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TCOM Takeaway 2: Rachel Faller, Shifting to Keep Moving Forward
Bonus Episode21st February 2022 • Shift Shift Bloom • ActuallyQuiteNice, INC and TCOM Studios
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John & Kristen discuss Rachel Faller

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Kristen Cerelli 0:00

Every week on our regular episodes of shift shift Blum, I get to interview people whose lives are very different from mine. And we talk about how each has navigated the twists and turns inherent in transformation. But I wonder what's universal about how people change? What are the common threads, the connective tissue, I tend to look at change through the lens of my own experience, for the most part, the artists life. Lucky for us, my curiosity is shared by the CO creator of shift shift bloom, Dr. John Lyons, luminary and author in the field of clinical psychology and systems change, who better to help me unpack all the questions that fill my mind when the interviews are over. I'm Kristen Cerelli, and you're listening to shift shift bloom, T calm takeaways, my conversation with Dr. John Lyons about a recent interview.

We are back with Dr. John Lyons. And we're here today to review the episode about Rachael Fowler, the co founder of tone lay the sustainable fashion business based in Cambodia. Welcome, John.

John Lyons 1:27

Good to hear and see you again. So and what a what a great job with the interview. So thank you. There's two kinds of interviews, in my experience, at least that are particularly challenging, and a one is the people who don't really talk much, because then you have to draw them out. And then the other is people who talk a lot. And Rachel is certainly on the ladder class. But what I'm passionate, smart, articulate person.

Kristen Cerelli 1:52

I agree. It's funny, because you know, as you know, I do these pre interviews with the interviewees. And it did take her a little bit of time, I think I told you to warm up to me in the pre interview, but I think once we got over that little hump, she had so much she clearly wanted to share. So you mentioned when you first listened back that you found this one different, what hit you is different.

John Lyons 2:21

So in context, and I'm a little bit like Rachel. So as you know, my kids always Hey, Dad, give us the short answer, and I don't. So the context of this is, you know, I was a little bit skeptical about the title of our podcast, when we first were bouncing around the room, I've come to love it. But I think Rachel is a perfect example of the shift shift that we're talking about in the title of the podcast is that more than the others, it seems like and i That doesn't surprise me that she picked out being open minded as her key to change because it struck me that she was you know, she starts out one pathway to do fashion and then realizes it's not the kind of environment she wants to be. So she shifts over to art and then she moves forward with her art career and then realizes that's not really the place she wants to be. And she comes back into fashion but within a so she's Yeah, I mean, I apologize for the sports metaphor, but she's like a punt returner dodging tacklers, you know, moving through and moving up towards towards the touchdown. Right. So I thought it was fascinating how, how she kept shifting, you know, she runs into funding problems because of misogyny. And she shifts over and gets funding from women. So I haven't so it's just a series of things where you see her shifting in order to keep moving forwards. I thought that was really interesting.

Kristen Cerelli 3:45

Yeah, that's a great at Well, first of all, I'm glad you have grown to like the title of the podcast. It's hard. I was thinking about it today, too, is is it the right title. But it's it was interesting to hear her talk, I think what comes to mind when you say that is she also in addition to being open minded seems to have an incredible wealth of resilience, the ability to get back up after being knocked down. And I think that takes me back to to our conversation, my conversation with her around being entrepreneur and being an artist and I I will say even though I don't find those two things, particularly similar, I do see a need in both fields, to be really resilient to take rejection or take obstacles and either move past them or like you say move over to the side and find another way around them.

John Lyons 4:42

Yeah, so I think that's probably true. I thought her description of the similarity between an entrepreneur artist was interesting because of the idea of, you know, thinking out of the box, you know, not balancing yourself with what you think you know, and allow yourself to just do what was right. Although I'm not sure entrepreneurs always just do what's right. That sense but yeah, yeah, I thought the other thing that's very interesting about her as she's sort of characteristic of this whole movement in corporate world of corporate social responsibility, and it's even got its own acronym. So you know, it's something when you have your own acronyms, yes, R is actually a significant movement of, you know, how do corporates take social responsibility, and in what context I thought that was sort of a driving passion for hers, which I respected more mostly.

Kristen Cerelli 5:35

She talked about this, this phrase that really popped for me, she, she called it a having a double barrier. Like when you have a barrier in yourself, and then you're also facing other people's biases about that. Just talk about that a little in terms of maybe what how you see that in your world, or how that makes change really even harder than we even think.

John Lyons 6:00

I think it's extremely complicated. I was thinking very much along the same lines, but probably more from an old white man perspective than me because it was clear, and we talked about this that ultimately, the solution to racism in the US requires change on the behalf of white people. But the same message came through from Rachel's, ultimately, the end of misogyny depends on men stepping up and doing the right thing. And so we have to kind of figure out how we create cultures where that's and you see the pushback right now, you see the the toxic masculinity is trying to kind of idea that somehow being not misogynistic is canceling men and all this kind of nonsense, that we have to kind of figure that, how does a culture of how do we actually achieve these goals, because I think in the end, everybody buys the vision, the strategy to get to it, though, is is different. So that that's one take that I took on it is oh, I feel my responsibility even greater to try and do what I can, as a white man to help change white culture, I am male culture, so to be less biased. The other piece of it is there is a quite a bit of challenge. I think, anytime that you are identified as an other, that you get co opted into the identity of being the other. And so, you know, equity officers in corporations are the highest level of person of color, right? So wait a minute, so actually the highest level person color should be the CEO, right, and not the equity officer, whatever you call the person responsible for diversity in the workplace. So I think there's this problem that it might be dulay, the double barriers of people whose identity then ends up putting them in a position where that their identity is them. And that's their role. And so I think that's actually also a trap. So I think I thought that was a very interesting discussion that you had with her.

Kristen Cerelli 8:16

Yeah. And I'm really still swimming around in the question that she brings to the table. What am I directly responsible for? And she was asking that question, I think of herself as a, you know, an entrepreneur and a business owner, or when she was when boundaries were being blurred, and she was taking part in blurring boundaries, and then realizing that was preventing her from actually being a good leader. And I just love that question. Like, I think if we asked that question a lot regularly. Then maybe things would move towards, as you said, like the shared vision, we can all get the, we maybe can all get on board with the vision, but the strategies are different. And I think I don't always ask myself, What am I directly responsible for here? I just kind of get swept into the tide of, well for women, and sometimes it's like, we just get swept into the tide of I'm responsible for everything, you know, I'm holding up everything.

John Lyons 9:24

So he points out that's a trap. And it's a bit arrogant when you fall into that particular trap, so, you know, she reminded me in therapy, oftentimes, people use the metaphor of when you get on a plane, and they do the announcements, the safety announcements, they always say, you know, put on your own oxygen mask before you put on you help somebody else. And there's a reason for that because if you pass out because you don't have oxygen, you can't help them and then more people die, right. So so the idea that you need to take care of yourself if you want to be able to take care of other people as well. In the middle, and I think her story kind of captured that because she is she's very committed to creating a workplace for the workers at which is very, very noble. But she does have to take care of herself in order to do that. And I think that's was a big part of our discovery on our journey.

Kristen Cerelli:

Absolutely. that stood out to me as maybe even more than open mindedness, at least in her current life, her current incarnation as a business owner, she really needed to set that set that boundary and also prioritize herself before she could change before she could enable change

John Lyons:

from cultures and particularly with her culture of how she was raised. That sounds like it's wrong, right? That That sounds I guess, narcissistic, or selfish or something, but it's not. So long as you don't stop there. Right? You have to take care of yourself first. But that does mean that prepares you to take care of others.

Kristen Cerelli:

Yeah, let's talk about religion.

John Lyons:

If you look at her behavior at all, it's very long in line with her devise of our brain. So but not the practice, perhaps. So I was, I have a very personal reaction actually, for her story, because I grew up in a in a conservative Christian background. And so I don't know if you noticed, but Rachel's primary emotional expression is laughter, which is exactly like my father. So the only emotion my father was ever allowed himself to communicate, for the most part was laughter. So he'd laugh with his angry Laugh with us. And he'd laugh when it's happy, right. And so we became quite nuanced, you know, how, you know, people who live in our communities, and so forth up north and Alaska and northern Canada, they have all sorts of ways of describing snow and icy conditions, right. So I became expert at detecting different emotions and laughter. And I noticed with were the Rachel that she was very similar to that. And I could hear by the end of your interview, I could hear what I thought was, you know, angry laughter and sad laughter and ironic laughter, natural just amusement. So I was struck by that. And I'm kind of wondering if that's part of Christian culture, where you're not allowed to express negative emotions. It's not seen as polite themselves. Anyway. So I was struck by that, personally.

Kristen Cerelli:

That's really interesting. She has a very particular energy and a very particular sort of voice and vocal quality. And now I want to go back and listen to her to her various laughs you you mentioned that, I think, last time we talked about your dad and about having to kind of like, tune in to the subtext of the laughter. That's something I didn't pick up on. But I appreciate that you did. And I think you're I think you're actually right and thinking back because I think what stayed with me with her, what is his her voice, she has this sort of very, like light, an upbeat, positive sounding voice. And a lot of times what she's saying is really belies that it's not it's, you know, she's talking about things that are traumatic, tragic, challenging, but doing it all kind of with, like, with a smile on her face. So that's, that's, that's really interesting.

John Lyons:

I would say, you know, if I were to predict her journey, that she will return to a spiritual place at some point. I think that all that she believes in, is so deeply rooted in pretty profound values and morality, that it's sort of hard to escape not having some overarching series of beliefs around those kinds of things, or else why? Why would you? So I just, I think her or clearly her morality and values that she's embedded into her work are profoundly important and really quite admirable. So I'm not sure her story is over on that on that particular dimension.

Kristen Cerelli:

I bet you're right. I even get the sense when she talks about she talked about wanting to be a farmer. And there's something spiritual and that to me, like I don't think it was coming from a place of again, she laughed, you know, and she sort of said, oh, you know, this is my little secret life that I want to live but I think there's something to living on the land and being close to the land and having livestock that's, that has an aspect of religious religiosity or spirituality to it, and I think she's, it's just gonna it's going to reemerge for her in a different form. You know, maybe

John Lyons:

we'll be a purity culture in all likelihood, right? But it'll come out on a different sort of way. Because it's clearly such a fundamental part of her. Yeah.

Kristen Cerelli:

Have you heard the term purity culture before?

John Lyons:

Not? No. That was new to me. So I looked it up. I did a little reading. So it's, I mean, yeah, I mean, if you manifest it, the way she was describing it is fundamentally misogynistic. And there are some, there is some history, that kind of those kind of believes that it's always it's never the man's fault. It's always the woman's fault. when anything happens, you still see that in some of our array prosecutions and sexual harassment kinds of legal cases. And so it sounds like that's a little bit more formally articulated in this particular culture. Yeah, I,

Kristen Cerelli:

I did some reading too, because I'm sure the phrase went by my eyes or brain before, but I wanted to know a little bit more about it. And one thing that I found out in my reading, I don't know if this is true in the particular church that she grew up in. But I do remember having friends growing up from more conservative backgrounds who wore purity rings. And when I looked about up, I discovered that the really they were wearing the rings, it was a ring. That was obviously their commitment to their own sexual purity, but it was also in some churches, bestowed upon them by their fathers. And I just thought that's, whoa, I mean, it's almost too on the nose in terms of,

John Lyons:

you know, um, patriarchy, religious weddings, the Father gives the bride away.

Kristen Cerelli:

Very common. Yeah. Yeah,

John Lyons:

that's all the same kind of, metaphorically the same sort of, you know, it's, this is gonna be way to more extreme, and I mean it but male ownership of the, of the woman kind of, yeah, and passing

Kristen Cerelli:

from one male, one male owner to another male owner from the father to the husband,

John Lyons:

was dowry situations and in cultures and so forth. So it is a it is a historical reality and in humans, that we have a bit of that history in different places. There are also matriarchal cultures where that's not an issue.

Kristen Cerelli:

I'd like to know more about that.

John Lyons:

We should find some interviewees who grew up in matriarchal cultures,

Kristen Cerelli:

we should. The other another thing that came up, I think, when listening back was she talked a lot about the nervous system and sort of the body holding the trauma and maybe more so than our other guests have before. And I wonder, I wonder what your thoughts are on that.

John Lyons:

Yeah. So I have a couple of different thoughts as number one is, you know, you're actress, singer, songwriter, right. And we've had a policeman and a entrepreneur as our last two guests. And in all three cases, including Jordan actually works in helping fields, trauma has been an issue, right, trauma has come up in every single interview you've done so far. Now, in none of those cases, the best that I can tell, was the trauma, a causal agent for change. It wasn't because of trauma, that Jordan decided to afford change genders to transform its genders. And it's not because of trauma, that Rachel decided to go into the fashion business. But trauma was always a part of their stories. And so what it got me thinking about was that maybe what we're hearing is the people who have been able to successfully get past their traumas, and learn from them and use I thought Rachel did about the best job I've ever heard of how somebody uses therapy, right? So she didn't make it her obsession. She didn't talk about, you know, this or that. But she used the talking to the therapist as a way to help her think about decisions you need to make in her life and they made her decisions and then lived her life right over her life wasn't her therapy or therapy was in fact, supplemental to her life, which is exactly the right way to think about therapy. And it's, you can get that from mentor you can get that family member you can get that from a friend right but you probably do need to get that right. You need to have somebody to bounce things off with and so forth. Somebody important in your life that you respect, and that you trust that you can have those things Under conversations with, struck by that I struggle with a universality fairly significant from experiences so far, we'll have to keep an eye on that, in terms of the physiological aspects of it. She's I mean, she's spot on. So she was, she's obviously does her homework, right. And so and she's applied her homework to her life, right, because the the overarching research on the neuro physiology of trauma suggests that it does impact your regulatory system, typically through the amygdala. And that dysregulation of that is a primary symptom of trauma. And so that's what causes a lot of the behavioral, emotional and psychological challenges with trauma as because you become effectively dysregulated, it's not unlike a head injury can cause the same thing as stroke and cause the same thing, any damage to the amygdala, you're able to rehabilitate your amygdala, just like you can retrain yourself to regulate your emotions, but I thought she captured that kind of fight, flight fight kind of mechanism that actually gets dysregulated with trauma very well

Kristen Cerelli:

tell me just a little bit more about that. You just use the phrase that I don't really understand as effectively dysregulated what does that mean?

John Lyons:

Your emotions are all over the place. You just cannot control your emotions. So, you know, typically, people cry when they're sad, they laugh and they're happy, they, you know, they are able to reflect, mirror other people's emotions. And if you lose control of your emotional life, then it can be all over the place, you can be at a happy place and burst out crying, or you could start laughing and giggling when you're at the funeral of a loved one, right? So you just lose your ability to control your emotions. So, you know, if you know, stroke patients, sometimes they'll just be sitting there and others start crying. It's not because they're sad, because they lose control of their emotions. So it becomes very difficult with people who have significant trauma experiences to pick up on their emotional life, you have to ask them, and they have to tell you because you can't go off their physiological reaction. And she described that quite well. Yes, other people are experiencing her in a certain way, and are presentations where she's getting very anxious. But her emotional life was something quite different. Yes. And so that's where it gets. So why it's so important to ask people, you know, what's going on? In this way? I'm so far,

Kristen Cerelli:

I'm stopped. Because I'm thinking, yeah, wouldn't it be great if in that moment, that she describes where people are telling her she's just nervous, and she's having a full blown panic attack. If somebody had just paused and said, What's going on, I don't know that at that moment, she, she would have been able to articulate it or that she had gone that far in the process of therapy, that she could stand outside it. But I think

John Lyons:

a good coach, if that was a coach, kind of experience, a good coach would might be able to do that, you can't do that in the middle of an actual business presentation. It's not gonna work, right. And no one should ever self monitor. Because the thing everybody should always remember is nobody can tell what you're feeling. Right. And so the I teach my students all the time that you know, when you're presenting, don't tell people you're nervous, right? Because they can't tell. Number one, they don't care, and they're not really paying attention. They can't tell. And when you tell them that then suddenly, their whole sense of you changes. And so you just have to kind of do it you own the emotions, you live with the emotions, you learn from the emotions yourself, but just don't self monitor and those kind of public settings.

Kristen Cerelli:

When you say self monitored, you mean, name it and claim it publicly

John Lyons:

name and claim it publicly. Okay?

Kristen Cerelli:

So you don't mean you don't mean by self monitoring self awareness? You mean? Speaking out?

John Lyons:

Speaking of telling everybody else what's going on inside you? Some things are best left inside your head, they're important to know they're important for you to know, but they're not necessarily important for everyone else to know in a particular moment. Wow. Because because you don't have any control over how they perceive you. Right and so, so you need to be a little cautious about that.

Kristen Cerelli:

It's interesting because I think in my world and I don't know even what that means at this moment in time my world but I think sort of like in the the creative person's environment Yeah, like I'm thinking of I'm teaching acting classes right now. Right and I'm think I'm often saying to my students, we'll just name it and claim it, you know, speak it out. If you feel nervous, just say it and then this way, it's acknowledged and you can, you cannot hold it inside.

John Lyons:

You're teaching them picture them at, you know, picture one of your students getting the lead role in Hamilton. And they're up on stage and blown away when they suddenly stop and really feel good and work or not. But when you're teaching them, yeah, that all makes perfect sense. Yeah. So it depends on when you do that. So a good coach will help a good teacher helps the student get through that so that when they're actually in performing, it doesn't happen.

Kristen Cerelli:

Yeah, we have to work really hard to be functional humans, don't we?

John Lyons:

Yes. Yes, it does take work. It takes that's why it takes a while, right? We don't, we're not, we don't crawl out of the womb. Being functional, that takes some time. And it takes some love. And it takes some teaching. And it takes feedback, a lot of feedback. And it takes a willingness to accept that feedback, and learning from it. So I mean, the more the The evidence is clear, the more people interact with their environment, the more rapidly they learn. Tell me more about that. I mean, that's just that's just how people learn. Right? So the most curious kids are the ones that aren't the ones that are interested in their environment. And so as a parent of Do you want to create an environment that is stimulating for your kids, because you're trying to help them become curious, because being curious and wanting to know about your environment, is the strongest strategy for encouraging learning.

Kristen Cerelli:

And that brings me right back to Rachael Inouye, because as she told her story, both in the pre interview setting, and then again, in the in the, in the recorded interview, I kept marveling at, I would call it curiosity, but just sort of like her depth and level of thoughts as a younger person, you know, that she was looking at that garment and saying, this, this took a long time to make somebody is not getting paid fairly. It was not something I was thinking as a teenager.

John Lyons:

12 Right. Yeah. Right. Yeah, no, I think I think the, you know, as I listened to her, I was thinking, Oh, I'd love to have her as a student, you know, that what, what, what an incredibly interested person, right. She's interesting, but she's also interested to understand things she wants to know things completely. And she thinks that through. And yeah, I don't know that I would have been aware of the of the cost of producing clothing. I mean, that being said, you know, I have been known to purchase my fashion at Costco. So I'm an expert in such things. Right.

Kristen Cerelli:

Well, you might have second thoughts about that after due on her interview,

John Lyons:

yeah. I may have to overpay, I don't know. But I suspect somehow this the same problem still exist. I just need to buy her fashions.

Kristen Cerelli:

I don't think she caters to the male consumer, I think I think her line is solely female at this moment. I did want to ask her, and I didn't get around to it. And maybe it's something I'll ask her and follow up and put in the show notes. Just what the average consumer like to your point what the average person can really do to take small steps towards helping the fashion industry change. Because I think another thing that she pointed out was you can't always even trust the lingo. You can't even trust the label fair trade. You know, it's it's

John Lyons:

a shell game. They just they do everything fair. Except then they Yeah, there's the stuff that they outsource the things that is not are not fair. Yeah, that's what's that's what actually one of the what I think is one of the cool things about the pandemic, at least in the US is so so as being advertised in the media is the great resignation. Yes, ma'am. Really, it's a it's a great retirement, plus the great promotion. And so we've come to realize that there's a large number of people that are grossly underpaid. And they don't want to do it, right. And so who can blame them? They don't have to do it. You can pick whatever job you want. It's not the responsibility of certain people in the United States to take a minimum wage of $7 because other people want to live comfortably. That's no nobody's responsibility, right? And so this idea that you can't get anybody unless you pay them $15 An hour regardless of what Congress does or says is a really good thing because it's forcing a greater level of equity and because we have a huge problem it's it's going back to almost like it was in the 16th century Europe where he had these huge mansions and summer palaces and all this stuff held by a small number of people and other people were scraping to get by for food, right so we're heading in that direction. So I think this is actually offers the potential Be corrective of that. And I think Rachel's work is a piece of that puzzle. Is that creating jobs that people want that are sustainable for them? And I suspect that Rachel will never be listed in a list with Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk is you know, billionaires, right. But do you really need another billion? Do you really need another billion dollars? You need 10 billion? What? How much is enough?

Kristen Cerelli:

Yeah, I love that. I, I think I wrote down as I was listening to her talk, I'm holding for the church bells. Here on my end, they're ringing. Me is it noon, it's noon. Dong Dong Dong. What I was going to say before the church bells went off, or I kept hearing with her these two things, recognition that something needed to change and desire to change it. And I think if we don't have both, we we culturally, we as a community can't move forward. I think there's a lot of recognition right now. And then I wonder, like, do we have the desire to actually make the change? And that's what we you're talking about, about the minimum wage, you know, and people saying, I'm not going to do it. Everybody's recognizing that that is a truth that people should not have to work do any job for $7 an hour, but are Do we have the desire to? To change it?

John Lyons:

Right? Yes, I think that's you're absolutely right. And I think that's what's unique and beautiful about Rachel is she has both in spades. I mean, she's got big time. Both right? Yeah. And she's actually figured out a way, it sounds like to make it work. I mean, as my mother would always say, the proof is in the pudding. And so

Kristen Cerelli:

yeah, we should end I think by encouraging our listeners to go to tone lady calm and, and support her work and buy a piece of clothing or, you know, make a donation. It's a it's a neat company, and she actually does more than just just cell lines or even her stainability is amazing. That's a

John Lyons:

clever idea. So yeah. For those of you don't know, open closet, that's when you get tired of the, you know, you can only ammeter eyes an investment and clothing over a few wears before you get tired. So you can put it back on the marketplace. It's like a goodwill upscale goodwill. Yeah. Yeah.

Kristen Cerelli:

What are your final thoughts on Rachel Fowler?

John Lyons:

I'm glad there are people like Rachel Fowler in the world. I'm grateful.

Kristen Cerelli:

Yeah. Well, I'm grateful that we get to do this and check in with each other and have rich conversation after the rich conversation. was

John Lyons:

a pleasure always. Okay. I look forward to the next one.

Kristen Cerelli:

I do too.

John Lyons:

I think it's fascinating. And I think we're going to be exploring it more of the role of trauma in people's lives as not being defining that as being things that create challenges to get away from it, whatever.

Kristen Cerelli:

Well, you are right on it, because I've already already recorded a few more episodes that we haven't you haven't listened back to yet. And I can tell you that you're right. Well, we will talk again soon. Thank you Dr. Lyons.

Tim Fall:

shift shift Bloom is made possible in part by the prayed Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the well being of all through the use of personalized timely interventions and provider of online training in the T comm. Tools T calm is transformational collaborative outcomes management, a comprehensive framework for improving the effectiveness of helping systems through person centered care, online at prayed foundation.org and AT T comma conversations.org. And by the Center for Innovation and Population Health at the University of Kentucky online at IP h.uk y.edu.