Kemi Nekvapil: Author of POWER

Episode 436

On today’s episode, Kemi Nekvapil, one of Australia's leading credentialed coaches for female executives and entrepreneurs, sits down with Kara Goldin to discuss her latest incredible book, "POWER." Shifting mindsets, cultivating self-confidence, and embracing authenticity as pathways to unleash our inner power are all things we learn more about. Kemi guides us on a transformative journey to understand and embrace the true essence of personal power, exploring concepts such as setting boundaries, language patterns, and the transformative power of mindset. Through her own experiences and heartfelt stories, Kemi inspires us to tap into our unlimited potential, to step into our authenticity, and to make empowered choices in every aspect of our lives. You don’t want to miss this episode. Now on #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. We’re so excited to have our next guest here I have Kemi Nekvapil with us here today. And she is amongst other things, the author of the absolutely incredible book power, which if you have not picked up a copy yet, you absolutely have to, we’ll have all the info in the show notes as well. But Kemi is one of Australia’s leading credential coaches for female executives and entrepreneurs. She’s also a professional speaker and facilitator who has worked in the wellness industry for more than 25 years and holistic leadership for 10 years. She is the author of three books, but the latest one is power, which is so so so good. Her work centers around shifting mindsets, cultivating self confidence and embracing authentic authenticity as pathways to unleash our inner power. And her unique insights and practical strategies have empowered countless individuals to overcome self doubt, redefine the relationship with power and live more aligned lives. And in her book, power, kami guides us on a transformative journey. And I’m going to leave it there because you were going to hear a lot more from her. I should tell you that we were introduced by a mutual friend Lucy. So thank you, Lucy, if you’re listening, she was so excited to introduce us. And I absolutely devoured your book me. So thank you so much for joining us here.

Kemi Nekvapil 2:22
Oh, Kara, it is such a delight to be here with you today. Thank you for having me.

Kara Goldin 2:26
Thank you so much. So your book power explores the concept of personal power, and how individuals can harness it into their lives. Yet, it’s not your typical book on power. I remember hearing the title and I thought oh, boy, okay, and was really excited as I’m like turning the pages because you have a terrific slant on this word that I would really, I can’t wait to hear more from you about it. But you actually share the story of how you viewed power as a child. And I would love for you to share that.

Kemi Nekvapil 3:07
So I you know, like many women, when I first heard the word power as an adult, or even as we’re growing up, we hear the word power. And I think most of us are not that interested in it. That it’s a very negative connotation of the word. And, you know, through childhood, I think not many of us as children walk around going, do I have power? Do I feel powerless today? How do I feel on the school playground today. But what I definitely learned growing up, I was born in 1970s, England, I was one of the 10s of 1000s of middle class Nigerian children that will foster to white families. And so what I learned during that time was that I was powerless. Now, I wouldn’t have obviously said that when I was a child. But when I look back, my experience was was that I was to be grateful for the opportunity that I had. And that I was not allowed to have an opinion. I wasn’t allowed to have feelings. I had five primary foster carers. By the time I was 13 years old. And very much my parents had the power. Very much society told me that as a young black girl, I didn’t have any power either. And so I lived until my mid teens not questioning that knew that I had to navigate the world as an apology. And knew that I had to make sure that I never rocked the boat and that I didn’t upset the people around me because then I wouldn’t be and I say in quotation marks, I wouldn’t be allowed in the spaces or places that I may want to find myself in. Now I have to say that some of those foster families were incredibly loving, and taught me love and taught me about family. And some not so much because that’s how the foster system works. But that was definitely I spent most of that my early years never Getting the world with no sense of power at all.

Kara Goldin 5:02
And so what was the point when you kind of woke up, and you thought maybe I need to change this perception of this word. And it’s almost like when something has a negative connotation, maybe you fear it a little bit. Right, and you won’t take it on. I felt like, that was a little bit of what I was feeling in your book, where there were moments when you just decided Hold on a minute.

Kemi Nekvapil 5:28
And it was it was a series of moments, there wasn’t one particular light bulb moment one I can share with you was that I was 16 years old, I was at school. And we had just finished a physical education class, which in the UK, we call PE. And we were in the changing room, me and my friends were just kind of getting changed after PE. And I remember looking in the mirror, and I could see all my friends behind me laughing and chatting and giggling. And I was always the only I was always the only black girl at school. And at 16. I don’t know, if you remember Kira, the most important thing when you’re 16 is to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. It does not matter about anything else. And I was told and I knew that as a darker skinned black girl in particular, I was not beautiful, I was not pretty I did not have a boyfriend, or you know, I just did not have any interest in me whatsoever. And I remember looking at my friends and thinking, why don’t I have what they have? Why are they so confident? Why do they get to do the things they do and have boyfriends and just have the ultimate life because I have a boyfriend. I’m a feminist now. So I wouldn’t say that. But I suddenly had this, I call it a divine download. Now I don’t identify someone that is religious. But I do believe in messages that come from outside of us. And I have this divine download that was if you keep comparing yourself to other people, you will never be happy. And I just knew at 16 that that was true. Because my experience of myself and of the world in the world at that time, was one of incredible unhappiness, I think it was probably one of the most unhappiest times in my life, I can say. So I knew that this message of comparison, was taking away my power and my sense of myself, and what I could do in the world and who I could be in the world. So that was definitely one of the first messages that I got around, you may need to shift how you’re seeing how you are in the world. From an internal perspective. Obviously, there are structures and there are systems in the world that are real, and that are true, that I still have to navigate as a black woman. But that how I felt about myself, I was starting to feel I might need to shift that.

Kara Goldin 7:45
So interesting. And so just by taking that one little step around comparison, do you remember at that point, did you actually feel better and more confident and like you had more power at that point?

Kemi Nekvapil 7:59
I think it made me focus more on what I did have a not what I didn’t have. And I think for any of us, once we have that shift, that is a whole new way of living.

Kara Goldin 8:11
Absolutely. When you’re trying to kind of catch up right to to people versus versus actually looking at what you have. And I think that that’s such a, that’s such an incredible piece. So you mentioned in your book, that embracing our personal power can lead to increased self confidence and the ability to live authentically. Yet many people struggle with this and fear when it comes to stepping into their power, that they may be considered, you know, maybe made fun of or people will think that they’re conceited or obnoxious. Definitely when you’re 16 years old, I can imagine people think, like, oh, you know, who does she think she is? So could you share some examples and any other stories when you felt like you were you were changing, and people just needed to get on board with with what you were doing at this point or not? Right? You may have to walk away from circles as well, if if they are not going to allow you to be the authentic person that you’re choosing to be.

Kemi Nekvapil 9:24
It is it is such a journey, this, this journey of stepping into our power. And I think what I really want to do actually is to share the dictionary definition of the word power because I know that so many of us have an interpretation of what this word is, and then we recoil from it. So, you know, you may be able to hear my voice that I’m English. And so for me, it’s always about the Oxford dictionary. So when I began writing the book, I wanted to look at what does the word power actually mean? Because I knew I had to redefine it for those of us in the world that had been told that we don’t have any power I knew that I had to go in from a different angle. And so the dictionary definition of the word power is the ability or capacity to do something in a particular way. And so once I read that I was like, so isn’t that interesting, because we have been shown one form of power that only one type of person gets to have. And that form of power is very, can be very dominant, can be very manipulative can be very scarce. This idea of I have power, you can’t have power. And so when we suddenly realize our My power is about how I do things in the world, it’s about my agency, I think it’s a concept that many more of us understand, and many more of us want to cultivate. That is definitely why I write the book, it’s about how do I redefine a form of power that women in particular want to take ownership of, and don’t feel, as you said, that sense of I’m arrogant, or that means that I’m an egotistical or that I’m a bad person, or a greedy person or an evil person, we are at the time, we’re at a time in the world right now, when we as women need to and have to step into our power because we have work to do in the world, as individuals and as a collective, whatever that work is for us. For some of us, that is raising children at home, and being the best guide and the best model that we can for our children. For some of us like you car, it is changing the world of business and changing house founders show up and how you know, collectives of people come together to change systems and structures that don’t work for many, many people. So for me, I would say that my journey with power is still ongoing, you know, I’m a woman in midlife now. So I can tell you my power is out of force now that it has never been before. Because that is one of the opportunities, you know, for anyone listening, if you haven’t yet hit 40, I promise you, it gets better. Because our sense of ourselves from 40 onwards is an opportunity to stop apologizing for how we want to live to stop apologizing for how we lead. And it’s a journey where we go in and out of power all the time. So for me, as I said, 16 was probably the beginning, but I didn’t name it as Oh, I’m starting to find a sense of power now. But I, you know, I worked as an actor for seven years, I was very fortunate to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre and some of the UK’s best acting companies. But one of the things for me was that I was in a situation that a lot of my peers at the time, you know, really wanted getting into professional acting is a tough gig. And I remember doing this job, and it was really fun. But I also realized, at some point, I was actually in New York with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and I was talking to a fellow actor, and she was sharing with me that she really wanted to play Lady Macbeth when she was 14. And I remember being so excited for her. But it also made me think of this idea of presence, which maybe we’ll go into one of the power principles, but I remember getting present too. Do I want to keep playing other characters for the rest of my life? Or is my job here to be able to take full ownership of who I am, and actually navigate the world is Kimmy. And I decided that that was what I was here to do, that I had spent so long, not being myself being an apology for myself, that actually my main work was going to be being in the world as Chemi. And obviously, as that’s now extended into my work, it’s to walk alongside other women so that they can show up in the world as themselves too.

Kara Goldin 13:39
I love that. Well, one of the people that I thought of, as I was reading your book, Sheryl Sandberg talks about this term, bossy all the time, right. And so power often equates especially for women in business, that, you know, they’re bossy, or they’re a bitch, or, you know, that’s unfortunate. We something that is very rarely actually labeled for on men. But I loved in the book, that humility that you showed the vulnerability that you showed, as well as you were even struggling with the name of your book, like would people actually view that as, Oh, here she comes, you know, she’s gonna tell us how it is. But it’s really it’s an interesting thing, because even somebody that wants women to show up and be their true authentic self I, I definitely look at that word power. And I have to train my brain to think differently about it. And because we live in this world where you want to be that you want to be heard and you want to be listened to but you’re also trying to build something and create something And I think it’s it’s, you know, a constant struggle. But I loved, I loved hearing that, that struggle that you went through, do you want to share a little bit about that as well?

Kemi Nekvapil 15:12
Well, it’s interesting what you’re saying about Sheryl Sandberg, and the whole bossy thing, because that’s what I speak about in the book as well about the power of a collective, and the power of community. Because for those of us that may have been told, were too much of this or too little that or we should be more of this, we need to have other women around us that know, well, maybe we need to have the other Bossy Women around us that also are trying to create something in the world that has meaning, or trying to create more equity in the world for more people are trying to, you know, learn a language now that we have in the world of how do more people feel that they belong, instead of those of us that maybe have grown up believing that we are broken, and that we need to be fixed. And whether that is depending on how we identify whether that’s on our ability neurodivergent see sexuality, that there are so many of us that have been told that who we are in the world is not okay. And so this idea of stepping into our power can be a really scary thing. And especially for gender, you know, for gender as well, for being a woman, we have been told that being in the world is not okay, I was speaking to a client just the other day. She works in law. And she said, Oh, you know, I’ve been working. I’ve been working with her for a couple of years. And you know, she really wants to become a partner. And she’s now a partner at the firm. And now she’s having these big partner meetings with her colleagues that are all men. And she said, I just feel suddenly, my, I don’t have a voice anymore. You know, I’ve worked so hard at this firm, I’ve always been very assertive and use my experience in my skill. But suddenly, now that I become part of I feel that I’m apologizing for my voice. And it was so interesting in having the conversation and having the session with her because she realized that for her, it was like, I can’t have too much, I can’t have too much power, I can’t have too much status, because somehow I’m going to be punished. And we had a look at that we sort of explored what does that mean? What’s been her experience of that in the past. Now, I’m not a therapist, and she has her own therapist. So that was something she decided to take to her therapist, but it came up in her coaching session. And she kind of looked at in her childhood, when she did take a leadership role, whether that was in the playground or within her family, she was punished for that she was told, who asked you, this is how it’s going to go. Nobody wants your opinion. And so for me, I had a very similar experience where I decided that when I walked into a room as a black person navigating white spaces, that I had one intention, one objective, and that was to make sure that the white people around me were not offended. And that I would not be, you know, thrown out of the room or told that I wasn’t allowed to be there. And so I spent a lot of my life being nice. And I say that with a particular kind of nice. Because that is such a small box for women to have to operate in. And I took on not only being a nice girl or a nice woman, but a nice black girl, or a nice black woman. And that is an even smaller box to have to operate in. And I will sort of what I’m speaking on stage is I will joke about you know, I’ll ask people put your hand up if you want to be nice. And everyone puts their most people put their hand up and then ask the question, put your hand up if you would like she was nice. on your tombstone, that that is the ultimate sentence that you would want on your gravestone. And nobody puts their hand up. And when I asked, so what would you like to be remembered for? It’s always for my passion for how I contribute it for my humor, for, you know, for, for who I was for what I did. But this idea of being nice, is not a powerful way for women to navigate the world. Now kindness, that is incredibly powerful. But I believe that nice is a way that we dumb ourselves down and have been told that we should dumb ourselves down. And let me just finish off the story that I know of it with my client and love it. She had a meeting, I received an email from her so she had a meeting with the partners. And she said I showed up in that meeting. Not as an apology, but 100% in my power as myself. One of her partners came up to her afterwards and said, I don’t know what’s happened. That that was the person that I wanted in the room today. And it is such a you are a gift to our firm.

Kara Goldin 19:43
Wow. That’s That’s an incredible story. I love it. And I think I was listening to another interview that you did and I think this does hold true that you know as you age or as you become more successful, I think it’s easier to To have to stand up for yourself and have those conversations for sure. When you don’t have currency, right? You don’t in some way, I think it’s very difficult for people to be able to do that. And unfortunately, I think when if you’re just starting out, right, you’re, maybe you’ve gone to university and you’re getting into a job. I think it’s hard. You know, it’s it’s hard to sort of find that balance for sure.

Kemi Nekvapil 20:30
It is 100%. But I also believe it’s hard when you’re raising teenagers, Kara, you know,

Kara Goldin 20:36
totally. Well, speaking of which I one of the things that I wanted to have you share the story, when I think about, I don’t know where to find courage to do something. I have four children. And I think about how do I want them to perceive me? Right. And it’s less about, you know, what’s going to happen on how my co workers or how the world is, but I want my children, that’s what I want. on my tombstone, right? I don’t care about being nice. I, I want them to think that I showed up. I fought for them. I did what was right. And I think that that, to me, is, is a very powerful thing. And hopefully that were off on them as well and teach them but one of the stories that you share in the book, which was incredibly powerful was the story of the situation in your own child’s school, would you mind sharing that story?

Kemi Nekvapil 21:40
Oh, my goodness, yes, the violence that happens in the school playground protect between children. So yes, I, I have an incredible mother in law, who was a kindergarten teacher. And when I became a mom, she said to me, once the children start going to school, I just want you to know something that every single parent will believe that their child is in the right. And so I took that on. And I’m someone that you know, that is trained in deep listening and trained in clear and kind communication. And I found myself when my youngest child had hurt another child in the playground, they were actually sticking up for a friend, which is, you know, which is in some ways, as a parent, you’re kind of proud of them. But also, it’s not okay to, you know, to push another child, because you’re kind of, you know, an eye for an eye. And so I got a call from the mother of that young boy. And she was very upset because the boy was, you know, had been had been pushed in, he was pretty scared. And I remember thinking, this conversation is probably going to go one of two ways. And I’m going to hold that she is going to hold that her child is right. So I’m not going to defend my child, I’m going to listen to her. And what’s important for me is that she feels that I care as much about her child as I would about my child, because my children were in the same classroom. And so the conversation we had, I listened to what she had to say, and I listened to her child’s concerns about what had happened. And without defending my child I shared, you know, from my child’s perspective, this is, you know, this is where they were coming from, and obviously, it wasn’t okay for them to push your child. And by the end of the conversation, we had such a respect for each other. I had said to her, we know what can we do? What what do you need my child to do for your child to feel better about this. And she actually said, I don’t know if I actually, because I did come into this conversation kind of feeling like, your child had to do a particular thing, or you had to do something to make it better. But actually, what I’ve got from this conversation is that, you know, they’re both children, they’re both learning. And in some ways, we can step back a little bit as parents here. And we can allow them to work it out for themselves. And even as I’m sharing this story with you car, it’s kind of it’s kind of us as parents, allowing our children to have their own power and look at, we all have the ability and capacity to do something in a certain way. And we need to work out who we want to be and how we’re going to conduct ourselves in those spaces and those places, but 100% As parents, our children are watching us all the time. There is no point in us eating pizza at one end of the table, while telling them to eat their greens. That is they are watching us and it is more powerful for them to see us and I very similar to ukara when I became a mum, I decided that I wanted my children to see the full spectrum of what it is to be human. So for me part of the way that I live in my power as a child that was told, I wasn’t allowed to feel anything. I wasn’t allowed to have an opinion that my children have seen me experience all emotions, from excitement, you know from getting a book deal to crying because you know being an entrepreneur can be an inquiry Aw, challenging journey, they see me say, I will say to them, oh my gosh, this thing’s about to happen. And I’m really nervous. But I’m excited. And actually one of my children said all that to nerve exes when you’re nervous and excited at the same time. So we have this whole vocabulary and my family, I love them. But I wanted them to see that power isn’t about this, you know, dominating force and going out and getting what you want at all costs. Power is having the vulnerability and the courage to be in the world as who you are, to create things in the world for other humans that make life easier for all of us. It is not a linear process. I know. I know that I can have a conversation with one of my teenagers because, you know, as I said, teens can be challenging, it’s a challenging time for them, that I can leave a conversation and feel absolutely powerless. I’m just going, oh my gosh, like Where have you gone. And then in the next moment can have you know, I have a great group of girlfriends that are also parenting teenagers. And that would be definitely my number one. message to anyone out there that is parenting teenagers, it is a tough gig, find the parents around you that you can share the whole journey with, you know, you call a girlfriend, and suddenly you’re laughing and you know, you understand what just happened. And you kind of go back in again to have the conversation with your team. And power is restored for both because what I’ve noticed as well is that if I walk away from those conversations, my teens aren’t feeling great either. And that we as the adults go back in, because we are the ones that have the life experience. And we have more of a conceptual idea of what is going on for them at this period in their lives. So you know, it’s an ongoing, the book is not read this book, and you will be all powerful forever. The book is we go in and out of power all the time, sometimes it is taken from us. Sometimes we give it away because we’re smart. And sometimes we can own it without apology. And the book is a guide to understand when and where we give it away. And why is it an individual reason? Or is it a social construct around race and gender. And if we give it away, sometimes we give it away because that is the smartest move at that time. And then how do we get to rebuild our power in those situations, and who can hold a mirror to us and remind us of our power when we forget that we have any?

Kara Goldin 27:17
Who does that for for you.

Kemi Nekvapil 27:21
I am now at a period in my life Kara, where I only have people in my life that allow me to be in the world without apology. So I have an incredible group of girlfriends, I have an incredible group of couple of really great guy friends as well actually, I also am very much in a relationship with my husband. So he is he is you know, I always kind of joke about this, and you would have read about him in the book as well. I am married to a white, middle class, Christian, able bodied, cisgendered heterosexual man who is also a lawyer. So he kind of ticks all of the boxes that I don’t tick. And we have been together for 20 years. And my goodness, you know, the, what we have given each other in terms of our partnership and our marriage and raising two biracial children and what I have learned from him in how he has been told he is allowed to navigate the world. And what he has learned from me in that not all experiences are like his. And we are at such a beautiful point now in our marriage, where we get to know he gets to show up as part of himself in the world that maybe he was told he wasn’t allowed to as a male. And I get to show up in in the world and the way that I get to show up in the ways that maybe I wasn’t didn’t Well, not maybe in the ways that I was told that I wasn’t allowed to show up. So definitely, we have a lot of mutual power in our marriage and in our partnership, and I have that in my friendships, and it’s a gift. I had to change, you know, to be honest car. And I think you probably would have found this in your experience that we need to do our work and change who we are to attract the people that can see us for who we are. And I have definitely done the work for that.

Kara Goldin 29:13
No, I love that. And I think also know that it’s not just happening to you, right that it’s people are taking, maybe at moments you think, you know someone’s taking advantage of you or not treating you right, but I think that there’s other people in the room who also maybe feel like they’re not being seen or heard either, I think to your point about your husband, so it’s really nice and actually interesting.

Kemi Nekvapil 29:42
Yes. And let me share with you just yesterday my husband called me said babe, I need your help with something and I already knew I said I already know that you know the right thing to do before you even say he said no, but let me talk it out. He said I’m in a case at the moment. He said it’s an older male barrister. There are seven male lawyers and Then there is my junior, so the person who was working with him who is female. And at the end, apparently the judge said, okay, okay. Okay, Gentleman, thank you. And then he went, Oh, and you and to the female lawyer in the room, and you. And my husband said, I just don’t know whether I should say anything, because. And I said, How do you think she felt when she left that court that day? Everyone knows what happened in that room. And he said, Okay, I’m gonna say something to her. I said, because she would have felt incredibly alone, she knows she’s the only female in that room, she’s having to pretend she’s not the only female. She’s having a conversation with herself tonight, maybe with a glass of wine about how it is for her to be the only female in that space. And my says, husband said, Okay, tomorrow morning, I’m gonna invite her for coffee. And I’m just gonna say to her, I don’t know the experience you’re having in the room. But I just want you to know that I can see what’s going on. And I’m here for you if you want to chat about it. And that is him standing in his power as one of the males in that room, but then using it to elevate the power of the female in the room, because I said she is alone. And she is made to feel that she doesn’t belong in those spaces. But those little moments of Thank you gentleman said, you get to remind her that she does belong. And she’s done the work to be in that room. And that’s how he’s going to be using his power today.

Kara Goldin 31:26
I love that. Well, and I think having power to its, you know, it’s something that is it depends on what you really care about. Right? She cares about being a terrific turning, I remember a story that I’ve shared with our audience before, when we were raising money for our company hint. And my husband and I were the co founders. We’ve worked together for over 20 years and been married for over 25 years. And but when we showed up at a venture capital of Sophos, and I just had my fourth child, and I’ll never forget, we were walking up the steps to this office, and the head partner said to me, I was reading up on you and I understand you just had your fourth child. And I said, I did. And he said to who’s watching the children? Not then he looked right at me. And I felt like someone had just popped my balloon. Yeah. Right. What was fascinating is we went into the meeting, and you know, it was an OK, meeting. They didn’t end up investing for a lot of different reasons. But when we were driving back home, my husband said to me, did you hear what that gentleman said? And I said, Of course I did. And he said, So why didn’t he asked me? I said, What? And he said, probably the most important thing to me is to is my family. And so he must have thought that I’m not a good father. I said, Whoa, like, you know, where did you? I said, Wow, he just viewed me as not being able to, you know, run a company because I have babies. And he said, Oh, I didn’t see it that way at all. I figured that he was looking at you and addressing you, but he never said anything to me. I was like, wow. And that’s I mean, it’s cool. It’s very interesting. Yeah, you view your own power, right, and how people are perceiving your power as well. And then and it really made me think. So that’s definitely a similar kind of situation to what you’re explaining. So

Kemi Nekvapil 34:06
yeah. And I think now what’s so beautiful about that story is that I think so many of us and we all have our blinkers, you know, I talk about that in the book, we all have a particular way of being in the world, you know, for me, I know when it comes to equality and equity, I’ve had to really be much more mindful around my ableism. You know, and I’ve had to learn languages around that. And, you know, just do my work around, oh, I don’t have to know if there’s a ramp in the building that I’m going to enter because I don’t have to wonder if there’s a ramp. And I was speaking on stage the other day, and I said, the reality is, is that the rooms that every single one of us find ourselves in, there is someone in that room, probably because we live in a hierarchical society in the western world in particular, there is someone in that room that has highest status power. Now, it may be the person with the title that has the most power it may not be it may be the person that kind of sits in the room and has a really negative energy. Because actually they can be the people that have the most power in the room. Because all energy goes towards that person wondering, are they okay? What are they going to do? Are they going to say, it may not be the person with the title of CEO in the room that has the power, but there is always someone in that room that has the least power, once again, by title, or because maybe they’re an introvert in an extroverted space? Or maybe because they have a marginalized identity, whatever that may be. And the opportunity for every single one of us when we’re in that room, is to be mindful of that and to look around and think, can I elevate the power of anyone in this room? And if so, what would I be doing to do that? Is that to just say, oh, did you have something to say, Zainab? Or, Oh, I noticed that, you know, Peter, did this incredible thing, the other day that I wanted to share with the group, you know, that we all have little ways that we can elevate the power of each other. And in the book, you know, I talk about the power acronym. So once again, redefining power. And there’s five power principles, presence, ownership, wisdom, equality, and responsibility. And once we take a hold of any of those principles, because they don’t really work in a linear fashion, either they can, but they don’t always, once again, it allows us to redefine power and look at how do I get to do something in a particular way, with the capacity that I have in the spaces that I find myself in?

Kara Goldin 36:30
That was my next question. So thank you so much for, for bringing that up. That’s amazing. So what does the word ambition mean to you?

Kemi Nekvapil 36:40
Ah, yes, yes. Well, there’s the word that ambition meant to me in in this story, and the word that I now know that it means. So I talk about ambition, in the power of ownership. So the principle of ownership under the chapter, the power of belief, I think it’s really important that we re examine what we think words mean, and what they actually mean. So I am here in Melbourne, Australia, on the land of the Rwenzori people. And I had a meeting with a dear friend who was in the corporate space, and we were chatting. And she said to me, this is many years ago now, maybe 12 years ago, and she said, Oh, I love your ambition. And I remember looking at her, and thinking, what, why would you call me ambitious? And obviously, something changed on my face? Because she said, I look like I’ve offended you. And I’m English. So I just gritted my teeth and smiled and said, No, no, no, no, everything is absolutely fine. But I remember once we left that meeting, I remember thinking that was so rude. Why would she call me ambitious? And I looked up straightaway, what is the word ambition mean? Now, I hope thought ambition meant deceitful will do whatever you need to get to where you want in authentic or just, you know, egotistical, bossy, all of those things. And when I had a look at the word ambition, it means a deep desire to do something. And I was like, wow. So where did I get the idea? That ambition was a negative thing. And I got it from, you know, the social structures that tell us that ambitious women are bad. And whenever I used to hear about ambitious women, I would hear all She’s ambitious. Or she’s an ambitious one, which is code for stay away. Danger. Not a nice woman, there’s that word again, nice. But when I saw ambition is a deep desire to do something. I was like, I am ambitious. I have work to do in the world. I want to create spaces and places where women get to live in the world as who they are without apology. And if that means I’m ambitious, I will take full ownership of that word. And so for me, that has been part of building my power is taking ownership of my ambition.

Kara Goldin 38:57
I love that. And it’s, it really hit home for me because I’ve, I guess your book explores various aspects of power, including the power of language, and I talk about language a lot, my understanding of language versus what it really means, or how I’ve been using language. For me. When I started the company that I found a tent, the word diet meant something totally different. Diet meant healthy to me. And the reality is, is that diet is kind of a negative word. Right? And so there’s, I started to realize how we get accustomed to sort of thinking about words and what your book helped me to see is it’s not just words that are defining food, or it actually is words like ambition and power and there’s just so many where we start using words in a certain way. And, and often it’s, you know, to cut ourself down, right? Or not allow ourselves to be the people that we want to be, but that in the book, you talk about what we need to stop doing and start doing. And I’d love for you to share a little bit about that.

Kemi Nekvapil 40:17
Yeah, just to just to continue as well, because you started speaking about words. And obviously, as an author, I, I get so excited about words. You know, another thing that I love doing as well is bringing back words back, you know, so for me, something that’s been a really big part of me owning my power in my life is my absolute obsession with delight. And I talk in the book about the power of delight, because there is power in being delighted and being present. And, you know, that is one thing, I definitely feel that we need to move more towards in the world that we live in right now. The world has always been a challenging space to be in, it’s just been different challenges for different people, many people have been challenged for a long time. And now we have, you know, global challenges that we are all facing, which is why it’s so important that we also have the power of the light in our lives, whether that is nature, whether that is the people we spend our time with, whether that is creativity, or art, or music or beauty, it is important that that is a part of our power as well. But it’s not this power that is scarce and miserly, that it’s a power that is joyous and abundant, and can be shared and is regenerative. And in terms of what we can start doing and stop doing, you know, I will always ask that coaching question, either when I’m on stage speaking, or even when I’m working with teams within my day to lead work. It’s looking at, you know, this idea of presence, which is the first power principle, presence is about looking at what is working and what is not working in our lives. Because our ability to be present, has a huge impact in how we are in the world. And that just that question, what is working in your life, a lot of people don’t even think about that, because as we’ve already spoken about, we look about, we look for what is missing in the way that I did as a teenager, I was looking for what don’t I have, but a lot of people don’t celebrate what is working in their lives, they’re not present to that. But once they are, and once I’ve asked them that question, and they’ve generally blown their own minds by what is working in their lives, I will then ask them, so what is not working. And that can be incredibly fronting presents, is challenging, it’s not about sitting in a meadow, you know, with this, oh, I have this enlightened presence, or I’m being mindful. Presence is also confronting the things in our life that maybe aren’t working, or the parts of our personality that aren’t working, you know, there’s this beautiful phrase, if one person tells you, you’re a horse, they’re probably they probably have an issue. If two people tell you that your horse, probably buy a saddle. And if three people tell you, you’re a horse, you’re a horse, you know that there are going to be aspects of our personality that maybe aren’t working. And we’ve been told again and again and again. And if we’re willing to take ownership of that part of our personality or that trait in us, we then have an opportunity to do something about it. If we know that there’s something about that that is true. And so for me, what we start doing and what we stopped doing in our lives is different for everyone. But the first step is always get present to what is working, and what is not working. Where are you fully in your power? And where are you giving away your power? And what are the opportunities for you for your next step for your next action. Because obviously, as a coach, I’m very committed to setting my clients up to succeed. But I’m also committed that their actions have meaning for them. It’s not action for the sake of action. It’s not action to do stuff. It is action to be in the world as we are without apology.

Kara Goldin 43:47
I love that so much. So I could talk to you for 10 hours. So it’s, there’s so much you’re on it, for sure. So you talk about owning your story. One of the things that I I loved this example was sometimes people want to talk about something that is part of your life. But it’s up to you to own your own story. Like I’ve I’ve said, for example, over the years while I have four children, and my children definitely are the love of my life. That does not necessarily make me a leader. Maybe it does, there’s aspects of it. But that doesn’t mean that every time I’m doing an interview people say how do you balance being a mother and being a CEO, something that they would never ask a man for example, and I think that figuring out how to gracefully actually stop people from inserting things into to creating the story that they want versus what you want. Is is something that I think is really important for people and and I love Have your response on that?

Kemi Nekvapil 45:02
It is it’s an it’s an ongoing challenge, you know, in the big ways and the small ways I was doing a book signing just the other day. And I always do this with book signings. So a woman came up to me and she said, my name is Elizabeth, but people call me, Liz. And I was like, Okay, and what would you like to be called? And she said, What do you mean? I said, So your name is Elizabeth, but people call you, Liz, what would you like me to sign your book as she just looked at me, and she actually teared up, she, because I’d like you to sign it as Elizabeth. And I said, Okay. And she said, Actually, I think I need to start telling people to stop calling me, Liz. She just really like a small thing. But huge. It’s your name, you know, taking ownership of your name. But once again, that thing where people just we give our narratives away to people in the big and small ways all the time. And you’re right, it’s also sharing them in spaces and places where, you know, we’re safe to share those things. I never used to share that I was a foster child. I used that was part of my story I did not take ownership of because I felt I didn’t want people’s sympathy or people’s pity. And some I didn’t want people to be delving into questions of why and people made up a narrative about who my parents were. Because generally the narrative is, if you’re fostered, that is because you know, for whatever reasons, your parents can’t look after you. And for me, it was because the reason that I was fostered and 10s, of 1000s of Nigerian children were fostered, is because of the colonial narrative that there’s only one form of education, the English education. And so my parents wanted the best for their children, as most parents do, especially when it comes to education. And they thought, okay, so we want our kids to have the English education, and they will come back to Nigeria, and become the doctors and the lawyers. Now, obviously, I did not become I did not become a doctor or a lawyer, but I mount a lawyer. So my mum is very happy, I need to dissipate that proximity Lawyer by proximity she’s happy with. But if we don’t take ownership of our full narrative, we leave parts of ourselves outside of rooms. One of the reasons I know that I am successful in the work that I do as a coach, is because as a child, I arrived in families of which I had never met any of those family members. And I had to observe from the outside to see what was going on what was being said, what was not being said. Now, as a coach, my role is not to give advice to my client. That is what a consultant does. I’m very clear. As a ICF. Credential coach, it is not my job to tell people how to live their life. But it is my job to create a space where they feel safe enough to share with me, what obstacles are, what dreams they have in their life. And I will then walk alongside them by asking questions, sharing stories and mirroring back to them. And for me, I need to listen for what is being said and what is not being said. So I can now fully integrate and take ownership of the whole of my story. Because I know the way I coach has a lot to do with me being a foster child has a lot for me being able to be caring about my clients, but not attached to my clients, because I was in families where I was cared for. But I could never be fully attached to those families because I never knew when I was going to be moved again. So I just wanted to share that because I know there’ll be people listening, where they are not taking ownership of parts of their story. But actually there are parts of their story that need to go out into the world and say, Hey, this is, you know, this is what has happened to me or, you know, this is who I am, but just for you to take ownership and to have pride of this, I’ve lived this. And this is why I get to show up as a graphic designer in this way. This is how I get to be a founder. This is how I run my business this way because of that part of my story, not in spite of it, but because of one of the things that I say is that my story is not my excuse. It’s my why it’s why I do the work. I navigated the world for a very long time feeling that I had no sense of power and that I was powerless. And that 100% is why I do the work that I do now because I know what it’s like to navigate the world feeling powerless. And it is a joy and a delight to create spaces in places where people own their power.

Kara Goldin 49:22
So the last question like I said I could go on and on and everyone needs to get a copy of this book because it will have you thinking and I’m going to go back and reread it and also listen to it on Audible. For sure because it’s I can’t get enough of you Comey because it’s it’s so so good. But you talk about the I am exercise can you share about the I am exercise and not to put you on the spot but if you happen to have your own I ams anywhere around there with you. I would love love love For you to not only talk about what it is and how to do it, but also, just to give an example.

Kemi Nekvapil 50:07
Yes, I will. So I do need to give credit to Brene. Brown because I trained with Brene in Texas in 2019, as a dare to lead facilitator, and part of the data lead work in the first version, and I’ve been a as a researcher, so it’s always changing. And we get new versions and new updates on the research. But the first version, there was an exercise called I Am. And we were given the choice of facilitators whether or not we wanted to keep that or whether we wanted to, you know, whether we wanted to remove that from our curriculum, I have found it to be such a powerful, powerful coaching practice in terms of taking ownership of our story. And I have my I am here, if you’re happy for me to just read this

Kara Goldin 50:52
book, I would love it.

Kemi Nekvapil 50:55
Okay, wonderful. Isn’t that great? I have the book right here at this. You know, I could find it because we didn’t pre plan. Yes, exactly. Yeah. So this is given a bit of context for the listener. The item exercise is basically us integrating our full selves without apology. It’s a very simple exercise. I think it’s Joel Olsteen, who has also written a book called The Power of I am what I am. And what he says is, the words that follow I am are the most powerful words because if we say I am brave, that’s very different from saying I am powerless for example. So this is my I am I believe our items are always evolving because we’re always evolving, but this is what it currently is. I am Kemi, I am of Nigerian heritage, and I am an English and Australian citizen. I am black. I am a fostered stock. I am a multi passionate and I’m proud of this fact. I am here to serve. I am a lover of boundaries. I am an introvert. I’m a lover of beauty and its many forms. I am wounded. I am a creator. I am a connector. I am a maker and a grower. I am in my body. I feel things strongly. I am a true and loyal friend. I am a good enough mother and a top shelf wife. My husband’s words not mine. I am flawed. I am not an apology. I am growing. I am whole I am worthy.

Kara Goldin 52:25
That’s awesome. So so so beautiful. It was such a pleasure to talk with you and meet you Kemi and like I said everyone needs to get this book power. It’s been out in Australia and has done incredible and just coming out in the US I know that many people are listening to this podcast from all over the world but definitely in in the US. I know it’s coming out for the first time so everyone’s gonna know Kemis name if you don’t already. And this book is absolutely so incredible. So thank you again Kemi.

Kemi Nekvapil 52:59
Thank you so much Kara. It’s been delightful to be here with you.

Kara Goldin 53:03
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