July 10

Living True to Yourself

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We recorded this episode as a Linkedin Live. Follow me on LinkedIn to get notified about the upcoming Live Sessions.

This is the 50th episode of Unique Careers, Unique Lives and I wanted to celebrate it speaking with a very important person for me - my heart's mentor Janet M. Harvey.

Janet M. Harvey is an ICF Master Certified Coach, CEO of inviteCHANGE and the author of the book Invite Change, Lessons from 2020 The Year of No Return.

I asked Janet M. Harvey about how she cultivates her energy,  how she has made the career choice to be a professional coach and how she views the topic of money (where I feel challenged).

You can listen to our conversation below.  

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Resources mentioned

In this episode we referred to the TED talk Janet gave titled "Why Judgment is the Key to Inviting Change". You can watch it here.


I have mentioned Janet's book that I love "Invite Change, Lessons from 2020 The Year of No Return." You can learn more about it and buy a copy here.


Learn more about Janet's company inviteCHANGE here.

Janet referred to her mentor Margaret Wheatley and the series  of essays she penned that were called "Willing to be Disturbed".  These essays can be found in Wheatley's book "Turning to One Another"

I have mentioned ICF when I introduced Janet at the beginning. ICF is the abbreviation of International Coaching Federation. You can learn more about ICF on its website.

Quotables

"I think life is available to us. All the time. We just have to open our eyes to see it."-Janet M. Harvey

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"I realize that I just have such privilege and I can't imagine wasting a second of it worrying about things that I can't do anything about."-Janet M. Harvey

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"Being professional coaches in the world means I can make a difference. I can make someone else's life better by opening them to their own gifts and their own sense of wonder. And that's a sacred livelihood. "-Janet M. Harvey

Click to Tweet

"What values were I holding?What were my actions saying I thought was important? And how was I making decisions about what was getting my life force and my energy? Because by golly, I got the lesson over and over, life is precious and you just never know when something's gonna happen and we don't get to do this thing called be a human being any longer."-Janet M. Harvey

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Isil: "How do you define spiritual path?" , Janet M. Harvey: "It's a little bit like having the sun inside your heart. It feels warm. It's pulsing. It raises my sensitivity to recognize what's going on in the field of interaction between myself and another person.....And it's like somehow I'm tuning to a life force that's so much bigger than me."

Click to Tweet

"So I think that life gets easier when we slow down just a little bit and become what I call generative. Unless I'm still, I can't hear new ideas. I can't recognise that right there in front of me is the coolest, next thing I wanna engage with, experiment with, get my hands in the dirt with.  The fact that I'm activated in that way, I have an original thought starting to emerge. I also trust that I can translate it into something really tangible to create something physically wonderful. And of course over time, that means learning. Because I'm not gonna get it right the first time."-Janet M. Harvey

Click to Tweet

"I want to be with people that say things from a perspective I've never considered. That is maybe even a little confronting to the things that have been in my habit space and preferences and bias because only then can I realize "Oh, I've just had some blinders on and it's time for me to open up my perspective a little bit". And I start to realize, you know what? I value that. That's important. Let me go seek more out there. And the natural learning process occurs. There's so much wonder in the world that we would create this tight cocoon of comfort and miss the change that's happening that invites us to live more fully, that breaks my heart."-Janet M. Harvey

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Transcript

[00:00:00] Isil: We are live. Hello everyone. This is Işıl Uysal Calvelli. I am the podcast host of Unique Careers, Unique Lives podcast. And this is the first time that I'm hosting this podcast live with my guest, my wonderful guest janet Harvey, who is, first of all, my, I call her, she doesn't know, it's my heart's mentor and she herself is the CEO of Invite Change.

[00:00:31] She is the author of this wonderful book Invite Change, Lessons From 2020, which you see that I am also a great fan of, and she's a Master Certified Coach with International Coaching Federation and also past president of International Coaching Federation. So I'm really, really honored to have you here, Janet.

[00:00:55] Welcome.

[00:00:56] Janet: Well, thank you so much, Işıl. I have just adored watching you step out into the world so boldly and courageously expressing your life experience and sharing it with others. That's what keeps us all together.

[00:01:12] Isil: Thank you. So if you may allow me the first time I met you is a very special moment for me.

[00:01:20] I will share it with the people watching and who will be listening later. It was in Prague in a couple of years ago that I was attending International Coaching Federation's conference, ICF Converge. And first I met you in a session you hosted. There I got the honor to watch you coach, and I felt your powerful presence, but what hit me was for me, it was like, love.

[00:01:47] That I saw you opening the dance floor in the celebration night. I think it was the first night of the conference. And I saw you so natural, so confident, so full of energy. And for me, that was like, my eyes went out and I was like a child watching a wonder happening. It was so magnetizing for me, this life energy that was really shining from you.

[00:02:14] And I, when I, when I see you also, when I recently watched your TED talk and watched one interview of yours I see this energy from you. So that makes me wonder. And to tell the truth. I have checked , looked for your photos and I have seen that you are now younger than ever if I'm not mistaken. .

[00:02:33] Janet: Thank you. Despite the gray hair.

[00:02:37] Isil: How do you cultivate your energy, janet?

[00:02:40] Janet: Well, you know, that's probably a better question to ask my husband, because he puzzles on this all the time. I wake up this way and I, you know, I think life is available to us. All the time. We just have to open our eyes to see it.

[00:02:56] And there's such a wonder, you know, I am very blessed to live in a rural area. So I have a lot of a lot of nature around me. A big meadow next to us with 30 big fir trees and the deer and the eagles and the ospreys. And I look out at the water and the mountains, and I realize that I just have such privilege and I can't imagine wasting a second of it worrying about things that I can't do anything about.

[00:03:24] And the fact that we have this shared purpose, you and I, of being professional coaches in the world means I can make a difference. I can make someone else's life better by opening them to their own gifts and their own sense of wonder. And that's a sacred livelihood. Those are the things that have me awake every day and say, gosh, I have the blessing to be alive. Let's go.

[00:03:50] Isil: Wonderful. So that makes me wonder, Janet, has it been always like this, this livelihood that you have, when was the choice of becoming a coach happened for you?

[00:04:03] Janet: Yeah. What I would say is it's always been true since I was a little girl. My godmother called me a Faychild, which in Irish tradition is of the fairies.

[00:04:12] Because I, I was verbal really young. I was the youngest and the only girl in my family, three older brothers. So, you know, the youngest always grows up a little fast. That was certainly true for me. I wanted to be just like them. And I always had this zest for life. Maybe too much energy for some people.

[00:04:33] And I I, I kind of bounced around, you know, everybody said, well, you should be "fill in the blank". So I said, okay, I'll be that. And I went off to college and I was supposed to be a doctor. Organic chemistry and physics killed me. And I, and I ended up leaving school and I went to Europe for a few months and then I came back and it was like, Hmm, I'm broke. I guess I better get a job. So I got a job in sales and I was okay at it. But it wasn't very much fun. So I moved cities and I went from Los Angeles to San Francisco and I got another sales job and I was on the road all the time. And I realized, one morning I woke up and I said, I don't know anybody in this town. I'm never home. I, I just don't have a life that makes no sense. So I quit that job and I decided it was time to go back to school. And I had five part-time jobs to pay the rent. I used to eat my breakfast and my lunch in the economics lab, where I was a tutor for the undergrads I still think about those days and realize how exhausting it was.

[00:05:43] I slept usually about four or four and a half hours a night just to fit everything in. And when I graduated, there were no jobs to be had in the States. So we were in the middle of a recession. It was 1982. And. I knew how to type my mother always said, if you know how to type, you'll never starve. And she was right.

[00:06:00] And I ended up getting a job through a temporary agency. Well, one thing led to another. The guy that I was supporting, his team of people. His son was a floor broker in financial services for a company called Charles Schwab. And there was this teeny, tiny little ad in the newspaper. And I walked into his office and I said doesn't your son work for this company?

[00:06:23] Like, could, does he know anything about this job? Well, the next thing I know. I got a, I got a pass to go for the day and be on the stock exchange. And then he introduced me to some people and I was able to interview and 14 years later, wonderful, wonderful experience in financial services.

[00:06:40] And I got to do everything in that organization. I worked in every single division. I built businesses. I shut them down. I worked in operations. I worked in compliance and legal, and I really learned about business. And I realized that one day, you know what, I think I wanna be an entrepreneur. And it was around the same time that I did this huge change initiative. And it was using coaching.

[00:07:04] Coaching wasn't quite a thing yet. This was the early nineties, but we were playing around with this "how do you do empowerment differently?", "How do you level the power dynamics in a conversation?". So I watched senior vice president sitting shoulder to shoulder with a branch office receptionist, and they were having a wonderful debate about how to redesign the customer experience.

[00:07:26] There wasn't any disrespect. There wasn't any condescension. There wasn't any dismissiveness. They were two equals passionate about their subject, having a very constructive co-creative conversation. Wow. , I'd never seen anything like it. And I did stay and finish the implementation. But two years later in 96, I struck out on my own and I've been coaching and doing leadership development and organizational consulting ever since.

[00:07:56] Isil: Wonderful. While I was listening to you, first it struck me that you entered into Charles Schwab kind of as a out of lack or ...

[00:08:10] Janet: Yeah. I was a trainee and I barely made enough money to pay my rent

[00:08:15] Isil: But it seemed to me like you grounded your self. You stayed and you enjoyed the experience. It wasn't that you were unsatisfied. You talk about it saying I learned a lot. It was wonderful. I did everything. So there's a quality of yours that I'm hearing that you are... you enter into a place and just be and expand and co-create with this environment.

[00:08:41] Janet: I, I think at that early stage of my career, I was very competitive with myself, not with other people, but you know, I'd kind of had a lot of... I was a straight a student until I went to medical school or went to, you know, undergrad for medical school and realized it wasn't for me. And I got my first D. I was like, mortified. I can't believe I got a D in school. And I realized that I was competing for somebody else. That didn't work. But when I was really clear about what I wanted and what I was good at and applied myself that way, I could excel beyond anybody's expectations and the organization was growing like crazy. So there were lots of opportunities, whatever I applied myself to, I was good at. Who wouldn't stay? And the truth was it wasn't my career either. It was the place where I grew up, it was the place where I learned how to build relationship and how not to build relationship. I learned how to set boundaries. There were several years there where I worked seven days a week, cuz I loved it. It was fun. Guess what? I looked in the mirror and went "You have no personal life, no hobbies, no you know, life partner, nothing on that horizon". I did lots of things. So, you know, went out to restaurants. I'd love to cook. It's one of my favorite things. It's my it's its own alchemy, right? But I really didn't, I wasn't settling in in any way, shape or form in my twenties, really, almost into my mid thirties.

[00:10:13] And then I started to say, but wait, I'm responsible for my life experience. So I better get clear about what it is that I want. And that's when I started walking down a spiritual path to start to examine who am I? And my brothers and I joke all the time. We don't think our parents were really our parents.

[00:10:34] Because none of us followed in either of their footsteps in the way that they walked in the world as adults, we all went, we all left home around 17. We all went off into separate, completely separate careers. One, my one brother's an architect and one brother's a geologist and another brother is in sales.

[00:10:53] And, you know , it's amazing to me. And I appreciate this quality for my parents. They always said, if you're true to yourself, you will always find your way. And that was the thing I recognized that I hadn't been being true to myself. And that was the motivation to step out into the world and do my own thing. And I'm so glad I did. I can't imagine working for an organization. I love building one. I love leading one and I love the work I get to do in the world. I just can't imagine doing anything else. It's my bliss. It's not a job.

[00:11:30] Isil: I remember you mentioning about this experience of how you didn't recognize but your body told you about who you are. Is it the time where the spiritual path started?

[00:11:44] Janet: You know, I think that it's close. I think what happened for me was that I, as I said, I was sort of waking up and realizing that my whole life, my whole identity was wrapped up in my professional endeavors.

[00:11:56] And while I was very active in the community doing volunteer initiatives and I had opportunities to be in leadership roles outside and inside the organization, something just felt incomplete, empty to me. And that actually is what started me down the spiritual path. And then I, I had a couple of really large losses. My mother got cancer and died within nine months. And the very next day, a man who I was engaged to died of heart attack. And then one year later I had my next oldest brother died from an accidental drug overdose. That period of loss that two years made me... I think take some inventory about what was I, what values were I holding?

[00:12:46] What, what were my actions saying I thought was important. And how was I making decisions about what was getting my life force and my energy? Because by golly, I got the lesson over and over , life is precious and you never know, you just never know when something's gonna happen. And we don't get to do this thing called be a human being any longer.

[00:13:07] So in some ways I think I came to terms with death. It's like, okay, if I die tomorrow, I know I will have given it my all, I will have used all of my capacity, I will have been kind and caring and decent and brave and courageous and, and lived my life. I didn't know about that until I started down that path and that was the balance I was looking for. And in some ways my spiritual path is more important even than my personal relationships. And , as you know, those are pretty darn important to me.

[00:13:40] Isil: How do you define the spiritual path?

[00:13:45] Janet: It's it's a little bit... so maybe metaphor would be helpful here. It's a little bit like having the sun inside your heart. It feels warm. It's pulsing. It raises my sensitivity to recognize what's going on in the field of interaction between myself and another person.

[00:14:04] Or when I'm in nature, I can get very still and almost feel like I can merge with the trees and the wind and whatever might be going on in the weather that day. I often will hear the eagles before they land in the tree in the meadow. And it's like somehow I'm tuning to a life force that's so much bigger than me.

[00:14:29] I was raised Catholic. I had a lot of friends who were Jewish. I also have been to a kubutz. I've been exposed to church of Latter- day Saints. I've been to a Methodist wedding. I've been to a Protestant wedding, right? I've been connected with people who have very strong religious practice. It was never my thing. Even though my graduate school was a Jesuit college and I loved my professors and I loved the practices , I didn't love the limits of it. So I realized a lot I have the very high freedom value, and I realized that for me, I wanted, I wanted to be able to create my own relationship to all that is. And all that is larger than my ordinary small human life. I wanted that sense of being interconnected. Maybe a little bit more of an Eastern tradition, more Daoist or Hindu and I love that we have so many ways that we get to express God. So for me, that's probably my simple answer to the question. You know, it's, my spiritual practice is the way I express seeing through the eyes of God. .

[00:15:40] Isil: Mm. I was sensing also being resourced from inside. Like your guidance comes from the heart. And I remember a conversation we had before. We were talking about an effortless living. And I was sharing a doubt that it's possible like, how do you achieve things without exerting effort ? And you did tell me that's possible. It's possible. And I feel this spiritual path actually feels like it is in relation, in tune with what is. But tell me a bit more about how to bring this in tune, if you can, in tune to our work as well. The work we do in our jobs, in our profession and also in the world. There are so many, so many difficulties that we are experiencing day to day, it feels like a lot of effort to continue doing that.

[00:16:37] Janet: I think we need to start with the word effort in what we mean by it. It's not that I don't infuse a lot of energy into the activities and into my thinking and into my sensing and intuiting faculties, right? It does require energy. I would use that word instead of efforting.

[00:16:57] And the reason I say that is that so much of our growing into adult responsibility is you must apply yourself. So application and effort often get collapsed together and people think, and in fact, this was an early belief from my dad. If you work harder than anybody else, you'll be successful. And boy did, I, I told you seven days a week, almost 24 hours a day.

[00:17:22] I didn't sleep very much. And to your earlier question, which I realized I forgot to answer is that I, my body essentially said, sorry, you have run out of gas. There is no fuel in your tank. That's over efforting, right? When we shut down paying attention to the natural cycle of restoring ourselves. And that's what I was doing, I was making the achievement and production of results more important than my own sense of harmony. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

[00:17:55] So I think that life gets easier when we slow down just a little bit and become what I call generative. Unless I'm still, I can't hear new ideas. I can't recognize that right there in front of me is the coolest, next thing I wanna engage with, experiment with, get my hands in the dirt with.

[00:18:20] The fact that I'm activated in that way, right, I have an original thought starting to emerge for myself, I also trust that I can translate it into something really tangible, right, to create something physically wonderful. And of course over time, that means learning. Because I'm not gonna get it right the first time. Thomas Edison, you know, what was it, 999 experiments before the incandescent light bulb. I think that's true for all of us. But we're so taught to be expert that we won't allow experimentation to penetrate. And vulnerability is essential for learning, which is essential for having empowerment and ultimately it's about producing results, but I knew how to do that.

[00:19:03] It was necessary for me to learn how to trust my imagination and my resourcefulness to create and to be a lifelong learner and along comes coaching, what's that all about. Lifelong learning of our clients, of ourselves, of partnering, of relationship building, of vulnerability, of the sensitivity to recognize how to be with the passion of another person, in other words, the word compassion. And I think that these are things that we've under revered in human society. And part of why I think coaching has grown so much is we're restoring that balance.

[00:19:39] Isil: There are so many questions I want to ask you and I'm checking the time. We have nine minutes.

[00:19:48] I recently watched your TED talk. And there you were talking about... ... Identity. I feel like the message and how we are being imprisoned by the identity. And you are sharing your story there, how you were, I mean, you tell, I, I don't want to tell, and we don't want to spoil also the Ted talk.

[00:20:13] It's a wonderful Ted talk. So what would you like people to pay attention to from your own life experience, from your own message?

[00:20:24] Janet: So the, the talk is about the word judgment. And as a coaching educator, since 2006, people come into class all the time and they say, well, you're not supposed to be judgmental, you know, non-judgment or suspend judgment. And I kept scratching my head about this, because what I knew is that exercising judgment is a practice of discernment and critical thinking. And if you think about a lot of the social discourse in the world today, people are defending their position, their point of view, to the point of almost violence with each other, if not outright violence with each other about defending their point of view.

[00:21:08] Well, that's being judgmental right? There is no learner space there. There's actually not even a space of creating relationship other than finding people who think like I do. Well, that's kind of boring. That was sort of what happened to me early in my life. I was at work all the time. I was always with work people and I didn't know anybody.

[00:21:28] Hmm. So I realized that we've sort of collapsed these two things. We think the polite thing to do is to not be judgemental, whether it's Isil you're so beautiful. That's a judgmental comment, but by golly, it feels good to say, and you like hearing it, cuz it's the truth, right? But if I were exercising judgment, what I would say to you is your beauty comes across in your smile and in your presence and in the courage you have to speak your own heart in the world.

[00:22:01] Hmm. That's a whole lot different. And that's my discernment of my experience of you. You, and I could still have a values conflict. We could have different perspectives about politics and it wouldn't matter because the whole person of who you are that I'm able to recognize because I'm exercising judgment to be with you. That builds relationship that brings us together. And it's our diverse points of view that have the potential, that hold the seed of something brand new manifesting for all the solutions that we're looking for in the world. So the talk is why judgment is the key to inviting change. And as you know, from the book, I believe that we're right on the cusp of wholesale change in society, in every part of the globe, not just in the West, where we're examining. Hmm. How are we in relationship to the planet? How are we in relationship to money and commerce and employment? How are we in relationship to food distribution and the ability for people to have clean water and a home roof over their head of some kind, how are we in relationship to family? And what does that mean? And how are we embracing the incredible multicultural world that technology has given us access to in a zero geography environment. What do I mean by that? Like, look at you, where are you today? And where am I today? We're thousand, thousand miles and an ocean apart. And yet you'd never know. It's like we're sitting right next to each other. These are transforming. All of these things. Transforming the way society, experiences life on this planet. And that requires for us to pay attention differently. So, judgment is critical. We need to learn to discern. It's just a 10 minute Ted talk. I thoroughly enjoyed doing. It was for a graduate medical school in Syracuse, New York. It is available on YouTube "Why Judgment is Key to Inviting Change". And yes, I am thinking about writing a second book.

[00:24:04] Isil: I was going to ask you, you said before, was it going to be about judgment? Yes.

[00:24:10] Janet: Yeah. That, you know, and I would love people to comment when they go to YouTube and be in this dialogue with me, because I think if we can separate these two things, I agree let's not be judgemental. Labels and stereotypes wound and hurt people, but we can heal by being in curiosity, the heart of coaching, of course.

[00:24:32] Margaret Wheatley is one of my longtime mentors and she penned a series of essays in the seventies that were called "Willing to be Disturbed". I think this is such an important idea. I want to be with people that say things from a perspective I've never considered. That is maybe even a little confronting to the things that have been in my habit space and preferences and bias because only then can I realize "Oh, I've just had some blinders on and it's time for me to open up my perspective a little bit". And I start to realize, you know what? I value that. That's important. Let me go seek more out there. And the natural learning process occurs. There's so much wonder in the world that we would create this tight cocoon of comfort and miss the change that's happening that invites us to live more fully, that breaks my heart. There you go. Inspiration.

[00:25:32] Isil: Yeah. We said inspirational conversations for, for the title of these LinkedIn lives. And it definitely has been. And from what you have said, I'm taking away the welcoming different views as an invitation for awakening and enriching and feeling more alive and in tune with life.

[00:25:52] And I think, you have mentioned this in your book also, it is called invite change. And I, I think also it's about all the changes and all the, like we invite views and open ourselves to all the differences, but also what the life offers as well, because life is also a constant change.

[00:26:09] We also welcome this change to learn from it. Thank you so much. So I, as, as I said, I have thousand more, more questions, but I would like to also end at some point, so it will not be forever. Regarding one thing was really important for me from the book, that you talk about reciprocal prosperity.

[00:26:30] I have always this question with money. It seems for me like money is a huge topic. I'm talking about this when one and half minutes left. How do you approach this topic of money and wealth where we do our work of our heart, but at the same time, we are living in a life where we are paying for our expenses. How can we open to, how can we invite change into this dynamic?

[00:26:59] Janet: Yeah. It is a very important subject and when I'm very happy to continue on at another time, and here's a couple of thoughts. It's not about money. Money is a form of exchange. It could be pebbles from the ground. You know, something that has for all of mankind, we have traded back and forth.

[00:27:20] I value this, you value that, we exchange and poof, we both feel better off. Creating wealth and figuring out what are our assets and how do those infuse our ability to live well, whatever that means to each person, that's not money, right? That's a value system about how am I a steward of the resources that I'm exposed to and choose to engage with. That's a values discussion. Do you see where I'm going here? And to me, reciprocal prosperity was a principle that I adopted really early on. I knew that through generosity, through the sharing of my gifts, others would benefit. Then that at some point in time, it would come back to me. And it does. I have people who have called me from 12 years ago. I said something to them at some events that really made a difference in their lives. And when they were ready, they've called and said, I'd like to work with you. I'm like, oh my gosh, where have you been for 12 years? But the fact that they were impacted, right? I was enlivened by sharing it because it's shared without attachment and it comes back to us.

[00:28:36] To me, that's prosperity you cannot buy. And it's prosperity of the heart and the soul and the interconnectedness of who we are as human beings. And that's the business that we're in. Yes, of course, we need to have a value exchange that allows all of us to eat and have safety and water and roof over, over our heads and those sorts of things. Those are all important, but how much is enough? I don't believe the pursuit of wealth is the only thing we want to pursue when you think about it in monetary assets or valuation. I believe pursuit of value, that's a whole other thing.

[00:29:15] Isil: You introduced completely new concepts and words into my simple, tiny question of money and that has been very valuable. I think I will think about it and maybe we continue this conversation further. Thank you so much, Janet, how would you like us to end as, a coaching question to end our conversation?

[00:29:39] Janet: I would invite the audience to ask themselves this question once a day, either in the morning or at the end of the day.

[00:29:46] What today, what obstacle today will I remove so I can live fully potent.

[00:29:56] Isil: That's wonderful. Thank you so much, Janet. Thank you for this question and for the wonderful conversation, it's been very inspirational for me as always. Thank you.

[00:30:09] I hope you enjoyed this episode. This was the 50th episode of Unique Careers, Unique Lives. And to celebrate this important milestone, I had my heart's mentor, Janet Harvey with me. You can find the notes of this episode on uniquecareersuniquelives.com/episode50. There you can also find the link to Ted Talk of Janet and also to the link of Janet's book. I hope you enjoyed our conversation. I hope it inspired you as it inspired me.

[00:30:54] I'm looking forward to talking to you in the next episode. And if you'd like to join the conversations live, please follow me and connect with me on LinkedIn so you can catch us on live LinkedIn lives. Take care.

About the author 

Isil

I am a LifeWork coach, the author of the book The Gift of Being Unfulfilled at Work, the host of Unique Careers, Unique Lives podcast, and the co-founder of BeCoach Academy. Learn more on isiluysal.com

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