Leadership Coach & Conversational Intelligence® Expert

Amy Eliza Wong is a Leadership coach, Speaker, Conversational Intelligence® expert, and the author of Living on Purpose. In this episode we dig into a little neuroscience and apply that understanding to communication. Listen today.

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In this episode of Lead With Who You Are, we dive into a profound conversation with guest Amy Eliza Wong, a Leadership coach, Speaker, and Conversational Intelligence® expert. 

We dig into the intersection of purpose, communication, and leadership. Amy shares insights from her bestselling book, Living on Purpose, diving into the five deliberate choices one must make to lead a fulfilling life. 

They discuss the power of Conversational Intelligence® and how it can transform communication, emphasizing the importance of trust in conversations. Amy sheds light on the Always On Purpose philosophy and guides listeners on a journey to navigate the collision between feelings and thoughts. 

Get Amy’s book.

And find her resources here.

Download a free preview of her book, Living on Purpose

Check out all things Dia Bondi.

Amy Wong  00:04

And that's where, you know, if you've ever been with somebody and you're like, Ah, I don't know about them, I just don't know. It's just simply because of the nature of the interactions is creating both oxytocin and cortisol. So you could definitely think about it that way.


Dia Bondi  00:17

My, my kids would say somebody who's doing that to you, they're a little bit softer. Yeah. Hey, this is Lead With Who You Are. I'm Dia Bondi. And on this show, we are exploring and discovering what it really means for you to lead with who you are, who you are. And we're doing it with people who embody who they are as they lead. Let's talk today about conversational intelligence, purpose and choice with Amy Wong. Check this out for concrete approaches to conversations that build trust, the currency we're all really dealing with in conversation, and a little neurobiology about what trust really is. If you're a leader needing to communicate with more success, ie more leadership, you'll be listening a certain way and going for more than just outcomes. Let's get our minds blown together.  Hey, just a quick reminder, you can subscribe to this show on your podcast platform of choice. We're live nearly everywhere. And you can always listen to the show at diabondi.com. If there's a leader or innovator in your life, who is it their shiniest when they lead with who they truly are, Please share the show with them. And rate, subscribe, and leave us a review makes a huge difference in the reach that the show has when you let everyone else know what you love about the show. Thanks so much.  You love audio right? That's why you're here right now. Welll ask like an auctioneer. The audio book is available for pre order now. Or if you're listening to this episode after November 14, 2023. It's live right now. Head to your favorite audio book source and add it to your queue. You won't regret it because it has jokes in it. Kinda learn to ask like an auctioneer with me right in your headphones. Amy Eliza Wong is a leadership coach, speaker, conversational intelligence expert and the author of living on purpose. Once her first child entered her world in 2008, Amy began questioning everything that had made her who she was and couldn't bring herself to return to what had been a very rewarding career. One day when sitting hopelessly on the floor in her closet, inspiration struck. It wasn't about figuring it out, it was more about feeling it out. This insight became the first of five deliberate choices, which we'll talk about today, she discovered that one must take to lead an authentic life of fulfillment meaning joy and impact. And today, she leverages this philosophy and her best selling book keynotes and coaching practice. Hello, Amy. So, Amy, I'm so happy to have you here. And I'm having you on the show today to talk about all things purpose, which is amazing. I believe purpose is an absolute Wellspring for us. And I use it a lot in my leadership communications practice. And I want to talk to you today about your take on purpose. And then I know and everyone will learn very quickly that you wrote a book called life on purpose. And we'll dig into the five questions you say are sort of the place. I heard you talking about, like the place where life and purpose happen, you know, in these these critical decisions tied to these five questions. And you're also a conversationalist. I mean, in so many words, and I need that help, because I am I don't know I'm in a monologuing zone lately. I don't know what's happening to me. Maybe I need to go on silent retreat and just reboot the whole system. But my conversational I suck right now basically. Ironic, because we're on a podcast where we're about to have a conversation. So anyway, I'm hoping you can help me with that today. And for all of us listening for those of you who are like, Yeah, I kind of also am finding less patience in conversation and a lot more monologuing coming out of my face. This might be helpful for you. So I'm so happy to have you here.


Amy Wong  04:41

Hi, DIA. It's a pleasure. I'm tickled to dive into this conversation with you.


Dia Bondi  04:48

Either you'll be like whoa, stop talking dia that's not a conversation nor will be like, Okay, you're doing a good job. You're in conversation. Okay. So, we'll get to that in a second. But let's start with where I always do which is like if you are Right now answer the question, Who are you? How would you do that?


Amy Wong  05:03

Hmm? Well, I am one who is thriving, that's for sure I am. I feel like I'm so blessed. And so I get to live a miracle every single day. My, who am I, I'm a mom, I'm a wife. But what fills my heart really is my purpose, and I get to live it. And so I am an executive leadership coach, and I partner with executives and founders and their teams on all things growth, transformation, and flow. And my area of expertise is communication. And that is such a rich, juicy entry point for a lot of these leaders because everybody wants to get better at communication. And the way I see it, it's just, it's a symptom. It's a layer that really speaks to what's happening much deeper, and on the inside that relationship we have with ourselves. And that's everything. So that's me.


Dia Bondi  05:58

That's awesome. Let's get into then communication since you trigger just talking about that, that yes, and I love the idea that it's an entry point. So you use a framework or an approach that I know nothing about called conversational intelligence. I think I need some of that. So I'm, like I said, I've, I've been stuck monologue. I mean, it's partly I gotta explain why I think I'm feeling that in me. And every time I walk away from a conversation, I'm like, wow, you just talked too much. But anyway. So what the heck is conversational intelligence? And how do I get some?


Amy Wong  06:35

Yeah, all right, let's do it. Well, the way I like to think of conversational intelligence, it's an emerging field. You know, we've got on the one hand IQ, which most people know of, that's our intelligence quotient. And then we've got EQ, which is our ability to understand feel know our emotions in ourselves and then and others. Both are very important. But what lives in the middle of these two things is conversational intelligence. And what this is about is really blending the both recognizing that our ability to be to be intelligent, to thrive, to be successful to be effective, does happen in communication. None of us live in a vacuum. Everything is happening in the medium of conversations. This is I mean, relationships are defined by the communication that occurs between the two people, everything's happening here. And so we mostly we take this for granted. Most of us just show up, hope for the best and then wonder why things fall apart. But there are so many mechanics, there's just so much to know about this medium of communication. And when you understand it and get it right, then everything almost feels magical. So what conversational intelligence is, it's the ability to connect, navigate and grow with others. And it happens to the mechanism of trust. And so one of the biggest foundation foundational pillars of conversational intelligence is really understanding the neurobiology of trust. Recognizing that trust isn't this effect that happens because we like each other. It's not an emotion. It's truly a neurological state, in which we are optimized for our greatest thinking for our biggest risk taking for looking into the future optimistically for taking disparate ideas, bringing them together, and innovating. And that happens to the currency of trust and trust is created and eroded in our conversations. And so when you understand the mechanics of that anything's possible.


Dia Bondi  08:33

Can you give me some examples of what those mechanics are? Yeah. I mean, I'm like guessing in my mind, I'm like, is it listening?


Amy Wong  08:40

Oh, 100? Is it like


Dia Bondi  08:41

what? Like, what are the what are the pieces that make up a, a trust producing? Yeah, convert communication and get, you know, encounter?


Amy Wong  08:53

Okay? Well, first, it's really important to understand what trust is and what it isn't. And so trust is this neural network that lives in your prefrontal cortex. And the hormone associated with trust is oxytocin. So some folks might know this, a lot of people might know of oxytocin. Some people think it's the bonding hormone or the cuddling hormone, it's now called the trust hormone. And so when we feel safe with one another, we're gonna get a surge of oxytocin and that oxytocin opens up our prefrontal cortex and it's because of that, that we are able to have our best thoughts that we can imagine we can empathize. And so that's trust. And the hormone is oxytocin. So when we feel partnered and connected and safe with one another, oxytocin trust that this


Dia Bondi  09:39

is it, I'm gonna interrupt you here. Also bad, bad conversational. Like, there it is. I see. I come free failing. That's what I did that but I want to, you know, in the coaching model I use we don't even call it we don't even call it interrupting. We call it intruding because there's something hot right here, right. So I'm wondering mean, is like, you know, it's really easy for people to be like, Alright, fine. All I got to do to get trust is, is pump the oxytocin, like find ways to pump oxytocin into the system of the people who are on the other side of the table. And is that even close to accurate? Or is that


Amy Wong  10:19

just could definitely shed? No, you can definitely think about it. And there are, you know, the ways in which we speak, and the ways in which we listen, are going to do one of two things, it's either going to create oxytocin because we feel safe and connected and partnered, or it's gonna create cortisol, which we feel unsafe, we feel disconnected, we feel like there is distrust here. And it's those many micro moments in our speaking and the ways in which we speak and in the ways in which we listen, that's either going to serve up oxytocin, cortisol, or both. Now, we could be in a conversation dia, where the way in which you're interacting, my brain is feeling both open, not so open, and it's gonna, and that experience is just called uncertainty. So we could be in a conversation that I'm getting this neurochemical cocktail of both. And that's where, you know, if you've ever been with somebody, and you're like, oh, I don't know about them, I just don't know. It just simply because of the nature of the interactions is creating both oxytocin and cortisol. So you could definitely think about it that way.


Dia Bondi  11:27

My my kids would say somebody who's doing that to you were a little bit sauce. That's what they were like. Yeah, I was 16 year old and he would be like, he's cool. But he's kind of suss. Yeah, why? Because both. That's the sort of like the bittersweet, you know, cocktail that, yeah, renders us a little like, unsure, but also engaged at the same time, I gotta say, I don't like that stay.


Amy Wong  11:51

No, no. And it's because your brain doesn't know, can I fully buy in? Or do I have to fully protect myself? And so you're in a state of conditional Trust, which is kind of like, your foot on the gas and the brake at the same time, you're waiting for something to shift to tell you one way or the other? And it's kind of that I'm not sure. But interestingly, going back to your question about, can we just pump the situation with oxytocin? Well, here's what's interesting about that, if your intention, and it's the intention, if your intention is to create oxytocin for your game, that is going to create uncertainty, because it is not for the genuine sake of partnering. It's because you have something you have an agenda. And so this is what's classified as a positional conversation, when you come into the conversation, and you've got an agenda and you want to achieve something, the nature of the dynamics are going to create both oxytocin and cortisol. And so it's interesting because, you know, a lot of sales folks are trained, that they've got to come in, and they've got to do these things in order to build trust. And we can tell if somebody's doing it as a means to an end. And versus they genuinely care. And so if someone comes in genuinely wanting to partner, genuinely curious, genuinely wanting to help this person, I mean, yeah, I've got a product I want to sell. But let me connect with you, because I really care. That's gonna go so much farther than one with a positional stance.


Dia Bondi  13:27

So you're kind of playing the long game in that way. And my old mentor used to say, like, people don't want to get technique by you. Yeah, that's not. Yeah, don't do that. And but what you're saying, though, is interesting. I think, for me go back to my funny, you know, setup around like, I'm struggling in conversation these days, I can tell I'm heading into a book book launch, I can tell that I'm fairly tired. Like, I'm pretty tired. And I haven't even started the race yet. Really. for lots of reasons. I'm fairly tired. And I'm a little creatively. I mean, I've talked about this on the podcast, folks who listen to our last two episodes, you heard me say that I I'm kind of like, I hit a wall creatively. And it's because I'm standing in the wrong perspective. I think in my, in my work right now. So I'm coming into a lot of the conversations I'm having with a feeling of like, I just gotta get this done. I gotta handle this conversation. I gotta get on to the next thing. Oh, that's why it feels like a monologue to me because I do. I don't have a like, a nefarious agenda. I'm not like, I can feel that I'm not. I'm not commodifying the person that I'm talking to in any way. But I am at us. I am right now like for this last season, kind of at a state of depletion, almost like my cortisol is already high. My, you know, oxytocin is probably fairly low walking in. And so I'm not able to care for the conversation in a way that I really want to Oh, I mean, I don't know that this is an experience that people are having of me right now. But I can feel that tension in my own body of like, wanting to knock it out. Instead of like, drop in. Yeah.


Amy Wong  15:14

Well, let's talk about this, because what you're speaking about is the transactional conversation. And the transactional conversation is one of telling and asking and getting things done, it's all about the thing. It's all about the exchange of information about the thing, there's nothing about the human or the relationship, on the other side of this thing that we're focusing on. And what's interesting about transactional conversations is that that produces cortisol. And the irony is that our transactional conversations are the ones in which we, that's where we get stuff done. But if we stay in a trial transactional dynamic for too long, we're creating cortisol in ourselves, and then others. And you know, the bigger conversation here is, and I'll just, I'll tell you why. The if you and I are in this conversation for a while, and I'm purely transactional, with you purely transactional, I'm just telling you, the thing telling me the thing telling you that not asking you about how you feel about it not getting to do your brain, what's happening is all of a sudden, your brains like, Wait, hold on for a second, there is no awareness of me, as a human on the other side, I am not feeling seen, I'm not feeling heard. I don't know if I'm safe here, because there's no awareness of me. And so what your brain starts to do is start to protect itself by creating cortisol, like, oh, I don't know, we've got we gotta we gotta protect ourselves here. And so that's the risk that many leaders run in, right, you know, and running their ships in a tightly ship like to die very highly transactional. And in fact, this is what can define a toxic culture is when they're so highly transactional, because they're trying to get things done. So many things done at a certain deadline, what's happening is you're creating a tremendous amount of cortisol in the system. Now, with cortisol, a couple things. It influences your perception, right? So if I've got a lot of cortisol in my system, that's like wearing red glasses. So I'm going to see what's wrong, instead of what's right, everything's going to feel a little more threatening. But here's the worst part. The job of cortisol is to shut your prefrontal cortex down. And you think, Wait, hold on for a second, how, how could this even make sense? Well, and if you really feel into this, from an evolutionary perspective, right, if you're out, out on the plains, and you're picking berries as a cave person, you know, and all of a sudden, a tiger jumps out from behind the bush, right, your brains like, you don't have time to Kumbaya and brainstorm your way out of this, you got to get the heck out. So it shuts down the most resource heavy part, and channels of the prefrontal cortex and channels those resources to your extremities. So that's why when we feel stressed, we don't feel super smart. And we feel really kind of powerful, but exhausted, because none of that stuff is up here, what we can use in a constructive way. And so that's, so I'm just validating everything you're saying here, if that's your experience, and that's what you're feeling, it makes sense. Because that's the hallmark of a transactional conversation.


Dia Bondi  18:21

I think you also just told me that I have the potential to make a toxic culture and my workplace. So I should probably check in with my team and see if that's happening. I don't think it is, I don't think I've reached the zone of toxicity. But I can see how, you know, layers and layers and layers of this. And this is these is the way in which we engage with one another. It can flood the system. And I'm talking about not just an individual system, but if everybody is operating in a cortisol rich environment, the entire system that is the team that is the organization, it becomes just a big ball of cortisol, right? Yeah, yeah, that's not so doesn't have access to their most resourceful thinking. So I'm gonna imagine that what I, what I'm experiencing is like me noticing that, like, there's an urge to just get shit done. And that's and that I love this idea of, like, powerful but exhausted at the same time. That's very interesting. And I can imagine, for, you know, for founders, for founders, when there's incredible time pressure, and, you know, amazing expectations from the board, from their, from their VCs, from customers is they're continuing to break what they're building, because that's the nature of building early days, that they're, you know, they're communicating from a place of like a cart cortisol steeped, you know, yeah, neurology.


Amy Wong  19:53

Yeah. And this is why I do so that's why I'm so busy. I'm so busy. It's in. And the thing is, we're not taught any of this when we're kids. And I swear to goodness, if we learned this stuff, especially the neurobiology of communication, I mean, here's another fact that we don't talk about that is a game changer when you get it. You know, this experience of rejection that we can have, and just how unwanted it is. Well, everything that we do, as humans, and I would say, especially in leaders as well, we're doing everything we can to avoid that sense of rejection. And what is true about the brain rejection is Death to the brain. Right now, I don't know if you've heard about this. But there have been studies, rejection literally feels like physical pain in the brain. But when you think about it, you know, when we're born, we're born entirely helpless. And so the brain knows in order to survive, I need mom or dad to buy in, then food and water and shelter will follow. And so, you know, this is a huge part of conversational intelligence is recognizing that every single human on the planet, and I don't care who you are, I don't care how you show up. I don't care about all those survival mechanisms. On a deeply primal, neurological level, biological level, there is a deep, deep, deep fear of experiencing rejection, and everything that we do is to avoid that. And so the reason conversational intelligence is so important is that we understand Wow, really what this is, it's about the opposite of that. Because if rejection is death, then what is life and thriving? Sets sense of connection and partnership. Okay, well, how does that happen? In conversation? Okay, cool. So what do we need to do to optimize that, so that we can get more done in less time? And that's really what this is


Dia Bondi  21:44

about? So, let's, okay, where do I want to go from here? I'm like, I want to talk about always on purpose philosophy. Is that a good time to do that? Or is there another question I should be asking you about? About what, you know, the opposite of sort of the hole that we can dig with, uh, with the cortisol conversations? And instead, you know, create and optimize inside of those. So I'm, like, curious about both. Maybe let me start with a second half here, like, Okay, so the opposite of that. You said, What is the opposite of that? How do we produce that then if we're avoiding cortisol? How do we produce the kinds of trust inducing conversations that we want to have?


Amy Wong  22:29

Yeah, well, first, I find that it's really helpful to just, you know, just adopt this idea that trust is the ultimate currency. And you know, this, like, you would never buy something of significance from someone you didn't trust, you know, when you would never share critical information with someone you didn't trust, trust is everything and trust isn't a nice to have. It really is, it has to be in the spotlight. And we've made trust this kind of soft skill thing that it's like, oh, you know, and we tend to think that it just happens, because hey, we get along, we have this history. Totally not true. And so one of the quickest ways we can start to prioritize it is to just intend to say, oh, my gosh, if I want to make life easier for myself, then I really do kind of need to think about this in a different way, it isn't about getting it done. It's about getting this done in tandem, and in partnership with others, because this really is about being connected with others. And so one of the one of a really, really powerful way to do that is through your listening. So a lot of us are told, you know, active listening is a really great way to build trust, that is true. And I'm going to take it a step farther because active listening, I think we say that a lot. So I'm gonna give a slightly different, more specific way to listen, which is a game changer. If you want to create trust in a moment, if you want to change the dynamic, just intend in that moment, to listen to connect with the other person. Not listen to prove not listen to judge not listen to get it done, not listen to be right. not listen to me not even listen to understand, sure, you can do that. But you can listen to understand in a positional conversation and you can also listen to understand in a transactional conversation, so listening to understand still could produce cortisol. Right? So we need, we need a a deep place of curiosity that comes from the heart. And the way to get there. And the way to change the dynamic immediately and change the trajectory of a conversation in an instant, is just to in that moment, just kind of listen to connect with you. Now I make that intention. Let's say you and I are in a somewhat tense conversation, dia, and all of a sudden I'm starting to feel it and you can feel it and there's a part of me that's like, you know what, Amy just just listened to connect the moment I remember to do that. There is a shift, not just in my thinking, but in all aspects of my presence because that intention is going to influence my facial expression. Is my body language, which is going to aggravate probably yes. And the which is now your brain, because of this incredible thing called neuroception, your brain picks up on it and point 07 seconds of an interaction. And now because your brain is craving, now this is true of all humans craving, that sense of connection, belonging, approval and acceptance, because that is life. Remember, rejection is death. So, even if your psyche is saying, Oh, that, that I don't like, you know, you've got these, you know, there's tension in your psyche, your brain is gonna go, Wait a minute, there's an opening, which is going to begin immediately start to shift your psyche into an opening, that wasn't there otherwise,


Dia Bondi  25:42

one of my favorite books, it's not a very easy read. And while I love to write, I'm not a very strong reader, I never have been even since I was a kid. So like, it's reading is a struggle for me. But it was so worth that struggle is a book called a general theory of love by Louis and another, another co author, if you haven't checked it out for folks listening, it talks a lot about how contagious are how contagious we are. Just being near one another, with a different breath rate, different heart rate, a limbic system that is activated one way or another, that is, has an impact way outside of our own bodies.


Amy Wong  26:29

It is absolutely true. Oh my gosh, there's so much written about this so much. You're absolutely right. And here's what's really cool. Most of us show up pretty unconsciously. And let's say not on purpose in our conversations, that's many of us that don't understand how this works. And we're really just hoping for the best and we're replaying our old patterns, we don't recognize that trust is the ultimate currency. And we just end up creating, creating impact in ways that are probably an ideal in an interaction, it just takes one person to be aware of this, and to come in with the intention to partner to come in with the intention to connect, to come in with this intention to be in a state of connection and trust, that it's that intentional, presence and stance that will override the unintentional presence of this other individual that's got these habits running. Because remember, everybody's brain is creating, creating that sense of acceptance. And so, you know, if you're listening to this, and you're thinking, Oh, wow, this is really cool. But this won't work, if I'm the only one listening to this. And the rest of my team isn't listening to this, actually, it'll work just the same. It just takes you shifting the conversation with this intention to partner. And it's everything. It's everything. It's, it's, it's awesome.


Dia Bondi  27:51

So we've got, you know, the opposite of sort of the cortisol T that we could create and all sit in together, which is focusing on trust in in to help create trust and a particular moment to listen to connect. You talk a lot about showing up in conversations on purpose. Can you talk about your always on purpose? Philosophy? Yeah,


Amy Wong  28:14

absolutely. And what I'm about to share, it's you could think like, these are very different frameworks, and I'd say they're not at all different. Not the Always On purpose philosophy I've been I've been coaching now for over a decade, and always on purpose really is it's a, it's a philosophy and a framework for thriving. Communication is that that top layer, where we can see the effects of how we're doing because of the worlds we're creating via the communication that we are having, but where they link conversational intelligence, and always on purpose is conversational intelligence is all about trust. If we want to be on purpose, we really have to have trust in ourselves. And so what it comes down with what what I focus on at the heart of what I do, is really transformation. And to get to the root of transformation, it completely hinges upon the relationship, that the relationship you have with yourself, because that relationship that you have with you forms the primary lens through which you look, that gives rise to everything that you perceive, that then feeds your thoughts, your beliefs, your interpretations, and thus your reality. And so, if we can get that relationship, right, then all is well and so what always on purpose is what is that framework? What are the steps? What are the what do we do? What are the fundamentals of thriving, and how do we be on purpose in our life?


Dia Bondi  29:42

So I listened to one another interview or a talk you gave where you sort of pointed at this idea that like key decision points or choices are where our life on purpose happens. I might be saying this the wrong way, but this is how I interpreted it. And you talk in your book about, about this idea of like feeling it out instead of figuring it out as sort of one place where we can make some choices. Yeah. Or make a choice. Can you talk about what you mean by feel it out? Don't figure it out. Yeah, I live. You know, I also work in the world of communications. And, you know, my founder clients, especially, are spending just a pile of time figuring it out?


Amy Wong  30:28

Of course. I know. Yep. Yeah. Well, what you're speaking to kind of is a mechanism for being on purpose, which big part of the Always On purpose philosophy is recognizing and harnessing our superpower of choice. Everything hinges on our ability to harness choice in the most optimal way. And what being on purpose is really is about being at choice at the level of perception more so than the level of action. Now, how do we do that in practice, now, you just pointed to feel it out, don't figure out now what this is, it speaks to the wisdom and really truth, just the truth that for each of us, humans, we have all these goals, we have desires, we want to feel good. And so we want we have we want stuff. Now, what we tend to believe is that, we want the thing for the thing, we want the money for the money, we want the house for the house, we want the we don't want what we want, for the thing, everything we want, we want it because we think it's going to make us feel a certain way. So at the end of every single desire that we have is actually a desired feeling state. But we don't think about it that way. What happens is we get trained away from our feeling and we're told it starts in school, do it this way. So you can get a good you know, get good grades, you can get into good college, get into good college, so you can get a good degree to get a job, do not study art, you've got to do engineering. Okay, right. Okay, now you got to get into a good college that did it. And so it's like we have we, we get trained away from this ability to feel out what feels amazing. And we follow what sounds right. And what happens in that process of doing it is we end up chasing stuff that we think is gonna make us happy, but we never fully check it out. And this happens all the time, I'll be coaching in a you know, let's say an emerging executive. And he or she is determined, okay, I'm gonna go from Senior VP to executive VP, I just I have to, I have to I have to that is, that's how it's gonna go. And that's what's gonna make me happy. But little are they realizing, well, actually, what makes me happy is to feel more spacious and present with my family and to feel at peace and to feel at home. And so what they end up doing is gunning for the executive VP position, they get it, and it completely forsakes what they actually want. And so now their life looks fabulous on paper, but they're miserable. And this is the predicament I deal with so many professionals, and this is what we are constantly coaching them out of is that my life, this makes no sense. Because everything looks great, but I feel empty. And it's simply because they have been figuring their their way to a thing, versus following their feeling to the clarity of what they actually want to feel, which is the most important thing.


Dia Bondi  33:20

I think it takes courage, my observation, my own experience, uh, you know, it takes courage to actually acknowledge what you the feeling that you're going for, and, and understand what the things are, you're going to pursue that produce that, you know, in a way that's aligned, you know, to it, that's aligned. Art versus engineering, for example, although those aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. I, you know, in my book and project alpha as like an auctioneer, I talked to women all the time about their goals and goals, shame comes up a lot, because what they say they want is different than what they actually want. And when they say what they actually want, there can be embarrassment and shame in saying, I want to be director, but I don't want any direct reports. Because I want the freedom to be able to be a specialist and not actually right, like, but they say it in a hushed tone. Because that feels aligned to who they are. But it's not. It's not what they see around them. It's not the story that they've been told is what you're supposed to want at a certain level and the right thing to pursue. And so this becomes this heavy contradiction where it's like, it's one thing to recognize what you want to be able to name it and claim and it's another thing to be able to actually you know, for yourself, it's another thing to be able to name it and claim it publicly and to pursue it and put that into into action when it feels you know that there's risk of the big R word again, rejection.


Amy Wong  34:49

See, it always comes back to rejection. I'm going to encourage you and everyone listening. Notice how everything maps back to that fear of rejection, but you're absolutely right. And so in fact, in my book living on purpose, I devote an entire chapter it's chapter four called AI, should you not? Because so much of our lives are predicated on this word should you should be doing it this way you should do it this, but should is never a want. Never want. That's that's the figuring it out path. And you know, and there can be a lot of shame in WoW, actually, I really just want to be a teacher. But that, like, that's not I mean, and how sad is that that's not something to aspire to, because of the financial reality that comes with being a teacher. So therefore, I can't follow this gift in this dream of mine to help others in this way. I've got to do something really boring and mind numbing, such as accounting, and this blah, blah, blah, you know, whatever it might be, or,


Dia Bondi  35:47

or my manager has a different picture for where my my career can go than I do, you know, and be in conversation around that, to be able to guide your own career path in a way that is not aligned to maybe how someone sees where your potential is. And just because you have a potential or a certain skill set in one direction or another history one direction or another does not mean you're obligated to continue on that path.


Amy Wong  36:12

Just because you can do it doesn't mean you're meant to do it. Mm hmm.


Dia Bondi  36:16

Beautiful. So you talk about five sort of key choices. Can you name what those are? Maybe pick, pick the one that you maybe talk to us a little bit more deeply about the one that you're seeing sort of the most present right now in our current Oh, yeah. Culture and Climate?


Amy Wong  36:32

It's a great question. So the book is called living on purpose. The subtitle is five deliberate choices to realize fulfillment and joy. And so just a little bit of backstory here. The reason I I wrote this book is because I have been coaching leaders for a really long time. And these 1000s of conversations that I've had over the past 10 years, I saw some really clear, fundamental themes that we were each that we were doing that were keeping us from thriving. And it was if you could make these five choices, you can free yourself to live a life that you just absolutely love, and you thrive. So the first that you mentioned was feel it out, don't figure it out. The second is choose to know that there is no way things should be. Now this is a really big one. We are all brainwashed by this idea that there's this big book in the sky called The Big Book of shoulds. And if you're gonna do it, right, you're gonna get out live the good life, you're gonna be the good person, you got to do it just like this, there's a right way to write this proposal, there's a right way to pitch this thing, there's a right way to create this product. Nope, there is no shoot about it. But we all hold ourselves hostage to it. Which kind of leads into and I want to offer the third, which I want to focus on. Because this is the one I'm really seeing the most is that. And this is this can be a hard pill for a lot of folks to swallow at first. But it is choose to know that it is always working out for you. Even when you're convinced it's not. And so what this choice is, is that we tend to, I'm going to talk about it this way. Through life. We're growing all the time, whether we like it or not. We're growing our experiences, we're growing our perspectives, we're growing our opinions. Now, are we growing in the direction that we desire? Maybe, maybe not. But we're growing. And there's two ways in which we grow. Either grow on purpose, meaning I chose this, I wanted this, I planned for it. And therefore that's on purpose. But then there's this whole bucket of stuff, where we grow on accident. And this is the stuff of life that is on unavoidable. It's the stuff that's not wanted, it's the stuff that wasn't planned for the failures, the mistakes, the setbacks, the humiliations, the all the things that you weren't intending and are very likely unwanted. Now we both we grow equally from both what we fail to acknowledge because of the shame, let's go back to that word that we associate with failure, we tend to not focus on that bit. But the truth is, we often grow so much more powerfully from the stuff that was on accident. And so when you can see that stuff is gonna happen, failures are gonna happen. And you know what, it's not always going to be what you plan and it's not always going to feel good, but something will always emerge from it. You might see it immediately it might take 20 years to see the blossom actually cultivate but there will always be something amazing that emerges from it. And I have a fun process I could share to help orient to this to folks and it's very helpful but this is the one that I'm feel like I'm in conversation a lot right now is because there's a lot of stuff that's unwanted you know whether it's I can't secure this funding I have to go through this rift I can't, you know, I thought I was going to be able to bring on these people I've lost I've just lost my number one And it's, and it's, and we tend to want to catastrophize and oh my gosh, this is gonna be the death of us. And, and it takes a lot of work to say how can I actually? How can how can I embrace this as it's actually not necessarily wanted? But how can I look at it in a new way. And so here's the process that I'll share. So you know how you'll be in your now moment. And you can look back to your past. And let's say there was an event that happened 15 years ago, that was just awful. And it was gut wrenching, and it was embarrassing. And you just you wanted to die. And, and so but from this moment, fear, you look back and you go, Oh, my gosh, do you remember that time I had to go through that? It was the worst. But if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have looked at it. And I wouldn't have I wouldn't, I wouldn't be here. All of us can do that. All of us can have a moment where we look back and we say, yeah, that was sucked. But actually, I wouldn't be who I am. And I wouldn't have the skill and I wouldn't have this knowledge, whatever it is. So what I'm sharing is that there's always a point in which we can look back with appreciation and find meaning and purpose, and actually embrace it. Now, here's what the process is. This is where I call turning, excuse my language shit into manure, right? Because all of us think that we go through stuff like crap. And it's just crap. Well, no, it's manure. So let's say you're in a crap moment moment, you know, you're going through a riff, you're going through whatever, you've just lost your number two. Now, instead of going so hard, what you can do is just for a moment, fast forward to the vision you have of yourself, three years, five years from now. And just imagine you living into that vision you hold. Now from that place, I want you to look back at where you are now. And I want you to explain to yourself, how this was on purpose to get you there. And just through this simple exercise, what you do is you convert resistance, not just to acceptance, but sometimes appreciation. And the moment you can frame your crap moments, through appreciation, the game changes. And this is how you can start to see how everything is working out for you. And when you hold that mindset as you navigate through life, nothing but joy really does result. Because you see so much more possibility and opportunity that exists, you just can't see it when you're busy resisting.


Dia Bondi  42:25

When you're pointing to, you know, this mindset, just as you think about, or as you talk about these choices, it's sort of like, these are not circumstantial choices. When you're confronted with this, here's what to do all that you just give us a process to deal with it a common theme around one of these choices, but these feel more like life stances, you know, five life stances. I mean, there's my language is I internalize what you're what you're sharing. They're like, they're not like when this happens, then do something. Like it's not a choice of go right or left. These are these are probably things that become life stances, or perspective that you're standing in. As you approach any and everything


Amy Wong  43:03

that's right, I call them perceptual shifts, because truly what it means to be always on purpose, because everybody asks that it's like Amy, what is always on purpose mean? Well, I said, here it is, it's tune, choosing to harness choice at the level of perception, not at the level of action, right, and perception, meaning I get to choose how I am going to view this, how I am going to narrate this, how I am going to frame this versus do I want an apple? Or do I want a candy bar. Now look choice at the level of action that's interesting, but where you find your freedom and your joy and your meaning, is really at the level of perception. So to be always on purpose is to harness it there.


Dia Bondi  43:44

So that's a great place for us to end with our last question, which is what is it? What is it for you to lead with who you are,


Amy Wong  43:51

to lead with who I am? Well, the last choice in my book is to No, not believe your worth. So you have to choose to no not believe your worth. So for me to lead with who I am, that is leading by the whole incomplete me that I know that I am not believe that I am. But know that I am that I am unconditional, and my enoughness and my worth. And that from that place of unconditional pneus that is true love and joy and power and impact.


Dia Bondi  44:26

Me has been such a joy to hear about your work and your perspective and the tools that you bring to bear for leaders, I would imagine at all levels and particularly leaders that have big heavy things that they're grappling with the courageous decisions, the ways that they can have impact on others that move the ball in the right direction and help us experience that ball moving in a way that is not you know, that's optimal. I want to ask you what can people how can people find you on what can they do with you?


Amy Wong  44:55

Yeah, so definitely check me out on my website is always on purpose. dot com. I have a ton of stuff there for folks. And then my book living on purpose, five deliberate choices to realize fulfillment and joy. It's found wherever or where it's sold wherever books are found. And if you're a social media person, I'm on LinkedIn. So Amy Elisa Wang on LinkedIn. Thank you.


Dia Bondi  45:18

It was so it was what a joy. And you and I have some we have a future date sort of softly booked onto our calendars for Yeah, where we're networking with networking dinner. When are women dinners in the in the East Bay. I'm super happy when that can happen. I know we're going to do it this Friday, and that got moved. But I'm looking forward to like having this conversation face to face again very soon and building on it and hearing jokes. We can tell some jokes. Yes.


Amy Wong  45:44

Thank you, Dia. So nice.


Dia Bondi  45:48

Lead With Who You Are is a production of Dia Bondi Communications and is scored mixed and produced by Arthur Leon Adams the third. Have a question or an inquiry? Reach out to us at hello@diabondi.com. You can like, share, rate and subscribe at Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your favorite shows. Go to diabondi.com for the show notes to find our tools, frameworks, content and programs to help you and your team speak powerfully and lead with who you are.

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