#31 - Taking Ownership & Taking the Lead with Chimdi Ihezie

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Have you ever been at work and really wondered if your presence there matters? Have you ever found yourself constantly asking for your boss' input? Have you ever felt like an impostor? Well, that's exactly some of the stories and experiences that we dig into in today's episode with Chimdi Ihezie and how she intentionally leveraged and developed her leadership and moved from timid, shy impostor to someone who took ownerships of her contributions in her work. Enjoy!

WHAT WE TALKED ABOUT IN THIS PODCAST

  • Navigating stereotypes, identity struggles and the relative “value” of a field in choosing your career.

  • Struggling to specialize as a creative, multi-passionate individual.

  • The power of leadership development in transforming you as a worker and person.

  • Impostor syndrome as a new employee.

  • Allowing yourself to take up space in an organization even if you don’t “feel like” you’re contributing anything.

  • The importance of recognizing the value of your voice and your perspective.

  • Mindset shifts around giving feedback - it’s an investment in them and in your growth.

  • Recognizing you were hired for a reason and taking ownership of your contributions, strengths, etc.

  • Creating the community that you need

  • Making an investment as motivation to take action on your goals

  • The importance of knowing what you want in creating your life and your dreams and surrounding yourself with people that support that

  • Doing informational interviews with people

RESOURCES FROM THIS EPISODE

Brene Brown’s BRAVING Framework - here

Podcasts on Intentional journaling - Nicole Hudson episode here and Kate Gosselin episode here.

Think & Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill - here

Check out Chimdi’s Website - Hold Me Like - here

Check out Chimdi’s YouTube Channel - Hold Me Life - here

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

 [Intro]

 Hey everyone and welcome to The Growth Tribe podcast, where we’re all about growing ourselves and empowering us to create lives we f’ing love on our terms. I’m Ellyn and I’m a former biomedical researcher turned coach who fell in love with personal growth when it empowered me to transform my health, quit my Ph.D., travel the world and start my own business. But don’t get me wrong. I’m still figuring my shit out too and I’m so pumped to share what I’m learning along the way. We’ve got amazing interviews, tips, tricks, and no-bullshit action steps that we can all learn from. So, with that, welcome to this episode of “The Growth Tribe”….

00:47 

[Ellyn] Hey everybody and welcome back to another week of the growth tribe podcast! It is the last week of January - can you freaking believe it, my friends? We are already rounding out the first month of 2019 and in honor of that, I have a powerhouse interview for you guys today.

Today we are talking to Chimdi Ihezie and we are talking all about the importance of leveraging leadership and developing your leadership skills as well as the importance of taking ownership to help you level-up in your career and in your purposeful, passionate pursuits. That was a hell of an alliteration there, wasn't it? *laughs*

But, I'm so excited for this interview because when I was first introduced to Chimdi, she talked about her resume and some of the things that she'd done and some of her passions, and I was just looking at her like, "Damn girl! You do everything! You do all the things!" She's definitely one of those multi-passionate individuals! But it definitely is kind of a career path that seems all over the place from the outside. It definitely didn't seem linear in a lot of ways and she talks about how so many of the pivots she made in her career and the different things that she's done were seamless steps in her path of finding who she is, what she wants, and ultimately the contribution she wants to make to the world.

You'll hear as we have this interview how resonate so many of the stories she was telling were for me and in my own life, and I'm sure you guys are going to feel the exact same way. She talks about imposter syndrome, how sometimes it's a struggle for us to take ownership of the strengths that we have, and ultimately how developing her leadership skills, for her, really helped her to leverage her place within her company and start to do the thing that she was the most passionate about. 

I'm so excited for you guys to hear her story, to learn from some of the lessons that she's experienced in her life and to ultimately apply those lessons to your life as well. So, with that, let's get into today's interview with Chimdi Ihezie. 

02:50 

Ellyn here - and you're listening to the Growth Tribe *music break)

03:02 

[Ellyn] Hey everybody and welcome back to the Growth Tribe podcast! I am so excited today to have Chimdi Ihezie on - how are you? How's Remote Year treating you so far?

[Chimdi] It has been amazing! It has been - you know, it kind of seems very cliche when something is beyond your wildest dreams, but that's the reality of it. Like something you can't imagine because you just don't have the capacity to imagine it. And then you experience it and it's just like - "Wow! This is amazing!" So I'm very glowing so far.

[Ellyn] I love that! And I think that's something that's been so fun about bringing all of these people from Remote Year on is that a) we get to kind of talk about our experiences in these different cities, but also I feel like we have an appreciation and a love for a slightly unconventional lifestyles and I'm really excited to talk to you today about your career progression, which maybe once I hear it will sound pretty linear and straightforward, but just hearing you kind of chat about? You have a very interesting career progression. So, could you tell us a little bit about your background?

[Chimdi] Sure! And you know one thing that I kind of hear a lot is that it's only after the fact that you make it all make sense in your head. Like, "oh the narrative of my life is XYZ..." But the reality is that you're hopping all over the place and it's only once you look back that you see the narrative and the line that it's former.

So, I'm from Silver Spring, Maryland - it's a kind of suburb of Washington DC and I was born in 1990 and I actually ended up growing up in Baltimore City. I'm one of 6 kids so we had a really big family. And we moved from Silver Spring to Baltimore City and it's been interesting growing up in that mix of being close to DC and the more wealthy suburbs and even the wealthier parts of Baltimore and also going to Baltimore city schools. There was definitely that experience of seeing how each half lives that influenced what was my first career direction, which was all around public policy and making systems change in government and politics.

So, I went to the University of Maryland and got my degree in Government & Politics, which was like their version of "Political Science". I know I want to make change, and there are so many different ways you can make changes in the world, and I knew that I didn't want to do the sort of direct-service type. I wanted to make the change that was lasting, that was systems wide at the infrastructure level. I really wanted to make that large scale change in my mind, policy was the best way to do that. So that was what was my original kind of impetus for getting that degree.

[05:48]

[Chimdi] And then I also thought, and I don't know ...I was like, "well you can actually do the job if you don't have the masters". So I was like, "all right, let me go ahead and get the masters."

[Ellyn] I think that's why so many people go onto graduate school - it's a logical next step. So I'm just gonna keep on rolling!

[Chimdi] Yeah! I was in a program that was just starting junior year, so I think he'll have now keep it up through senior year and you only have to do one more year and you'll have the masters. So I literally just spent... Literally, just kept on going. And really, Senior year isn't really when you want to start a graduate program. You know, all my friends have their best life and I was just like, "Nope, I'm just studying for my graduate classes."

Um, and it's interesting because like my family is, and as they should, be very proud of me and I think people who aren't so embedded in DC culture are like, "oh wow". Because I got it, got [my masters degree] at like 22 or 23. They were like, "Oh wow, you already have a masters." But in DC everyone has a masters so that's just just like the bare minimum to just like be walking around there. So, it's just interesting how the perspectives are skewed based on who it is you're talking to. So during that I'm realizing now that time I still were there parts that I leave out because they didn't fit in the previous narratives in my life. So, while I was getting my master's, for instance, I did work with an organization that was a media relations company and I did media research. So I was one of the kind of reaching out to different TV stations and news publications to get a sense of who their staff was and who we should contact and kind of in the field of the back end of how you create and market news and all this stuff.

But I really, I realized in doing like the more public policy stuff, I always kind of leave that part out because that's not part of the kind of "Oh, I'm a government person" narrative. But as I was looking for my first real job, I actually ended up immediately interning with a small nonprofit called The Hope Street group. Because I was like, "hey, you all need a media intern and that's something I'm literally currently working on with this media research, but also I have multiple degrees in government politics. You all are a nonprofit, you're focused on systems change and all these things and that's what I personally care about as well as having this media experience. So, that's that same thing of creating the narrative of these two things that some people might see as unrelated were actually very much related and that's how I was able to get that role with that organization.

Um, so while I was, it was a pretty small organization but they had a very large scope and a very large focus around making change in education, healthcare and the workforce. And I started off as immediate intern and I did what like our grandparents do, which is you just work your way up from the bottom. So it's supposed to be a summer internship or whatever, and it was like September. And [my manger] was like, "so what are your plans?" And I'm like, |Oh, I'm just going to stay here until y'all kick me out. Like I'm not going anywhere." *laughs*

Like I ended up working up from intern to associate and actually was an associate of both the media relations and external affairs kind of work, as well as the education work, which I really liked because one, I'm the kind of person who, I love having my mind stretched a bunch of different ways and doing a bunch of different types of activities. So, when organizations are small, if you, I volunteered to do this, and they'll be like, "great, here you go." Graphics? "Great, here you go!" You need videos to produce? "Great! Here you go!" I've got this great sense of working on this great content around helping our kids and helping our young people become successful, as well as sharpening these really great skills around graphic design and you need super duper exciting curiosity.


[09:46]

[Ellyn] Out of curiosity, was that originally why you decided to do the media thing while you were doing, essentially, kind of a public policy master's degree? Just for curiosity sake and to kind of hone some new skills?

[Chimdi] What I think it really was is that I think part of me, and this is like a thing too. It's just doing what you love versus doing what you should do versus like what's needed by the world model. Part of me...I really feel like I would be very good at and I am very good at the government politics system. Like all that thinking and the strategy there and that work is genuinely interesting to me and exciting to me and I think it works. I think I had a narrative in my mind that stuff involving media and around storytelling, while now I understand is incredibly important., I kinda thought that was a little bit more, not fluffy, but like that's not the same. You know, being an actor is not the same thing as being a doctor in terms of the value you're given in society. I understand how important it is to tell stories and who's story gets told is so important in terms of how they end up getting treated in the world. Like all these different things. I think I had an elementary and kind of binary view of which jobs, which industries, are more important. And so, even though deep down I love all the media stuff, in order to be a good person and help the world, I need to lean into this more public policy stuff. I wouldn't do government stuff as a side passion project

[Ellyn] That resonates with me so much. Like I feel like a lot of my career decision making was... I grew up playing music, playing soccer. But it never crossed my mind to make those things my career because those things...it's almost like a, I hate to say this because I don't feel like it's true, but there was a sense of, almost, that those weren't careers that were respected enough. I need to go into a more respected career. And I also ended up in science. I made some serious career pivot after realizing that, even though science is respected and even though I do enjoy learning about it, I don't necessarily want it to be my career. So maybe you're going to touch on that more as you go through your story. But yeah, I feel like a lot of us can resonate with the notion of making our career decision and choosing which things are going to be our hobbies based on what thing is the more respected, culturally speaking.

[12:19]

[Chimdi] Exactly. Culturally speaking and family speaking. And I think there's like a known stereotype. The immigrant parents are like, "so got three options. You got doctor, lawyers...*laughs*. Which one you want to pick?" Like what? I'm not not a doctor, lawyer. Yeah, it's definitely that kind of pressure from society and family and community. I think is really salient. What I, what I experienced too was the pressure around specialization because creative people, we tend to have a ton of different things that we love doing because you can add creativity to anything you do really. So I was doing this great work around education as well as great work around media. And it was like, okay, but you can't keep doing this, you need to specialize.

And so when it was time for me to go from like associate manager, I decided, "okay, I'm gonna, I'm going leave the education stuff and I'm going to focus on the external affairs stuff because that is where my heart, where my passion lies." And so I was doing that work and it was great. It was lots of just writing and creating and video production, graphic design. Because we were so small, I'm like, I could do as much as I wanted. Basically create thegned pages, create these cool videos, graphics. Like it was, it was really great. Everyday was creating really great content. So then I, I realized that, okay, I'm doing this work. But...I'm a very mission driven person and I do kind of want to be doing work that is tied to a specific mission versus kind of being a pinch hitter across a variety of different topics and fields.

And so that's when I joined the organization I'm at now, which is leadership for educational equity and they're a leadership organization that's focused on education. But it's fascinating because, you know, you hear about professional development a lot, but I have yet to hear of leadership development specifically, much less an entire organization focused on it. And it's just interesting. I have worked there for over a year. Just seeing the reality of how my leadership has changed and grown as a result of working at a place where that's their mission? It's not just that we are expected to develop the leadership of our members, but we as staff are expected to grow in our own leadership and we are constantly being asked to challenge ourselves and challenge each other to grow our leadership and to become better leaders in our communities and in our world and in our work.

And I, it's just interesting because I didn't expect that from a job. I don't know. I don't necessarily expect a job support you. I expect that they support you with money and then you pour into them with your talent and your hard work. So it's just been a real paradigm shift for me to be at an organization that's saying like, "no, no, no, your leadership is incredibly important to us and we are going to invest in it. It's important for you to value that as well and to invest in it." And it's been fascinating. I think I was only there for like three months when I was talking with my sister and my mom and my mom was like, "oh yeah, I see a difference in you already from just working there for a few months." And to me, I was like, I didn't really notice the shift in myself, but I really noticed it when I'm with people who, who just don't work at similar organizations. And how folks just show up in a room in terms of not being the first one to stand up to go to the front, or volunteer an idea, to want to push a conversation forward, who want to be action oriented. And I have a story of when I was at my previous organization where I was an intern to ,which you know, there's always that thing of imposter syndrome and thinking...


[Ellyn ] Yes! So huge!

[Chimdi] So I joined a call with a high level person, but I was an intern to someone else on our team who was there. So, I joined the call and I introduced myself, "oh, it's so and so", and they didn't hear me. I think someone else was talking. Whatever else didn't hear me. So, maybe like a minute goes by and my manager is like, "Hey, so I think Chimdi was supposed to join the call but I don't hear her so we're going to get started. And that is the moment when I should've been like, "oh no, here I am, I'm on the call." Even though I knew that I was solely there to take notes and I was not at all going to really contribute anything. Well because I have nothing to say and I'm not really going to add it into the conversation. It's totally fine if they don't even like recognize me as a voice on this call. And so after the call ended, I got on GChat, like, "Oh hey, I actually was on that call. I was just listening." And she was like, "why didn't you say you were on the call? You can sort of introduce yourself." And I was like, "oh, I just thought...". And like looking back now, what was wrong with me? Like, even if you're just going to be taking notes, you can still exist and have a voice on this thing even if you're not going to be the one leading the entire call. So I just looked back at that version of myself that kind of just let other folks step up and lead and now I'm confused with other people don't also want to step up and be the ones leading the conversation and kind of being in the front and, you know, recognizing that they have a voice that matters and is valuable. That They have an insight as a result of their entire lived experience that's worth hearing. So, it's been really interesting working for an organization that's just focused on leadership and thinking and having to think everyday about how all the choices we make big and small.. you can be intentional about all of your choices if you want to be. And for myself and seeing in others too, like how much am I willing to do that for myself? And then call people out byI'm saying like, "you're copping out right now. You're taking a backseat and if you wanted to, you can change how things are and you're choosing not to."

[18:08]

[Chimdi] I think one of the major things that I've learned is especially around feedback. We know how difficult it can be to give critical feedback for people. One of the trainers talked to us about this idea that, when you invest in someone's leadership, that means you actually care about them. And part of that is giving them feedback. So if you abstain from giving feedback because it's difficult for you, that's you not investing in their leadership or your own. So all you can really control is what you choose t. And when you make the choice to not invest in yourself and invest in others, the result is that they don't grow. So when you're thinking about, "oh, I don't want to give a piece of feedback," that's you not investing in yourself and another and it's such a mind shift in terms of having these conversations sometimes.

[Ellyn] Oh my God, I wish your organization was there when I was in Grad School. Because damn, this would have...Like, the impostor syndrome? I can relate to that so much. The not sticking up and contributing something and in a classroom or in my lab meetings. God that resonates with me so much. But I also think of these moments where there would have been an opportunity to educate me, to give me positive feedback and instead I was either just belittled or I was silenced. You mentioned that there were trainers and trainers that were giving you feedback, what kind of intentional growth did you get through your company that empowered you so much? Because damn. I want some!

[Chimdi] It's a lot and I'm on the programming team of that organization. So a lot of what I do is around creating programs and creating the trainings and figuring out what are the best resources for people. So one of the first things, and this is something that was just like, "oh, we want you to see how some of our other programming is done as you think about how to create what you're gonna be creating for your folks" and it was a program on being a person of color and running for office. And I'm the one who had never even considered running for office because I think a lot of people don't ever really consider it. And then I go to this two day training that's starts off people who look like you saying here are the many campaigns that Irun and here's how to do it successfully and here's how you actually tailor your pitch and here's why it's important for you that you're there. You're in a room full of people who are very, very passionate and do see this future for themselves. And being in that environment is very infectious. And so I think for me it was seeing people who have done the thing and done it well, it then makes it so possible. They literally walk you through it step by step. Here's how you get it done. Here's the work that it takes. Here's what's possible. And it's not this big mystery, it's like, "no, you need to knock on this many doors. You'll get this many votes and then you will win." So all you need to decide to do is whether or not you can do the hard work. So knock on those doors, do the fundraising, make the calls because etc. To get where you want to go. So I left there being like, "oh, I'm going to run for office right now." There's like local councils you can run for. I just was so inspired about that stuff. Also, our team, we have a bi annual retreats. We would retreat twice a year. And that'Sswhen we actually brought In like a consultant trainer who gave us additional tools and things to think about as we work together as a team.

[21:34]

[Chimdi] I don'T know if you're familiar with with the BRAVING concepts and just like all these different tools and things around how you build trust in an organization and that's what allows us then go to the next level in terms of giving meaningful feedback and being able to actually...There's a woman...I want to say her last name is barry. It's Brene Brown. The BRAVING framework is like boundaries.

[ellyn] I'm sorry, I completely misheard. I love Brene brown. So yes, I've heard of this.

[Chimdi] It's used for good reason. And what I love about her, she just gives you frameworks for thinking about things that you always kind of knew. But like, "oh, now I understand." Like trust jar. So he introduced that to our team and has been working with us over the course of the last year and a half to kind of implement some of these different concepts. We have accountability partners on our team specifically around your leadership. So it's not about your work. It's wonderful because it, he's like, how are you showing up in your leadership? HAve you been giving meaningful feedback? Have you been being honest about your workload or do you feel empowered to say no, actually, here's what I have on my plate. Like all these different things like that. That kind of investment has been has been great. And I think just in the work too, the organization was one where anything you made you knew was never going to be final because it was going to come back with like red line edits. And that was like round one of four rounds of edits. I remember there was a moment where I was working on a training and I created a name for it and my manager asked me what's the name of that training that you need. And here I'm thinking, "okay, here's how we're going to workshop this thing." And I was like, "oh, I'm thinking of calling it XYZ." She was like, "okay", and typed it up. And I'm like, "wait, what?" And she was like, "yes, I need it for his email I'm sending..." You mean, I have the power to create my own things and it's not going to be like a full discussion every single time? So just like small ways that we feel empowered as actual workers. And they need it and because it's such a rigorous hiring process with that organization. It's like four rounds. By the time they hire you, they trust you to do a good job. And so there's very little micromanagement, which has been a blessing because they express, "no, we hired you because we trust you". And feeling that and seeing it confirmed in ways big and small is another way that you realize that you are someone that should be trusted. It's ways big and small like that that they invest in you in growing your own leadership and also constantly reminding you that you're a leader. Like if you have a question about this, what do you think? You know, it's a little bit frustrating as someone who definitely differs to authority. Sometimes I looked to figures to be like, what should we be doing? They just come back to you and ask what do you think? And it shifts…

[Ellyn] What I really like about that is that a, I love that you're taking that whole notion of Brene brown's marble jar, which for those of you that aren't familiar with this, essentially she was doing an analogy of her second grade son's class. And his teacher had a marble jar in the class and when the kids were good she would put marbles into it and when they were bad she would take marbles out and if they filled up the marble jar, they got a party. That was essentially the gist of this analogy. But she's brought it into relationships and relationship building and trust building. And you've given so many examples here that once again resonate in my life, but then I kind of also never really thought of in the context of building leadership. It's essentially empowerment. And I think back to moments in my life, even when I had a micromanaging boss, he asked for my input on a project and I remember I was still relatively new in my position and I kept deferring to him like, "what do you think, what do you think?" And he finally said to me, "this is your project. I want to know what you think. You know the ins and outs of it. You've been doing the work, you've been doing the experiments, I want your input." And even though I honestly didn't have great relationship with this mentor in that moment, I felt very, very empowered that he was putting the trust in me to carry that project forward and that really did put marbles in the marble jar.

[MID-EPISODE BREAK]

[Ellyn] [26:12] Hold up everybody. Before we get any further into today's podcast interview, I have a question for you. What if tomorrow morning you woke up before your alarm, what ifyou launched yourself out of bed when your alarm went off instead of snoozing 8 times, what have you genuinely looked forward to each and every day? That is a possibility for you, but for so many of us, there are some missing pieces to finding the things in creating the life that will get us to that place. That is exactly where my growth series comes in. So if you haven't signed up for it yet, go ahead and head to coachellyn.com/growth. It's three videos. I even bust out the whiteboard and go into straight coach mode. So go ahead and head to coachellyn.com/growth and get my free growth series. We're going to address the three missing pieces that I believe most of us don't address when it comes to creating the kind of life they want. We're going to dig into them. We're going to break them wide open so they can have the power to change your life. Again, go tocoachellyn.com/growth. And I'll see you in the series. But before that, let's get back to the show.

[{Back to the show}

[27:27]

[Chimdi] So kind of why all this is happening while I'm kind of going through my professional career, personally I'm doing a ton of artistic stuff and that's where I'm kind of realizing I was going kind of more ways than one. So I am based in DC and I was familiar with this group that was called the sanctuaries and this arts social justice interfaith group of artists who just kind of use art as their method of creating social change. And a couple of friends who were in would invite me to like some of their performance. This is cool. Then I left college was back in silver spring actually, but you know, most of my friends from college, y'all kind of went their separate ways. I was like, "oh, I need a community basically." And I love art and I love social justice and I want to make change. I was like, this might be a great place for me. I remember going to an all community gathering. IT was the first thing I've ever been to. It was this huge gathering of all the community, which is very nerve wracking especially as introverts. And I remember the founder at the time of saying, "hey, like I've been carrying this organization on my back a little bit, and I kind of need y'all to step up." And this was literally my first meeting and I was like, yeah, I would love to lead a small group focused on like governance and how we can actually make this organization more sustainable. At my first meeting. And that's for sure not something I would have done a year ago. I wouldn't be able leave my bed and go much less like go and like do stuff as a leader in that way. So I was already kind of seeing how growth is happening in real time. And then being in this community of artists, who all the time are doing such amazing work was also incredibly encouraging. And people would ask, like, "what do you think about how this organization used to be set up?" And I'm just like, oh, this is awesome that like you generally want my insight on this because I do have experience working with organizations and seeing how they can be made more effective. and so while I was kind of with this organization, that's when I decided to start my youtube channel

I've got that embarrassing videos from like six, seven years ago. It's such a cringe-worth experience. I've always like been doing hair, DIY, interior design. All these different things, just always on the side because that's the fun passion, not a full time role kind of thing. But I had a client since 2013. And I think for like two years I was saying, "I'm going to start a youtube channel." And she was like, "oh yeah, you mentioned that." And I realized that this is becoming a thing that I just talked about but don't do. And I was like, got it, got it. All right, we're gonna stop playing games. So the first thing I did is I actually, before I even had a camera, I bought like a $300 Sigma lens. So I didn't have a camera that will go on, but I was like, am I'm not going to be the person who just talks about dreams and doesn't do them. I'm going to invest starting right now in making this a reality.

[Ellyn] Yes! I love this!

[Chimdi] So I bought this lense, I sat it on my dresser and I for a while it was still a lot of me and my notebook's sketching out notes, schedules and plans and ideas. And then the lens would just sit there and I finally said, "Girl you gotta buy the camera." So I bought the camera, bought the audio equipment, started doIng tests. But there's only so much testing and planning you can do before you have to put yourself out there. And I remember it was new years eve on December 2016 and I was like, "Alright Chimdi! This is it!" And so the next day, the first video went live. And it's just so interesting because I think everyone has a sense that, you're in your own body so you feel something through the lens of yourself. And your story. So I think people tend to - I shouldn't say people. I probably had an overinflated sense of the importance of myself and the larger narrative and so I put this video out there thinking like "I'm shaking the world y'all". And my friends were incredibly supportive, which was more than I even expected, honestly. I thought I had good camera presence and I was talking about things that were helpful. So I thought I was going to get some success. But it's interesting when people did say like, "oh yeah, I stopped what I was doing and I pressed on your video and I took my time to consume something you made." I was just like, wow~ You could have done anything. And you were choosing to support me. Like it was very emotional. At the same time, people don't really care. "Oh, that's nice." And I'm like, "oh watch this video!" And they're like, "What? You made a video?" And I'm like, "yeah, this has been very important to me." So it was that weird mix of like people being caring about you and thinking that's so great. And then being like, girl, I'm busy. I don't have the same kind of hair as you. This isn't relevant to my life. That was the start. And it's 2018-2019, so I've been spending years and pretty consistently doing about a video a week. And what's great is that, you know, you, you can't help but grow if you kind of keep working on something consistently. and I think the struggle for creators, especially in the beginning, is that especially if you have taste. I had a friend who was like, "girl, you have taste!, so you're already doing fine." But you have this vision of how you want the thing to look, how you want it to be and know what good feels like, but you just don't have the skills yet to make it good in real life. You can know what good is, but that doesn't matter yet, you know, you just need to like get the actual technical skills to create and shoot and edit so eventually meets your vision. It's been nice that over the past like year and a half and as the months have gone on to see myself getting better and better and kind of pushing myself to go beyond the free editing software and adobe premier pro and actually challenging myself and to actually think about if this actually something that I could have as a viable career because that had never even occurred to me. I had this moment where I was like, well, you know, I haven't ever done video production full time and all these different things. And it struck me. It's like, Chimdi, you literally work for a leadership organization. You run programs that are designed to help educators become leaders and change their careers as they arm themselves in positions of leadership and policy organizations. Like literally your job is helping people get jobs they want. I think you can get yourself a job you want. Like it's not gonna be as hard as you think. So that was kind of like a light switch went off for me in terms of like, yeah, you really can do anything you want if you just want it bad enough. So I've been a lot more intentional about like growing my video production skills, networking, I'm looking into freelancing, looking at opportunities and actually kind of exploring that in a way that I know the two, three, you know, four years ago version of me would not have done because she would have thought, no, no one will ever care what you think. No one will click on your videos, et cetera, cetera.

So to even have like thousands of people subscribed to me. It' such a testament to like - obviously it's a button you click, but for anyone to say like, "yeah, I care enough about you to like want to be updated when you make some new stuff." That means I have some talent and I'm definitely still in the process of like growing always, you know, and kind of going my skills and growing my network and putting myself out there. But the reality is that it's not like I'm trying to become an astronaut, which is not impossible either, but you know what I mean. It's not like I'm trying to do something that's like way out in left field. I'm trying to do something that I've actually been working on for years, had been passionate about since childhood and am just genuinely talented I'm actually competent and know that I have talent. I'm good at this. Stuff that you're good is easy because you're good at it. And then it's only when you start talking to others you realize, "oh no, I like actually have skills in this arena". You can't do what I do. And that's why you would need to hire someone. It's nice to kind of be happy, be reaffirmed, kind of give it my all and really lean into it and to see where it takes me because yeah, it's just never really occurred to me that I could have a job where to me it's just like fun. This is literally what I would be doing if everyone paid to do it. I think it's always a good sign.

[Ellyn] Yeah, that's a dream for so many right?

[Chimdi] Exactly! I was just going to share that I was reading this book and it ended with this guy who was talking to his friend who was like this rich dude and the friend just complained, "oh, I'm on all these boards and they want this thing and I'm not a financial advisor, and I'm managing these houses." Lots of complaining and the author is like, "man, that's rough. If I was rich, I would just spend all my time reading and writing books. Oh wait, that's what I do." That's the key to happiness. When you get to do the thing that you would do anyway. If no one was paying you. So that's my goal is to get to that level.

[36:46]

[Ellyn] Oh girl, I enjoyed listening to you tell the story so much because I'm looking through the questions I wanted to ask you and you've hit every single one of them on the head. Just as you've gone through this whole story, like the ways in which working for this leadership company really empowered you and impacted some of the choices you made, empowered you as a creator and empowered you to embrace your ability to lead people through the content you create. Like. it really did inform your career progression and like literally all the questions I had you answered every single one of them. What I love so much is and like I really, if, if people haven't noticed this in your story, I'm going to point it out right now because I noticed so many incredible themes about how you mentioned that seeing other people do things and be successful in things and seeing them up in front of you being a success. The leaders, the people of color who wanted to run for office and some of the artists and your artists group and just seeing those people and how it empowered you to take action of your own and how you saw that you couldn't help but grow if you kept working and all of that. I feel like that right there is such an empowering message for people. So what do you think from your experience, from your time working in your company, what do you think are some of the thIngs that people could do intentionally grow their leadership skills and ultimately empower themselves to make some of these shifts in their own life?

[Chimdi] The key thing, I think it really does just come down to knowing what it is you want to do. Because once you know what you want to do, then you know who to talk to about it. You know what books to read, you know how to research and know how to make the connection, but you really need to know what it is you want to do. And I think that comes from just intentional reflection. I feel like it was maybe a little bit cheesy, but like people need to journal if you need to like take a second and stop and write down what's going on in your head, but you're thinking about what your goals are, what your plans are. My favorite thing is being able to look back over years and see where was I two years ago. What was I thinking about there? What was I struggling with? Trying to figure out, are there things that have been consistently struggling with? Are there things that looking back I can't believe I used to think like that. I think the number one thing is just to step back and be with yourself and reflect on who you are and what's important to you. What your values are. I think that will end up guiding you to where it is you want to spend your time and where you want to spend your energy. That would be my very first thing is to remove yourself from the noise of, "these people are doing all this over here or like I'm looking at social media and the people doing this over there or like the people in my neighborhood doing this." What do you want to do? Because that is ultimately what's going to make you happy because you can only live your own life. They're not going to live your life for you. So if you make some choices, especially when it comes to your family and things like that, moving on, you can't do it for them because they're not going to be the ones who are dealing with the consequences and are dealing with the everyday of whatever it is. Whatever decision you've made, whatever choIce you've made. I think the number one thing is step back reflect and determine: where are you? What do you want? What are your values? What are your goals? And then I think once you have that goal set, you have to recognize that it is in your power to achieve it if you are serious about it and then from there you do the work in terms of researching the business you want to be in or the industry you want to be in. Doing that work to make connections with people and to network with them. I think one thing for me, now that I know you could do it, is just informational interviews and reaching out and saying like, hey, this is the thing that I'm passionate about. You are currently doing it and you are awesome. Talk to me about how you dId that because I'm trying to get on your level. I had so many of those conversations and its really validating if you are already doing some of the work because they can look at some of the things you've done and say, "hey, here's how it's great. Here's how it could use some work and some improvement" and you get some really meaningful feedback. And then you just get the real insight from someone who is doing the thing you want to do and you can think about it in ways that you never could have or would have because you didn't have that firsthand experience. So that felt really nice to just like talk to people who are doing the things you want to do and figure out if it's actually what you want to do. Because sometimes they might not be. Once you kind of start looking into it and kind of get that additional insight into how it is they got there. I have foUnd that every person that reached out to to say, "hey, you are doing some amazing work. I literally just want to learn from you." Every single person is responsive and enthusiastic and makes the time and effort to talk to me. Whether it's on the phone, whether it's a coffee. They make their time to talk to me. I had a woman who worked for a big kind of nature organization that has really cool video stuff and I just kind of shared with her my passion and ideas. She was like, "I could introduce you to a video producer, the senior video producer." She was like in her car, had to pick up something for her kid and still made time to get on the phone with me just to like talk to me about video production and how she got into it and like things that I can consider. Then lIke later she followed up and like watched some of my Youtube videos and gave detailed feedback and how to improve it. And I literally had no one invested in me in this way in terms of the video production side of things. And she literally did not have to. Like you are busy. You have the whole family. Got an awesome job. But you still took the time wo watch some of the things I've made and give me meaningful feedback because you wanted to see me grow and get better. And I would just really strongly encourage people to know that there are people who want to see you succeed. And If you're serious about whatever it is you want to do reach out to them. They will definitely try and invest in you and, and share the knowledge because most people are good and want to see people get better and do what they love. So If you're really passionate about something, you will find the people who are also passionate and they will invest in you.

[Ellyn] Boom! I love this! The informational interviews. I feel like we hear people talk about doing informational interviews. But how many of us actually go out and do them? I literally just wrote down two names of people that I could reach out to to do informational interviews of my own. So, so thank you for that. And if anybody's interested in learning more about journaling as a reflection practice, definitely check out episode number 13 with Nicole Hudson. She talks about that a lot and I think it's episode number 11 with kate Gosselin. So if you're interested in learning more about journaling, check those episodes out. Um, yeah dude, you, you covered so much amazIng stuff. So many amazing parts of your story that I feel like people can totally, totally resonate with, myself included. I usually two questions that I wrap up with to bookend the end of the podcast and the first of which is do you have any sort of book, online program, ted talk, any sort of resource that really, really empowered and helped you along your journey that you could recommend?

[43:59]

[Chimdi] I'm constantly reading. Like your podcast. Like there's a lot of really great resources. Mine actually - I didn't realize this is like business book - but I found it because I was watching youtube and someone on there "oh, I read this book and it got me all this money." And I was like, oh, interesting. It's called Think & grow rich. And I think it's like a major business. I've heard of people who are like, yeah girl obviously, but It's kind of like once you read it, you see how every other book that's been written is kind of just focusing on the same key things. LIke the whole point of that book is literally know what you want. Then once you know what you want, focus on it every morning, every night, think about it and not just like imagine it as something that you like wish for, but see yourself and envision yourself being whatever it is, wherever it is, whatever amount of money. I focused on it more in my career and things. But you can also focus on it it's money or your health. The key is that you've gotta know what you want first and then you can have all the data and then focus on that all the time because we know how important ideas are and ideas become action. So that's like my number one one is Think & grow rich because it kinda got. It kind of kicked me in the butt in terms of floating through life and thinking things are going to work out without you being intentional about what it is you want. Like, you can't just get in a car and just start driving and think you're gonna get to your destination if you don't know where that Is.

[Ellyn] Hell yeah! You need a map!

[Chimdi] Um, yeah, I think I probably would be my number one number one book. And then I think for me, I would just never underestimate the power of the friends you have, especially the ones who push you to do better. I've had some really, really powerful conversations with some of my really good friends who I met through like the sanctuary and different arts and activities and things like that. And they have really pushed me in my thinking and made me really consider who I am. And they've also been very encouraging. So if you haven't already introduced yourself, the people who love you and care about you and are doing great things and want you to do great things, I would strongly suggest that. They say you're a mixture of the five people you hang out with the most. So it can be difficult to pull yourself out of situation of complacency. If everyone you talked to was like, "oh, I also hate my job." That's not gonna help you get out of that situation. Surround yourself with people who are like super passionate about what they do, are working hard on their goals, want to do great, want you to do great. It's that kind of like positive reinforcement you need to make sure you're surrounded by. So yeah, in terms of like a resource - that book - but in terms of like your life, friends who care about you because that can be the difference, I think.

[Ellyn] So true. That might have even been napoleon hill that said that, but I don't, I don't remember. But yes - you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So true. All right. So then the last question - this is a nice little shameless plug for you to promote your YouTube channel. Where can people find you if they want to follow you? If they loved hearing from you and they just want to keep hearing more, where can people find you at?

[Chimdi] Yeah, so definitely for my website it is. Holdmelike.com, which upon reflection I probably should have called it my name, but that's fine. And there I like sharing videos as well as do a weekly blog. I kind of reflect more on similar themes around like growth and art inspiration and leadership and things like that. So if you like hair and interior design, check on my youtube channel, but if you kind of want to do more of reading and more introspective stuff, check out my website where I blog weekly.

[Ellyn] You've got it all covered. Diy hair life perspective. Amazing. I love it.

[Chimdi] We have a lot on our minds, you know?

[Ellyn] Heck yeah. You are totally like me. Total multi-passionate. Totally wanting to do all the things all the time. Super creative. I dig it. This has been amazing hearing from you and, and meeting you and getting to chat with you today. So thank you so much.

[Chimdi] Thank you so much for inviting me. It's been amazing talking to you and you yourself an inspiration in terms of the way that you have leaned into your passion and are treating things like this, like avenues and things for people to like share about what they love as well. So thank you so much

[OUTRO]

Thank you so much for listening! If you loved this episode, please share it with your friends so that they can join the tribe as well! Or, better yet, share it on Instagram stories so that I can shout you out and send you a huge thank you! Your support means the world to me, and, of course, I want to thank you for being a part of the Growth Tribe.

 
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