There is one question that guides all of the work that Wokie Nwabueze does.
What does each woman need to do or reclaim in order to be able to speak with power and authority?
We all know the tide is turning in favor of women speaking up in difficult conversations. But just knowing there’s a movement isn’t enough to prepare us to actually have those difficult conversations.
Lucky for us, Wokie is here to help.
In Wokie’s most recent Emerging Women Power Boost, she notes that it’s easy to lose integrity with yourself before you even walk into a difficult conversation.
To effectively advocate for yourself, you have to decide that you are in your authority, and that you’re comfortable with that. You have to inject yourself in a way that is powerful.
In Wokie’s words, you have to roll out your ideas like Rihanna on the red carpet. You must demand to be seen and heard so that you can overcome that barrier of invisibility women leaders are so often up against.
Phases of Constructive Dialogue
Once you’re feeling full-on Rihanna about yourself, you can further prepare by running through Wokie’s 5 Phases of Constructive Dialogue. To hear Wokie go into more detail about each point, watch the replay of her Power Boost HERE.
Get clear on your needs. Be deeply honest with yourself. When you can articulate exactly what you need and why, you’re much more likely to bring keep a conversation on track and bring the conflict to a satisfactory resolution.
2. Outline of Issue
Explore how you can present the issue in a nonjudgemental, objective way. Try attaching the needs you’ve identified directly to the issue at hand.
Say your partner leaves wet towels on the floor and it drives you nuts. Telling them, “I need to know you respect our shared space,” can lead to an infinitely more productive outcome than “You’re such a slob! You drive me nuts!”
Now it’s time for connected conversation. Talk, listen, and ask questions. Find a way to recognize each other’s humanity through it all. As Wokie says, “Empathy is the holy grail of all communication.”
In the towel example, you might ask, “What does respect of space mean to you?” Be ready to listen openly to an honest response.
4. Value Exchange
Don’t forget, there’s a person who has their own needs and fears on the other side of this conversation. What might you offer to exchange with them so that both parties can come out with a win?
It’s also important to check in with yourself to see whether you are rushing to make everyone comfortable instead of focusing on your needs. Planning with Wokie’s 5 Phases will make you much less likely to do this.
5. Agreement/Next Steps
If the mere mention of conflict gives you the shivers, remember that conflict is simply the meeting of two different views or needs. All conflict offers the possibility of change and positive resolution!
What If You’re Getting Derailed?
Even with a lot of good planning in place, conversations can get derailed.
Wokie outlines the most common things that send us off track, and shares her methods for getting back on course later in her Power Boost. If you want to hear more about that, you can watch the replay HERE.
These tips are especially helpful if you’re feeling overwhelmed, if the conversation is going on too long, or if you’re accused of being too emotional.
The Power Boost ends, as always, with an eye-opening Q&A from the viewers. We hope you’ll watch the whole video to prepare for your next difficult conversation. Members, you can find it here. Not-yet-members, you can see it (and a lot more) by starting your free trial today!
Wokie Nwabueze knows how to communicate. Negotiation, facilitation, mediation – you name it. “If it exists, I’m certified in it,” she says.
She started her career teaching kids, parents, and teachers in tough communities how to communicate clearly and without violence. After her first year of law school, she began to work in corporate spaces, and became very interested in women who were having trouble communicating their needs in the workplace.
She noticed a trend. Women were leaving the sessions knowing what to say, but not knowing why they were hesitant to say it. She quickly realized that the existing communication frameworks and execution strategies (“be assertive” “be confident”) weren’t addressing who we are deep down.
That realization changed everything for Wokie. “Who I was was SHY, well into my mid-20s. I was a people pleaser without revealing it outwardly. I thought I could sacrifice more than everyone else, and I thought that was ‘strong.’ I was unwilling to rock the boat, and somehow that felt empowering, or even felt gracious. But the truth was I was disconnected from my voice.”
As she began to mine her own Voice Story, she was able to cultivate the self-awareness and personal transformation crucial to truly effective communication with others. She now dedicates her work to helping women do the same, as she did in our Emerging Women Power Boost(if you’re a member, click HERE to watch the archive). Here are some takeaways from that memorable event.
What is a Voice Story?
Studies show that for girls, confidence in voice starts to slip around age 9. While our confidence is falling, Wokie says, we are also starting to look out at the world to determine our value. For a lot of us, that’s when things start to fall apart, and it takes some serious work as adults to get our Voice Stories sorted.
Wokie started the Seen and Heard project, interviewing women to find those points in time when their voices had been hushed. This isn’t limited to times someone told you to be quiet. For example, Wokie remembers being in 6th or 7th grade. Her class took an IQ test, and it was announced that she had the highest score. For painfully shy 11 year old Wokie, it was humiliating – it made her feel different and alone. She calls it “the moment I got the handbook for playing small.” She stopped pushing herself outside of her comfort zone, believing there would be negative consequences if she was “smarter” or in any way different than everyone else.
Our Voice Stories color every communication we have. They can tint the outcome of conversations, negotiations, and conflicts if they are left unexplored.
Exploring Your Voice Story
Exploring your Voice Story means mining for the moments when something shifted.
One way is to identify discomfort in your body. When you have hard conversations, where do you feel it? In your stomach? In your hands? In your throat? Try to connect the dots. When else do you feel that way? When did you first feel that way?
Be sure to explore with love and curiosity. Sit with these memories and watch yourself without judgement. Journal, take a walk, cry, make art, talk with a friend – whatever helps you process. Come to understand what was lost, and begin to take it back. We can reclaim what was lost to shift our future.
Another approach is to look at certain periods of your life. When was the last time you felt like you could express yourself fully without hesitation or fear? Young children don’t struggle with their voices. “We are not born quiet,” Wokie says. Something happens that changes the way we see ourselves and our right to be seen and heard in the world. Look at those moments when you stopped feeling that you could communicate without apology. Think about the points in time when something happened to make you feel less valuable, or that you should be less bright and shiny, or that you should be quiet.
When you get there, remember that this process involves some pain, but our goal is curiosity and reclamation. We have to go back and identify with real compassion what we lost. You can’t change the past, you can’t judge yourself or others for it, but you can understand it. Start to follow the threads with curiosity and compassion, and it will all begin to unfold.
How much of reclaiming what we lost is about grieving?
Grief is important, Wokie says, but we need to do that grieving from a place of hopefulness for the future. Transformational grieving means moving the grief through our bodies (Wokie says music helps her) and letting it go, because on the other side of grief there is possibility.
If we can move grief through us and find a good nugget, then the grief was not for nothing. If the things that have happened to you allow you to become who you are, if we can mine for those nuggets in our Voice Stories and use them to heal ourselves and bring us more fully into our voices, then the hardship wasn’t without reward.
And remember: Saying what you want to say, getting what you want – it’s not about cultivating power over someone else, it’s about being centered in YOU.
Thank you, Wokie Nwabueze!
Want to watch the archive of Wokie’s Power Boost? Start your 30 day Free Trial on the Emerging Women Leadership Platform to get access.
How many of you think the world can be a better place? How many of you have an idea about how to do that but have not implemented it? Wokie Nwabueze asked these questions to kick off October’s Emerging Women Live panel Movement Makers: Amplifying Vision, Voice and Influence to Change the World, and was answered by a room full of raised hands.
When we live with our ears to the ground, Wokie said, we get ideas that would absolutely improve quality of life for a group, a community, the planet. But we get afraid of that idea, thinking “Who am I to start a movement?”
We at Emerging Women have a favorite quote, from Move The Crowd founder Rha Goddess: “We are moving out of the age of the celebrity and into the age of the citizen.” That means we don’t have to wait for Angelina Jolie to start a movement. We can do it ourselves. We must – now more than ever.
To dig into the how, Wokie interviewed Joan Blades, founder of MoveOn.org and MomsRising.org, and Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEO and #radicalgenerosity. What did we learn?
1. Put it out there.
In 1998, Joan Blades sent a one sentence political petition to less than 100 friends, and it went viral. Within days the petition had hundreds of thousands of signatures. For the first time in history, an online petition broke into and helped transform the national conversation. Joan realized that online organizing had the potential to disrupt and fundamentally alter the course of our democracy. The signers of Joan’s petition became MoveOn’s first members, and a powerful movement of millions was born.
Vicki Saunders believes in socializing ideas. At a networking event, she’ll say, “I have this super crazy idea. Imagine this. Would you do it?” When she applied this tactic to SheEO, she realized it resonated in a big way. Though she had been running from the idea for 20 years, she couldn’t ignore the response she got when she put it out there. In 2013, she launced the website and quickly raised $500,000 to invest in women-led businesses.
2. No more guru.
Echoing Rha Goddess, Vicki pointed out that we’re living in a post-hero world. “It’s going to take all of us to change this world,” she said, “so don’t follow a guru. Follow the energy. If there’s something resonant in your idea, it becomes an uncontollable force. Don’t try to control it. Let it go, and that’s when you’ll really see it take off.” Vicki allows SheEO Activators to invest directly in businesses they feel passionate about. By giving women the power to invest in ideas they personally believe in, SheEO emboldens everyone involved – no guru necessary.
Joan embodied the no-guru rule by cultivating an agile team with outstanding ability to listen to and serve MoveOn’s membership. “They don’t need me – they’re incredible,” Joan said. She surrounded herself with good people she loved and respected, and who were aligned with a shared purpose. That gave the movement great collective power to grow and prosper, in service to the community and not just the leadership. She now serves on the MoveOn’s Board of Directors, and is free to found new movements like the much needed MomsRising and the especially timely Living Room Conversations.
3. Start with relationship.
“Design an experience for people to be in relationship together,” said Vicki. In SheEO’s model, women fall in love with the kinds of things they want to put their capital towards as a kind of gateway for falling in love with investing itself. Without that relationship, SheEO wouldn’t have the magic that makes it work.
“People are ready to pay for what they value,” Joan said. The key is deep listening to what the people want, and the ability to serve and facilitiate those desires. “We’d just say, ‘Do you want to do this?’ And they’d say yes and we’d have the money to do it!” When you allow people to choose what they’re passionate about and how they want to be involved, they will happily supply the resources you need to take action.
A final thought from Wokie to sum it all up? “You allowed the idea to be surrendered to community,” igniting the alchemy that transforms good ideas into massive movements. “We don’t have to take a hero’s journey. We can take a heroine’s journey and do it with community.”
Are you a Movement Maker? We’d love to hear about your expereince in the comments. And if you want to make deep connections with other women ready to make waves in the world, join us at Emerging Women Live 2017 in Denver, CO.
If you loved our Emerging Women Live 2015 keynote speakers, don’t miss the wisdom from our Emerging Short talks, too. These power talks let us hear from a diverse group of women who are positively using their feminine leadership to change the world. We’ve sifted through our notes and gathered our top nine favorite quotes.
Emerging Women is hosting another fabulous Power Party on May 22nd, this time in New York City at WeWork Lounge. If you can’t make it in person you can still participate via Livestream by signing up below. Please note that all tickets must be purchased in advance.
Power Parties are authentic networking events that aim to bring together brilliant women ready to influence real change in the world through “the how” of what we do.
Power Party New York is designed to be a comprehensive event that will explore the dimensions of living the truth of who we are through feminine power. You will experience real connection, intentional circles, speakers, book signings, live performance and groove. The line-up for this event is awesomely inspirational – featuring Rha Goddess, Meggan Watterson, Wokie Nwabueze, Jenny Blake and Rose Caiola — all successful visionary leaders, entrepreneurs, and creatives who are trailblazing a new way of influencing positive change in the world.
Expect authentic sharing of what makes these women tick and how they were able to achieve uncompromising success by living the truth of who they are.
Register for Emerging Women’s Power Party New York HERE.
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Rha Goddess is a world renowned performance artist, activist and social entrepreneur who uses her artistic and motivational talents to heal, transform and inspire. Goddess’ work has been featured in international compilations, forums, and festivals and she has received rave industry reviews from Time Magazine, Essence and The Source, among others.
In her 30+ year tenure as a creative organizer Goddess has worked on issues of racial justice and equality, electoral politics, offender aid and restoration, mental health and youth & young women’s empowerment. Honors and awards include, Meet the Composer, Essence Magazine’s Top 30 Women to Watch, the National Museum of Voting Rights Freedom Flame Award, the Herb Alpert Hedgebrook Prize and being a US Cultural Envoy to Rwanda.
In her newest venture, Goddess combines her hard earned business savvy with her longstanding passion for social change to create Move The Crowd, LLC a professional development and entrepreneurial training company dedicated to teaching Conscious Urban Entrepreneurs how to “Stay True, Get Paid and Do Good.” Learn More>>>
Meggan Watterson is the founder of REVEAL, an organization that spiritually empowers women to connect to the love within them, reclaim their bodies as sacred, and become soul-led agents of change in the world. She facilitates The REDLADIES- a women’s spirituality group in NYC where women come together to encourage each other to find, hear, and to follow the courageous and audacious voice of their soul. (Some break bread together, REDLADIES break dark chocolate. Smile.)
To Meggan, being spiritual is less about learning something new and more about remembering what we have always known. She believes that getting spiritually naked is about having the courage to be radically open about the truth of who we are with no exceptions and no apologies, to reveal ourselves without judgment or shame.
She has her Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a Masters of Divinity from Columbia University. Her work has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, Women’s Radio, Feminist.com, Feministing.com and StyleSubstanceSoul.com. Learn More>>>
Wokie Nwabueze is a communication strategist and conflict resolution expert who teaches professionals how to develop the interpersonal communication skills, confidence and presence necessary for success and organizational health in business.
Wokie’s dynamic approach to communication blends her 20 years of experience as an executive coach, attorney, organizational ombudsman, mediator and communication strategist. She sits on the Board of the Scheinman Institute for Conflict Resolution at Cornell University and has taught conflict resolution, communication and negotiation courses and workshops for Columbia Law School, Princeton University, various fortune 500 companies, academic institutions and small businesses.
Wokie received her BA in International Relations from Wellesley College and her JD from Columbia University School of Law. She is a certified mediator, transformational life and executive coach, NLP practitioner and conflict dynamic trainer. Learn More>>>
Jenny Blake is a bestselling author, career and business strategist and international speaker who helps smart people organize their brain, move beyond burnout, and build sustainable, dynamic careers they love. With two years at a technology start-up as the first employee, over five years at Google on the Training and Career Development teams, and three years of running her own business, Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients through big transitions — often to pivot in their career or launch a book, blog or business. Jenny is an active member of the Young Entrepreneur Council, and is based in New York City.
Jenny created her first website, Life After College, in 2005, then released a book of the same name in 2011 that was featured in Target’s 2012 graduation display. She has been featured on Forbes.com, US News & World Report, Real Simple magazine, and has spoken at major universities and top companies such as Columbia, TEDxCMU, Yale, Parsons, UCLA, Google, Intuit, KPMG and Best Buy.
Today you can find her at JennyBlake.me, where she explores the intersection of mind, body and business. Learn More>>>
Rose Caiola is the founder of Rewire Me. She could have easily been defined by her success in the highly competitive world of New York City real estate, but she has ventured far beyond the boundaries of the business world. As well as being a real estate developer/property manager, Rose is a teacher, speaker, and expert practitioner of a number of disciplines that promote wellness—both those derived from ancient wellness wisdom as well as cutting-edge neuroscience.
In exploring the roots of well-being, she has become a Reiki master and an experienced practitioner of various yoga disciplines and mantra meditation. Rose has studied neuroscience, Tibetan Buddhism, and Chinese herbal medicine and received extensive training in neurofeedback, kinesiology, hypnosis, and Holographic Memory Resolution.
Along her path of discovery, Rose learned that people are often unaware of the many routes to optimum wellness. Her mission was accomplished when she launched Rewire Me in the spring of 2013, an instantly successful website community of seekers looking to heighten their mental, physical, and spiritual self-awareness.
Rose also works with Congressman Tim Ryan on initiatives involving mindfulness as a tool for helping children learn, war veterans heal from trauma, and corporate executives become more effective leaders. Learn More>>>
The Cave Canem Fellow is the Editor of the women’s anthology His Rib: Stories, Poems & Essays by HER and author of several books including her latest book of poems: Swag. She has released five LPs including the live album Sheroshima.
As co-founder of the Off Broadway poetry production, Jam On It, and co-producer of NYC’s 1st Performance Poetry Festival: SoundBites Poetry Festival, Mahogany bridges the gap between lyrical poets and literary emcee.
Her freelance journalism can be found in magazines Uptown, KING, XXL, The Source, Canada’s The Word and UK’s MOBO. She facilitates performance poetry and writing workshops throughout the country, focusing on women empowerment and youth mentoring.
She is the publisher of Penmanship Books, a small press for performance artists and owns PoetCD.Com, an on-line marketing and distribution company for poets. Mahogany is currently the slam host & curator of the Friday Night Slam Series at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.
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Chelsea has over 15 years of experience in administrative and executive support. After her years of working in the legal and oil and gas industry, Chelsea has made it her passion to fill her life with creativity and incorporates that into everything she does. Her position at Emerging Women allows her to expand on that creativity and assist with empowering women around the world. She is a native of Colorado and enjoys spending time with her husband, her son, bonus son, family, and friends. In her free time she loves camping, painting, and all things creative.
Online Business Manager
Michelle studied Marketing and received her degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her passion for marketing, combined with great attention to detail, and over 7 years of experience in the tech-world makes her a valuable asset to the team! In addition to Emerging Women, she is also a solopreneur and works with a number of different clients in the online business realm. She is an experienced Online Business Manager and Virtual Assistant who specializes in marketing operations, project management and online course launch management. She is a Colorado native, mother of two dogs, a cat, and a turtle, and step-mother to an amazing little girl. In her spare time she enjoys live music, good food, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family.
Power Circle Administrator
Jen comes to Emerging Women with over 25 years of experience in event operations and volunteer management. She has worked various types of events as a Volunteer Manager for Integral Life conferences and as an Event Coordinator for various large arts and sports festivals throughout Colorado. Alongside her passion for creating and producing events, she worked as a hospital administrator for over a decade in one of Denver’s largest hospitals helping make care affordable to hundreds of patients. Jen was born in Lima, Peru but has spent most of her life in Colorado. In 2016, a year sabbatical morphed into a life living abroad. Jen has been living in Cusco, Peru for the past four years and cherishes her life in the Andes mountains. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the world, playing capoeira, and deepening her yoga and meditation practices.
Director of Power Circles
For over 13 years, Nicole has been a producer and connector in the field of personal and professional growth and transformation, creating diverse content, life-changing curriculum, and exquisite live and online experiences. She loves to unite and facilitate people in their work to live more good, true, and beautiful lives. She’s honored to bring this diverse expertise to Emerging Women. For the past two years she has been the lead producer for Emerging Women Live, and now is bringing her extensive production, coaching and facilitation skills to EW’s Power Circles. Nicole works in private practice as a Certified Integral Master Coach™, through her company, Unabashedly You, and has worked with hundreds of women (and men) individually and as a group facilitator. She also creates programs and interviews fascinating teachers and wellness experts in her role as U.S. Content Producer for Conscious Life. She is the co-founder of Core Integral, an educational company offering a comprehensive and accessible approach to learning integral theory. Prior to this work, she owned a large and lively restaurant and brewery in Pennsylvania. She has studied extensively and worked alongside Ken Wilber (Integral Theory), Daniel Brown, PhD (Tibetan Buddhism, Self-Development, Attachment, and Positive Psychology), and Sofia Diaz (Hatha Yoga and Feminine Embodiment). She holds a Masters Degree from Lehigh University. She regularly delights in the sunshine and mountains of Colorado with her two dogs and her partner Clint, and is a new mama to her daughter Truly Golden.
Founder & CEO
Chantal’s mission is to increase women’s leadership across the globe. After earning an MBA from the University of Colorado, Chantal left a career in medical device manufacturing in search of work that would align her dedication to transformative leadership with her passion for living an inspired, impactful life. In September 2012, she founded Emerging Women, a global leadership and media platform that serves over 70,000 women worldwide and has advanced women’s leadership within Fortune 500 companies such as HP, Oracle and more. Chantal’s ultimate vision is to weave feminine leadership and authenticity into businesses, and to create a world where women have a strong voice in the shaping of our future. Prior to Emerging Women, for over a decade, Chantal served on the executive team as the VP of Sales and Marketing for Sounds True, a multimedia publishing company focused on spirituality, personal growth, and holistic living. Chantal is a sought after speaker delivering keynotes at The Grace Hopper Celebration, Wisdom 2.0, and many other stages where women’s leadership is critical to the conversation. When she is not dancing or working to empower women around the world, Chantal enjoys family time with her husband and two sons in Boulder, CO.