Dom Farnan: Author of Now Here & CEO of DotConnect

Episode 384

Dom is a powerhouse! She is the successful business owner of DotConnect, but also the Author of the new book, Now Here: A Journey from Toxic Boss to Conscious Connector which I can’t wait for you to hear more about. In her book, she shares her transformational journey that drastically changed how she viewed and showed up in the world. It’s a great discussion where she shares a ton of lessons we can all use in life, work, love and relationships. This episode will definitely have you thinking and you don’t want to miss it! On this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow.

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be, you just want to make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. And I am so excited to have my next guest. Here we have Dom Farnan, who was the author of the brand new, excellent, excellent book called now here. And she is also the CEO of dot connect. So we get to talk to her about both things that are really, really inspiring. But as I mentioned, she is the author of the brand new book, her first book, which is going to do killer for sure. But it’s called now here a journey from toxic boss to conscious connector. So I love the fact that she’s talking about this realize this about herself, we’re gonna get more into the details of her book. But like I said, it is a transformational journey that she has gone through that drastically changed how she viewed and showed up in the world, for sure. And it’s a meaningful book with a ton of lessons we can all learn from about life and work and love and relationships. And more than anything, everyone can apply all of this, whether you’re a CEO of a company, or you’re just living life, and I think there’s just a lot of really, really good stuff in there. So and like I said, is the CEO dot connect, we’ll get more into what that is, too. So can’t wait to get into the discussion. So Dom Welcome. How are you?

Dom Farnan 2:12
I’m good. How are you?

Kara Goldin 2:13
Really, really good. So okay, so let’s start at the beginning, not super beginning. But but the beginning of, you know, Dom going into the work world? Did you always know that you were going to be starting your own business or, I mean, give me sort of a visual of kind of who was Dom?

Dom Farnan 2:36
Yeah, I think Dom was an adolescent, and a teenager was super driven. And so that led me to putting my hand up when I graduated high school early to get a real job. And the real job led me to being a recruiter right out of high school. And so it was kind of a unique experience being thrown into the middle of a lot of other experienced, you know, recruiters and hiring people. For a company. I didn’t think I’d ever start my own company. But I was super interested in building businesses, I was intrigued by different industries, I got very bored working for one company only. And so about four years into my recruiting career, I went off and started doing consulting work, which is exciting, because I got to see a lot of different things places, industry sizes of companies, people dynamics, cultures, you name it, I was seeing it. But initially, in my career, I thought I would just be a corporate head of recruiting and a global role traveling, I thought I was probably going to be single and like a powerhouse woman. And that’s what I wanted, I did not necessarily think I would get married or have kids or any of that stuff. So things progressed really quickly in my career. And at the same time, I met my now husband, and I did end up having my son Baxter, who’s nine. And it was in 2018, when I had nine clients of my own doing my consulting work, I was just busy. I had no time in the day to do anything besides work. And that’s when I opted to share with my nine clients, I was going to build a team and a company. And so in 2019, I did that I came out to all of those nine clients, we retained all of them. And I built teams of recruiters within their organizations. And so that really took off and was, you know, firing on all cylinders. By the end of that year, we had 30 people on the team. And we were doing really well and then COVID hit, and then we weren’t doing well, and we had to reevaluate everything. And that’s, you know, COVID for me was the catalyst of what I call my kind of breakdown of sorts. And when I really started looking inwards and even realizing that I was toxic because I didn’t even know that was a term that I would use to describe myself but my behavior It was definitely in that bucket.

Kara Goldin 5:02
So you were going through a stage with Doc connect, as you described it, where you were scaling significantly. And then you weren’t right. The the bomb was dropped on you. And do you think that the stress just really sort of like took you personally and another direction that you couldn’t imagine?

Dom Farnan 5:21
Yeah, because it was like I traded one burnout for another. So I went from almost 20 years of straight work in my career on a trajectory that was very fast paced, to then deciding to be an entrepreneur, bootstrapping it, getting you know, whatever little SBA money I could get to kick my company up, growing my company, not knowing how to manage or lead people never having ever managed or lead anybody. And then everything starting to crumble at the beginning of a pandemic, like, you know, we were in New Jersey at the time. And so it was close to New York, and we didn’t know what was happening, but the world was shutting down. And it was just constant state of fear. And to see the clients that I had that were, you know, with us for over a year, and with me for a long time, not hiring, it was really scary. So I definitely think that the fear was what broke me down a little bit. And understanding that I didn’t really feel I had adequate tools externally or internally to deal with it. So you know, the first thing I did on my journey was invest in hiring a coach, despite not having a lot of money, figuring like, this is something I really need to try. Because I need to figure out why I am the way that I am, you know why I’m, I’m negative, why I’m toxic. Why I’m, you know, not collaborative. Why I’m a micromanager, like, all of the things that were not working, I was ready to confront. But I was scared. I didn’t know what would come up, but I was gained for going on the exploration.

Kara Goldin 6:58
So your book now here, a journey from toxic boss to conscious connector, like I said, is awesome. It’s such a vulnerable, incredible book that really describes a person that is going through changes, right, necessary changes that you decided that you needed to go through those changes, but you identify yourself as a toxic boss, at what point did that term come up for you? I mean, what how did you? How did you own that? I mean, what what was, what was the story if you can share that?

Dom Farnan 7:35
I think it was the fact that there were things that weren’t working within my company, there was drama, there was gossip, there was distrust, there was a lack of clarity and ownership. And I kept looking at everyone else, like what the heck’s the problem? Everyone else? Like why aren’t you guys A, B and C? Instead of really sitting with your the leader? What does it mean to be a leader? And how are you showing up a for yourself, but also for your company and for your family? Oh, maybe that’s the issue. Maybe it’s not every single person in your life and in your family, and in your company? Maybe it’s you. And so it was a bit of a realization and a bit of like a pause, where I hadn’t even thought of that before, because I was just so conditioned, in a way and I, you know, worked in corporate for so long, putting up with other bad bosses and having really difficult clients that I worked with. And I thought that that was just how it was, you know, when I started working, it was like, the mentality of like, you just work hard to keep your head down. You don’t ruffle any feathers, and you make money. And my parents were very much of that mindset, too. You know, my dad worked at UPS for 35 years, and like, has a pension and work there despite hating it the whole time. Right. So it was just a different mindset.

Kara Goldin 9:00
So when you talk about your healing journey, why do you like, can you just describe a little bit more about that? I mean, what was the moment when you said, I’ve got a, I’ve got to really look into this. And how do I do that?

Dom Farnan 9:15
Yeah, it was May of 2020. And it was a morning that I just couldn’t get out of bed. I had felt depressed before and it hadn’t showed up in my life that directly for probably 15 years. So when my grandma passed away, I went into a deep depression and was unable to get out of bed and work and trying to figure it out. But it had been a long time and so what I did was just be a workaholic and working made me feel really good. And that’s where he poured all my energy but once work, fell off my calendar and COVID and we weren’t super busy and we had you know, a little bit of work. I found myself with a lot of time on my hands and that’s when my my mind started wandering a bit So it’s probably that one morning where I’m just like, I can’t live like this anymore. I can’t live in this stress and this fear and this, trying to figure out why none of this is working. And, you know, maybe it’s me, I don’t know, like, let me take action to do something differently, radically differently. And so, for me, it was first investing in that coach. But that was huge, because it was an admission of like, something not being right. And also, acceptance of, hey, I’m going to commit to this work, and we’ll see what comes up. And I won’t run away from myself for what comes up. And so it was really this windy road of one thing leads to another and it started with coaching. And then I joined mastermind for conscious leaders. And then I did healing work that I didn’t even know was healing work like breath work and deeper meditation. And then I started experimenting with psychedelics for healing. And so it really just opened a whole new world to me that I had never been exposed to, never even dawned on me at all. Because it was just something like, I’ve always been a high performer, but self motivated and directed, I haven’t had a lot of people that have needed to push me or haven’t had a lot of coaches that have needed to, you know, make sure I was getting it done or anything like that. It was always just me, in my own lane doing my own thing.

Kara Goldin 11:20
So you talk about conscious leadership, as well. So when you think back on what sort of led you into this healing process, probably conscious leadership was not in your vocabulary at in those early days. How do you define that today for people? And what does it mean to show up consciously for yourself and for others?

Dom Farnan 11:44
Yeah, I think for me, you know, one of the best books I read was The 15 commitments of conscious leadership, so that I used as a framework and a foundation on my journey from that book, actually, you know, the, the number one, commitment is responsibility, like you are responsible for your spiritual, mental, emotional and physical well being that’s on you, nobody’s coming to save you, and nobody’s going to fix your stuff. So really taking ownership in that way. And from that perspective, was, was unlocking for me. I ended up getting everyone on my team, the book, and then we send it now to our clients. That way, we’re all kind of reading and speaking in the same language. As as in addition to sending it to my team, we cover in our all hands. So for the last 15 months, we’ve been talking about it and we talk about one commitment every month in our all hands, and how it shows up for us in our behavior and how it shows up as, you know, principles that we live by in our life, and it’s not perfect, it’s really challenging. But to be a conscious leader, you’re making that effort and that choice every day, you’re you’re devoted to that level of energy that you bring to your life and to your team into your leadership. And I think it’s humbling and it’s not perfect, and I even catch myself now when I’m in my react vive instead of my like, pause and respond to consciousness vibe, it’s, you know, it’s still a work in progress. The funny thing about my book, being called now here, I was talking to one of my coaches, and I said, it’s almost like, my next book is going to be still not done here yet. Because we’re still like, in this work, you know, I think I thought I was gonna be like, Okay, well, here’s all the things I healed on my list, and I’m healed. And it’s, that is not it. Like this is the work. The journey is the way all of the cliches that we hear are true when you’re when you’re in it in your work.

Kara Goldin 13:45
So everyone’s heard of coaches, probably, but many people do not have coaches. So what are some of the strategies that you learned along the way? Once you decided to sign up for working with somebody to kind of go through this this process? Or not just one person, it sounds like you did multiple things, but what are some of the strategies that you learned that you just really hadn’t thought about? Yeah,

Dom Farnan 14:12
I think it’s having a coach has been a really good opportunity to get reflected back to me some of my blind spots, and just have somebody who’s able to challenge you and elevate the conversation. So you know, I may come in and be stuck in a thinking pattern or cycled and I wouldn’t even notice it. But over time, when you’re meeting with someone regularly, they’ll start to see that hey, this is actually a pattern of behavior. And I’ve noticed this before new and they’ll surface this creating a lot of opportunity for new awareness. And so my home coach coaching experience has been just creating so much awareness and letting me choose you know, What I want to dig deeper in. So I’ve also learned like there’s no one size fits all type of coach, I have very specific ones. For specific things I want to go and tackle right now I have a spiritual entrepreneurship coach, because we’re going deep in what it means to be a spiritual business leader and why the world needs more of them. I also have a speaking coach to someone I’m working with to write a TEDx talk. And so there’s a lot of different flavors. And you also don’t have to necessarily go and spend tons of money. I know it can sound like that, like, Okay, well, that’s great. What do you do if you don’t have that type of opportunity? There’s a lot of beautiful online communities that are inexpensive, in some cases, free, there’s apps for growth mindset, there’s podcasts like this and other ones that you can listen to and learn from. There’s tons of TEDx talks, and Ted Talks that people can go to get inspired. And I think find your people, find your community, find what you’re interested in. Because that’s also huge, you know, having people who are in community with you that can hold you accountable, or reflect back to you different ways of thinking about things or ask you challenging questions, all of that will contribute to new levels of awareness.

Kara Goldin 16:17
Yeah, definitely. So you went back to your team, I would imagine and talk to them sort of about this process that you were going through? I mean, that must have been kind of hard, right? I mean, how do you go back to your team and talk to them about this process? I mean, it’s, it must be humbling, to say the least. But also, what was their response?

Dom Farnan 16:43
I think initially, it was less talking and more showing up differently, and a different energy and more embodying the things that I was learning, the healing that I was experiencing. And even just starting as simple as language, just, you know, I used to be very sarcastic. And to me, it was funny, or I’d make light of things. But really, it wouldn’t always land with people on the team, and it would be perceived as negative, right? So how can I show up truly, in a fun way that is perceived the right way that I want it to land. And so for me, it was initially just sharing with the team, like, I’m committed to my inner work and healing. And so I’ve invested in a coach. But also, these are things that I’m going to bring back to the table, we’re going to read this book, if you want, like creating space for their own enrollment was never pushed or forced. But it was an invitation to, for them to explore their own inner world and see. And so a lot of the team was intrigued, and I would hold open office hours, and we would talk about the stuff that I was learning. I mean, I did a, I literally did an office hours about my first Ayahuasca experience, and share that with the team. And they were very surprised to hear about these things. And so for me, it was about being vulnerable, transparent, honest, with the, with the caveat to that it’s not perfect, so I’m really making an effort to do this. But if you see me in my old energy, it’s your invitation to be able to call me forward on it, and hold me accountable, you know, because I’m accountable to them. I’m accountable to our culture. And so it was really interesting, because from 2019, to 2022, our company grew to 122% we made Inc 5000. Last year, we’ll be on it again this year. All while this was happening inside of me, like all these things are like crumbling and identities are crumbling, and labels and things that I thought I was and me rediscovering who I am and what I’m here to show up and be in the world. And my company was, you know, also going through transition, but they they also voted for like our company called strong comparatively, and I got best CEO from them, like through this experience. So to me, it’s just been such a beautiful reflection back of being committed to this work, being committed to your energy and who you be in the world. And it’s not even so much as talking about it. It’s like being about it, and just embodying what that means for me is an invitation for them as well.

Kara Goldin 19:33
No, definitely. Well, and I think that you’re also talking about authentic leadership, and which is clearly expecially during COVID. I think that that has that has come up in multiple conversations that showing your imperfections and and and not just talking down but also figuring out how to communicate and truly a I’m kind of bridge those communications in some way by showing, you know, your fears and, and kind of your, your challenges too, is is really, really critical. So I think that’s such a great example. And I’m not surprised to hear that your team reacted really well to you really owning all of this too, because it’s, it’s a reset, right? More than anything. And it doesn’t mean that there are still great things, it’s still the great Dom, I’ve known Dom as a she’s a friend to so I can say that, you know, it’s not like you’re changing things. Not everything. There’s still aspects of you that that people signed up for, but you’re bringing in other things, and showing that you’re willing to grow, which is a beautiful thing.

Dom Farnan 20:54
Yeah, I think back to a conversation I had with Erica, my CEO, who was also a really good friend of mine. And I think we were inaccurate, probably think, I brought her there to do deeper leadership development work and spend time together and do strategy. But in that, in that meeting, and in that conversation with her, she just started crying, and I started crying. And she just said, you know, working with you, and working in this company, and leading this team with you, as has changed my life, like everything about it, because she’s also now very much in her inner work and healing journey, inspired by my leadership, and like how I was going down that path. And so, beyond just her, there have been, you know, early career people on my team who’ve had deep healing experiences with us through zoom breathwork, or whatever the things are that we lead. And so it’s just been a really beautiful, fulfilling experience to be able to heal myself, and also just see how this creates the ripple effect to everybody.

Kara Goldin 21:55
So what is the most important thing for people to kind of get straight about this work that it’s, I guess you touched on this? It’s not like, it’s going to be over with in 30 days, right. It’s, it’s an ongoing thing, right, that you’re working on?

Dom Farnan 22:12
Yeah, I think it’s an ongoing thing. It’s a commitment. It’s a devotion to yourself. And really, what I’m, what I’m learning now, and the season that I’m in now with this work, is all about self love, and acceptance, like that came through in a few of my plant medicine ceremonies, but the relationship that I have with myself is the number one relationship in my life. And so I’m getting to a place where I don’t always feel like that, it feels weird to say that, because I have a husband and a son. And they’re also very important relationships to, to me, as I have company and team and clients and all of that. But really, now I’m in a place of kind of going doing so much excavating of the stuff that I hadn’t felt or seen or known or, you know, remembered about myself, to creating space for more light and more self love and things that bring me joy. I’m also learning new things, I just bought some beautiful alchemy bowls, and I’m learning to sing with my bowls. And like, I’m just doing all this stuff that is so like out there. That’s not my normal vibe. But it feels so good for my soul. And so I want to do things now that that fill my soul up so that then I can have an overflowing cup to pour into others and, you know, inspire them the same. So I think the thing to remember is, this is the devotion, it’s a practice, it’s not perfect. And it’s not like you have to do all the things every single day, I’m in a period now of integration, and I’m doing less of the inner work and less of the big healing things and still processing what has come up over the last few years. My husband and I are in a very deep part of our work together and our marriage. And we’ve committed to six months of that being a priority for us, which was surprising because we kind of always knew it, but we were like, oh, we’ll you know, we’ll we’ll be at the bottom of the list. Everything else is really important to us. And it’s like, no, that needs to be the inverse. Like your relationship, especially with your partners, the number one thing because it allows you to show up your best in so many other areas of your life. So think be be gentle, and you know, just know that its ebbs and flows, and it’s, you know, not perfect every day.

Kara Goldin 24:37
So best advice anyone has ever given you. And maybe you know, I always find, sometimes advice sort of sits there on the shelf for a while. But as you start to find yourself, you know, you start to think about some of those things that maybe people have told you as you’re kind of going through your reset. I’d love to hear if there’s anything that has come up

Dom Farnan 25:00
Yeah, I think the best advice that continues to show up for me is forgiveness is freedom. And so I’ve been doing a lot of work around forgiveness of myself, and forgiveness of others. And that has allowed me so much freedom in my life. And I never really thought about it before, because I just always was a historic grudge holder. You know, I had people on my team that left and I felt so hurt, and I didn’t want to talk to them ever again. And I would carry that with me, despite me like truly loving them still, and wanting to be connected with them and wanting to be friends or whatever, I’d be a grudge holder, and now I’ve been able to mend relationships and move forward. Even my relationship with my dad hasn’t always been great. But I found a lot of forgiveness in the last few years, and recently doing a lot of forgiveness work on myself, like, what were the things that I carry that are my shame and guilt and experiences that I didn’t even really know I still thought about that come up, and how can I forgive myself, let it go, and then be able to be more present. And ultimately, that’s, that’s where I’m finding a lot of peace is just right here in the now.

Kara Goldin 26:12
I love that. Well, thank you so much, Tom, everyone needs to get this book, we’ll have all of the info in the show notes too. And dotconnect, as Don mentioned, is an incredible company, you can read more about that. And definitely connect with her as part of that initiative as well. But thank you again for being so vulnerable and sharing everything and I hope everyone will start to think about this in their own life. And and I think just we’re all learning right along the way, no matter what role we play, and in life where the role of CEO or an entrepreneur or a manager or working for a manager or not working at all, I think it’s it’s figuring out how to be kinder to ourselves. And when we are that just helps everybody who is around us as well. So it’s yeah, thanks so much. Thanks again for listening to the Kara Goldin show. If you would, please give us a review. And feel free to share this podcast with others who would benefit and of course, feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode of our podcast. Just a reminder that I can be found on all platforms at Kara Goldin. And if you want to hear more about my journey, I hope you will have a listen or pick up a copy of my book undaunted, which I share my journey, including founding and building hint. We are here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And thanks everyone for listening. Have a great rest of the week, and 2023 and goodbye for now. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening