In the last few weeks, Kemi Nekvapil has achieved some pretty amazing things. She became an Australian citizen (she also holds Nigerian and British citizenship) and last week, her new podcast The Shift Series beat TED and Tony Robbins to take up the number two spot on the Global Apple Podcast charts in the Education category.
I chatted to Kemi between her busy schedule of coaching, running workshops and recording the next season of her inspiring audio-energy bar-like podcasts.
Congratulations on taking the number two spot! How do you feel?
I feel excited. I know the feedback has been incredible. The podcast is a valuable format where people can find own internal answers, as opposed to the next guru! Storytelling is powerful.
You transitioned from working with raw food to training as a life coach. How did that come about?
I realised while working with incredible women in whole foods space that a lot of them were focusing on their eating in relation to their dress size. It made me angry. I ran my first retreat to unpick where this comes from.
I heard their individual stories and started coaching. I thought this is where I can bring the most valuable to women, holding a space where their real values can come from. I took accreditation to be a formal coach through the ICF (International Coaching Federation) because I wanted a solid backing.
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This photo… inspired by the energy of others, and connected to a greater force. When this photo was taken, I had asked the room of 2000 women to join hands and shared a message with them that I would like to share with all of you… And that is that the world has never needed women to join together more than it does now, the world has never needed women to ask for what they need and want in the way that it does now, the world has never needed women to take responsibility for our lives in the way that it does now. As women we are a mighty force, we need to work together and support one another. We have work to do. Thankfully this event, #9toThrive, by @businesschicks was a space that we could come and immerse ourselves in connection, learnings and opportunities all allowing us to thrive together. Thank you, everyone, who was involved in the event organisation, thank you to those that simply came to say hello and those that showed their support not only to me but to all the other incredible speakers and moderators on the day. A huge thank you to @cueclothingco who dressed me, and @hipstermumsocial for capturing this image. I am feeling truly blessed and humbled by the experience. – Kemi
Tell us about studying with Brené Brown?
I read her all her books, including Dare to Lead, then found out she was training facilitators. You have to meet one of three criteria as a leadership coach, masters in organisational leadership or leadership with women.We then had to sit assessments. Before we got in the room and I was so nervous! It was like being back at school.
I flew into Texas and the course happened over three-and-a-half days. There were other global leaders there and we were looking at how to change the power paradigms. Brené said in the next five years, leadership won’t look how it’s looked before. She walked up to the lectern on the first day and said: “I know this is a very white room. And I know every single person of colour knows how many people of colour there are in this room”.
I have never been recognised in a white majority room in that way. Leaders are never silent about hard things. We went through a diversity statement. It was so powerful.
Were there more women than men taking on the course?
There were definitely more women than men. Personal development is mostly women though.
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Why do you think that is?
It’s gender socialism. Men have not been made to believe that it’s okay to feel. Women are allowed to feel and we are given licence to feel. Also, there’s a bit of a tendency for men to just say, “I’m sorted” and “I’m fine with courage”. They tend to equate courage with the idea of being, “untouchable”, not with vulnerability.
Why have you chosen to create a podcast to spread your coaching?
The show is designed to help individuals self-coach and shift from where they are now to where they want to be.
I know how powerful coaching is. I know not everyone has access to it. I don’t give advice, unless people ask for advice. Advice disempowers. People are so eager to give unsolicited advice.
Your episodes are short, under 10 minutes each. Is there a reason for this?
I want people to spend more time doing rather than listening to a podcast. People can spend their time watching motivational stuff, instead of committing to an action. I wanted people give themselves space to do stuff.
You’re in partnership with Lululemon. Why did you decide to team up with them?
I’ve worked with them a number of years. I love the work they do. Mindset, personal development for their teams and the like. I did a coaching session for their team for their stores and I like how they support their team.
Having lived across a number of countries, how have you found being a businesswoman in Australia and a person of colour?
From a young age, being a person of colour in white dominant societies, I’ve known I’ve had to stay in my own lane. There’s no-one around me that looks like me, so I’ve had to hold my own.
Speaker bureaus would approach me and wouldn’t know how to sell me. Diversity ain’t what I want to talk about; I don’t live in that box. I run my business aligned with what I believe in. I build relationships with the clients and I honour that relationship. I’m the one who starts the relationship so I get to determine whether I can provide what they want. I don’t have a middle man between me and the client.
What are some of the most common issues your clients are facing?
Self worth, trusting what’s best for us, impostor syndrome, navigating spaces where our worth is diminished and personal power; how to do the work in a way that honours us. How they elevate and inspire their teams in a way that’s really human and values themselves.
What do you think holds some women back from fulfilling their ambitions?
Lots of things! It’s different for every woman. We need to believe we’re deserving of these opportunities. Women get into the boardroom and they’re the only woman and they feel like they can’t speak. Women need to feel deserving and also to find their personal power.
Finally, who inspires you?
Anybody who is willing to dive into who they are, ask what is stopping them and be willing to do that work to be of service to others; we want the top tips. The people who are willing to take themselves on and have the humility to say: “my life isn’t working, and I’m willing to say I need support”. That’s what I find inspiring.
This article was first published on Women’s Agenda.