that I am absolutely passionate about that I know I can impact and make a difference. I think for me when I think of legacy when I think of when all this is said and done. What difference will I have made? Will my existence have made a difference? Will the purpose in which I was created for have come to fruition or do they just come and coast and kind of leave? And that for me – that is not an option.
Yeah, I’m so glad it’s not an option. I understand where you’re coming from and I find that there’s a percentage of the world no matter where we’re talking about across the world where there are people that are going to be, you know, say that they’re very happy, just coasting along, doing whatever happens, you know, just letting you know things unfold. And there, those of us that are ambitious, have a different view, have a different drive and connection to purpose. And as you said, Impact and legacy.
And, you know, the fact that you were able to listen to what was going on in your heart, I’m sure in your head in your whole body, and follow those nudges, and end up where you are now. So let’s get into some of the bits and pieces about DEI because there’s so much we can talk about, and we won’t cover. I think we’ll just scratch the surface today. But with my last podcast, I have often got guests back again to do another episode. So watch this space, and we’ll might be doing another one in a near future.
So when it comes to DEI work, and if I speak from the space of being a white woman, yeah. And having conversations with my white colleagues, friends, mentors, people I follow in the business world, there is a lot of fear and uncertainty about DEI work from a racial perspective, where do I start? And what happens because I’m going to get it wrong. And I don’t want to get it wrong. So I’ll just stay quiet. And I won’t do anything, which I know was not okay for me. And I’ve certainly had friends and people that I know, say to me, why are you doing this stuff? Like you’re curious, because I’ve been very open about the learning I’ve done with you the my own growth, my own curiosity, and have had some interesting conversations and say, use the word interesting, but a lot of curiosity, but not with a necessarily a welcoming.
So, you know, when people are in that space of fear and unsure about what to do, where do we start? You know, what is the starting point? Because there’s imagine there’s lots of different options. But, you know, when someone comes to and says Annie, I feel like I want to do something, but the fear is overwhelming me. I don’t know where to what to do.
Annie Gichuru 17:11
You know, fear is a huge barrier to getting into racial equity work. Fear is just the ingredient that people do not get past, you know, I’d rather be silent and say the wrong thing. Or I just don’t want to be called out we’re living in a time where you know, cancel culture is rampant. And so the, the thought of being canceled , whatever the case is, is so it’s such a scary thought that people just do not dive into this work.
Annie Gichuru 17:44
And I think one of the best places to begin is to find out how do you learn? How do you enjoy to get information? Are you somebody who listens to podcasts? Are you somebody who is huge on reading books? Are you someone who enjoys movies, documentaries? Find out how do I love to receive information. That’s the first step. And once you find out how you love to receive information and educate yourself, tap into that.
Annie Gichuru 18:17
You see, for me, as somebody in business, I love to listen to business podcasts, because that’s how I keep myself motivated. That’s how I learn different ways of how people have been successful, and also the mistakes that they have made. And just learning through their journey. And one of the other things I do is also incorporate listening to DEI podcasts, you know, process through podcasts on anti-racism podcast on you know, how can we be more inclusive, and that’s a way to keep myself, even though I’m an educator and a coach in this space, keep myself up to speed and being part of the conversation as I am listening. And so it becomes a really sustainable way to get information.
Annie Gichuru 19:01
I’m doing it in the privacy of my own space, and in my own home, or wherever the spaces I’m occupying. And it’s free to begin with. I’m not paying for money and putting myself out there. It is so accessible. So I think it is first just being curious enough to dive in and not allow what you know, what society tells us is right and wrong. But following that tugging, you know that tugging that I spoke to earlier, following that tug may something Why do I keep thinking about this? I’m a business owner. This is something I need to be across about and it’s a non-negotiable so where can I begin? So it’s knowing how do I like to receive information? How do I like to learn? How can I tap into that?
Annie Gichuru 19:49
And then once you begin to get your groove into that once you begin to familiarize yourself on some of the differences that concept maybe reading a book watching a documentary, you will be going to have more of a deeper interest in this. And if you’re an invested business owner, at least you will want to, I’m not just going to read one book, I’m not just going to watch one documentary, this is work that I’d like to keep growing in.
Annie Gichuru 20:14
How can I build a business that is inclusive, that is welcoming that when people of colour step in, they feel that they are part of the family, they are part of the community that I have built. And you cannot do that if you are not spending time in communities where this is being fostered. And also learning from somebody that you respect somebody that you admire somebody who is credible, that is how you begin again, to move the needle to move forward in your work. So it might be scary in the beginning, but you’ve got to make a decision and the starting step is really such a place of safety, if I can say that, because you’re doing it within your own space that you’re familiar with.
I think that’s a very appropriate word to use Annie. And I know for me, aside from listening to podcasts, and you know, following people like yourself, being very intentional about who I was following and where they were based in the world also, so that I was getting a voice from different parts of the world. And I know one of the things I love to read books, but I often find that listening to audiobooks is far more efficient these days. But I also was conscious about who I was choosing as authors.
Annie Gichuru 20:14
And that is where investing in different things like programs or working with a DEI coach really comes in handy. Because the difference between you just receiving that information via the source that you have chosen that works for you, is that it’s limiting. You cannot ask questions when you encounter certain things, and you’re like, why am I feeling this way? Why do I have this reaction? What’s happening to me? Or how do I push past certain things? This is not a priority in my life, in that I do not encounter racial issues per se. How can I make this a priority? How can I stay in the work? How can I stay consistent?
So I was choosing, you know, from a business and inspiration perspective, authors that were women of colour, because I preferred generally, most of the books that I engage with are written by female authors. Not exclusively, but majority of the time. But I also found that by listening to the audio books by those authors, particularly if they’ve narrated them themselves, I was also getting to hear literally a different voice because of their cultural background in their accents. And that, for me was also part of the engagement and listening to the way things were explained and the stories that were shared. So all of that was a great starting point.
Annie Gichuru 22:44
So you just said that you were able to hear different voices, different ways in which things are taught and explained to you in a different way. And that’s what that’s a beauty in diversity. That’s a beauty in listening to different voices that are different from us. Because then you’re able to hear the story in a different way. It’s not just about you, because we live in societies where whiteness has been centered so much. So you do not know any different. And that’s how the system has been built. It’s been built that way. So you have no clue you do not know the difference. And then so when you’re hearing diverse voices, when you’re hearing voices of people of colour, speak and teach and educate or even storytelling that can just be purely from, you know, a fiction perspective. You’re hearing it very differently. When you go to the movies and watch Viola Davis in The Woman King, you know just seeing a different face, because its not been normalized to us.
And so if I’d read those books that I refer to, and I have a number that come to mind, I would have been reading that with my white woman voice and my lived and learned experience. And that too, also, to me felt like it wasn’t honoring the author. But at the same time I said I was more drawn to those but they were actually narrated by the author of the work more than if there was somebody else that was bought in to narrate them. I wanted to hear that individuals actually wanted to hear their voice so it’s it’s such a great place to start.
Moving on, it’s like where do we go next? And I feel like one of the things that was most pivotal for me to connect with you in a deeper way was some time ago now maybe even two years ago Annie at this point, where I did your masterclass on being an ally, so allyship. Ah, you kind of got the curiosity that I already innately have just expanded in a different way and made me more conscious and intentional about how I was considering what how I was showing up and it wasn’t that I that was my pivotal moment to decide I wanted to do more of this work. I already knew that. But it definitely helped me to connect with you as a teacher as well. But I think for a lot of people, particularly white people, we don’t know what it means to be an ally for people of colour, a true ally, like, what does allyship even mean? Yeah. So, you know, let’s start there, if that kind of our next topic to talk about,
Annie Gichuru 25:14
You know, yeah, I do remember that masterclass, Allyship in Action, it was called, and, you know, being an ally put very, very simply, is just standing in solidarity with people of colour, you know, it is acknowledging that you do come from an empowered group in so you are using whatever privilege that you have to support a group that doesn’t have that kind of power or privilege, so to speak. And so that is what allyship is.
Annie Gichuru 25:51
But when we’re in spaces that tell us all that is not an ally, or you shouldn’t even be calling yourself an ally, we need an accomplice, or we need an agitator, or we need a co conspirator, then you just get so confused, because there are different people telling you what you should be. And there’s almost this, this, this, you’re no better or like how dare you, or have these are the mistakes that you keep making.
Annie Gichuru 25:51
But allyship is not a linear journey. It’s not a journey where you just keep going up and up and up and up and up. And you’re you’re just this gold star ally you know. Allyship, comes in different forms in that sometimes you might speak up and make a mistake and say the wrong thing. But it is permission to make mistakes come as you are messy, but make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. And I think that is what, when it comes to how I teach and how I deliver this work in racial equity, is allowing white women predominantly because that is who I support predominantly, to come as they are. People who are hungry to do to better, people who really want to make a difference. And giving them permission to make mistakes. Yes, you said that it was inappropriate. Now, you know, now you do better.
Annie Gichuru 26:49
And so being an ally is such a journey of ups and downs. And it is also ensuring that you surround yourself with a community. This is not work we can do individually. This is not work where you take a book and you read or an audio book and you listen in isolation, and you just go about your business. This is like business how we are together, we met at a networking function, you know, and we are there to grow. We are there to rub shoulders with others who are doing this work, this business so that we can encourage each other.
Annie Gichuru 27:15
And whilst that is coming from a place of a lot of exhaustion, and a lot of seeing opportunities not very much available for people of colour, I feel that it can be a barrier to the journey, it can be a barrier, because then guilt gets in the way, judgment gets in the way, shame gets in the way. And once those check in, there is just no room for racial equity work because it just gets in the way, there is no way for you to just be uncomfortable doing this work or even get into the work because of the fear of what might happen or what you might get yourself into.
Annie Gichuru 27:57
Imagine doing business on your own. Imagine from the moment you began, you have been in your home office alone. And it is just not a doable journey. And so for this to be sustainable, this finding others you know, I like to say like-heartened, you know, people in business who are aspiring to do the same thing, who their values align with yours in that they want to see that kind of racial inclusion.
Annie Gichuru 28:52
And so being an ally is also something that is not glamorous, it is something that comes at a cost, it will cost you. It’ll cost you clients, it will cost you money, it will cost you potential status in that maybe you’ve missed opportunities that could have helped you promote your business because it is not in alignment with others who see this work as a barrier. See, this work as it shouldn’t be centered, or do not have any understanding or do not want to partake in this work. And so it’ll come at a cost. And it is understanding well, where do I draw the line?
Annie Gichuru 29:28
Where are my values? What will drive me as a human being my values? And so how will I stand up for this work? How will I show up for this work? And so allyship is a journey. And the thing to understand and a lot of what a lot of people don’t get when they arrive into this work is that this is a lifelong journey. You will never reach a point where you’ve ticked all the boxes or that you’re done. You know I’ve read X books and I’ve done this course. It is an ongoing journey, just like business the way you might have been in business for 20 years, but you keep growing because things that constant evolution.
Evolution is definitely the word that was coming to mind listening to what you were sharing there, Annie. And I think there has been so many things in our lives, particularly around this space of, you know, diversity, equity, and inclusivity. From a racial perspective, as you said, you mentioned before, you know, there’s a gender perspective, there’s a disability perspective, there’s age perspective as well looking at there’s so many different ways, but we’re, you know, very much focusing on a racial perspective.
But there’s been too many, and I shared this with you in Represented, parts of our lives where it has been just a tick a box. And I remember so many different experiences in my particularly my work in my career, where there was tick a box kind of experiences, and I knew it wasn’t kind of right, but I didn’t not know what to do about it. But I think that was kind of all the seeds being planted, you know, and based on my travels and things that I know, I’ve shared some stories with you around, that then the time was finally right, where I was like, we’re gonna do this differently. And not let fear not let overwhelm not letting knowing not knowing what to do and how to do it. But just again, reaching out finding the right people to learn from and as you said, and in community, the community aspect is so key because being in an evolution, it’s like a revolution, you know, it’s not a, it’s not a thing you want to ever do solo. It’s so much better, when you are supported, and supported in a way where I’d love to your talk a little bit about this, where you called in, not called out.
And that was one thing I know, I’ve shared this with you before that really one of many things about represented that I love from your teaching was around that whole notion of calling in, and not calling out. And I know that from my experience observing what was happening, particularly around everything with 2020, and you know, the rise of the Black Lives Matter and the kind of tokenism and things that was going on. Feeling also, like I wasn’t really sure what to do with the calling out that I was observing. And I can unpack my feelings and all that about it and explore that and I’ve done more of that with you. But even still, it’s like wait a second, this isn’t, the calling out and the anger and the aggression and I can do my best to understand where it comes from. The calling in, there’s so much more empowering and useful. Tell us a little bit about what that is. Because there I’m sure there are people listening, what do you mean calling in?
Annie Gichuru 32:34
Yes, calling in. So obviously, I think we most of us know what calling out is? It is when you really and I’ll say this there is a place for calling out there is it’s not to say that there is no place for calling out there are people who are beyond calling in. You know, there are people who you’re just like, we’ll just call this out because this is repeated harmful, inappropriate behavior, and it ought to be called out.
Annie Gichuru 33:04
But I think the calling out has really taken a toll on this work. Because it is done in such a way that maked somebody feel like you ought to have known better. When really, you’re assuming that what you know, as a person, the person who you’re calling out, you’re assuming they know what you know. So when you come in and you say shame on you, how could you that, that is so inappropriate, you shouldn’t be using those words, and that is racist or whatever, you’re assuming that that person has the same education and the same awareness, level of awareness that you have and it’s because potentially you’ve been reading, you’ve been engaging in this work. And so you know that and so you’re calling out in a very aggressive manner.
Annie Gichuru 33:55
And what that does to the person who has been called out is that they become defensive. When somebody says something that you know is not true to your character. What do you do? – you get into defense mode, and you’re like, Hey, hang on, what are you talking about Shannon, that is not me, you do not understand I am this and the other. And then what that then does is when you call out somebody and you’re aggressive in that kind of way, it doesn’t give them the opportunity to take accountability. And when somebody does take accountability, that is when we’re able to see potential for change.
Annie Gichuru 34:29
So if I approach somebody and I say, hey, you know what you said, I don’t know if you realize this, but this is the impact that it has. This is what it means and being the person that I know you to be, I know that you’re a person of integrity, I know that you’re a person who values connection and relationships and so what you’ve said there just didn’t add up to the person that I know you to be.
Annie Gichuru 34:56
So listen how you’re calling them to their higher self. You’re speaking of who you know them to be, you’re not coming in and telling that Uncle Hey, Uncle such as you are so racist. That’s why this family is this and the other. No, you are appealing to their higher self. And what that does Shannon is it disarms them. And it allows them for at least a moment to think about what you’re saying, yes, they might still fight you back or go like you don’t know this, or you don’t know the other. But what you’ve done is you’ve entered this discussion with a disarming, you’re lifting them up, you’re calling them up to their highest self. And more often than not, you will find that as a way of dialogue that allows you to hear where they’re coming from. It allows them to hear where you’re coming from, and you’re able to have a conversation because I think a lot of times what happens is, the conversation is thrown out, and it becomes an argument, it becomes a back and forth where there is no progress that is being done.
There can never been any resolution or understanding or compassion and all the things that we’ve hoped for.
Annie Gichuru 35:57
Absolutely, absolutely. Even when you think as, as, as human beings as babies, when when we’re growing up, you know, we were corrected with love, at least most of the time, you know, we were, we were led through a path you’re told. And when you did something, well, it was celebrated. And then when you when you didn’t do something well, like I often use the analogy of a baby learning to walk learning to crawl, you don’t go like Ah ha, you just fell down you didn’t make that step, what is wrong with you? Can you go ahead and that there isn’t that it’s like, yay. And even though they fall down like 20-30 times, you’re still cheering them on them.
Annie Gichuru 36:38
We don’t see that as grown ups, once we grow up, when you begin to mess up, when you begin to struggle, people are just waiting and just watching. The cheering is quiet, there are not many people cheering for you. And I think when we are not in community with like-hearted people, when we’re not in community, in spaces that can lift us up and call us to our higher self. That is when we become silent. That is when we do not prioritize this work. That’s when this work becomes really hard. And people don’t understand why are you doing this work? But how can I possibly even attract a person of colour to be a client of mine or be of service to them?
Ya know, so much there. I think we need more Inspirer Believers in the world to be out there cheering for every expression of whatever anyone’s doing. Without the tags of the right or wrong or judgment or criticism. It’s like, let’s do it in a different way. So I love that. Maybe we’ve got time for just one more question. we’re going a bit longer than we will with some of the other episodes because we’ve got such gorgeous, interesting and useful and purposeful things to talk about.
And then I’ve got a few questions I’d like to ask you, I’m going to ask all of the guests. But this last question around the DEI space Annie, is around the inclusion statement or inclusion journey statement, as you call it. And I know that that was such a valuable experience for me, I recently did your workshop on that. And you know, going back and forward and investing some time with you to come to that. And my statement is on both websites, with some other and I was never not going to publish it. But just to put it out there. And again, too. It’s not perfect, but it wasn’t about being perfect. This is again about as you said, it’s about an evolution, it’s about a learning and unlearning and all the things and you know, but being able to be guided to be in that space of really connecting him with well, how did I get to be doing this piece of work for myself, for my business, for my community, for the world? To tell us about you know why it’s so important to have an inclusion statement.
Annie Gichuru 38:41
Yes, you know, having an inclusion statement, particularly for us in our coaching and personal development industry, Shannon is that it’s the great definer. It’s a great separator from everybody else, because it is your ability to articulate your values, the things that you stand for. So if somebody like me, is looking to engage with somebody like you, and I come across your inclusion statement, or your DEI journey statement, and I’ll be like, hang on, Shannon is switched on to matters of racial inclusion. And then I read a little bit of your journey.
Annie Gichuru 39:21
So it’s not just a statement of you know, I work with all people from all backgrounds. This is personal, it’s heartfelt, there is a way you’ve written it, that draws people in it talks about how did you arrive at this work? You know, what are your values? What are the things that are important to you as a human being, and then it lastly, talks about your commitment. The commitment that you’re making to this work. That separates you, you know, head and shoulders above everybody else, because it tells me the things that are important to you. And it potentially lets me know how you might hold me in this space that I come into with you and so that allows me to take a step closer to Shannon, because we are aligned from a values perspective. And it’s also a great way to weed off those who are not interested because I know I’ve done this work with clients, they’ve sent it to their mailing list. And there’s been people who’ve unsubscribed.
Annie Gichuru 40:18
And it’s a good thing when that happens, because clearly these are not people who are aligned with your values. And so having one is an absolute essential as somebody who is in business, and you’re looking to, you know, build and incorporate inclusion and equity into how you run your business and even your life.
Yeah, so much so. And I remember when you had shared that you were going to do the workshop and I was your was doing Represented with you. So I was curious, again, that seems to be my favorite word around all the learning and the work that I’m doing. And, but also having read other inclusion statements that were, you know, plastered across websites all over the world, from, you know, an individual solopreneur through to the big corporates, and they felt empty so much of the time, and I had no doubt that we were going to be doing something very different with you. But even still, I was like this again, it’s like another tick a box thing. This isn’t isn’t, isn’t okay. And then when you started to guide us through the pieces of the what are your values, begin the story. How did you get here? What is important? What is your commitment, who you’re going to keep learning from? What are you going to continue to do? It was like *sigh, this feels more an authentic expression of what’s really important.
Annie Gichuru 41:39
And when I read your journey statement, when I read your inclusion journey statement, it will be so different from somebody else’s, yes, maybe what brought to the table is the same thing. But the way it’s articulated the way it’s shared, and you’re taking people on a little bit of a journey, you’re sharing part of your stories. And as we know, stories are so much of how we connect with one another, we connect with one another through storytelling. And so you’re able to share just a little bit of your journey and how you arrived here. It allows me to see you and take a step closer to you.
It was such a valuable experience. So if anyone’s listening in, I’ve mentioned a lot of the things that any office and masterclasses, the workshops or programs. So you’re definitely going to want to connect with her. But let’s just before we wrap up officially enter, I’ve got those few questions I’d love to ask you. The first one is what role does leadership play in your life and business?
Annie Gichuru 42:35
You know, leadership has again, evolution, that word evolution, it has evolved because for me, growing up, leadership was so much more of a manly thing. It was the men who are in leadership, it was Dad, it was, you know, people who are in positions of, of political office.
Annie Gichuru 42:53
But for me, leadership now means so much to me, especially as a Mum, knowing how, for me as a human being this has really evolved from being in corporate, to being a stay at home mom for some time, to building my own business. I think leadership for me, is, you know, the ability to be in a decision making position to be empowered, leadership as well is seeing that representation. Am I seeing other women of colour in positions of, you know, empowerment, business ownership, influence and power? To me, that is what leadership is, be it at the dinner table or be it at the boardroom table or be it at your you know, your your home desk, where you’re working from food that for me is leadership and ability to make those decisions.
I love that Annie. I feel like so many of us have grown up in environments where leadership was an externalized thing, as you said, there was people that were in positions of power, no matter what they were in, and off, particularly in in our generation, even though you and I grew up in very different parts of the world. And there was the agenda aspect of that as well. There’s there was very much a male kind of position. Whereas I love that there has been such a switch to the understanding of leadership from within self leadership, which is a big part of the work that I do, which is exactly what you just talked about, then that evolution of coming to understand that and then what does that mean for me? How can I use that purposefully? So beautiful.
So the next question, I’d love to know how do you know you’re thriving?
Annie Gichuru 44:35
Oh, how do I know I’m thriving? It comes back to joy. It comes back to joy. If I am feeling joyful, at home, cooking a meal for my family – I’m thriving Shannon. If I have joy playing with my son, chasing him in the house and you know playing touch football – I am thriving. If I am in here, having a podcast interview conversation, and I have joy, I am thriving. So for me, joy is the base of it.
Yeah, that just makes me feel like a big ray of yellow sunshine. Expressing out there, so good. I have got one more question to ask you. But before I do that, I’d love to invite you to let everybody know how they can connect with you. So where’s the best place to find you online and just for anyone who’s listening, we will always include all of the contact details for our guests on the show in the show notes. And the best place to go to those will always be the thrivefactorco.com website, and links from various places that you might be listening. But Annie, where can people connect with you?
Annie Gichuru 45:48
Yeah, awesome. So good. And the last question. And I said, I’m feel like we’re coming back for another episode, I want to talk to you about scholarships, about so many other things, we’re gonna come back to that. Let’s book another time. What’s a final piece of wisdom that you’d like to share with the ambitious ingenious souls who are tuning in and on their own journey and experience of thriving, what’s something around the your topic and your lighthearted expansion in the world.
Annie Gichuru 46:33
So, scholarships, yes, I think a lot of people mistake that the only way I can be of service to people of colour is to make my pricing accessible and that is through scholarships. And whilst that is true, that making your prices accessible for marginalized groups, such as people of colour is one way to be of service to them. That doesn’t mean that every single person of colour needs a scholarship.
Annie Gichuru 47:01
So it is debunking that myth and busting it because it is not true for every single person of colour. And that is why I have felt very much led to do a scholarship immersion experience where I will be hosting a half day immersion walking you through what is a scholarship first and foremost, I think a lot of people think that they know, but I’m realizing through conversations is that they think that just discounting your price and making it accessible, that that is a scholarship It is not a scholarship, that’s a sale. That is not a scholarship.
Annie Gichuru 47:37
So differentiate the difference. And then talking about how can I create a safer space for people of colour? What is safety look like? What is safety? And I know we cannot promise safety, because “safe” is a word that means different things to different people. But how can I cultivate a space that feels safer for people of colour to come in and be themselves?
Annie Gichuru 48:01
And lastly, sustainability. How can I create not not only a successful and a safer scholarship program, but how can I create one that is sustainable, that I’m seeing the right people applying for it. And so being able to unpack that for you so that by the time we’re done, you’re able to walk away to put together a very intuitive scholarship program that will see the right people with time, apply for that. Because I won’t be here and say, you know, we’re going to do this work and immediately you put it out there people applying for it. Because again, you got to look at your networks, who are the people within your network. If you’re not having people of colour, you know, already engaging with your work, it is going to take some time before they can see those opportunities and trust you in order to take that step and step into your space. It is a process and that’s why I’m hosting that on the 30th of November.
Awesome. And this will be live. We’ll make sure it’s live before then and link to that. But yeah, that I know, for example, that there is no question in my mind that there will be a scholarship program for the Thrive Factor Coach community. That’s no question in my mind at all. But I knew that it wasn’t a thing to dive into, to just to look at examples and, you know, mash something together.
Annie Gichuru 49:17
Absolutely, the best thing you can do is hold yourself back from creating something, you’d rather be doing things in a different way. Of being inclusive before you can create one that potentially causes harm, and you don’t even know it is but it does. Just hold off until you’re better educated, you’re better informed so you can put in something that you’re so proud of that is values aligned and that is calling in. By the way, not just people of color, but is attracting even paying clients who are like-hearted who are like because of the scholarship program I saw you put together and how you articulated it. I want to work with somebody who has values like that. And here I am and I’m willing to pay fully for your service just because of the values you displayed to me.
All of this is so important but to get the pieces coming together in their right time, not them about being right or wrong but their right time. So I love it any thank you so much I knew we’d have an amazing conversation. I’m so excited and Annie was one of the first people on my list to reach out to to say come and be a guest and your beautiful voice note your enthusiasm and excitement about the fact I was launching a podcast and I said its actually my third but that’s okay. It’s a beautiful thing to respond, like to to hear.
And it’s been such a joy to have so much enthusiasm from so many people around the world. And one of my big goals is to share the voices of women from around the world on this podcast. And you know, our first six or eight guests, I think we have lined up come from five or six different countries, and many of them like you are living in one country, but are from somewhere else. So we’re really you know, bringing the global voice together which is, is so important.
So thank you so much for being here. I look forward to sharing you and sharing all of the ways to people can connect with you, when we go live with this conversation. And to our listeners, thank you for tuning in and listening to Annie and I chat today. If you have even the smallest inkling of being intrigued about what Annie’s doing. Follow that! I think we talked about it enough today about follow your instincts, follow your gut, follow your heart, you know, go and reach out to somebody who as I said I can vouch for is definitely walking her talk, practicing what you preach and you teach in such an authentic way. And I remember one word that stood out for me during Represented you talked about doing things with grace and you’re 100% live that ethos. I have lived that experience myself.
So thank you beautiful woman for being here with me today and for being such an important part in my Thrive Factor Coach community now as well. And listeners, thank you, but be sure to you to follow us to go on to rate the show to share it with everybody, whether it’s one episode or the whole podcast.
The more that we can get our voices out there and we can you know share the conversations that are being had around the world the better that we will all be, snd that to me as a part of that ripple of thriving you know, once we just drop that you know, the stone, the idea, the seed, the inspiration, and just let it ripple out into the world but it takes us to to share with each other to do that in such an empowering beautiful way. Thank you again, Annie. Thank you everyone for listening in. I look forward to being back with another episode very soon. Have a beautiful day. Bye.
Thanks for tuning into today’s episode. You are so valued and appreciated.
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