The words we use, create the world we live in! Today, Robyn Stratton-Berkessel will explain exactly how the stories we construct can have a major impact on how our lives unfold.
Robyn is an author, speaker, coach, podcast host, app developer and workshop designer & facilitator. Her specialty is Appreciative Inquiry and other strength-based, positive methodologies that ignite transformational experiences.
As a positivity strategist, her mission is to enable people, whoever they are, to elevate and amplify the co-creative capacity in their organizations and communities, so that everyone feels empowered as co-creators of their own futures.
This in-person conversation between Robyn and Jon Berghoff will help you gain a deeper appreciation for yourself and the world around you. Ready to re-write your story and start living a life with more purpose, meaning and fulfillment?
- Robyn explains what it means to be a Positivity Strategist.
- The power of Social Constructionism and how you can use it to co-create a better future!
- The importance of savoring nature and the impact it can have on your success.
- How clarifying your vision in all aspects of life can help you achieve any goal!
- The value of calculating your positivity ratio.
- The practice of loving-kindness meditation.
- Discover the #1 determinant of high-performing teams.
- Tips to overcome the fear associated with producing and publishing content.
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Jon: Achieve Your Goals Podcast community, it’s me, Jon Berghoff. This is a first. I am here with Robyn Stratton-Berkessel. You want to say hi, Robyn?
Robyn: Hi, everybody. This is Robyn Stratton-Berkessel.
Jon: And here’s what’s great. So, Robyn and I are sitting on a couch and we’re at Case Western Reserve University. We just finished putting on the Fourth Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit and what that event is all about, that’ll be a story for another time. I’ll do another episode. I have the privilege of hosting it and designing it and it was a ton of fun but what’s really cool about it, one of the things, is that I have individuals who I have been a follower of, a fan of, a learner from who were at this event in the audience for the last three days and Robyn was one of them. I’m a huge fan, Robyn, of your Positivity Strategist Podcast. So, all of you listeners to Achieve Your Goals Podcast, you’ve got to go check out Positivity Strategist. You’ll love it. I’m a huge fan of that podcast so I can’t wait to hear what you think. And I just sat Robyn down. She has this fancy equipment so we’re looking at this equipment here and it looks like some sort of space-age future device. But we’re going to talk about – I’m going to ask Robyn about how she got to be the Positivity Strategist and maybe what are some of your cool wild experiences have been since you’ve started that, people you’ve met, conversations you’ve had, lessons you’ve learned. Where do you want to start?
Robyn: Oh, my goodness. Well, thank you. I am just so honored to be here in when Jon said that he had listened to my podcast show, I was totally flattered. I never know. There’s a saying that Dewitt Jones says in his beautiful video, Celebrate What’s Right with the World. Do you know that video?
Robyn: And he’s interviewing an Irish woman and he asks her, and she’s a weaver. I know I’m not answering your question yet but this leads into it and she’s a beautiful weaver. He thinks he’s being very smart and he says to her, “Oh, what do you think about when you weave?” And her reply to him was, “Nothing. When I weave, I weave.” And I just love that expression. Anyway, he goes on and tells a lot about the stories but the line that I really want to share with you is that he says, “When you publish something in your life, you never know where it’s going to show up,” and I really feel that. Because I’m really into producing content. I love producing content and the content that I love to produce is all about AI, the success stories of AI, positive psychology, Barbara Fredrickson’s work on positivity. So, I just want to put it out there in the world and give it almost like mass appeal out of the academic settings, maybe out of the corporate settings but just to make it very accessible. So, Positivity Strategist came about because my former website was Positive Matrix and I created that after I’ve done my AI certification, gosh, way back like 13, 14 years ago and then I decided I wanted to rebrand myself. So, I didn’t want to just go out there as an organization development person, AI practitioner. Again, words that…
Jon: What does that mean?
Robyn: Yeah. What does it mean? So, I wanted to focus on positivity because of my heroes in the world who inspire me and I just thought what do I really do? Well, I help people think about their future, I help organizations think about their future. So, I’m really helping them with strategy so why don’t I be a Positivity Strategist? I just made it up. That’s how it came about.
Jon: I love that. And I have to say here’s what’s so fun about sitting here on a couch like 1 foot away from you because we’re sharing this one microphone, which is funny. It’s making us laugh. But what’s fun about this is until three days ago, Robyn, I’ve been listening to your podcast and I love it and one of the things I love is your accent by the way. Where is your accent from?
Robyn: Well, come on, you’d know.
Jon: Is it Australia?
Jon: Yeah. Is that home for you? Not now.
Robyn: Not now but that was my original home. I came here just about 20 years ago.
Jon: Yeah. Wow.
Robyn: So, I have to ask you, Jon. What do you like about my podcast?
Jon: Well, so well that’s what I was laughing at myself just now because I was thinking hearing you speak is actually just really enjoyable but really you have some interviews that you’ve done and you can remind me of some of the names because I remember the content but I remember one of the first ones I listened to was actually an interview you did with Roberta Baskin and we just had Roberta. We just published an episode with her last week on the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. I thought it was kind of crazy as somebody who lives 10 minutes from where you and I are sitting, a teacher at a school heard that podcast and sent an email and said, “Wait, you’re hosting The Global Forum like 10 minutes from my house?” And she’s here this week which is really cool.
Robyn: Yeah. When you publish in your life, you never know where it’s going to show up.
Jon: Yeah. So, your interview with Roberta I really loved. Your interview with, and remind me again his name, he talked about savoring the moment. Achim?
Robyn: Achim Nowak, yes. He had just published a book. That was my second interview with Achim. He’s a personal friend and it was called The Moment. The book is called The Moment and I introduced Achim to Barbara Fredrickson’s work and so he read Positivity, he read Love 2.0: Positivity Resonance. Those micro-moments of positivity and micro connections really resonated with him and so, yeah, he kind of brings it into his work now because he does a lot of presentation training and a lot of mindfulness stuff and he’s into esoteric eastern philosophies. So, yeah, I’m glad you enjoyed that. He’s a great storyteller.
Jon: In a minute, I want to actually ask you what you enjoyed most from this week from having Barbara Fredrickson at this event. But one of the things I love from that episode was, and I’ll always remember this, him introducing the idea of and I think there’s a certain type of wisdom, prajna wisdom. I’m sure I’m mis-saying that but it’s the idea of recognizing in the moment the deeper meaning versus giving meaning to something maybe after the fact or thinking about the future and I listen. Anytime I listen to anything, it’s always while I’m trail running. So, it’s amplified because I just remember running through the woods where I was and hearing him talk about the magic of feeling the meaning in the moment. So, I really appreciated that. But what have been some of your favorite interviews?
Robyn: Well, I love the one with Ken Gergen, the father, if you like, of social constructionism and such a big influence in appreciative inquiry and he is such a wise learned man. I was really a bit nervous. I was intimidated by the thought of talking with Ken Gergen and I was stunned when he accepted my invitation. And, yes, because he’s such a generous kind man and I asked him to make social construction simple for people and he did, he told stories and he said something in that podcast which has been very influential in my work too and I share it with others because we talked about today where is the connection and so he said, “That we no longer think like,” you might remember this. “It’s not about Descartes saying, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ It’s really about, ‘I connect therefore I am.’” And that is so, we’re really becoming far more conscious of the needs of we as human beings that connection is one of the highest values or needs. And that’s what Barbara talks about as well. It says micro-moments of connection when you really feel that love, that love is, that real love, the real love meaning, not the romantic kind of love but just the respect, the value that you see in another human being.
Jon: Yeah. For any of our Achieve Your Goals Podcast listeners who are newer to the concept of or have never heard the phrase social constructionism, can we talk about that a little bit? Because I heard that phrase for the first time a few years ago and I can’t claim that it’s something I teach but I’ve been fascinated by my understanding of what it is or my attempt to understand the concept of social constructionism and I think that it’s something that our listeners could really benefit by understanding especially when it comes to bringing into reality new goals, new aspirations. What are any thoughts you have on sharing with us what you’ve learned about this concept called social constructionism?
Robyn: Well, let me just say go and listen to that particular episode with Ken Gergen on Positivity Strategist because…
Jon: It’ll blow your mind.
Robyn: He’ll do it better than I can do it. But essentially the premise is that we live in a socially constructed world, okay, and how we socially construct that world, there are constructs that we have about who we are and how the world functions in a way and so it’s through the words that we speak, the stories we tell each other and the relationships that we have. It’s all about the relatedness. So, how we relate to each other again through language, through stories and how we construct our images of the world are not – they’re not a truth. I mean we all have our own truths. We all have our own realities. We all have our own experiences. So, the beauty of social construction is that you and I sitting down and having a conversation we’re co-creating this relationship between us with the possibility of maybe something new emerging from what we tell each other. So, we’re creating new truths, new realities, new stories.
And that is such, you know, I teach advanced applications of AI and that principle when people get it, they just kind of feel a sense of relief that they have the power to change their stories, how they relate to people, how they think about themselves, talk about themselves, talk about others. So, if you think about setting goals or wanting to achieve something in the future, it might start with well, what am I telling myself about my own capabilities? What words do I use to describe myself? What words am I using when I talk about my family? What are the metaphors that I use? Where do I get my information from that’s informing me of who I am and informing me of how you are? And we can change that. So, if we become much more conscious and deliberate and intentional about our language and how we respect and relate to each other, you can achieve a lot.
Jon: Yeah. For me as a parent and a husband when I first came across the concept of social constructionism, I was able to understand it best just by thinking about my personal life, by thinking about in my relationship with my wife, what are the conversations that we have and being able to actually just be an observer of what are the stories that we are perpetuating directly or indirectly by what we talk about. And even just stepping back and as simply putting it as are we telling stories to each other and for me when I say telling stories, every conversation we have is some example of perpetuating a story either literally or indirectly but I’ve really enjoyed stepping back and asking, are these conversations uplifting? Are these stories that are putting us in a positive place? Or are we allowing ourselves unconsciously to have too many conversations that are not lifting us up in some sort of meaningful way? And I see it with my kids and that actually helped me to better understand it at work. If I’m doing something in my business just being super sensitive and super conscious and trying to have an awareness of what are the conversations that I’m having with people? Are we having conversations together that are lifting us up? And we now know because of the science that that makes us smarter. It makes us better. It makes us more intelligent, right? We’ve learned that from even what Barbara shared with us this week.
Robyn: Yeah. Kind of getting that positivity gene. We can learn that, right? We can learn ourselves into it but I think one of the expressions that we used to describe social constructionism is words create worlds and I think that says it simply that so the words we use creates the worlds we live in. So, if we are very deficit based just like you’re saying and we’re only seeing and we’re only watching, we’re only reading stuff that is damaging, hurtful, harmful, discouraging, despairing, that’s what we’re kind of creating in our mental models. So, we have to be very conscious and we can learn to what do I focus on now that I actually can shift? And going back to the neurology of it, we’re actually changing the neural connections in our brain and then that impacts us at the cellular level. So, it’s such a lovely example of it’s the mind, body, heart connection, all of it.
Jon: When you say our words create our worlds, there is a quote that I sent out to a mastermind group that we lead last week and I can’t remember where I saw it. It was actually just on a sign on the wall in our office. I thought I loved this and it said that the limits or it said our language creates the limits of our lives. Our limitations of our lives are created by the limitations of our language. In other words, my experience of the world and what I’m able to communicate with others in any setting is limited by the words that I have access to in that moment. And that’s kind of an eye-opening idea for me and you just said something, Robyn, that reminded me of something that I don’t mind admitting, that I had this experience not long ago where I’m not really proud of what’s going on politically in our country right now and most of the time it’s not in everything but most of the time I do a pretty good job of avoiding, of being aware of what’s going into my mind and I found myself rationalizing, recently watching the news and the way I rationalize it was, “Well, this is entertainment to me,” because right now reality TV has become reality in our country which is so funny. So, I rationalize that as entertainment but then I had to catch myself and realize, “Wait a minute, if this is what I keep allowing in, this is going to restructure my thoughts, my language, what I talk about, what I think about.” And I had a moment where I thought I don’t even want to be thinking about just because I don’t want to be talking about this stuff and I had to shut it off and get present to that but I love that reminder for us that our words create our worlds. What – oh please.
Robyn: I just want to say, so can you imagine then if you speak other languages, how bigger your world can be? So, for example, I studied French and German at school in university and I’m married to a German-speaking man and we get to speak in German very rarely, unfortunately. But when you speak another language, a whole different world opens up for you, a different culture begins to open up for you. So, I always think that the people who are multilingual have such richness and so much to offer because of the different perspectives they can add.
Jon: Tell me about, I want to know about Robyn, you personally. What do you do outside of all the amazing content that you’re creating? What gives you joy in your life when you’re not interviewing incredible people for your podcast? What gives you joy? What causes you to come alive?
Robyn: Nature, my husband and my cat.
Jon: What’s the name of your cat?
Robyn: Neo. She’s a big black fluffy cat and there’s a story attached to this but she came into my life at a very significant time in my life and I had a health issue and she came out of a tree and then we discovered she was about six weeks old and she was healthy and she was a female. I wanted to name her something that represented life to me and light. We came with Neon and things like that but we ended up with Neo from the Matrix, the movie. He was the one.
Jon: The one.
Robyn: And so, she’s one of the joys of my life. I absolutely adore her. And I have the most wonderful husband. So, we’re very outdoor-oriented, kayaking, biking. He was a professional photographer so we go on vacations that are photography vacations. So, I like being outdoors and, yeah, I think so. I mean I really love my work so it’s actually hard to get me stop working. I need to read more for recreation but I’m always reading things that are related to my profession because I just, I love it. I just love it so much.
Jon: I think you and I have many shared friends and at this event who believe in and there was a belief that this event that we just finished that nature has this profound power. What has your experience been of what nature does for you, for your inner well-being?
Robyn: Well, I feel a sense of peace. I feel a sense of humility. I feel a sense of responsibility in a way when you go hiking in some gorgeous natural spaces. I just feel so lucky to have that opportunity and I want it to be there forever. But mainly it’s a sense of I savor nature, and again, that’s one of the positive emotions, right, so the savoring is a lingering sense of good well-being. I walk every morning because it’s my kind of meditation as I walk and I actually like to walk and listen to a podcast, I have to say. And sometimes I have to train myself and say no I really just need to be and I need to pay really careful attention to enjoy the trees. And I’m living in Florida at the moment and so the birds are just gorgeous. They’re all these fabulous birds. So, I don’t know, I’m rambling on a little bit but just nature it fills my soul. So, let me give you a story. So, I grew up in Australia and I grew up with vast open spaces obviously. I mean, I actually I lived in the city urban area but I lived on the coast and it was endless blue sky, endless blue ocean, endless beaches, endless trees, just gorgeous and I always felt very nourished by water and the sky and the trees. And then when I married Juergen and we moved to New York, I was dying in New York City. I felt I’d have to go to the parks just to…
Jon: Yeah. Lots of cement.
Robyn: Yeah. So, I really, that’s when I truly recognize how nurturing being in nature can be. So, if I get anxious about anything, go for a walk in nature, if you’re lucky enough. Not everyone has that same opportunity there living in an urban environment. So, I do a lot of work in Jersey City when I was living in that area and there’ll be the streets with no trees at all and we know also scientifically that a beautification of a streetscape with trees really lifts people’s sense of well-being. So, we do need nature.
Jon: Yeah. One of the things that we do in our office and in our home, is we try and always have plants or flowers. And just because it’s one way to bring life into our spaces. I personally am such a big fan of nature. We moved our whole family. You and I just met this week so it’s funny. It’s like we’re getting to know each other so I’ll tell you a story about myself. I had a moment last year where – oh, this was two years ago. Wow. Maybe two-and-a-half years ago. Time is flying where there was a year where I was spending a lot of time in nature and I don’t know if it was a chicken before the egg thing but it was also a year where I was really thinking a lot about what do I value in my life. And I don’t know if nature was inspiring that or if it was doing a lot of reflecting on or reading about values and putting me in nature. But either way, it caused me to leave a really positive career opportunity, to start something brand-new, to sell our home and buy a home all within like a one-month period of time. We had a baby, our third child along with a three-year-old and a five-year-old at the time but it was all to align with our values, and one of the biggest ones is I wanted to be near nature.
So, we moved to a home that – and what’s crazy is my wife wanted to live in a neighborhood because she’s more socially inclined than I am. I would be happy alone in the middle of the woods forever. I love people but I really love being alone too. She is super social and really embraces creating community so she wanted a neighborhood. I wanted to be in the middle of nowhere and we happen to find a neighborhood that backs up to this 300-acre preserve and of the one house that is at the trailhead went on the market and we bought it two days later so we backup to this nature and it’s changed my life in many ways to be able to wake up, walk outside and go through these beautiful trails around the lake. It’s literally our backyard but we don’t take care of it. Somebody else does.
Robyn: No. That’s fantastic. In fact, when we moved to Florida the first house that we looked at we fell in love with it because it was near a nature preserve with a lot of trails in it and so I fell in love with the environment. Environment is one of the key things so that’s what we’re talking about here, nature. However, we didn’t buy that house. But we almost bought it because of the location of it. The house wasn’t good but the location was great.
Jon: You mentioned you listen to podcast. This is totally random. Do you listen to your own shows afterward?
Robyn: Not all the time. Not all the time. And when I do, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised.
Jon: I have never – actually I have one episode that I’ve ever done that I went back and watched and it was on somebody else’s podcast.
Robyn: Well, so sometimes I’m very interested in understanding other people’s perspectives on how stuff that I do might land on other people. So, if I’m writing or do a podcast, I’m often thinking about well how will this be received? And so, in order to understand how it’s being received, I have to listen to myself or read myself and I have to force myself to do it but I think it’s valuable to do.
Jon: Yeah. So, I want to come back to lessons that you’ve learned, Robyn, and when you reflect on all of these great interviews that you’ve done around the topic of positivity, if you had to think about, are there one or two or three lessons that stick out for somebody who’s listening that they could apply in a practical way when they’re done listening to this episode and could help them in achieving their goals in their lives? Are there two or three big lessons that have jumped out for you over your years of teaching about positivity and learning from others in that area?
Robyn: Yeah. And in fact, when I first started the podcast, Jon, I invited all my guests to give three positivity tips and I stopped doing that. You kind of evolve into something different but for me, it’s very simple. Just to and it’s nothing new I’m going to say and people might be doing this already but I really believe in writing out what your vision is like in a number of areas of your life. So, I did that for seven years. This doesn’t necessarily come from the podcast but in doing that, everything that I wrote down actually was manifested. So, there were these vision statements and every morning it was the first thing I did. So, I wanted to publish a book and I wanted to do this I worked and I had seven things, find a house in a beautiful environment, do a triathlon. So, they were around community, they were around my health, they were around professional-bound relationships, being in community so we moved to a nice area. So, the sense for me is when you write these things down and you do it – it’s a practice. So, we know that you practice, practice, practice and in that way, you are creating those, strengthening those neural connections in the brain, it’s reinforcing it and those things do come to life.
So, I’m a firm believer in writing down your vision statements, more than goals specifically because they’re habits and so habits become behaviors and become part of your thinking. So, I think it’s integrated and you begin to embody it. So, it increases your awareness. You begin to practice and you start to embody these things and you start to manifest them so I do believe in that. Link to that, I would recommend people reading Fredrickson’s work, Barbara Frederickson, Positivity, that the first book was Positivity because she talks about the positivity ratio and so there’s a little self-quantification instrument in the book and on her website where you can evaluate how much positivity you are bringing into your life on a daily basis. So, again if you were to take stock of that and audit yourself and the science tells us that we need three to five positivity experiences in our day to actually increase the positivity within our own system. So, a gratitude journal is a great way to do that. I think meditation, of course, is another way and in fact, as a result of this because I know you do that but as a result of this forum that we’ve just experienced together with your awesome, awesome facilitation, I made a commitment to myself to get more serious about meditation. Because I do the loving-kindness meditation. That’s another thing I would say and you’ll find that on Fredrickson’s website but this loving-kindness meditation, I do that every single morning.
Jon: And what is that? For anyone who’s not familiar, what is loving-kindness meditation?
Robyn: Okay. So, you can make yourself comfortable, get yourself into a quiet space, just breathe gently quietly and you say to yourself, “May I feel healthy?” Now let me think about this for a second, what’s the – I guess it doesn’t matter the order. “May I feel safe? May I feel secure? May I feel happy? Me I feel healthy? May I feel strong, strong and healthy, and then may I live with ease?” And if you say these things to yourself, again, you’re putting it into your brain, you’re putting it into your body and it does just kind of shift your energy around.
Jon: Yeah. Well, in this week Barbara presented at this conference that the science now is getting stronger and more abundant that this is not just a feel-good soft idea. It does feel good and it changes us biologically in very positive ways. That’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing that with us.
Robyn: Didn’t you notice, Jon, that a lot of people who were doing feedback and reporting out about what had been a good moment for them or a high point, positivity came up very frequently and Barbara’s presentation to us had such a strong impact on the majority of the audience, if not everybody in the audience to the point where they shared that.
Jon: Yeah. That’s a great reminder. And that also reminds me, for anybody who this event that we just finished, that there were a number of leaders in the room who lead organizations and teams of all different types and consultants that lead teams and organizations like yourself. And one of the things that I was reminded of when Barbara was sharing this was that if I lead a team and there’s research that just came out of Google where they hired a scientist I think from Harvard because they wanted a really good answer to what is the number one determinant of an effective team. And as part of their discovery, they realized that one of the qualities that is universal across high performing teams is that there is a feeling of what they called psychological safety. People feel psychologically safe and really if you look at what you’re sharing with us about generating compassion or love for our self and for others, that is what leads to creating a psychologically safe place. In the simplest terms, people want to feel like we’re around people who are coming from a place of caring and compassion and love. And again, these are the kinds of things that I think unfortunately it’s not the norm, it’s not the majority of entrepreneurs or business leaders that are talking about love. And the challenge is we need to get the science and the evidence out there and that’s what you’ve been doing which is so cool that that is what leads to better performing teams and that’s great.
Robyn: Yeah. And I would add that creating new habits might be more desirable than setting a whole bunch of goals and if you fail to reach the goals, what do you do to yourself?
Jon: You beat yourself up. Yeah.
Robyn: Which is not a good thing, right? But if you formed really good habits, they’re on the way to achieving what it is that you want for your life.
Jon: Yeah. It’s the difference between working on who I’m being versus what am I doing. Both matter but it’s an emphasis on the being piece. That’s really cool. When you think about this week, what was maybe a high point moment for you? Any connection with anybody there? I know you have many long-time friends in this room. An experience, a collaboration or any of the presenters, anything specifically that jumps out for you as a high point moment for this event?
Robyn: Well, the whole thing has been great as I see it and maybe this is a recency factor and all those things that you mentioned, great speakers. The guy from Priceline, what’s his name?
Jon: Jeff Hoffman. Yeah.
Robyn: Jeff Hoffman was just amazing. I think most people got a lot out of that. And connecting with my tribe was really important. But the thing that stands out and the most recent thing was working, co-facilitating with Lindsay who’s one of my heroes. But I was facilitating a group of Spanish speakers and we were working on the AIM2Flourish 2.0 which is part of this conference here and it was just so powerful. I almost understood everything that was going on and they would be translating and writing in English and they were using their cell phones to find out how to spell these things in English. But just the fact that a group came here from a number of countries in South America, they formed teams here and they worked on their own action planning going forward what the dream is that they want to take and I just felt that that was such a beautiful moment to just be a witness to the energy, the creativity, the excitement and the hard work they put into a very short time to come up with some specific direction going forward and finding an action plan to make it happen and just believing. Every time I’m involved with AI whether I’m participating or whether I’m facilitating, I just count my blessings because when you trust the people and you have a great process, it just works. It is magical.
Jon: Yeah. As you were saying that, I’m just sitting here thinking that this whole event was a moment of epic creativity, epic levels of creativity to have participants from 29 countries spread across all these different design teams. And in a relatively short window of time, brainstorming and then bringing ideas to life and presenting them to the whole room, it’s like a big magic trick. It was really – I love how you put that, to be able to witness that is really cool. Let me ask you maybe one more question here. When you think about the future for you and the work that you’re doing now and where it’s leading to and the influence that you’re having and that you will have and could have or might have, when you think forward into your future, what gets you most excited about what’s coming up, what’s next, what you might be creating?
Robyn: I have a vision to be almost a media company but it is around content and I’m blessed to be married to a digital strategist so he knows everything, anything to do with digital technology, marketing in a digital space and he’s the one who inspires me to experiment with my love which is appreciative inquiry and facilitating participatory processes, and he helps me kind of codify all that data. So, I take the experience and the theory and put it into, and as I said it right at the beginning, make it more accessible for people. So, I really get a kick out of just producing content for the web. And where that would take me, I’m not too sure yet, Jon, but I would like to do webinars. I would like to have a mastermind group. I would like to, you know, I have this vision of creating a community of agents for positive change and it’s loose. I mean, I get so many people emailing me daily thanking me for resources that they get from my website. And I do a lot of coaching pro bono because students reach out to me and say, “Oh I’d like to interview you,” and people in developing countries want support and help. And so, I enjoy that and I need to make a living out of it too. So, thinking about ways of just bringing this together in some form that is going to be delivered out there on the worldwide web.
Jon: So, first of all, I cannot wait to do anything I can to help you, to see all of that come to life and I told you it might be my last question. I just realized I’ve got to ask, you have done a fantastic job putting content out. Let’s make sure we share with people where do they do, it’ll be in the email that goes with this but where do they go find your website and anything you’ve created?
I want to ask a question that I think a lot of our listeners would benefit from learning from you which is you have created lots of content. For anybody who creates content who’s listening and I know we have a lot of listeners who create content, what have you learned about overcoming fears or hesitations in that area? Because that’s something even I’ve faced when I’m preparing to facilitate or deliver something. As a creative, there’s always these voices of hesitation and fear and criticism. How have you learned to get past that to produce and publish?
Robyn: Well, the written form is pretty easy, right, because particularly if you’re introverted as I am it’s easy to write and then put it out there. So, I’m not sure. How do you mean?
Jon: Yeah. Well, maybe you just don’t face any of the fears that others might face. So, I’m thinking about for people who have never put out content before and they’re wondering if it’s – okay. So, let me restate this question. So, I’ll restate it this way. What encouragement would you have for somebody who is considering or believes they have something to offer to the world that’s considering starting a podcast or writing a book or believes they have something to teach but maybe they’re hesitating? Maybe they’re afraid of how others might judge what they put out there. They’re afraid or concerned, insecure about if what they have is really going to help others. Any encouragement or advice that you have for somebody who’s thinking about producing content but maybe is hesitating?
Robyn: Well, my sense is that if you have a message that you are really committed to, you’re passionate about and you believe is going to help transform people and the world, then you’re almost doing a disservice if you don’t actually get it out there somehow. So, it is believing in yourself and being of service. So, I mean, I give a lot of stuff away free and it’s in service of others and I am so in love with my content that I just want to kind of get it out there. And one thing that my marketing digital strategist husband has taught me is that always be mindful of your audience. So, for example, on my original website, it was all about me. It was like I do this and I do that and I do this and I do that. So, the transformation was I’m speaking to an audience member so it’s all about directing it towards you, the audience. So, I think being very super sensitive about how it will land on your audience and that you’re actually being of service, I think the other thing is people love personal stories because that’s what connects. So, start documenting. So, here’s a tip. I had to think about it and kind of ramble on before it came to me. Start writing down your stories, all the stories that you have, stories that you remember from your childhood, stories that you go to the airport and you observe something.
And I learned that, Jon, from doing a number of presentation skills courses. So, just get a repertoire of all your stories, start writing those down and then you have a good body of work and your stories can illustrate whatever it is that you wish to publish in the world. So, for me, it’s about appreciative inquiry and positivity. For your listeners, it might be around goal setting. It might be whatever their area of specialization is. But kind of bring it back to yourself because that’s when the authenticity shows through and you can write about it and they come back to social construction. People can’t argue with your own personal stories. They can’t find fault in your own personal stories. And perhaps one of the best things that knocked any fear of any doing this out of me was to do a TED talk and the preparation I put in for that. I put in like six months of preparation to do that and just so you can get up there on the stage. I mean, what about you? I mean, you’re up there on the stage all the time. So, how does that work for you?
Jon: I spend many hours planning and preparing. I also spend a lot of hours not knowing how things are going to go and fortunately at this point having enough experience that I can sense what could happen but I can relate to everything that you just shared. Hey, speaking of your TED talk and anywhere where anyone can find your content, tell us one more time where can they go to find to learn more from you.
Robyn: Sure. So, my website is PositivityStrategist.com. So, if you go there, you’ll find a whole bunch of resources and links to a lot of stuff. You said something there that I also wanted to respond to and I think it just slipped my mind. Oh, I know what it was. So, your comfort with ambiguity and uncertainty, I learned that many years ago like 30 odd years ago when I was still working in Australia and the mindset that informed my body of work and how I interacted with audiences was it was all about participatory management and participatory leadership. So, it was all about how you bring voices into the room and just to be open to anything can happen. And so, I think having that mindset of trust and its process is important. But the main thing is and the kind of work that we do is trust the people and being comfortable with self-organization, self-management, chaos, all of those things work. And out of chaos, order emerges. We see it time and time again.
Jon: Yeah. We just swam through it together, hundreds of us this week. That’s awesome. That’s really great advice. I love that. Robyn, thank you. This has been a pleasure sitting here with you at Case Western Reserve University on this really cool couch. We’re looking up at these huge screens. This is awesome. We’re going to go outside. It’s a sunny day. Thank you.
Robyn: Well, thank you, Jon. It’s been awesome seeing you in action. I’m a great fan now.
Jon: Yeah. You’re a hero of mine and I get to meet you. This is so cool.
Robyn: Remember one of the sayings that was up on the screen? Oh no, it was that fabulous improv girls, right? Teamwork, you were my hero. What was that expression? Can you remember it?
Jon: I can’t remember it but they were amazing and they were, make your partner look good?
Robyn: Yes. But anyway, it’s like in teamwork you are my hero or something like that. Your team members are your heroes and I really stuffed that up but so yeah. So, we’re all there to support each other is really what the message is.
Jon: We should – let’s not edit this last 30 seconds out just so everyone can hear us trying to remember a quote and not being able to remember it.
Robyn: Because we’re pretty stuffed after all of this work, right?
Jon: Take care.
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