Pamela Teagarden works at the intersection of business and psychology, seeing the business drivers in behavior measurement and using them to ensure organizations get real results. Starting her career as a banker, and with the addition of postgraduate studies in corporate behavioral psychology, she developed an ROI for people practices. She is certified in over 35 psychometric tools, partnering with expert selection and use. She is recognized for making sense of data, marrying authentic behavioral strengths with good strategy, and communicating information in a simple, meaningful way.
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Pamela Teagarden and Her Experiences of Being an Ex-Pat
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of underdog today. I have an amazing guest here with me. And her name is also Pam. Hey, Pam, how are you?
Thank you so much for being here. I’ve heard snippets of your story. And I’m so pumped to hear all about it today and your journey. And I’ve just been inspired by you. So I’m very excited to have you here today so thank you.
So you, you’ve done a lot today. And you still are just an absolute Rockstar in your world and continuing to just elevate, now what inspired your journey today we’ll start off with a very broad opening question if you will.
What inspired it, I suppose I’ve often talked about my life in hindsight as if it was a series of accidents. And I don’t like to think of it that way. Because you don’t just trip into you know, your master’s in positive psychology or anything like that. But I think that what happens to inspire some of that is sometimes what’s always in you. And I’ve always had an openness. I’ve always had a curiosity. So when I was given opportunities, I didn’t say no. So I suppose if you ask me what inspired me to go live this crazy, awesome, wonderful, sometimes struggle, he always great life is probably asking ‘why not’, Instead of why.
Amen. So I mean, you’ve got psychology, you’ve got so many amazing things that you’re working on. So what did you want to be when you grew up? When you were a kid? That’s always the best question.
Well, I do remember telling my dad that I wanted to be a flight attendant on a rocket to the moon.
I don’t recall if that was something. I thought I would study or what. But as you know, beyond everything else, I probably wanted to be pretty much everything. And I went to high school in college, in the 80s. When it was the Bonfire of the Vanities and everybody had shoulder pads. And we were trying to be rich and you know, jobs people took at that time, I guess a lot of the studies. We were doing in undergrad, we were financed and you could be a doctor. You could be anything and women were told we could do anything, we could have it all right. So I followed in the footsteps of my father and my father’s family.
I was a fourth-generation banker and, I went into accounting and finance as my undergraduate degrees. But again, saying why not and ending up in Russia. Where there was a project going on to, after the wall came down to sort of come in to, I don’t know, do everything from joint ventures with the oil and gas companies and that sort of thing. I went over there as an accounting finance person, to work in that field. And there are no Jones’s to keep up with over there. So there was no sort of preconceived notion of what my career was going to be step by step. So I ended up just sort of thinking, Wow, well, okay, I’ll try this.
Why not that and I ended up really appreciating more, the psychology of the change management of the people, side of the business, and it was a big change for me because I wasn’t sitting in America. With all my friends that were you know, continuing down that path and buying their little house. To become a bigger house and a car, I was in Siberia. And so, it was a very interesting place to craft your own career. And when I tried these new things around change management and more of the people practices, I never lost the business side you can’t, unlearn what you’ve got.
So, I was very conscious of that link between people and performance. And I just probably bounced around a lot and tried a billion things, until you know. I started down the track of what ended up, being my research and is now my practice. But it was a really interesting thing and undergrad, I thought I was gonna be a banker and, I wasn’t necessarily bad at it. It just turned into something. I don’t know that I chose for all the right reasons, I don’t think I knew enough about what else there was. And you know, we could have it all. I had shoulder pads and everything, so I was gonna go for it. So I tried a bit more than just the finance side of things.
I love that so much and you mentioned a lot of things just now, that I thought were really important. So like you had your accounting and your finance degrees and then, all of a sudden you were offered an opportunity to go, to Siberia. When this was during the collapse of this Soviet Union.
The factor? Yeah.
That is extremely brave for stuff, you know and so what was that job opportunity like? What made you say yes? That to me, I’d be like, they just went over communism? I don’t think so. You’re perfectly fine in the United States just hanging out? You know, like, what made you say yes. And what was that sort of job description that does? I just need to know, what that was like.
That’s so funny. Now you’re asking me to think back away 20s. And so I’m in my 50s now, it was interesting because I believe they did the right thing. And asking us to go for six weeks or eight weeks or some smaller amount of time that, any 20 year old person would be like, Sure, why not? Nobody’s ever been there. I remember my grandmother saying you’re going to Russia, you know it was right after the Cold War. It didn’t equate like that to me, I was curious, I was excited, I went over there and of course, they do compensate you for the hardship location. So I’m a little bit you know there was a little of that too. But when you get over to something, if you’re open to something like that and, you go for six or eight weeks.
Which obviously ended up being three months and then six months. And I kept saying yes or why not or, whatever it was. It was just an amazing opportunity. Really smart people, adventurous people, really fun people, it’s almost like if you could handpick this crazy group of people. That was just fun to be with, for this period of your life. It was a pretty amazing time. So I probably wouldn’t have gone if somebody said, you want to go for six years, eight years, because It was my primary residence for six, eight years. If not more, I have to do the math on that. But it was primarily my residence and then, I moved to London as well as China.
But the idea that I went over there. And you know. Lived in Siberia, in the middle of winter. When it was Gosh, 90 degrees below zero is a crazy thing. To imagine, even taking a dog sled. at one point to get to where I needed to go. So it was just this series of adventures that sort of went slowly into it. You just got caught up into it and all of a sudden you had the bug, right. And it’s probably why, I’ve stayed gone. Because I liked the adventure of finding these, new places and frontiers and doing what was necessary. To help people in business and it was fabulous. It was again, when I say accident, I don’t know. That, I would have chosen that path.
I was not an expat kind of person you know. I’m not the one. That if you would have, put us all in a row. And I said which one will be the next bet, It wouldn’t have been me. Then all of a sudden, I thought, you know, hey, this is not so bad. I’m really enjoying this. It’s something. That was worth every hardship. Because of the lessons, I learned about myself and what I do now. Is a part of my research in my practice. To help people craft their job, I’m going to use that word and it’s not the word, I want everyone to find their calling. And I think, what happened to me with no Joneses to keep up with.
A lot of times, I speak to young women and girls. You know, kids, boys as well. And they’ll ask me. About my career and I can’t tell them. About employee engagement and things that I research. Because it doesn’t make sense to them. So I just said, you know, you might have heard the phrase. Keeping up with the Joneses. Well, what if you were the Joneses, you know, what if you were the one. That you made the decisions and maybe somebody wants to keep up with you. It’s not the reason you do it. But it’s like. What if you were the one that paved the way and I got to experience that. So the authenticity of my career was amazing. It was a slow drip into it.
And, I just kept lapping it up. Until I got to the moment where I thought. Oh, I gotta make a decision about where I’m going to live and eventually came back to the States. To base myself here most recently. But, what an opportunity in the very beginning. I just don’t know where my life would be, I’m sure to be great. But you know it’s just wow. It’s like sometimes, it can feel like coming back from war. Like nobody understands Siberia. Same time, it’s not a bad thing like going to battle. Might be it was just such, an amazing opportunity full of so much. Now I’m trying to make sense of the gift. That I give the world because I’d love for people. Not to go through all of that. Because that took a lot of years in my life to do things.
You know, all kinds of reasons. I don’t have children for example. And I always thought I might. But, everything that I’ve eventually come to. Has been just great and crafted by me. Even in the bad moments, still better than. Had I not crafted it myself and I want that for everybody. So that’s become my practice. In helping the diverse population of people. Whether they look differently
Or think differently or they’re from a different place. To understand how they can craft their world, their career, their calling their job. Into something that feels their own in good and bad. You know, so that when they’re sitting with the coffee right here. And they’re looking back at all. Of the bad and the good, it still feels good. You know, it still feels like it was worth it. That’s what my practice is now. So I’m kind of lucky to be living. Do you know what I do?
That’s amazing. And you mentioned something a term. Because I’m not sure if all listeners will understand. What it means. But ex-pat, can you elaborate what that means?
I know and it sounds like an awful thing. Because it’s got an X in it. But it’s an ex-pat isn’t the term x patriot. Means, that you’re living outside of the country. That you vote in or that you are a citizen. I’m sure there are people, that are dual citizens. But you live outside of the country you’re from. And it’s interesting, at one point in time. When I was going into some research. Around ex-pats in the world, expatriates are what they’re called. It’s more of tax status, I guess, in some senses, but it’s a term that gets thrown around. It’s interesting. There were 168 million people living outside the country. In which they vote and I thought that was interesting, because if you think about it.
When I first went overseas. People would say, how cool you’re on this great adventure. And maybe six or eight years later. They’d say, well. So are you close with your family? Like what are you running away from? You know, like, when are you going home? And after 10 years, they don’t know what to ask anymore. So they’ll say, well, so are you not patriotic at all. Or whatever and it’s really interesting. Because you almost have to be more than not have to be. You become potentially more patriotic. Not been another person. What you’ve chosen about the country that you love. Which is where I’m from America. I’ve chosen my patriotism. I’ve seen other places, lived in post-communism and socialist societies, I lived where things were different.
When I say I love America, I really mean that I’ve chosen it. And so expatriates have a really interesting, take on the election in their country. Or the health care system or anything. it’s a very worldly view. That I am finding just exceptional. I’m finding I can’t live without it. You know, I have a global view of the world. It feels like the world is my home. I’m struggling now in America, even though I love it here. Struggling to figure out, what it is to be a part of my country and still be others. You know, how do I continue to be that other thinker? I don’t want to conform completely to the ways we do things. And so it’s been an interesting thing. But being an ex-pat is something I highly recommend if you have a chance to do it.
That’s amazing. You went into a post-communist era. And then also went into a socialist environment to live. What was that experience? Like? Because technically, you’re an outsider.
I hadn’t thought about it in that term. But I think what happens when you go into. What I can’t say is that China and Russia are the same, even though they’re both post-communist. They have the rabbit hole to go down. But there’s a lot of differences in the way. That they’ve accepted the sort of post Communist. Or the way in which they’re moving out of it. And in Russia in particular, it was interesting. Because at the time, it was a very chauvinistic society. You know, it was very male-dominated. Even though women were in the workplace. And so it’s funny. It’s very interesting to be a female expatriate. The chauvinistic society that, I was entering into at the time. Had a chivalrous kind of underbelly. Because I wasn’t Russian.
I would go in and they’d say. You know I was the only one of the few girls. And a lot of the situations, where there were banker boys and men. Who, you know women. The older men inside. Some of these institutions are in the oil companies or in the banks in Siberia. You know, they would sort of pat me on the head. And in some cases, you would think. Oh, that’s a terrible thing. Don’t let you know, people treat a woman that way or whatever. But I thought, actually that’s one of my biggest interests. I could use that really in a good way. Because I could have conversations with them because they weren’t going to yell at me. They weren’t going to be, you know. Overly they were going in their own way to care for me. Because you know, I wasn’t a Russian woman.
And that was a different scenario for me anyway. In China, I feel the same way because I don’t look Chinese. And so, a lot of times the credibility. I get it because of the idea that they’re curious about the West. Or not necessarily in Beijing or Shanghai, where they are quite familiar with it. But depending on where you go, they want to know from you. So it’s a very interesting thing because the post-communist regimes that. Had the chauvinism or the oppression. Or the veil that was between the people and the outside world. Just maneuvering that as an American, I would say being an American. Has been the best and the worst thing. That has happened to me in a lot of those situations, it can make it scarier. But it can also be a real plus that they’re so curious.
So you know, being in essence. A minority but I was not an oppressed minority. It was, they were curious about what went on with me. I became, I don’t know, I understood that environment. Which is what I’m having trouble within America. You know, where I’m here and I’m thinking. Oh, I’m supposed to be just like you and how do you do that? And why did we wear this? And what did you do? What do we do in the grocery store? When you want to go down that aisle, I don’t know what you buy there. So it’s been interesting because there wasn’t a lot of food. That I was used to or the shampoo, I used or any of that.
The chauvinism or the curiosity. Or the lack of law or the lack of safety. Or all of those things, you began to carve out as sort of a different way of living. So you could be safe and you could be. Then you come back here and you think. Oh, I gotta unlearn that again. It’s very interesting because it’s so different from some of the Western places. A lot of people will travel to Rome or Paris or London. Beautiful places, but you’re not going to have that same separation of who you need to be there. And who you need to be here. So now I come here and I hear on Facebook. People just touting the word communism. And so as a communist or a socialist or we’re all turning socialist or whatever.
I’m thinking, you really don’t know those words. There’s a real sense of what that, means that couldn’t possibly be. In that scenario, you’re describing. Or in the ways in which our laws are here in the States. It’s something that I’ve been privileged to see. It’s very different and not at all simple. You know, when you sit and think. Oh, communism is all just a collective mentality. There’s so much more to this than that. And while it allowed me to know what I loved about my own country. It also pushed me to some of my own boundaries. I had to get out of bribery, scams and be arrested for things I didn’t do. And you know, I’m sort of not sure who the audience is, I won’t go too far.
But there are some very interesting and unsafe things. When people say, I wonder what I’ll be like. If I’m ever in one of those situations. Well you get, you are held hostage and you know how you’ll be. And I can say, I know how I’ll be when I’m held, hostage. Because I’ve been held hostage, but not at all in the same way. That you would have been held hostage in the States. So it’s a different way of being you, you test yourself. And you see some things that, probably no one else will be able to. I don’t know how many Americans have been in both Russia and China.
And you know, there are probably plenty of them. But, I just don’t know. That’s a regular occurrence, that you’ll see and I need to remember that inside me. And the gift that I’m giving. That some of the turmoils that, I felt in that post-communist society. Some of the things I lacked that I didn’t need, I understood want and need differently. Some of the ways in which I found some strengths in me. That I would have never tested here in the States. So it has a really high level and a really low level. But it’s a crazy adventure if you ever get a chance to do that.
And what’s crazy to me, is like you’ve been through those experiences. And you still stayed
Yeah, you know. I guess for me it was that you get held, hostage. Once you think you can do it? No, I’m really joking. I’m really, really joking. I think what ends up happening is, in hindsight, you tell the stories, maybe more of them at a time, and it feels like a lot. Whereas things happen once and then twice, and all of a sudden, it sneaks up on you and you’ve changed your perception. Something as simple as in the early days in Russia, you would never want to sit at a table by the window at a restaurant, if you found a restaurant. By the way, that was another thing, there might not have been a restaurant, you’d never want to sit by the window.
Because you didn’t know. if there was a contract hidden or something on the person. Someone inside the restaurant, you didn’t want to be in the crossfire. There were certain restaurants frequented by oil. And gas or bankers, you’d rather sit by the kitchen, which is totally opposite here. So you kind of get yourself in a situation. Where they want to sit you by the window and you think we’re gonna be fine. And it’s such a simple thing and that was so long ago. But it’s an example of a mental mindset, that you have to connect in one culture to where. It would be completely the opposite of the other. So you have to remember where you are, I guess.
And that’s crazy. So like I mentioned to you, I was born during the collapse of the communist era. But there was still so much happening and being like four years old. Going up to the window and Albanian. When it gets dark out, you’re nobody’s supposed to be in the windows. Nobody’s supposed to be out on the street. Because there are military tanks out, right? And they’re just waiting. Anybody who’s out and disobeyed. This was after the collapse of communism and I remember running up to the window, and I’ll never forget this.
I was a young kid and I still remember it to this day, like my grandma. I go to the window and I open up the blinds, there’s a military tank and I saw a guy look up at me. And my grandmother grabs my shirt from the back and likes it. What are you doing? She’s like screaming and crying, she’s throwing me back. She’s like, never ever, ever do that again. Like, if they see you, they don’t care who it is, they’ll shoot I was like, What? Like, Hey, I remember that you know and I’m just like. So I can only imagine what it was like for you. I just remember that experience. And I’m just like, and that was post-communism, quote, unquote.
Oh, absolutely. Well, there were times when I had a bodyguard. And you know, I think, again you. you take one step, and this happens, you take another step. But I always felt like I could get out if I needed to. There were times when I wondered if I had a visa problem. Or the whole jail thing was an interesting dilemma. That’s another story but the idea that for the most part, I felt like I could get out of there if I ever wanted to. But one of the things that your story makes me think of. I’m over there in my 20s, and I’m meeting all these people that are working with me, for me, around me, and they’re Russian, and we’re becoming great friends. And they’re teaching me a language that, you know, I didn’t study Russian.
So whatever I picked up, I picked up from them and I enjoyed their company and then to realize out over sharing stories. That when I was such an age, they would have just done anything to find toilet paper. And I was at the grocery, I thought If I’d known, I could have mailed you some like how Could. We were both on the planet at that moment. When the Cold War was going on and they were acting like this. And needing that and I was acting like this and had plenty of this. It just didn’t resonate to me how that could be. It was an amazing revelation to just understand that, America was not all there was, you know, that the whole world was in different places of learning and wanting and needing and everything and it really changed me.
But in terms of safety. I remember when we first arrived, there were some classes we could take for situational awareness. And they taught us when how to we had to hitchhike to get around. When there were no taxis in the very beginning, you could take the metro but, you know. You would in essence hitchhike to get to work or the restaurant or whatever. And we would be in danger at some point they thought you know. Though if you don’t get in this car, you get not you do this and they taught us how to jump out of a moving vehicle. It was funny cuz I don’t remember thinking anything horrific about it. You know, like Oh my gosh, this is happening.
But it was a friend who was a Marine, who taught us how to be situationally aware. And when a car turned down the alley, we were supposed to fall out on this part of our arm and roll edges. Okay, well, it dawned on me. We practiced one time and then we needed to do it one time and your body doesn’t know you’re practicing. You know, you remember the rape crisis where you put your keys, in between your fingers and you hit behind you? What if your mind doesn’t know you’re pretending, you’re actually ready for that. I was amazed.
And I wasn’t in your situation. Where I didn’t understand like you were a child, not knowing why your grandmother was pulling away. But what an interesting thing to sort of go, huh? Well, okay, you can teach me how to jump out of a moving well. Sounds all sounds, all James Bond day, but you know. Fall out of a moving vehicle that slowly turning the corner. and I thought, Well, okay, but I’ll never have to use that. And then I did, but it was okay. Like, not okay, I’m not trying to make light of anything. Because if I really go down into the story, I could, you know, come up with some crazy things that might bring back some bad memories.
But all in all, I was safer than not, I knew what to do more often than not. And it ended up working out and so the funny parts to the story, the dinner party story level, are great. But I really do think when you think about. what your grandmother did, like, you have to know what’s right and wrong and quick and urgent and how to do it. And your brain probably didn’t go. You didn’t go to the window very often anymore after that, I betcha like you learn it quickly and you in your life are in danger. If you don’t keep that I’ve never been in that situation before. So crazy to go over there and put me in that situation, you know, strangely, not knowing it.
What Kept Pamela Positive About Her Experience
Right? And then with all these different experiences, like What kept you sort of positive about the experience. Because I’m not sure that like if it was me. I’d be like, Hi, Mom. I’m leaving. Getting on the next flight. Peace out, you know, died. I probably would have been like, when you think about it, you’re just like, How the heck.
My mother can tell you the many times I called most of the time when I called my mother I was sick, I don’t feel good mom. You know, we’ve got some Russian flavors. But I will tell you, I’ve only told the bad stuff. Really, if you think about it because thinking about what was happening. Russia was becoming way up for a while. And then about august of 98, the ruble crisis. Finally hit after the global financial crisis. So we had really high we got the banks opened, We had some of the banking practices figured out a little bit. I mean the whole ex-pat world kind of helped Russia, become a little bit more capitalistic. I think there are elements of the behavior of criminal capitalism, that others may say.
But I think what we were seeing was just an incredible change. And when I talk about the people that were over there. We would sit around and say, you want to go climb Mount Kilimanjaro, let’s go climb Mount Kilimanjaro and we would get on a plane and go, I mean, it was just like being Midas. And I don’t just mean that from a monetary perspective. But I felt like the world was our oyster. Because once you get that bug, it’s like Hong Kong is being handed back to Britain. Let’s go there, okay, and it just became this. It’s like, all the boundaries, all the borders of every country fell away because we could travel.
They gave us travel allowances back then. We had x pack packages we were paid to in hardship locations in the beginning. And then, what happens is your career begins to really go crazy moving to London to work with the group. That was working in the learning and education, directing a lot of the post-merger of PricewaterhouseCoopers. I was afforded these amazing opportunities to work, with really big companies with global teams. And I was, in fact global, just by virtue of having gotten on that plane that first time.
So, therefore, you kind of the good was as good as the bad, was bad In other words. Such an amazing place of magic and self-learning and opportunity. And my friends were all over the world. So I would never have thought of it as just unsafe or scary or anything like that. Those pieces of it were a part of that major change from McDonald’s. That went in writing near Red Square to the oil and gas companies. That we’re coming over there that now and the people that were there. Were times, when stories of where. We just had been word splashed all over Newsweek.
And so it was a pretty heady experience with a lot of amazing people. So I was privileged to be a part of it. It’s like being with someone who plays tennis better than you, you’re going to be better at it. So I kind of like went around behind everybody and thought just. I just want to hang out with you a little bit more, a little bit longer, and have more time to be even more adventurous and even more successful and even more whatever. And it couldn’t imagine coming back to the States, after a little while.
It sounds like a blast. And then your transition from sort of the accounting and finance world into psychology. What was the aha moment for you? What made you shift into the psychology world?
Yeah, there are probably a couple of moments, actually. Because when I moved to London, I was working more regularly in an office that had people that some of whom hadn’t traveled, do this, like they were local to the London office. And it became like a Western experience all of a sudden and it was the first time I’d ever thought. About what my career was going to be next. Because otherwise, it had been like, I want to do that. And I want to do that now that was like, Oh, I got it. I guess I got to figure out a plan and I started realizing that all I’ve done in the learning and the training and the people practices that had been part of my being.
I’m not diminishing this in any way. But part of me, being the girl on the team, you know, those communication practices and things that I was honing in, were really pieces of psychology. I didn’t know it, I didn’t think that it was just a consulting gig, if you will kind of a change management project. Which is sort of a piece of psychology as well, as operations. And so I started recognizing that, I sat at this intersection of business and behaviors. And that was just relative to what I had been allowed to learn. When I say allowed to learn, a lot of the companies would take on the development, that they pay for your development. If I said, I need to know a little bit more about change management,
I learned a little bit more. About how to train or bring skills development to the new hires at this bank. They helped me learn all that. So I was finding my way over into the people side of the business. But I wasn’t actually that anything that I had studied, I was just an empathetic person. Who liked that kind of stuff and I could add patience. Or whatever it was that was necessary. And so when I started thinking about what I was going to study, I had studied all kinds of corporate behavioral stuff. But I realized that there was a component of the business. That everybody seemed to believe they understood and it was something that they called employee engagement.
And I thought about it because employee engagement seemed like they all meant the word happiness. I thought, well, that’s interesting, okay, I want to be happy at work and I thought. Well, that sounds like a good thing. But then I started looking at it. Because remember, I couldn’t turn off the business side, I started looking at engagement surveys. And they would say things like, do you have a best friend at work? Which I totally get? If I have a best friend at work? I’m probably going to love it there. But what if I don’t? Are you going to get anyone? Like I didn’t really understand how like. I got it, the people should be happy, but I didn’t really understand how they could be happy at work. You know like, if they weren’t what it then? So I thought, well, I gotta figure this out.
Because as again with the whole accident thing, what I keep saying. I don’t want to use the word accident, I was doing a keynote speech to some people in the private equity world in London. And I said something they asked me about employee engagement. And I said, Well, to be truthful. If you have to serve a man not engaged and that phrase kind of became a TED talk. That I gave was like something, I had to think back to why did I say that? You know, like, and I sort of it was a joke, but if you have to survey me. You don’t know me and you want me to say that? I’m like, you’re gonna find out. I’m not engaged. So why survey me? Like, I was sort of kidding.
When I started realizing that actually. People were kind of following me after that and saying. What, what do you mean by that? And what do we do about that? I didn’t have an answer. So I knew that we had I knew that we couldn’t do without business. And if we increase people’s happiness or engagement, we didn’t necessarily increase their business. But if we increase the business. We didn’t necessarily increase their happiness and they would put a ping pong table in the lobby or something. I’m like, okay, but that’s not helping the business, you know, like, which it’s like this seesaw. So I decided that I wanted to learn more about employee engagement.
But how It actually could also increase performance. How they could be linked so that you didn’t just increase somebody’s happiness by playing ping pong and then fire them. Because they weren’t productive enough. You know like. Where was the middle bit and so I went to the University of Pennsylvania. And after meeting a couple of the professors beforehand, I decided that if I could study positive psychology. which is the pursuit of well-being happiness, flourishing. That I could understand what it was and I went to school to learn that. Had not a clue that I was going to be on this just amazing journey personally. Because what is the pursuit of well-being if you’re not thinking of it for yourself? First, it was an amazing opportunity.
And what I ended up, realizing is that engagement at work. Is what we had been measuring. But engagement in your work meant that we needed to know something about our authenticity. Our go-to tendencies, what is it? How do I work and if I could explain how I work in an unbiased way. Doesn’t matter what I look like, then I can come in and be me and you can be you and so then. Of course, it went to the diversity and inclusion area. Because if I could nail this idea of how to get everybody. To flourish as themselves in increasing work. That I needed to measure their performance mindsets. And help them understand how to work closer to their natural strength set.
When I did that and they looked different. They could actually come together because they needed each other and then go. Oh my gosh, I did not know you were gay or I did not know you, oh, well. You have a black father and a white mother, I didn’t know that. All that pain, all those stories of pain and identity. And all those things that are very relevant in bonding with another human being are incredibly necessary. But wouldn’t it be great, if that was after we’d already bonded over the things that we needed to do together. So I became really interested. In the idea of going down that path of studying employee engagement. And realizing that if you’re engaged in your work as you. Then there was an element to get that inclusive diversity and it allowed us, to lead beyond our biases.
Because we could come together. Over something, rather than tolerating everybody’s differences. Or trying to heal a lot of pain, which is very definitely worthy of healing. But may not be in the control of either the organization or the timing that we have. And so without diminishing that, how could we come together. Over something that we needed to do so getting along better, but also getting to work better. And it culminated into that idea. That all those studies have made trying to figure out what that intersection of business and behaviors were, would be for engagement.
Really just unlocked the idea of what it was to have a fair. An equitable sort of adjusted society inside of the organization and it’s not the be-all and end-all. But it’s the foundation if you don’t have this, it’s impossible to get the rest. And I can say that impossible, it’s not that’s usually not a word always and never usually words. We don’t want to use but it would be impossible to sustain inclusivity. Because it cannot be one of each of everybody. That’s an impossibility. So if you want to get everyone organized around their diverse characteristics and mindsets, we need to have a way to sustain that.
And the only thing we have in common inside of our organization. Is the work we do and so nobody was measuring that correctly. And I took myself from the place of the engagement surveys and I put myself through the right square. In the middle and I said, you do your work, you’re doing great stuff. About trying to find an anti-racist society. Because I certainly don’t have the background for that. But if you want the anti-racist society and you’re the community within that organization in that culture. Then I’ll help you do it without losing the rat race. It was just this funny, you know, anti-racist, don’t lose the rat race. It became this series of little taglines. That I could do to make it more accessible, but it’s really just a pace.
It’s a very simple piece that kind of seals a crack in the basement. So that all the beautiful decorations can be done on the floors above. But we’ve got to come together over something, where we can actually bring our differences in around a shared unified solution. And then bring the rest of it on top. So I was beyond gobsmacked when I got to that in my studies. Because that became my gift that I gave the world Giving the world I suppose. And now I’m putting it digitally, so it’s I don’t want to use the word accident. But Wow, who knew
That was coming? Amazing. And you found your niche with it, which I think is so cool. Everyone always says the niches are the riches are in the niches and that’s what you know. What’s so cool is like, you know, you were able to find that and you’re able to say, Okay, here’s the problem, how do we make the solution? And now you’ve got your own firm?
Yeah, I did
I bet you’re doing your thing. And so what was that transition like to opening your own firm? Because you had been corporate for a long time. And I know this, a lot of entrepreneurs listening and a lot of female entrepreneurs, especially so how was that transition for you?
Well, it was, yeah, you’re absolutely right. When I was working at the time with Price Waterhouse and Coopers as they merged, so the last sort of corporate gig I had. Would have been PwC. Loved it, I still have amazing friends from there, I had to go about that in a couple of different ways. One is that I had to have a visa to live where I lived and work where I work. And so it was sort of simpler if I held my own visa after, I decided to leave Because I was doing some things. In essence, I left PwC and actually contracted back in. So that’s one way to get, you know, come out of the corporate world. But have them needs you to come back in because I did.
I did come back and do some training and skills development for them, there and have worked with them over the years In different countries. But I think what happens again and I would have been an unlikely entrepreneur. What happens is, there’s safe entrepreneurs are not all Bill Gates. Who goes away into a cave and finds Microsoft in his pajamas or whatever he did. I’m making all them that by the way but you know, I’m just giving that movie kind of entrepreneur, and I gates his name. So apologies to him but, the idea that what’s happening is. It’s not just those people that can’t sort of it almost anti-social. Big going for the gold ring, kind of a drive. But I think there’s different kinds of entrepreneurs.
And so when I left the corporate world and held my own visa. I was lucky that I had some continuing revenue that allowed me to keep going. So I didn’t have to go get funded, I didn’t have to go to all those things. And again, I remember my banking background, I understand all of that but I didn’t need it at the time. So what I tell people now and I help a lot of have taught entrepreneurship and I work with female entrepreneurs all the time. Is that the business is you and so the same mindset diversity. I was talking about the corporate world, I want them to understand the business they run, it’s like a language, it’s your business is going to be you.
You’re going to need this other person that might be your opposite. Whether they look like your opposite or not. But here’s how to talk to them. So I can start someone that might not be the kind of risk-taker, fast-paced, antisocial person, that can sometimes seem like the perfect kind of entrepreneur. And I can show them how they run their company and it’s been really helpful. Because it helps women get out of the imposter syndrome. Again, using my own world and my own life because I wasn’t an entrepreneur type. If you will, then I can help them find the business they run, I do help men as well. But a lot of times, it’s the women that want to really understand the imposter syndrome.
We come out of it differently than men. And when I work with women, it’s really an amazing place. To help them understand that they don’t have to run a business, like a man or like that book says. They run businesses like they are and that becomes again, Inclusive diversity can start with one person. The next person I need needs to be diverse, even if they look just like me. And the next person I need needs to be a little bit more. So you need to know how you work, how they work and then you learn more about them. So it’s the exact same thing only backward because, you don’t have HR, you just have you and I build the business up without losing that, authenticity from that person.
It was a slight accident again, that I ended up holding my own visa. But what a wonderful opportunity to find out, what it is to be an entrepreneur. When you really want the kind to be an entrepreneur, I can prove that there’s a lot of difference. I sort of categorize them into three to five different categories of entrepreneurs. And it just makes people feel better about what they are doing. And hopefully, it means they can keep their business longer and you know, sustain that level of income. Because they’re doing it the way that they feel most authentic, you know.
Oh, I love that you’re such a rockstar. And this is the question that I always get everyone. But I always love it. It’s my favorite. Knowing what you know now, what would be the biggest piece of advice. That your older self would give your younger self,
I would say, to realize that you already have what you need. You just need to know when to use it and when to strengthen it and what it needs around you, what you need around you to help you be who you need to be. Because I think I spent a lot of time trying to find myself. But you know, become something and I was already. I think we grow up to be who we always were and I believe that my creativity and my openness when I was younger, I would say something to these bankers. Men who were grey-haired older than me and I’d say, Well, what about bla bla bla? They would just look at me and go, No.
And I thought, well, maybe I’m just stupid, but you know, maybe I really shouldn’t be talking. And what I realized now is that I just hadn’t grown into my creativity. You know, my, I was right in asking the question, even if it was wrong, you know, like, you have to know the old adage, there is no dumb question. Well, I probably asked a lot of them and thought I was not as smart in those moments.
I think, what I would love to do next is to help younger people understand their tendencies. I want them to know that when it doesn’t serve you. Well, it doesn’t mean it’s not serving you well, in another moment. Because of that creativity that I used, right, then I would have said to my younger self, you’re okay. It just wasn’t the moment for that strength, you know, use it again and it’s going to be great, because I think I stifled myself a little bit after that, you know, until later, that I let it go.
You’re amazing.So now what’s coming up next for you? What’s going on in 2021? What are the new updates in your world?
Well, this is the most excited I’ve been in a long time about a next step with work. There’s so little worry around this next step. Because it feels absolutely right. Like everybody COVID came and the pandemic status all at home and I wasn’t traveling, you know. Living in so many, you know, places and working in so many continents. I was home-bound like everybody else. And I started realizing that I had to put my stuff online, you know, I had to do what I do and I needed to do it more digitally, the workshops, the coaching, whatever it was I needed to do. So I looked at what mindset diversity was. I looked at the research about organizational justice.
And behold, as I looked at my notes, I had crossed out the word organizational justice and called it inclusive diversity. Because that’s what HR would want. But I’m seeing all these people in the streets, protesting for just. You know, the injustice that they feel for their lives mattering and just huge, just incredible activism. I think they want they’ve always wanted that engagement. That inclusion in the organization and so I erased my line and now organizational justice. So I’ve put three things together that I believe are the first steps for me to take to put some of my faces to work online. And the first one coming up is probably the week of the 18th of January, in 2021. I’m going to give a free webinar called the three key pivots to lead beyond bias.
Because I think we do, just kind of a couple of little tweaks to the way that we lead. I’m not changing leadership models, I’m changing the perspective you have on the business and the behaviors. And so those three pivots would be helpful and then that leads us into a mastermind, that I’m hoping a lot of people will join me for. Because I’ve already had a number sign up in a special offer I did earlier. I want to round that up with as many people as I can get. I’m going to discount the price because I rather have more than you know, make it extremely small to build the six pillars of organizational justice. That’s what I was talking about, you have to have that or the rest doesn’t work.
And then I also have another workshop, that I’m throwing into that for the four levels of bias, that break down your business. And I think we mistake when we go into bias training, we learn about bias, we learn. We have it, we learn what it is we share stories of pain. Which I think is human, just beautiful. But we don’t embed that into the performance, so we don’t understand how to embed those bias outcomes into performance, so people are left to fail at work in a way and then the biases creep back in. So I want to solve that as well.
So I felt like the three places to go were. To show leaders how to lead a little bit different to explain the four levels of bias in this workshop. That goes with this mastermind to build the six pillars of organizational justice. So any leader, who whether you’re responsible for diversity and inclusion or not any size team. Obviously, if you are responsible for DNI, this is a great thing that we add to your already existing leadership practices. And it’ll be launching, I believe, on the 15th of January I’ll put all the information with you to sign up. I want as many people to take advantage of whatever offer. I can give right now. Because what a great thing to be able to help more companies in one snap, so that it could not be more exciting.
That’s amazing. And now where Can everybody find you, Pam?
Well, I have a couple of sites, but the one that I think is most important is www.mindsetdiversity.com. Join me, because we got a lot to do. People need to feel fairly treated and have equitable chances at work. And I think we just deserve that every worker is essential right now.
Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with the amazing Pamela Teagarden.