Samantha Karlin

Samantha Karlin is a trainer, facilitator, and speaker specializing in women’s leadership, social change, and diversity and inclusion. She is the founder of Empower Global, which designs and delivers bespoke workshops around allyship, unconscious bias, inclusive leadership, and women’s empowerment. She has spoken and run workshops all over the world, from Bosnia to Peru to India to Chile to Spain, and is a TEDx speaker.

Samantha is also known for hosting the political talk show “Samanthropolitics”, which focuses on US foreign policy, global politics, and women’s rights. She hosts lively conversations with world-renowned foreign policy experts and feminist activists. A few of her guests have included Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Ambassador Peter Galbraith, Ambassador Cindy Courville, and Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley. She also does live political coverage from DC.

Her academic background focused on foreign policy, diplomacy, and gender analysis, with a Master of Arts from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She has also studied at the Harvard Kennedy School, the Harvard School of Education, Yale University, and Cornell University. She is a trained mediator and has worked on two presidential campaigns. She has been published in many newspapers, including The Washington Post, and is a gender expert for the New America Foundation.

 

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Samantha Karlin Journey to Feminist Entrepreneurship

Pamela Bardhi
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of underdog. Today I have an amazing guest here with me, Samantha, how are you?

Samantha Karlin
I’m great, I’m so excited to be here. Pam, thanks so much for having me.

Pamela Bardhi
Such an honor to have you here today. Honestly, I mean, you do so much of your talk show. You’re the CEO, you’ve got all this amazing this happening in your life. And I can’t wait to sort of dig into it all and I guess my opening question to you would be, you know. What inspired your journey to where you are today?

Samantha Karlin
Man, that’s just such a long thing. I don’t even know how to start that. So my undergraduate degree was in international relations. That’s how I kind of became exposed to seeing how women and girls suffer in conflict. And just seeing how kind of few women leaders there were. If you look at our Congress. Like we have a record amount of women. It’s still only 29% women starting to see why women are not in more leadership positions. And then my master’s degree focused at the Fletcher School focused on something called Global Gender Analysis. So it’s basically this appreciation that the world was created by and for men.

So if we think about it that way, that means from the chair. I’m sitting in which I have to put a pillow behind. Because I’m not big enough to fit the chair, to the temperature in the office. Which is always set to a male’s body temperature. To how refugees are responded to in crisis. It’s always based on a male norm. And then this whole concept of gender came out and it was like, okay, like for example. You know, men and women or refugee camps, they need different things. So you know and depending on their age, they need to put things like women experience sexual violence and they have to walk for water. And so there needs to be things to ameliorate that.

For men, there might not be any psychosocial support or programming for men who are victims of sexual violence. Because that’s not what I expected. So there’s like, it’s a way that kind of men and women are both kind of deserve it when you don’t consider gender. And then I’ve also been coaching women for like 10 years on and off like not never before. But on empowerment, self-confidence, self-esteem, stepping into their power. That is kind of influenced what I’m doing now, which is this women’s leadership program. Which is a combination of coaching and feminist leadership curriculum and understanding gender. And inclusion and courage and being inspired by all sorts of different women.

Pamela Bardhi
Love it, you’re in such a diverse world of things. And I love it so much. Now, I have to ask you, who or what inspired you on the journey in your undergrad? Your first major, what inspired you to go that route? Because it’s super niche and specific.

Samantha Karlin
Yeah. So you know, it’s funny. It’s like I went to a public high school in Connecticut. We studied America and some more like, let’s throw in another dash of America with an AP on it. There was no world history, there was no international relations like. Right a small town in Connecticut and Connecticut was pretty progressive and like expose. So the fact that like my high school didn’t have it. And Fairfield County, which is the richest county in the world, is kind of weird or not the world, the country. Then when I went to Tufts undergrad I didn’t even know tufts has a really strong IR programme. But I just went to tufts because I got waitlisted at Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth and Columbia.

So I was like, Oh, this phone call today. Let me in, I got some. I literally had no idea and then Tufts is really well known for its international relations programme. And so when I was there, there was a really cool place called the Institute for global leadership. Which was founded by this amazing man instrumentations like a visionary. It had a signature programme called epic Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship. And it changed themes every year and instead of having a professor come in. Every class was a guest speaker that had to do with that topic. So the class was doubly as hard as everything else. You know, instead of an hour and a half, it was two and a half hours you had 1000s of pages reading.

So my freshman year I was like a psych major. When I was doing theatre I was Like psychology is like for, because it just comes second nature. My mom’s a therapist, I just kind of knew psychology and I was like, there’s got to be something else. And then the topic for that year was my sophomore year was called the politics of fear. I was like, that sounds cool, I don’t even really understand what it is. But it’s like the combination of psychology, which is fear, right emotions and politics. And so I applied for that programme, get into that programme and that really changed my life.

It’s just kind of sad when you look at American education. Like, I didn’t know anything about the war in Rwanda, the war in Bosnia. I just remember international events from my youth inside, like. Why were we learning about World War Two. But like, you know, I don’t think I ever learned anything past World War Two. No really critical analysis of Vietnam. Which was really important, just kind of like, Oh, we were embarrassed about that. So we’re gonna skip that. Nothing about what happened with the end of the Cold War. Which changed the world that we live in today.

Obviously, not the Japanese internment, although that was World War Two, but nothing that happened in the 90s. And I ended up coming full circle. Because we studied Bosnia a lot and the war in Bosnia and my class. And then I ended up doing an internship at the State Department in Bosnia, two summers ago. Worked in Bosnia for the summer on the Economics and Political desk. So it was cool to like, come full circle, and be like, okay, I studied this place for months, months. Now, I want to be on the ground and like, figure it out myself.

Pamela Bardhi
It’s interesting with glamorized cares about Monica Lewinsky, like when the world is going through so many different things. And it’s just like, it’s almost like blinders are on, you know, like with the media.

Samantha Karlin
That’s the other thing that I’m doing, which I think I’ve told you about host a talk show called semaphore politics. Yes. And I’m trying to cover underreported countries from a woman’s perspective. So I covered Yemen with an eye, it was cool. I was like a woman who was the head of the embassy in Yemen. But then I also had a woman who’s working on anti-violent extremism programs on the ground and Yemen. So these are two different perspectives. But I’m trying to expose people to things that are happening around the world in a relatable and interesting way.

In a way that it’s interesting because it’s like the policy community just assumes that like, you know, everything. Like you know, all the basics, like I didn’t know where. How the war in Yemen started or what was really going on. I had to dedicate time to understand it myself. And then I want to walk the audience through it. So I’m not just jumping in and using big words and assuming everyone knows. Who this person is and that person is, like we all have limited time. And so how can you break these things down so that they are relatable and understandable and get people to care?

Pamela Bardhi
Right. That’s so interesting and that’s fascinating how all these things are underreported and seeing it from a woman’s perspective. I love that you’re doing that, I think it’s so unique. So now with that with all the cool stuff that you’re up to, like. What did you want to be when you grew up? I’m just interested.

Samantha Karlin
A movie star? Yeah, I wanted to be a movie star. No joke, I have been an actress and a singer since I was performing on professional stages at age eight. And I’ve been singing since I was four. I was in voice lessons my whole life until my parents stopped paying for them. And I was like, Oh, crap, I don’t want to pay $100 an hour. But I think this is what exposure is, right? It’s like you’re saying it’s like what are the things that you know about when you’re little know. What’s like in the kids’ books, a doctor, a lawyer, like there’s no diplomats and kids books,

Pamela Bardhi
That should be changed. Samantha? Change? That’s your next endeavor.

Samantha Karlin
We’re like politicians, like people who don’t like kids, who don’t know. What it’s like is very much like a construction worker, the teacher likes very classical careers. Yeah and so I didn’t really know what was out there. But what’s so interesting is that a lot of those things.I do know, I mean, I’m essentially performing. When I do my show exams, I facilitate workshops on women’s leadership and inclusion. And so that takes my theatre training as well, of like, how do you hold a captive audience?

How do you like to pause for dramatic effect, how do you make sure people are understanding you? And how do you connect with people? So my theatre training has actually been and I do a lot of keynotes. I’m very comfortable, it’s like, throw me on a stage for a million people, I’m the happiest girl alive. And most people can’t do that, so it’s just that training. Maybe if I said I wanted to be a diplomat, maybe it wouldn’t have taken voice lessons or been in place or done anything. Then I wouldn’t be where I am now. So

Pamela Bardhi
I love it. But to see how it always correlates, I asked that question. Because there’s always a connection to what somebody is doing now. Weirdly enough some way it’s connected, which is like the coolest thing in the whole wide world. Like you said, now you’re able, you’re on a stage, you are your own movie star in your own way. It’s just so exciting.

Samantha Karlin
And the differences now, I’m reporting this because I mean. I spent six years as a professional actress. But I was always reading someone else’s script. And so like a lot of female roles are not, they just have to have substance. Because most screenwriters are men, most directors are men and most producers are men. It’s just the love interest who shows her boobs at the end and says stupid things. I’m not saying like, there’s some great roles out there for women, but there’s not that many. Yeah.

And so it’s really powerful now getting to perform in my own way. But I’m doing something that’s super intellectual and like, it’s my script on my own. I get to interview ambassadors and human rights activists and people on the ground. In crazy places and provide my own analysis. I’m not providing someone else’s analysis. And so I actually think I’m happier now, in a sense than I was. When I was walking into an audition and reading the script for the hot girl and American Pie. You know, what I mean?

Pamela Bardhi
Now, I love that you are taking your reins and basically moving in your own route. Which is so amazing and exciting and throughout your life. And your experiences leading up to where you are today. So is there a specific person that has inspired you?

Samantha Karlin
So I was inspired a lot. I worked after graduate school, I worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. She’s amazing. Anyone who says she’s not likable. You don’t know her, you haven’t met her. She’s wonderful and warm and pathetic and like, lovely tangent. But I’m gonna be inspired by her and all of the crap. That she went through that was so unnecessary. Like I saw something once it said like Britney Spears survived 2008. You can survive this and it is more like. If Hillary Clinton survived 2016 like you can survive today. But the other thing I found really inspiring. So I ended up not working for the administration because Trump was elected.

And I ended up at a shoka. Which is this really cool nonprofit that supports social entrepreneurs around the world. We’re doing amazing, innovative things. So from this woman shad, who’s working with illiterate women in Pakistan on political participation. To working on human trafficking and India Hasina. In devising this whole new system of like policing, protection prevention supply chains to combat human trafficking to this amazing man, Gary Barker. Who’s like reinventing, how the world thinks about masculinity, and helping masculinities.

And I was really inspired. Especially by the women that I saw and that I spoke to. Because I tried to do a podcast, but then I didn’t do a podcast because it wasn’t good enough. But I was just so inspired by these women that were in the most difficult of circumstances. They were getting threatened by shad and basically got the international amount of Courage Award in the US. And they said to her, don’t come back to Pakistan like the Taliban is going to kill you. Don’t go back and she said to me, Sam that’s my life’s work. But that’s my work and she went back and she just moves every couple of months.

You know, like, she doesn’t have stability and is seen as a driver. When she was in the car, she ran off the road. And she died by like some people that didn’t want human trafficking to be gone and women. I talked to you working on genital mutilation groups, rocks, and stones thrown at them. So I was just really inspired by these women. They were not coming from wealth and who were going through. These incredibly difficult circumstances create change and they’ve still persisted. And they are still inspired and I have a lot of them. Weaved into my women’s leadership course, I will look at their styles of leadership.

Pamela Bardhi
That’s incredible. I mean, they’re fearless in the fact that she went back The Taliban wants to kill me. Okay, I’ll just move like most people will be like, I’ll just stay right here. Right? Like, I’m gonna leave now, right? But like courage and fearlessness, there’s something to be said about that. And I love that. You took your inspiration and you’re creating art. How can we learn from this? Talk a little bit about like, their style of leadership and like how you sort of incorporated. Is it just a little sneak peek into your world?

Samantha Karlin
So, I cover this in my women’s leadership course that I teach. But I did this event in Italy with like, 20 women’s social entrepreneurs from around the world. And we started to look at how do women lead differently, how do they change systems differently? How are they doing things differently for men? And again, if I didn’t have a Gender Analysis, I would have just been like. What are Ashoka fellows doing broadly? I wouldn’t have said what the women are doing that’s different. So certain themes started to merge like that. Women aren’t as keen to build huge enterprises.

They don’t feel like they have to be in a million countries with 50,000 employees and making billions of dollars. Like some women want to keep things small because they have more control. Better work-life balance and they want to have a deeper impact. So they would like some women social entrepreneurs. Who would rather be able to really affect change in a community that lasts forever? Then work with 50 different communities in Africa. And only do something that has a very superficial impact. Also, collaboration and sharing power was really big. I don’t need to take all the credit for this, I don’t need to be.

If I’m doing a project in India, I don’t need to be the implementer in South Africa. It doesn’t need to be under my tarp like it can be under someone else’s tarp, I can train them. But it doesn’t even have to be my company doesn’t need credit for that. Right. So the collaboration was really apparent and a power-sharing innovation of just how they went about things. And I mean, courage. I mean, that was something like what’s really interesting, Pam, is that, like. I’ve now read pretty much every book on women’s leadership ever written and feminist leadership. Not once is the word courage mentioned.

Pamela Bardhi
No way,

Samantha Karlin
I swear to God, one book says that their women are positive, devious, and brave. And they always mentioned the things that make sense for our gender. Empathy, collaboration, consensus building, kindness, love. All these things that seem like they fit within. What’s comfortable for us to think about women. But I think it’s scary for people to do things. Or they just don’t think about women being bright and courageous. And like, just fearless.

That’s actually one of my conclusions I came to and I really teach a big segment in the course about courage. What does that look like? And so it’s not just courage to fight the Taliban. It’s courage to break off on your own and start your own business. That is courage to not get married and have kids and take a non traditional path. Like there’s so many ways that courage manifests itself in women leaders. And the woman leader also doesn’t have to be the CEO of a company, a woman can lead in so many different ways.

Pamela Bardhi
Oh, totally, totally, like you so much. Well, you mentioned that and it’s like, I’m more of a listener. So like, audiobooks are really good for me, and like this is why my schedule is so crazy. Like, I want to read more, I want to learn more. I haven’t gotten into female leadership, so I find it so wild. That courage is not mentioned once. Because, right when you said that, in my mind, what popped up was like. Well, guys aren’t afraid to say what’s on their mind. They don’t really have a filter, they just go out there, they just do it. Like they don’t think twice like we have second-guessing. I feel like a lot of women like that’s our biggest problem as a species.

Because once you second-guessed, then the fear starts to set in. And then that’s when you lose your courage. Whereas men, I feel like they’re just conditioned, like, Hey, man, go out there and do it. Like they’re conditioned not to think twice and maybe that’s the big difference between the two? I don’t know. But I just think it’s an interesting observation. Because what I see in my world of real estate development and construction and all that stuff is like, guys. They just go out there and do it. Right, where sometimes I’m like. What should I do with this? And just go out there Pam, and just do it. So I don’t know, it’s a phenomenon.

Samantha Karlin
There’s research that women are more risk-averse than men. Yeah. Which in some cases is really valuable, for example, like thinking about long-term consequences to things. Yes. Like a lot of these tech companies like Facebook was just like, Oh, just go out. And like I really hate the mantra in tech of like. What the heck is it like break stuff and then fix it. Go fast-break stuff and then fix it like, okay, that’s fine. If you’re working on a sparkling probiotic drink. But it’s not fine when you’re putting a tech product into the hands of people. Who could then spark a genocide? Which is what happened with Facebook.

You can’t break stuff when you’re having an effect on people’s lives like that. So that’s where I think women’s, you know, kind of risk aversion. Like there we say, like. What if the Lehman Brothers had been the Lehman sisters probably, would have happened. Because they wouldn’t have been so reckless. But the other side of it is exactly what you said. Is that risk aversion and I see this with private coaching. Like cyclical thinking or just like these stories. That just goes on in women’s heads about things that just are not real.

Well, what if this and then it isn’t this person? It’s like. Okay, what is the evidence for, what is your thought process going on? What is the evidence against it? And like, what’s the reality here? Let’s look at the reality. But you have to talk through that. I mean, there’s a lot of fear, there’s a lot of limiting beliefs, there’s another part of my course, I called deconstructing our inner patriarchy. There’s also just a lot of things that we’ve been told as women.

Pamela Bardhi
Subconscious.

Samantha Karlin
Like I was reflecting today. How my parents always told me to marry rich. They never told me, you go be rich. You go make money.

Pamela Bardhi
That’s so interesting because I saw my dad and what he said to me was like. You’re gonna stand on your own two feet, you’re gonna be rich and no man, he’s like. The man’s actually gonna bow down to you. Just telling you that, like, that’s what he used to tell me. I was like seven years old. I’m like, again. What, like the subconscious, you said, is a huge difference.

Samantha Karlin
And the culture you grow up in. I had a client once, she was from Ghana. But she’s like, I grew up that the woman was supposed to serve the man. We’re not supposed to be seen and not heard and we’re not supposed to make trouble and we’re not supposed to stay out. And that was hurting her professionally in her career. Because she was always terrified to speak up. And she was always in the background that she never spoke. I’m like, but, you know, especially in America, if you don’t speak your voice. You’re not in the conversation.

There’s not that many people like me. They are specialized in inclusive facilitation, that know how to bring you in. Like, most people are just like, whoever talks, great. We’re moving on and so then, your opinion and your voice isn’t heard. And especially if you’re the only woman or the only woman of color, that means that perspective is gone. Because you didn’t speak up. So I work a lot with women on getting through that kind of fear.

Pamela Bardhi
I love that. So what inspired you to want to open your own business? Because you have so much experience? And it’s like because there’s just a lot of women who are always second-guessed to like. Do I work in a corporation? Or do I go out on my own and I find a lot of people teetering. So it’s like, what made you take that jump and just be like, Alright, I’m going full speed.

Samantha Karlin
You know, it’s funny, it was circumstance and guidance. I moved to Spain with my ex-boyfriends or my boyfriend at the time. And I was working in tech and I was making really good money for a company out in San Francisco. Then they were doing some things that I did not find palatable and that kind of data space. And I brought it up and was laid off properly. So that was mid-March and at the time, like my ex. Thought he was going to use it in business school. There he was going to be there till the end of December. As it turns out, he was only there to kind of August, but still, I have, you know, at least five months.

And then at that point, I was very much in love. So I was following him around and I was like I want to. Then we’re gonna go back to the west, so like, I interviewed for some jobs in Europe, then I was like. But then he wants to go back to DC, so then I’m going to be working in Geneva. I’m not going to work and then I remember I had lunch with this guy. Who was hilarious, who’s British and he’s like and I was like, so I was talking about getting a job in Spain. And he’s like, don’t work in Spain like. You can make no money. Like, they’re not as ambitious as you like, it’s going to drive you crazy. It’s patriarchal. Like, enjoy yourself, like Do whatever you want to do.

Just like you don’t want to get a job here. Okay, well, I guess I’m not getting a job screen. And it was like compared to a US salary, it was like making half as much and working more. I was like, this sucks and then it really kind of my mom was like who’s a psychologist. My parents are both entrepreneurs, my dad is a doctor, my mom is a psychologist. But they both have their own businesses. So my mom was like, Why do you do your own thing? Do I do and then it really came to fruition. I was, I spoke at a conference called her racist conference. Which is actually coming up and speaking out again this year in Portugal. And I spoke on a couple different panels, one was on the meeting movement.

One was on diversity inclusion and I can’t remember the other. I had gone to this is where women supporting women really matters, I met a girl who was awesome. And she invited me to this woman’s breakfast one day. How can we help the birds? Like how can we help each other? How can we leverage one another’s talents, who needs What? And I met this really wonderful woman and she came to one of the panels, I was on and afterward. I’d sent her something like, maybe I’ll be a public speaking coach or something, and afterward, she was like, Sam, you knew more than all of the people on the panel. She was right. I knew more than all of them. Like the BBC reporters were coming up to me.

It was brilliant. But she’s like, you know, gender, you know, women’s rights. Whatever you do, this is what you should be doing. Like you’re passionate about it or knowledgeable about it. And so then, there was the other thing about being in Spain. This is why I get so pissed off at the argument that immigrants are like a weight on the country. I didn’t have a work visa in Spain. So in some circumstances, I was kind of like, I wasn’t an immigrant. But I was living there and so even like getting a Spanish job. Like who’s going to sponsor me, so it’s kind of that circumstance of being another country. Where I couldn’t even get a part-time job in a coffee shop or something.

Because I didn’t have a visa. So it was really being in Spain having that time to think about speaking at that conference. Having this other woman killed me and my amazing mom. Who was like, stop doing random stuff like put it like everything I do and I was under one bucket. Like it’s under diversity and inclusion, women’s rights like It’s all related. I’m not like freelance writing over here and doing this over here. And coaching over here and there’s no relationship. Like, it all weaves together as well as like, put it under one bucket and that’s, yeah. That’s kind of the story of how I started off.

Samantha’s Best or Favorite Moment In Her Work

Pamela Bardhi
I love that so much and you just kicked it off. You were just like that, I’m gonna, I’m gonna move forward, I love that. What’s been your best moment? I would say your most favorite moment in the work that you’ve done.

Samantha Karlin
I just love facilitating workshops. Like I love my women’s leadership course. Women from all over the world, different races and religions and industries like. It’s freaking magical to be in a zoo. And you just see these women relating to each other in any way. There’s no way in hell they ever would have come together under these circumstances. So it’s just amazing to see all these women that are different, like, helping one another learning from each other.

Having moments like there was a white woman in the group and she said to the black woman. How do I raise my kids to support your kids to stand up for your kids? These are the moments that we need in America. Like it’s happening right here in my z hall where I’ve facilitated the space. Where they feel like they can ask these questions. And then just watching what happens to women ask for the money that they want and deserve. Get it and launch it to start their own business and get this courage. That they never had to do what they’ve been wanting to do. And now they have the support of other women.

They have my support, they have like kind of organizing principles, they understand how to move forward. If you want to create change. So I think there’s that and then I mean, I love the talk show. I love interviewing these badass women that I’ve, Joanne, on my show last week. It was like, I slept under my desk for three weeks in Yemen, like no big deal. I mean, like people women have been through terrorist attacks. Wow. Like it’s wild in like, crazy places. And so getting to highlight their voices and talk about issues and it’s Yeah, that’s awesome, I love it.

Pamela Bardhi
That’s amazing. And was there a person in particular that inspired you to start your journey? I know you mentioned the women that you came across, but is there anyone like you. Who was personal to you growing up?

Samantha Karlin
Well, I think being a Jewish woman has always been important for me. Like I went to a Jewish day school and it was Judaism. It’s like all about strong women like GoldenEye year and like names. I can’t even remember but it’s really about raising strong, independent women. So I think that influenced me and I think my mom’s been a really good big influence. Telling me I needed to be an entrepreneur, encouraging me to see where, you know. That I’m talented and support watching my show. When my show had no viewers, my mom was at least in the chat asking questions.

I think especially after coaching women, it’s like, you know. This to like your parents have such an influence on you. And what you feel capable of and what you choose to do. I see a lot of women who were held back.
Because they are living their lives for their parents not for themselves. Parents have certain expectations of them. And the freedom to study international relations instead of becoming a lawyer. My dad’s a doctor, like everyone’s like, kind of on a traditional career path.

Pamela Bardhi
And that and you mentioned the story one when we spoke last, regarding your sister.

Samantha Karlin
Oh, yeah.

Pamela Bardhi
Your journey

Samantha Karlin
To tell that story. It’s wild.

Pamela Bardhi
Absolutely. Because you had mentioned that it was a big influence on YouTube.

Samantha Karlin
My little sister is eight years older than me and she was born kind of knew something was wrong with her. But wasn’t sure what, so it turns out she has a genetic disease called Canavan disease. So Canavan is a neurodegenerative disease prevalent in Ashkenazi Jews, but not only in the Jewish population. Means that the kids can’t walk, can’t talk, can hold their heads up, they can’t really do anything. They’re pretty immobile. They communicate via sounds, eye blinking, you know, they can laugh and smile. But it’s awful and my parents were like, Okay, well. What do we do? Where’s the cure, where’s the surgery and they kept getting these answers, like, there’s no cure.

And there it was like. Where’s the research and they’re like, there’s no research being done on this disease. Like, you have no hope. Your child’s gonna die and it’s like, put her in Institute and let her die. Why she’ll die by age five or 10. It’s like, what parents want to see and my parents really invented. What’s called now has a name called patient advocacy. Because my dad is very much like Dewar and he was a physician and he was like that. I’m not just letting my kid die like, EFF you and my childhood was my parents. My dad just knocked on every door and called this doctor and this researcher. Connected to this person who picked this person to this person.

And finally, they brought my little sister into Yale. These two researchers were working on Parkinson’s and she was like that. She looked like, big saucer, blue eyes and cute glasses and these blonde girls and she was just like, sweet as pie. And, you know, can you research this disease, like, we’ll raise money, like, help us save our child. These two researchers were like, Alright. If you can raise some money, we’ll do it. So now that’s called, patient advocacy. Because it used to be that researchers chose what they worked on.

Patients didn’t come to say. Can you work on my kids’ disease and fund them? And now that’s like a new model that actually, a lot of like, wealthier people that have money will be like. Well, my cat has this disease, let me go pay some researchers to work on it. So yeah, my childhood. I was in the clubhouse today talking in some philanthropy group. And I was talking about how I was selling raffle tickets at age eight. To raise money for research for Lindsay and then so fast forward. 18 months later, my sister was the first person in the world to be treated, with gene therapy for brain disease. She was a little baby. They drilled six holes in her head in New Zealand.

And to put this gene in her brain was missing and it was wild. Then within like three months of the surgery, she started to hold her head up. She started to track, she was making no sound, she was more aware. We found out she’d grown myelin in the brain, which was like a scientific miracle. Yeah and then, that’s all because my parents were like. There’s no hope this is and I think that’s why I have this ethos now, like anything’s possible. And usually, it takes years to come up with any kind of experimental treatment. I mean, research takes forever. The fact that they got something that they could do, within a year is wild.

Pamela Bardhi
That is so wild. I was gonna say I was like, hold on because they advocated. And I was like, now I see the correlation of your inspiration. Why you’re so inspiring to go out there and advocate for women’s quality for diversity, which I absolutely love. Oh, my God, wow, what a story.

Samantha Karlin
That’s incredible, to those who don’t have voices. I mean, my sister literally can’t talk. Wow, she literally has no voice and so if we hadn’t spoken for her, that would have been it. And so, to advocate for those who are voiceless is incredibly important to me and to you know, give them a voice. But my sister I should mention, so my sister was supposed to die by age 10. She’s 26 now and she is in three gene therapies. And then I kind of took over running the foundation, though, I don’t do a very good job of it. But I took over this, our foundation is called the Canavan Research Foundation. If you want to support it or look at the work canavan@www.canavan.org.

And so right now, after 10 more years of research, there’s no like 16 more years. There hasn’t been a gene therapy and the FDA just approved the latest gene therapy and 10. I’m not sure how many kids, but a bunch of little kids are going to be treated. We’re hoping the problem is my sister’s older. And so she won’t show the results that little kids will, so we’re really hoping that she’s going to be treated. But even if just these other kids are treated, I mean, because of my parents. Like it’s all like so yeah, I’m really. I really admire them and what they did and anything’s possible, right? Nothing’s, nothing in stone.

Pamela Bardhi
That’s so insane that they were able like they just kept fighting. And they just kept going. They just kept saying no, no, like, there’s more. There’s definitely an answer. And I say that all the time. I’m like, there’s a will. There’s a way, some way somehow

Samantha Karlin
I’m Like that too. I go into a situation and other people are like, oh. t
There’s an unfixable problem, I’m like, No, no, no. There’s a way to fix this. Look, let me get my hands on it, see what’s going on. I’m very resourceful. I’ll figure out a way. And like some of the most basic stuff immobilizes people like Oh, no solution. No, no, there’s a solution. Let’s just figure out what it is. And who do we need to leverage to make that happen?

Pamela Bardhi
Oh, 100% I love that. I love that you touched on so many incredible things and like your line of work. What would be your best advice or top tips in inclusivity and leadership? And sort of like, what you preach the most in like, say in your courses or anything like that? What would be your best piece of advice there?

Samantha Karlin
There’s so much because it’s different. I mean, it’s important to know, too. That what I’m teaching, I do teach inclusive leadership as part of my women’s leadership course. But in diversity and inclusion training, it’s different. There’s different lessons there, there’s different things to learn. The major thing with the women’s leadership course is just to know that the leadership of the past is no longer the leadership that we need now. That the way that leadership was taught was not in a global pandemic. If it was not in a ratably, politically divisive environment. Where people can have civil conversations with each other. I myself included, sometimes, the traits and the things that you need, as a leader have evolved, they’re different.

There was no social media, now people have social media. And they expect the worst of millennials don’t stay in their careers. They didn’t stay at a company for 25 years, they moved. Millennials care more about social purpose. If your company can’t identify what is social purposes or what its impact is. You’re gone, they will leave. So there’s just so many things that have happened. I think the comprehensive social media protests, the pandemic that have come together. That really redefined the way that we need to think about leadership. And the way that we need to approach and do leadership differently.

Pamela Bardhi
I love that, I love that. And now my final question to you, which I always ask everyone is. What would your older self tell your younger self, based on what you know, now?

Samantha Karlin
Don’t worry if you don’t become a movie star. There’s other paths to shine. Like I think one of my defining moments was when someone said. He’s like this woman, who had been like a screenwriter. She wrote, like, all the X Files that I’ve had a meeting with her, she said. You’re going to be a star and you’re going to be a star. So I had that in my head, like, I’m going to be a star, like I’m destined for fame and greatness. And then I was like, I could and that’s almost like you can be a star in another way. You don’t have to be a movie star. Like I could be a politician and like now. I would love to run for congress at some point.

Pamela Bardhi
Yeah, girl.

Samantha Karlin
I would like that’s a way to like and then, to use that fame. Or whatever it is to do good things for the world. To empower women, to empower the voiceless, to empower refugees and minorities. And give people equality and give special needs kids health care and schooling. So there’s other ways that you can have that stage. Without having to be a movie star.

Pamela Bardhi
I love that so much. And you are such a superstar in what you do. So I mean, for the listeners who want to check you out and see what you’re up to. What are you up to these days? I know you’ve mentioned so many things. Your leadership challenge, you’ve got courses, you’ve got keynote speaking. You’re doing all these amazing things and workshops. So tell us what you’re up to.

Samantha Karlin
Now, at first, say I have a newsletter that I send out with all sorts of resources. And it kind of keeps people abreast of the shows I’m doing. So to get on that newsletter, you would text him the word empower. If you want to get on the list and know what’s going on. But the two big things are the Women’s Leadership Challenge, speaking at events, doing events at companies around women’s leadership. And diversity and inclusion and the talk show and now we’re in the talk show. We’re getting over 1000 views a show.

And so now it’s looking for sponsorships and partners for the women’s leadership course. I’m also looking for sponsors if anyone’s interested in sponsoring women. Who were from underserved communities or from the global south? Especially women of color to go through the program. That’s something I’m starting to look at because I want those voices in but they can’t necessarily afford it. So those are the main things that I’m working on. And what’s really refreshing, Pam is that Trump is out of office. So it gives me one less thing to worry about.

Pamela Bardhi
Gotta love it, right.

Samantha Karlin
The government is helping adults.

Pamela Bardhi
Raw politics right there. I love that name. By the way, I love what you’re up to and like, Man, you’re just such a total rock star. And now you got to let him know where to find you?

Samantha Karlin
Yeah, so my website is empowerglobal.net. You can join the Facebook page or Samantha politics, which is a mouthful. There’s a Facebook page for Samantha politics, which you can subscribe to. And then I also have a Facebook group. Which is a free Facebook group called the women’s leadership laboratory, which you can join. Then also like you could always email my company info at empowerglobal.net for speaking engagements or workshops or whatever.

And I’m out there and Twitter and all those things and clubhouse and Ansible. I’m doing a webinar at the end of March about finding your intrinsic power. Which I came up with something called the intrinsic power map. So if you get on my mailing list, then you’ll get info about that webinar that’s coming up. It’s kind of a lower price for things that come in.

Pamela Bardhi
Is such an honor to have you here today. I love your story, I love your passion, creation. And just thank you for all of that and just continue with your amazing work. You’re a freakin rock star.

 

Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with the amazing Samantha Karlin.