‘Our purpose is always walking beside us’
Karlyn Percil, Toronto-based speaker, author and CEO of KDPM Consulting Group, says her idea for KDPM, and her journey to entrepreneurship, was always with her (even if she didn’t always know it). Karlyn’s life – from growing up in St. Lucia, moving to Toronto and embarking on a fast-paced financial career, to her experience of microaggressions in the workplace and her subsequent burnout – was always preparing her for KDPM.
Transforming her personal experience, and those of other BIPOC women, Karlyn established KDPM in 2018 to help companies identify the problem areas, what she calls their ‘Elephant Stories’, that interfere with their equity, inclusion and human optimization goals. Karlyn, who is also a Certified Emotional Intelligence and Neuro-Life Coach, and has been featured on Oprah’s Lifeclass and on Cityline as a guest expert, talks to Chelsea about:
- How she started KDPM and why
- How being survivor of child sexual abuse, bullying, depression, and anxiety shaped her coaching practice and drives her to help women get out of their own dark place and choose life daily
- How she works to empower ALL women by challenging systems of racism, misogynoir, patriarchy and white supremacy – amplifying the voices of Black, Indigenous, and self-identifying women of colour
You can also read the interview below:
Chelsea Brown: Today I am so excited to welcome Karlyn Percil. Karlyn is the CEO of KDPM Consulting Group and is a certified emotional intelligence and neurolife coach with a speciality in equity and inclusion. Thank you for joining me today, I am such an admirer of yours.
Karlyn Percil: No, thank you.
Chelsea: So to dive in Karlyn, you are a certified emotional intelligence coach, NeuroLeadership coach and CEO of KDPM Consulting Group, whose platform is to end systemic discrimination and improve workplaces for women of colour. Can we open up the conversation, talking about how you started KDPM.
Karlyn: I often say that KDPM chose me. Sometimes we tend to question or go on this quest of finding our purpose. And one of the things that I have learned actually walking into my purpose is that our purpose is always walking right beside us. And KDPM was always right there beside me or inside of me or around me, but I wasn't fully ready for it until at that moment. So my life journey and my ex living fully in this world and my experiences and also seeing what could be possible if we create a better world for where everyone can thrive that's really behind or why or how I created KPM. It wasn't, you know, in my twenties or my thirties, I sat there and I say, "Hey, I wanna start a company.” Entrepreneurship was wasn't on my mind at all growing up, but over years life introduced me to entrepreneurship. So I often say it shows me I'm an accidental entrepreneur. And the work that I do is informed by not just my lived experiences, but also the amazing, incredible people that I've met on this journey.
Chelsea: You have a very powerful quote, and I'm going to read it, “For many black women and women of colour living and leading their lives at work comes from a systemically influenced emotional tax and fatigue. This is further compounded by race and gender supported by systemic and structural forms of racism, sexism, and other forms of intersecting identities. This is what we call the third bind in leadership that kind of systemic discrimination is faced at all levels by many leaders of colour impacting their economic equity, psychologic wellbeing with potential long term impact on their career journey.” This is a very powerful quote by you that you lead your website with, why did you choose to lead your website with this specific quote?
Karlyn: Where do I start? I decided to really center and focus on the systemic side of things, because when we look at history or we look at research black women, indigenous women and women of colour have been historically marginalized not just through the lens of systemic racism, but also through the lens of just having a braver conversation around what really is getting in the way of the success of not just women in general, but specifically women of colour. So, for me, centering that was extremely important because being in the women empowerment space or women and leadership and feminism and leadership, if we don't really address the elephant in the room, and if we're talking about, for example, gender equity, or we're talking about women empowerment without the pre-qualifier, we're talking about white women.
And when we don't put that qualifier in place, a lot of the stats and the research, and also the lived experiences of women of colour, whether it's been told in different forums, it's not always at the forefront and women of colour often thought of as an aside or we talk about women, we center to white women, but also we don't talk about women of colour or we to talk about them like we’re in brackets. And we're not brackets, we're full human beings. As much as history might try to tell us that we are not. I often, even when I talk about white women, and I say that where I remind folks that I'm not pointing my finger at you, the white woman, and blaming you, I'm talking about the white women culture, I'm talking about culture, I'm talking about patriarchy, and I'm talking about the fight that all of us women are in together, because we're fighting the system of patriarchy. And within the system, we also have racism and we also have sexism and misogynoir, all of those things. We're fighting them together. But I really wanted to focus on women of colour, because if we don't bring that focus, then it means we're glossing over. And we're not really focusing on the systemic barriers that uniquely impact women of colour.
Now what is the third bind? When we talk about women or gender equity, there is the danger and sometimes it's not always conscious, but there is the danger of focusing only on that single story or that single identifier, right. And usually that's gender. And when we say gender, we usually don't include non-binary. If we do talking about just gender, yes, the assumption is white women, but what about white trans women or white women of disabilities? And this is why, when I talk about our intersectional gender strategy or gender equity strategy, even for myself from a brain-based perspective, is also to train myself to not default to my inherited bias. I've seen the world through only my lens. I'm a black woman, I'm straight, but my story isn't the only story.
I actually use the acronym GRACE to remind myself so I can check against my own inherited biases, but also to remind the world that when we're, if we don't change language, because language is very powerful, language influences, it can drive our emotion and vice versa. So with using the word, the language GRACE helps us to remember that begin with gender, but it's important to end with equity. GRACE stands for gender, we have race, we have ability, ageism, C stands for, classism, also cultures of patriarchy cultures of white culture, culture of the white gays or cultures misogyny and misogynoir. I think it's so important for us to broaden our language, our scope through language when we're talking that approach, because then that helps a is to bring more along with us. Because we're not on this journey together and we're actually each other's keeper. And if we want to exist or coexist in a world, a good world or a better world, we have to look out for each other. What if I'm the last of my race and I'm gone, right? What does that mean or if I'm the last person in my family and I'm gone, I'm doing this work who will continue the work when I'm done? If I'm not bringing others along with me, if I'm not collaborating with others, then it means that I, myself, am part of the problem and a part of the bottom, like in terms of the advancement of gender equity through the lens of intersectionality.
Chelsea: Yes. And you know, I'm curious, how did you first start to gain this type of knowledge? Were you always well versed and educated on this topic? Or did you find it through your transitions from Bay Street, into the entrepreneurial world? And it's important to pass it along to others?
Karlyn: So other people can have it as well because sometimes we don't always have that exposure right at our fingertips, but you're right. And I love the word transition because that's what it is. We're always transitioning from one version of ourselves to the other. And when we do that, we are introduced to our higher self or, you know, some people call it, you know, you enlightened self or you empowered self, you just get more access to understanding self better. And with that understanding, uh, comes with more clarity on how you're going to use your purpose, which is a combination of your skills, your competencies, your talent, your gifts, and also the privilege that you have been given into terms of your choice of, of that medium of your work. Like for example, with you doing this podcast, uh, you're able to influence and impact the lives of so many people. So you're actually putting your purpose out that way.
For me, it came on my journey, but I often say that my inner worry, even if I didn't have the language for it back then, kicked in from my childhood. Having your childhood taken away from you and that is one, I call it my elephant story. An elephant story is a story that is rooted in shame or in fear or in guilt, a very uncomfortable emotion that keeps us rooted and loyal to our past. That have us questioning our worth and who we are and why we're on this earth. And for me, you know, being a survivor of child sexual abuse, that right to dream big and know what it's like to have a childhood where my biggest concern was, I don't know, am I going to get to play with a doll? Or am I going to, you know, what's for lunch tomorrow, it had to be replaced with how can I keep myself safe? How do I fight for Karlyn? So I think the language evolved in the language as I got older, but I think that’s because I had my right to a healthy, loving, free childhood was taken away from me. I think I begin fighting from since then for my space, for my safety and over the years to your point, especially when I worked with UNICEF to the Caribbean office to raise awareness on violence and against women and children in the Caribbean that really gave me more language. So at different points in my life, I had very pivotal moments like that was one of them working with the Toronto police service as well here in Toronto to create the first survivor public service announcement was another one.
The more understood how and why things happened for me, I was able to gain the clarity and that led me to not just compassion, but also courage for me to take the right next step. And that always lended me in a place that informed what the next step is or can be. So over the years, that has really been the, if I had to look at my path, I had a lot of those pivotal moments. Another one being on Oprah and that just led to a series of different events. So I guess, yeah, being present in your life can, no matter how painful the experience is and can, it probably is the best life coach that you can have in your back pocket.
Chelsea: Wow, that’s beautiful. I'd love to talk more about your childhood and your life before Canada. You were born in St. Lucia and you lived there until you were 25. And I saw in your I that you were recently home and you went through a box of old pictures and you talk about the little girl in the yellow dress, and you opened up to your community and you shared about your life experiences, and also that you were afraid of not being enough. And you might have struggled with self forth. Who is the girl in the yellow dress to you?
Karlyn: Ah, you definitely did your homework. Um, I love that, thank you.
The little girl in the yellow dress is the little girl who believes in things that anything is possible. My sister always used to say, oh my God, a little girl in the yellow dress. She always talked about her in such high terms and in such reverence, like, you know, she can do anything she wants to do. She's so beautiful. She's so powerful. And as much as I didn't always see it or feel it over the years, I started Caden for the little girl in the yellow dress because I started seeing not just the darkness that her childhood experience brought. But I started seeing who she is outside the story of being a survivor of child sexual abuse, bullying in school, all those horrible elephants stories.
A lot of those women have been through.I started seeing her outside of that. And this is why today I'm such a big advocate for women driven, bigger beyond the experiences we've been through beyond the systems of patriarchy and racism and all the other things that have been imposed on us. Because without the vision of who you can be outside of your experiences, we become slaves to our past and slaves, our history. And we end up becoming, it's almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. We end up becoming that thing that we hate or that thing that we are shameful and fearful about. And we end up living our lives that way we end up subscribing to the belief that we are not enough. So yeah, those feelings of not feeling worthy. I lived a lot of my teenage years believing that and thinking that I am not good enough because of what I have been through. So the little girl in the yellow dress that she's like that hope she's like that beautiful warrior. She's like the little girl who can dream, who dares to dream and who will continue to dream because she knows that she is enough.
Chelsea: That's beautiful. Can we talk your experience with abuse? You know, you talk as well about how you blamed yourself, how you worked through that trauma.
Karlyn: Yeah. That's the thing about healing. It's not linear. It's such a messy, unpredictable journey. So when I share my journey or my story, I always remind folks that wherever they are on the journey, it's okay, because your healing is an inside job. It's not something anyone can give you or direct you on, but we can be inspired when we hear other people's stories. You cannot heal what you don't face. So for years, I did not own the story. I did not, cuz I was so ashamed then because I blamed myself, I hid behind the story and I never really talked about it. And honestly, my healing journey began when I started owning my own truth and my virtual mentor Brené Brown, she has this quote that she talks about in terms of owning your story. I call it my virtual mentor, anybody who follows me, you know how much I love Brené Brown. I call her my bestie, my vulnerability bestie.
Chelsea: Yes. I actually saw you talking about her and your back and forth.
Karlyn: Yes, on Instagram. After I lived my life, blaming myself and actually seeing the impact of what what's on the other side of the decisions you make when you're emboldened in fear and shame, the decisions on the other side of that will be rooted in fear and shame. So you end up in the cycle of unworthiness or making decisions that are below your full potential. And it's not truly worthy of who you are, but that is the only way you know how to operate. So Brené Brown, she says, “When we deny our stories, it defines us.” And when we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending. And the owning of my story was the beginning of my healing because I took charge of the pen. I decided how I was going to deal with my shame because shame has one narrative, one track record. And it says, you are not good enough period for whatever it is, what it's for love, what it's for that job, what it's for setting boundaries in your life. And sometimes we tend to think that it's the big events that hold us back, but it's the tiny little stories we tell ourselves along the way, this is what defines us. This is what decide how we show up on the journey, how we show up in the middle of the conversation with our boss, if our partners, with our family, this defines who we allow in our lives, how we allow people to talk to us. So it's really about the tiny little stories along the way.
When I was able to be brave enough to begin owning that story because I did see the impact of that, of the elephant story on my leadership style and my leadership capabilities. And also my career in general, because I was so afraid to raise my hand and say that I wanted more. I deserved more, even when I negotiated my pay at work that little voice and I named my Carla because it really helped me to differentiate between her voice and my voice and name and miss Carla. So I was able to look at Carla and when she came up, anytime I raised my hand for more, she came up and she said, oh, you know, good enough. Who do you think you are? How dare you, you should be satisfied with where you are.
These are the stories that are reinforced through the systems of patriarchy and racism and white supremacy. And if we're not careful, we take on those stories and we make it our own. If you look at culture and society today, we have a culture of shame and women, a men violated me, but society is still saying, don't talk about it. It's your fault. You know what I mean? So when you look at it, like you take a step back and you look at it, you're like, this is crazy. Women are put in, we put in ourselves crazy through so much additional pain because those systems, so again, going through the healing and it looked so different. I got to the place of forgiveness by going on the journey. And actually one of the, again, being present in my life, I did a talk for a young, um, group of young black girls. And I was talking about self-love and the importance of self-love and how this is the foundation for everything I do. Because I get the question “Karlyn, you're so confident. How did you get there?” I'm like, I wasn't always confident. I didn't always believe in myself. Right. I didn't always think I was beautiful. I actually blamed myself. My looks, my body for literally betrayed me because I thought it was because of what I look, I did something that this happened to me and this little girl came up to me after. And she said that, how did you get that? I want to be able to forgive myself, but she's like, it's not for me it's for a friend, but I could see it. I felt her pain. And I remember taking a step back and I said, I have to do more with my impact on my story.
I have the privilege of now telling my story. I'm not no longer embolden the pain. I can tell my story from a place of confidence and from a place of healing. But what about those who now hear my story? How can I share a bit of my journey with them? And this is when I wrote the 21 Days of Self Love. And that was the first program I actually put out again, I have no lines on creating a self love program, but again, being present in my life and the opportunities in my life led me there. And in the 21 Days of Self Love, the very first days, it's about who you are and it's not about your title. It's not about what you've accomplished, what degrees you have and your job title and how much money you have. But it's really about facing yourself naked in the mirror and asking yourself, who are you? And when you were gone, what do you want people to say in terms of how you made them feel? And this 21 Days of Self Love became a catalyst for helping women, wherever they are on their journey, whatever elephant story they're struggling with, really help them to, to take ownership and to leverage that as a way to create and to write a brave new ending of their own stories.
Chelsea: Wow. Well, you have not only rebuilt from this, but you have gone on to inspire women around you, including that young woman. Do you think that younger Karlyn would be proud?
Karlyn: Of course she would be proud. Yeah, younger Karlyn would be proud. And what I would say to her is that no matter how tough things get, no matter how shaky her voice gets, no matter how unqualified she feels, sometimes that she will be okay. She will find that source of strength, that well of strength within herself. And she will always keep it full because she has fully understood what it means to stand fully in her power and her power sources from within. So she will always feel her well because she now fully understand why she had to go through what she went through.
Chelsea: Wow. That is incredibly powerful. You had talked about accepting your past. Sometimes we've had our own experiences or we've even made mistakes that we wish we could take back. How do you think we can accept our past and move any feelings of guilt?
Karlyn: Oh, such a juicy question. So the first thing it’s hard. It is, and you're white. It's a question that, that comes up a lot. And I think that's why I got fascinated by emotional intelligence and emotions basically, and becoming an emotion scientist because I was trying to get rid of shame my whole life. Like, so you asking, how do we get rid of guilt? We cannot get rid of guilt. We're human beings. We're not a robot denying ourselves. The gift of feeling and exploring our emotions, it's taken away. The being part of the human being experience because guilt, shame, fear. These are just emotions, they're unpleasant, right? Because we haven't given ourselves permission to build our, our awareness and our intelligence around our emotional data. Right? So we try to get rid of it as opposed to what is this data trying to tell me, what, why is this data here?
And again, emotional data, doesn't show up if you're not strong enough to deal with it. And we will get multiple opportunities to practice. If this is an emotion that the universe or your guides are guiding you to words. Right? So, the first thing I would say is that don't try to get rid of guilt, just remind yourself that you're a human being, having a human experience. So guilt is a part of the process. What I would invite others now to understand is to try to figure out what is my guilt behaviour, because guilt emotions, they provide us information, but for a lot of us, we use that as a directive to act. So I would say the first thing is to first understand your relationship with guilt. Guilt is data. When you, when it comes up, what do you do?
Do you put your head in this send and hide, is your inner guilt self talk tape? So my Carla tape with you're not good enough. Who do you think you are? No one will listen to you. What is the self talk tape of your guilt talk and what is that physical action? And the acronym that we use, I use a lot of acronyms in my training and my teachings because the brain loves bite size information, I invite people to always identify what is the TEA of your emotions? So get to the root of your emotion TEA and T stands for what are the thoughts? What's the energy, the emotion. So if it's guilt, what does guilt feel like in your body? Because emotion is a bodily sensation and the last one A stands for attitude and action. So what is the attitude? Is your posture changing? Do you try to minimize yourself and make yourself feel small? How do you write out your emails when you're in your guilt, when you're riding that emotional wave. So that is the first and just by doing that, not only the way it increase our awareness around our actions and our behaviour, but also able to increase the intelligence around our emotions. This is where the whole concept of emotional intelligence comes in because you now understand the behaviour of your shame data, your guilt data, your fear data, your love data, your joy data, et cetera, et cetera. So I would say that's the first thing. And then the second thing is once you've identify what your emotion's TEA is, is then identify what are the behaviours that's getting in the way of my purpose or my intended goals or outcome.
You need a vision for your life because if not, the brain will always go back to the past. Cause that's what it knows, right? The future is not yet created. We are supposed to create the future. Our experiences will inform it. It will get us to a certain point like I was sharing with you a lot of the things that happened, working with UNICEF, working with TO police service, getting on Oprah, meeting Brené Brown and all of that. I didn't have a plan, but as I healed and I was more aware of how I am the brave new ending I wanted to write got clearer and clearer and I'm still writing this brave new ending. It's still going on.
Chelsea: When you were on Oprah, that must have been a basket of mixed emotions. Here you are, with a very large audience on a very well respected network, but you had to relive it all and watching your interview. It was emotional because I think this was one of the first times you were opening up about your experience. If I'm not mistaken, can you take us back to, you know, how that felt and just that transition between scared Karlyn going into this amazing opportunity to touch people, but also to relive your experience, which is so scary.
Karlyn: Yeah. Yeah and it was a way of emotions. The most frequent emotions that came up, not necessarily shame per se.I had shifted because I had cultivated enough shame resilience that allowed me to continue to tell my story and even just reaching out to when I had put out the question to I was at that place, that commitment of I'm ready to tell my story, I'm ready to own my story. I'm ready to write my brave new ending. I asked the universe, I asked my guides, okay, how do you want me to tell that story? Where do you want me to go with it? What would you like me to do? And then an email came a couple of days are talking about Oprah on own Canada. They're doing this show.
If you have a secret, something you've always wanted to share, but you don't know what to do with it. Then I was, and I remember I kid you not. I was in my office. I had a corner office on Bay Street because I was still working at the bank. I looked outside and I looked up to the city and I'm like, “You got to be kidding me, I did not mean that.” I meant maybe a small article. Maybe I'll share it on, you know because when you put the call out and, and I'm a big believer in allowing the universe to guide you and we are all here for very specific purpose. This is why encourage women through SisterTalk to own your elephant store because on the other side of that to are so much wisdom and courage and confidence and joy and you will be more confident in your purpose as well.
And in terms of the level of how big your dreams will be. So, back then when that happened the shame resilience was there, but I went full on in fear mode because telling that story when I had never told the story before, number one, number two, vulnerability in the workplace is not something we talk about. I couldn't bring all of Karlyn to work. I couldn't bring the wisdom from cultivating that shame resilience to work. So then there was the fear of when I did send in the story, because when it came, I had to be obedient because I believe that it was an alignment with my path.
And then the email came and this producer said, we're what would like to feature your story? You're selected. I was like, crap. I was like, no, thank you, crap. Thank you, crap. I went through that feeling of, yeah, what are you doing? You shouldn't have done this. Why did you do this now? What's gonna happen. And then the biggest fear was around. Not my work colleagues will find out, but my family, that was the biggest, the biggest, biggest fear monster I had to overcome because I knew that the second it will is out. I didn't mention any names and I don't need to mention any names. It's my story. But how will my family react? What will they say? Will people look at me differently? Will people think of me as a victim? Because at that time I didn't see myself. I wasn't victim mode before, but I wasn't in a place of victimhood anymore. And that's why I called myself a warrior, a beautiful warrior, an alpha warrior.
Chelsea: It was beautiful to watch. And I even, it really moved me as I'm sure it's moved many people, but it was really nice because I think we've all been in different ways. We've all felt similar things. I mean, I've struggled myself with different things too. So seeing someone like you open up and be vulnerable within this moment of transitions was it was really empowering to see.
Karlyn: Oh no, thank you.
Chelsea: I just wanted to add that because you didn't seem victim at all. You were very strong and you just seemed like you were growing.
Karlyn: I'm so glad that you mention from that because, and I think you, I'm pretty sure you can relate as well. Like sometimes women, we take on the imposter syndrome moment and message of you cannot grow while you're healing. So you have to wait until you have this perfect ending and it's in a bow and you know, and it's pretty you, no life is messy. It's not pretty. And it's OK. Right. So, that fear moment, again, it was a wave. Understanding that also led me to cultivate that confidence and I was able to lean on the wisdom of cultivating shame resilience, which also helped me to build on my confidence and my emotional intelligence to work through that other wave of fear. And that's the thing, the only way for us to get through that is for us to keep moving as for us to keep taking action.
And again, keep taking action towards the dreams that you would like to see, like what kind of world would you like to live behind? You and I have gone through very painful things for a reason, what are you going to do with that pain? And that's not to say that you have to do something public like I did with mine, that wisdom, that guidance came to me. But maybe you just sharing your elephant story with a friend, with a colleague or saying that, Hey, I struggle too, or I have mommy guilt or I have whatever let's normalize. The number one thing that I would like for women to do collectively is not just increase our emotional clarity or emotional awareness because intelligence that will come intelligence will come. I'm not even on there yet. I just want us to be aware of how powerful our emotions are, but also how much power we have of our emotions because emotions are data. It's not a directive to act. And if we can get more women to understand that, I think we'll have less of us spending time in shame waves and fear waves and bargain them if our past, when we, we really should be co-create in our future with the amazing people we've been fortunate to meet along the journey of life.
Chelsea: I absolutely agree. And I just want to say thank you for being so open with my questions. Before you made a change to the field that you're in now and applied your powerful strategies in your own life, you worked on, which we just touched a little bit on with a very demanding schedule, experiencing discrimination and race, gender bias, firsthand. What happened and what was that moment when you knew you had to just make this change?
Karlyn: I think there were multiple moments where you get those little nudges from life. I call them life nudges where life is like, “Hi Karlyn, I'll send a pebble, just a small one.” And then you're like, okay, it hurt, but it's okay. So we ignore those pebble. I had a multiple pebbles, but I think there were two significant moments.One where, with my team and to be honest, I didn't have the language around, microaggression or racial gas lighting. I mean, now we're doing workshops and I'm talking in corporate and we're talking about white supremacy and systems of racialization. And I'm like, oh my goodness, I'm here. And I'm alive when just 10 years ago, we couldn't even see that in the office, the workplace. But as I was learning and unpacking and looking at the world through the lens of not my colonized mindset, but through my dream bigger mindset and reclaiming my wholeness, I started sharing some of the stories or I guess I call them lunch and grow at the time.
And other folks, you know, used to attend and they were like, oh my gosh, you really helped me, get through, I was having this really tough situation with my boss. So I was struggling with this team over here on this new project and seeing how people were taking some of the tools that we were discussing and applied in their lives. That was one thing that really sparked my interest and got, oh, I didn't realize that there was a joy bubble over here with that work. And then the second one was yeah. Facing the blatant OI and the blatant discrimination. With working in international banking, I also supported Latin America and Central America. We had a pretty huge project we had to work on and I had a very, a small team, but I think the, the last thing, the camel, what, what did you say? I can't do analogy. I don't know why I'm trying, but the thing that really pushed me over the edge was we went through another reorg and a lot of the projects, my team, we were handling they brought in a director for that role and all along they’re telling me you’re great we love you. You're great. You know, we really love your work and we have big plans for you, but you know, like that guy who just keeps stringing you along saying how amazing you are, but he never takes you out on the date. Never buys you flowers. Like there's nothing behind it. It took me a while to realize that, okay, so you Gaslight like, so where are we going with this? And then when they brought in this new guy, they gave him the director role because apparently they couldn't find any other place for that person in the bank. And then a lot of our projects went to that person, but then that person still wanted me to it continue with the projects. And I wasn't even reported to that person anymore. And that was when I was like, you don't really appreciate all my black girl brilliance and magic. I am not really valued here. And it's painful because rejection feels like physical pain rejection actually activates the part of the brain. So that's why for some folks, you know, when you're rejected, it takes a while for you to recover from it. That feeling, that rejection was really hard.
But again, doing the work over the years, reclaiming my homeness, building on the confidence, be getting more clear on my purpose and my big dreams and goals I wanted, the legacy I wanted to leave behind. That was bigger than my stories of shame and fear. So when that happened, that was another, this one, wasn't a pebble. This one was a freaking huge rock. I was like, oh, Karlyn, it's time for you to go. So I wrote my, I hadn't really written my, my resignation letter, but it really became clear to me. It was time for me to go. Um, and sometimes we tend to think of the health experiences as, as oh something bad is happening to me. And I'm not saying that pain is fun, but I think sometimes when things happen to nudges out of our comfort zone, look at this as an opportunity to level up your dreams or to level up who you are and where you're going and the legacy that you'd like to leave behind. So that really pushed me out of the door. And I resigned, even though after 20 years, folks will like your pension. You should stay, you've had a long run. And when you stay in places that you're no longer being fed, that kind of anorexia, oh man, it kills you. It takes away parts of your soul that you just can never get back. Because you know, at this moment in time that you are the one who's holding you back, you are the one who's saying that I'm not good enough and I'm not worth the effort and the discomfort of changing my life. And to me, that is more painful than someone telling me that I'm not good enough because we're right now accepted this and I've made it a part of my belief system because my life is in accordance with that belief and it's hard.
Chelsea: Wow. Absolutely.
Karlyn: And just listening and thinking about rejection, a lot of the time we hold ourselves back. Because of rejection because of the fear of rejection, but what's the worst that can happen. You'll fall and you'll get up and not just that, keep going, you'll understand what rejection pain looks like, and guess what, you're strong enough to deal with it. You are. You, yes.
Chelsea: Yes, I feel empowered already. Okay, what exactly is emotional intelligence and how did you discover those fields?
Karlyn: Oh my goodness. I was emotionally constipated for years. The only way I knew how to deal with my, the pain of abuse and not having an outlet to speak about it, because also in the Caribbean, our culture is not a culture of therapy and talk about what's hurting you. Our culture is a culture of sweep things under the rug. We have stuff to do. You have to be the strong black woman and tears or asking for help or talking about your feelings are not held in high value or high regard. That emotional constipation, suppressing my feelings, ignoring what I'm feeling, ignoring the pain. Not even being able to speak, saying I don't wanna go to family events because that person might be there. I would get beat for that. You can't not, not go to family events.
That had that informed my entire journey because I didn't even know the difference between joy and anxiety and shame and fear. It was just a huge basket of emotions. But then I also learned because I was always very curious and I love reading so I read a lot and one of the things that I learned is that at the end of every experience, what we've created is an emotion and emotions are powerful. We can use that to fuel up our passion and to really become the law of attraction. But if I really couldn't understand my emotions, then it means that I'm really setting myself off of failure. So then I went on this rabbit hole of understanding emotions and it's really emotional intelligence or some people call it emotional quotient or EQ.
It's really the ability to understand use and energy emotions in a positive way to not only relieve stress, but also to communicate effectively with self and with others, it's all about relationship building at the same. If I have to simplify emotional intelligence relationship building, there were four domains and competencies and that was my first actually training. I had first trained with Daniel Goldman, he’s known as the father of emotional intelligence, the four parts of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness is how we interact with others and teams and communities. And last is relationship management.
Chelsea: Can you tell us about some of the programs that you offer or the courses that you offer through emotional intelligence and also about your SisterTalk circles at Millie? We really believe in the power of sharing stories to foster connection and self-empowerment so I love this. Can you describe to us how people's lives change through getting vulnerable and being authentic?
Karlyn: Such a great question. Through SisterTalk over the years, what we did was that, especially when I got to be a practitioner after my training, I realized that a lot of the women that I worked with, especially the women of colour, the emotional self-awareness piece, we all struggled on that. We all struggled because again, the cultural piece heavily influenced that. So SisterTalk really created a forum of space for us to share our stories for us to talk about our elephant stories. So as much as we couldn't name the emotions when we started sharing the stories in the safe space and SisterTalk happened at my house about 10 to 15 women who used to show up every month and would break down different themes. Like, you know, whether it's shame, resilience, what is shame, what are elephant stories? How do we tap into the power of personal narratives and that led to women, not just telling the stories, but at the end of every session, I always had a way, I'm very action-oriented, solution-oriented. So there was always something to apply to learning. And what we saw over the years was not just women having the ability and the confidence to own their stories, but going back to that relationship management piece, people healed, relationships with the father, with the mom, seeing the parents as human beings and understanding why they had an emotionally absent or an emotionally unavailable parent. There were multiple benefits that people saw or they understood ever had people who attended SisterTalk say that, “Your session really opened up my eyes on self love and I realized at that I am dating, I'm actually settling. He is actually not worthy of me. And I'm just afraid of being alone. Right? I was afraid of the emotions and what people would say about me at my age being alone.” So multiple different benefits folks are, were able to just really walk away, being more confident and owning the stories no matter whether where it's coming from.
Chelsea: Wow. I'd also love to highlight your success planner. I have my copy here with me, and I'd love to read one of my favourite quotes. “Listen with your heart, speak with your soul, ask for what you want, keep asking until you get it always dream bigger, love, deeply, let it out loud, build it, own it, be it notes from your future self.” And I know, I mean, if only we had more time but, for everyone listening, of course continue following along with Karlyn about Notes From Your Future Self because I love that concept as well. But when this was just a thought in your head before it was a reality, what was going through your mind at that time? And what steps did you take to make this a reality? So it can affect many women like myself. People can go online and buy it and reach success with this planner.
Karlyn: The success, when I can be pretty choose by anyone, I mean, I wrote it, my avatar, it's women, because everything we talked about in terms of the emotional intelligence, self-awareness building better relationships. How do I tap into my, my inner power, my inner warrior? I took all those concepts, the science behind positive psychology to science of wellbeing and I put everything together in one journal. So that's what it is, you’re taking all, all of that, that neuroscience around wellbeing and putting into action.
Chelsea: Yeah, into action. I love that, it's into action.
Karlyn: But also defining success. So the tagline for the planner is making time for what matters the most. So, talking again about waves and zones and also seasons. Like I said, I remember when I was in my shame season, decisions I made were riddle with shame. They weren't necessarily good for my future and who I was becoming. And I allowed people and things in my life that wasn't worthy of who I am, but I didn't know that back then. So the decisions I made in, in my shame zone it's okay. I forgive Karlyn for that because she did her best and her best include that, those bad decisions. But when doing my work, I I'll never forget, I think just Tony Robbins, he said that, everybody's doing all the self-help, doing all those books and whatnot, but what are you doing with it if you don't apply it and I think he said unapplied wisdom is failure. And remember thinking like, oh my goodness I'm one of them. I'm one of those people who's like constantly learning, I'm learning. I'm like, but what are you doing with all that knowledge? So then I said, you know what, it's time for me to take ownership. And also when we complain we rewire our brain for negativity, right?
The story you repeat, you prioritize and the story you prioritize becomes your reality because you're living in that state more.
Then understanding that, I took an Excel sheet and I also wanted to manage my team better. So it was an Excel sheet for years, actually, before I became a book. And I started use in the concepts in there. I said, let's start off our team meetings at the beginning of the week. Let's talk about what we're grateful for. What is your must deliver item for this week? But that item needs to connect to your end of year review one of the pillars in your end of year review, where you're actually advancing you actually creating change. And that will help you to get what is above exceed the expectation or whatever rate you're going for for this year. Again, bigger and bigger, the brain needs an anchor for it to work towards like a target, if not, you're constantly competing with your past because the brain, we also inherited it also came with a lot of the fight, flight or freeze mode because our ancestors, the number one thing the brain was supposed to do, or they were supposed to do is to keep themselves safe, get food, bring it home, stay safe.
So we inherit at those same modalities, but we have also evolved. We no longer live where we have to go hunt for food in the forest, right? We are now existing with people. Social awareness and relationship management becomes actually critical skills in surviving in today's world. The planner became the place for me to manage. I mean, just us talking about it, anybody can go crazy trying to figure out how do I, in my day to day, become more emotionally intelligent, Almost self-aware like, you have to come up with a system to help you do that. And because the brain is designed to work on systems, the planner is also designed to follow that flow. So this is why we have a gratitude center. We have a thrive wellness center. We have an action center, like what are your goals for your family?
Who will you be of service to this month? And to be quite honest, there are months where who to be of service to, “Karlyn” was a number one person on that list because the season I'm in, I need some extra care and attention, or maybe I need some more accountability, whatever it is that's going on. So the planner is for anyone who's ready to dream bigger, who have been listening to the intuition, who really want to leverage the inner power to make a difference in this world before they were gone.
Chelsea: I love mine. And it makes a great gift as well!
Karlyn: Thank you so much. And the last thing I'll highlight for the planner, when you look at it through the lens of how do we create a better world and invite equity in everything we do, especially for white friends on the journey of becoming better humans to all humans in terms of becoming antiracist, every single month there is a quote from a black or an indigenous or a or a person of colour. So you also increase if you're in a space where everyone around you is white and you're on the journey, and you're really trying to increase your visibility or interacting with people of colour, this is also a great place to start because the quotes are active and you can follow those folks online as well. I'm always learning from them especially as a practice in ally to the indigenous community, to the trans community. I’m always being of the section, who can I be of service? Can I network with? You can write little notes on there for whatever you are on your journey of dream bigger.
Chelsea: Yes. I'm loving mine and thank you for that. To wind down our chat, because I mean, I don't know the hours already been happy! Oh, happy belated, my fellow Pisces.
Karlyn: Thank you, yes.
Chelsea: Happy belated birthday. You're calling this birthday year of infinity the year of possibility and the year of continued as success to discover always you can love dream and exist. This is awesome. Tell us about this year of infinite possibilities.
Karlyn: This year of infinite possibilities is the year that I really take the limitations of Karlyn and I dream bigger and I dream bigger in three different ways, dream bigger with all my past cells at the table. When we are still holding shame in certain parts of our lives, it means that we're also holding that version of ourselves back. And that version of ourself also has wisdom. The second one is driven in community like who are, the awesome women doing really incredible work that aligns with our vision and our mission who wanna be a part and we can collaborate and probably even dream bigger. And the last one is driven bigger with world like globally. We look at, we sought a shift to virtual, remote work and being more virtual. Now, it means that we have shortened the bridge in terms of connecting with our friends and, and colleagues in other countries.
So what does that look like? I've been driven mind fi a year. I've been asking myself what would that look like if I burn all those pieces together, if I dream bigger in that framing. And that has resulted in some incredible projects, we have so many great projects that are coming out shortly. We'll be announcing in about a month or so. For me, it's really taking the limitations off myself and going into the dream candy star and saying, what's possible? Can we make this world, can we leave this world better than we found it for women and girls and children? And I think we can. So that's what I'm really excited about.
Chelsea: I think so, too. Lastly, one of the key messages that we want women to take away from this podcast is that they can break from expectation to be who they are and who they want to be. How do you think we should approach the next chapter of our lives, especially navigating this COVID world and how do we know when we're doing the right thing?
Karlyn: Yes, intuition. When you get your planner, you will get a dream bigger bookmark and on the dream, bigger bookmark, actually one of my favourite books. And if you haven't read this book, pick up Women Who Run With Wolves by Dr. Clarisa Pinkola. And one of the quotes that I'm guided by, and I love it so much. That's why I have it on, in the bookmark. It says, “Practice listening to your intuition, your inner voice, ask questions, be curious, see what you see, hear what you hear, and then act upon what you know, to be true. This intuitive powers were given to your soul at birth.” So operate from that place and acting upon what you know, to be true in this season honour that, I think what we tend to do is that we tend to try to think of the whole journey.
We tend to look at what is the impact of that decision all the way down, no focus on the present moment. So become more familiar with your in between, the space between I'm living my condition, self, the version of Karlyn I was today and I'm about to go into the higher self, which means that you have to dream bigger and take action on that dream in order for you to actually step into that new version of yourself. So, that's one thing. Then the second thing that I would say is that we actually have an imposter syndrome, moment assessment coming. So women can identify their moments. I dislike it. I don't wanna use the word hate, but I strongly dislike it when women say that they have imposter things, drum, your subconscious is always is dropping on you.
Be careful how you talk about yourself to yourself. You're not an imposter. You have every right to be here. And I think when we say that we distort our relationship with belonging and taking up space and taking up a lot of space and we unconsciously minimize ourselves. So the second thing that I would say is to be careful, watch your yourself, talk yourself, track language, name, be aware of your inner critic, the inner critic, the inner grammar line. Like I said, I call my Carla name yours. So that when she comes, because I know when Carla's coming, I'm like, Carla, what's up, you hungry, you need a hug like what's going on? Or we can sit and have a PD party if that's what you need to do. That's fine. So I try to meet her where she is, because I know she's got some information, but sometimes she's just throwing a tantrum because she needs attention.
And the last thing that I would say, why I'm so excited to do the training and to bring more women along because we need to get this information out, I have found in my research and just spending so much time helping other women tell the elephant stories is that we tend to forget, to define our inner role before we engage with the outer world. And by that, I mean, when I decide to show up in the old. Let's say I'm about to go and facilitate and teach a session on anti-racism. I have to decide how I want to show up as Karlyn or who's the Karlyn that's showing up. So let's say today I woke up and I'm a little bit tired because yesterday was a long day. Or, you know, there's just a lot going on. I bring 100% by Karlyn. I have to decide, how do I want to engage? What boundaries do I need for today? How much space do I need in between my need so that I can have a breath. And if I cannot afford that, which of my selfcare tools can I go to, is it a short song? Do I light a candle? Do I light some incense? So I use some of my oils. I turn oils. So activate my senses.
It's about being in ceremony with self. I want more women to spend more time in ceremony with self, spend, more time, meeting yourself where you are spend more time understanding what is the inner role that I want to define because when we come from a place of our inner role, then when the world comes to us and say, “Hey, Karlyn, I want you to take on this role of, let's say vice president of X within an organization.” I am not becoming the vice president and discarding parts of myself. I am coming with the role that I want. So that includes my dreams, my legacy, my values, my ancestral wisdom, my guides. Then I will look at the requirements of that role, then I will decide how I want. So that means I'm stepping into the role with my authentic self versus vice versa.
Chelsea: It absolutely makes sense, more than makes sense. You know, I just want you to know how thankful, my team and I are for you opening up to me and The Millie Podcast and being our guest. Thank you, I can't thank you enough, sincerely.
Karlyn: Ah, thank you so much for having me. It was, it was great chatting with you and I love having those conversations and I thank you for honouring the flow and you're a great interviewer because that's, to me, someone who's about what they do, they're able to also flow with what the energy and what the guys are inspiring us to do and say, and this is a huge part of following your inner intuition and being obedient to your very own inner power. So thank you and thanks for having me.
Chelsea: Thank you, I really appreciate that! Thank you so much. If you enjoy listening to this podcast, please hit subscribe, share with your friends and visit us at millie.ca.