Dec. 21, 2021

Best of 2021: Leslie Ehm | Unleash Everything You Are and Become Everything You Want - Part 1

Best of 2021: Leslie Ehm | Unleash Everything You Are and Become Everything You Want - Part 1

Leslie Ehm wants to help you unleash your authentic self and become the confident, magnetic, unmistakable creative that you've always wanted to be. Take a listen to discover how you can unlock and unleash your own personal swagger.

Leslie Ehm wants to help you unleash your authentic self and become the confident, magnetic, unmistakable creative that you've always wanted to be. Take a listen to discover how you can unlock and unleash your own personal swagger.

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Srini: Leslie, welcome to the unmistakable creative. Thanks so much for taking the time to do.

Leslie Ehm: I've been waiting for this one wasn't like had a little red star next to it. And I was like, this one's going to be good. It's going to be good.

Srini: Oh, I am so excited to talk to you. I absolutely loved your book. I remember when Jeffrey told me that you had a book called swagger.

Srini: I thought, yeah, this is somebody that I want to talk to. And then I sat down and I read the whole thing in two days because it was so good. But before we get into the book I want to start with a question that I think is really fitting, given the nature of your subject matter. And that is what social group were you a part of at high school.

Srini: And what impact did that end up having on the choices that you've made throughout your life?

Leslie Ehm: Wow. Okay. I didn't really fit into any one group. I was clickless. I was able to fluidly move between different groups. I also didn't stay in one school for really long periods of time. So I just found the quirky, amazing individuals that I loved and then hung with them as it suited me. I've always been that independent thinker because I could hang with the smart kids because I'm super smart. I could hang with the cool kids cause I get it. I couldn't really hang with the jocks cause I didn't get that.

Leslie Ehm: I just, but then I, I also went to a, to an unusual high school. For my last two years of high school, I went to a, an experimental high school called the mind that was for smart kids and everybody there were freaks in the best way possible. So there was a lot of fluidity in my life.

Leslie Ehm: We moved in those key years in, in high school before I went to mind. We moved out of Montreal proper into this really small French Canadian, a town called San Huizar. And so I went to the only high school that was there, which was this, high school that everybody from every surrounding region came to.

Leslie Ehm: And I swear to you three, I was known as lesbian. I was. Because it was such a novelty. There were the only Jews in the entire community, and there was no shade to last you if, but I actually, I was not. Did you, if the little Jew, my sister wasn't , that's how we were referred to. So I had a very weird and wild, upbringing.

Leslie Ehm: It wasn't traditional. I was a wild child.

Srini: Okay. So the funny thing is we have not just the moving around in common, but we also have having lived in Canada in common. I spent four years in Edmonton and I wonder moving around so much. How has that affected your social relationships in your adult life?

Srini: Because one of the things that has been really awkward to me or odd is that my sister has friends that she's known since she was in sixth grade. Some of them were bridesmaids at her. They come to our house for Christmas. My closest friends are people that I've met in probably the last 10 to 15 years and 43 now because of the fact that we moved around so much.

Srini: So I wonder in your adult what has been the impact of all that moving around?

Leslie Ehm: It has made me absolutely fearless when it comes to forming relationships, because I know that I can, I've had the proof. I moved to the UK when I was 19, I packed my bags, moved to the UK, didn't know a soul and lived there for 17 years.

Leslie Ehm: So I am really fearless when it comes to. Forming new communities and joining new communities. And I love that. I, to me, change is excited so I can make friends anywhere and I love making friends anywhere. So my, my friendship, my friendships have you, I still have some friends from back in the day, like from summer camp and I have, brand new friendships and I have people all over the world who I'm still deeply connected to.

Leslie Ehm: So that's another thing I think too, is that proximity doesn't matter. Connection is connection. And so I have people that I consider to me, my dearest and closest friends who live all over the world, who I see in a once every three years or four years or something.

Srini: Yeah, I think that's one of the beautiful things about having moved so much.

Srini: It does really make you a citizen of the world. And I feel the same way. Like I feel like I can go into any country. And at this point I feel like I could pretty much go anywhere on the planet and I could find somebody I know, or somebody who listens to this podcast, like hanging out with,

Leslie Ehm: if not, I'll make friends with them in two seconds and who cares, we'll be like, we've known each other for.

Srini: Yeah. So I have to ask about the school as somebody who is constantly obsessing over how we, transform education. What was the school like? Is it, you said it was like a school for freaks and geeks and I wasn't gonna let you off the hook on that. I want to know.

Leslie Ehm: It was an experimental school and it followed the traditional curriculum.

Leslie Ehm: Like we still had to take the traditional, exams, but it allowed you to work at your level, not your grade or your age. For example, I was so off the charts when it came to languages and English is the only people in my English class where me and my teacher, that was it. We used to just hang out.

Leslie Ehm: We used to go, this is back in the day, right? It's back in the day. And we used to go to the coffee. Down the street. Cause my high school was downtown Montreal and we used to smoke cigarettes and drink espresso and discuss. It was crazy. And I was completely backwards when it came to math and I really had zero aptitude and they had to drag me through, I think I finally graduated maybe grade nine math in order to be able to graduate.

Leslie Ehm: Maybe it was grade 10, but they spoonfed me this and I was in the class with kids who were three years old. And no, we didn't care. That was just not the way that it was. We all went, we would have twice yearly, we would have what they called group project. And we w we would sign up for some crazy radical things.

Leslie Ehm: So it might be winter camping or learning a martial art or volunteering in the community or whatever. And then we would do that thing for a week to 10 days, and we would be graded on that. In terms of, our civic responsibility and our ability to collaborate and our problem solving approaches and everything.

Leslie Ehm: And we would get graded on those experiences just as, as stringently as we would for our academics. So we hired and fired the team. We made decisions about whether we like the teacher, we call our teachers by their first name. We had a smoking lounge in my school, and we used to sit around listening to the doors and, the sex pistols.

Leslie Ehm: And it was really incredibly unique. And for someone like. It was everything that I wanted because I have real problems with traditional authority and I could not be tamed. I really had not, you had to earn my respect. Wasn't something that came out of hierarchy or power or status it was if I don't think that you're a good human.

Leslie Ehm: You're not going to get anything from me and I will judge you based on that. It didn't, that didn't go well. And the traditional high school you can imagine, right? Imagine like an and a, and my parents respected that because I'm a good human, I'm not, I was never a bad kid, but I was a rule breaker.

Leslie Ehm: Rebel. I didn't take shit from anybody and I wasn't having it, and they never worried about whether I would be okay in the world, but they did worry about whether I would be able to get the kind of credentials to go out and do my thing.

Srini: Yeah. You're talking to the guy who told the Dean at his business school that she should fire everybody in the career center, divide their salaries by the number of students and issue all of us a refund so that we got hired.

Srini: And one of my friends said, you really didn't go easy on her. I said, dude, I'm like, she may think the president of the university as her boss, my tuition dollars pay her salary. So she answers to me. Yeah. She works

Leslie Ehm: for me. Yeah, I know. That's the thing is when you an unburdened yourself, of the of the nod to any kind of perceived power.

Leslie Ehm: You see the world completely different. You're like, Hey, wait a second. You're not, you don't have any power over me. You don't control me. You don't get to have influence over me. I decide that I was also someone who was immune to peer pressure. You couldn't get me I'd look at the word laugh.

Leslie Ehm: I'm like, yeah, whatever do you, boo, I'm going to do. That was my approach to things, but I was wild. Like I started my first band when I was 16. I moved out of the house when I was 17, when I was 14. So this is I was born in 64. I'm old, please. Everyone do the math. When I was 14.

Leslie Ehm: I had a Mohawk I'd shaved sides of my head purple people used to cross the street to to avoid me because you didn't see people like that in, in particularly in Canada, but certainly, in north America at the very least. So I didn't follow rules at all, but I've always been all about love, unlike the biggest marshmallow on the planet, but I looked like a bad ass.

Leslie Ehm: I do I have two amazing kids that are both adopted from China. Because that was something that I wa I wanted to do. Just like with every ounce of my souls, I wanted to adopt girls from China. So that's what I did. I have two gorgeous, amazing daughters, 19 and 12.

Srini: There's numerous questions coming about a lunch.

Srini: The reason I ask is because, you mentioned how you're educated and I wonder one how that has influenced the way that you are choosing to educate your kids. And then. Which I realize is a big question. And that says, if you were put in charge of reforming the education system, based on the experience you had, how would you do?

Leslie Ehm: Oh my God. It's how many, how much time do we have? I just posted

Srini: parts

Leslie Ehm: swear to God, because I I just posted this, something about this on LinkedIn, like two days ago, and I did a little poll, you can, you don't have enough choices on LinkedIn polls, but I say, what do you think is missing from the education system?

Leslie Ehm: I have. Many views on this. And I, as someone who who also is a a huge student of creativity and creative process, it's one of the, one of the things that, that allowed me to travel the world is tree training, creative problem solving, my own radical version of creative problem solving, that's very much intertwined with sweater is I think that, critical and creative problem solving.

Leslie Ehm: Absolute keys to adult success. And I think that it is, It blows my mind that we are not teaching kids how to be problem solvers, because once you teach them critical and creative problem solving, so many of the other things you are trying to teach them will come naturally because they will seek it out.

Leslie Ehm: As the ways to fill. To fill the gaps in their knowledge, they're going to become so hungry for it. The why the root cause the what's the real problem here becomes the driver for so much curiosity and so much and so much power. I think that we need to be to be taught the concepts of leadership.

Leslie Ehm: What does that mean? How do you lead from the side and not just the front? I think that we need to teach kids about. What what it means to truly. Embrace diversity and diversity of thought. So inclusion on a whole different level. I think that we need to allow kids to find their own tracks of learning much, much, much earlier in the process.

Leslie Ehm: I think that understanding the basics of numeracy and the basics of reading. I think once we get that in place, then it should be okay. What turns you on let's go on this track now. Is it art? Is it science? Is it, is it w what is it? And then let's play with that and let's go much deeper. So I think it should be much more like a university curriculum where you get the options to play.

Leslie Ehm: Cause what I taught my kid was I said, babes, as it is now. School is a game. Those who graduate, win the game. You got to learn how to play the game. Don't worry about what you learned, worry about playing the game. W figure out what your teachers want for you from you and give you. And along the way, you're going to find things that turn you on.

Leslie Ehm: You might not, you might, it might come later. But what I don't want to happen is for you to have develop a hate on for learning. So just put it on hold and let life teach you right now, play the game, learn the social game, learn how to outsmart people, learn all of that, those critical life skills.

Leslie Ehm: And once you're out. Of high school, hopefully you won't have a hate on for learning. And then when you go to university, if that's what you choose to do, then you can really start to play. You can really start to get stuck and stuck in, and that's what. She treated as a, as a game. And I was her, I was like her wing man in, in navigating that game.

Leslie Ehm: And she came away from high school. She started off really rough. She was doing a lot of experimenting, a lot of challenges and stuff, which again, I got respect for, I got to support her in that I was the exact same. But she figured herself out and she left school with the high nineties and then she got into Miguel.

Leslie Ehm: She did her first year at Miguel during the pandemic. I was like, there you go, girl, do it. And now she's studying psychology. So I just do not really put any credence into high school education. I think it's bullshit. And I just thrown up my hands in terms of, what's important and what's fascinating too, is my 12 year old has all kinds of quite severe learning challenges.

Leslie Ehm: She is a. She's one of those orphanage babies who had a really rough start. And as a result, she has these ongoing challenges. When we talk, you and I were talking about ADHD we don't, we know nothing about what real ADHD is. Let me tell you. Cause when I, when a child has severe clinical ADHD the level of the real level of attention is second.

Leslie Ehm: And they cannot, if they cannot hold on to the receiving of information long enough for it's for the brain to distribute it. So it swirls around in their head and then it just falls. It's a really heartbreaking thing to watch. It's incredibly frustrating for the child. Plus she has cognitive challenges.

Leslie Ehm: She has short-term memory issues. She's a, oh, and you would love this. She's a hundred percent concrete thinker. She is not capable of abstract thought. Now I want you to imagine someone like you and me raising a child who is not capable. Of abstract thinking. So if you can't use euphemisms, you can't use analogies or metaphors because she takes it literally.

Leslie Ehm: So they're utterly useless and you have to be so specific with your language. And it is incredibly challenging. Now, put that kid in any kind of traditional school system and she screwed. So we have just peeled it back. She's in an amazing school. Who've allowed us to completely control her curriculum.

Leslie Ehm: And basically it's what she's doing now is basic numeracy, making sure that she can read what she's still incredibly challenged at. And the rest of it is life skills. That's all we care about is. I don't give a shit about anything because fuck you with your biology, your science or your whatever.

Leslie Ehm: She loves art. She does art, the rest of it. I don't care. As long as she could read and understand the practical application of numeracy. That's all I care about practical application. Could she make change? Can she, understand how to use measurements to cook that, those kinds of things and life skills?

Leslie Ehm: That's it.

Srini: Wow. It makes so much sense now, you know why I thought what I did about your book, as I alluded to, before we hit record, you took something that so many people talk about in a way that's super abstract and you made it really concrete, which is why I loved it. But before we do that, before we start digging into that, there's one more question.

Srini: Like I said, if we have to do this in two parts, we will. Cause I think way too much for us to cover it in one hour. There, you mentioned that you had adopted daughters from China. So one of the things numerous questions come from that alone. The first is, Bonding experience like, or the bonding process with an adopted child and, how does it differ?

Srini: Do you think from somebody who has a biological child to, with them having been born in China, how much of that culture do you retain? How do you retain it? And then how do you preserve the identity from that culture? And whilst simultaneously integrating it with the fact that there are. Oh,

Leslie Ehm: French.

Leslie Ehm: Canadian. Okay. Big questions. So the first part is I can not speak to the experience of making babies with my body, so I don't have that point of comparison, but I can tell you this. If there is more love to be had for a child that I have for my children. No thank you. Because my fucking head would explode.

Leslie Ehm: Like I could, thank you. I'm good. I'm good with the amount of love that I have for my kids, because basically I would peel my own skin off for my children. So there's that? Okay. The bonding experience is pretty amazing because think of it, this. One of the reasons that that women go through so many hormonal challenges during pregnancy is to seduce them into the acceptance of this little beam.

Leslie Ehm: L all of the hormones that are released during birth are all of those connection hormones, which is why, when women. Don't have that, those hormones being released, they experienced postnatal depression, they don't have that natural connective thing and they feel really lost.

Leslie Ehm: And then the chemical imbalance is all out of whack and so on and so forth. They don't experience that. When you adopt children, you're slammed into the experience. You wait for a very long time. So you have all of this anticipation, which is so unnatural. If you told a pregnant woman, she would have to, gestation is going to last a lot longer.

Leslie Ehm: Let's go for three years. They would get, they would kill someone, it is too long to wait for a baby, but that's what you commit to when you're adopting children internationally and particularly so it's a much longer anticipation, but then when the anticipation ends, you get a phone call and you say, okay, you got to.

Leslie Ehm: You gotta be in China for what the fuck? Okay. And you only then find out the age of this child. We knew we wanted a girl, so we knew what the gender was going to be. And it's the first time that you see a picture of this child. So it's going to be, a child who's probably somewhere, anywhere between five months old and a year old at that point, it's pretty traditional for Chinese adoption.

Leslie Ehm: There you are, you got the picture of the kid, you got to name this kid because he got to do the paperwork on the child to bring them back into Canada. So you got to name them. You'd never even met them. And you are now going to get a fully formed little human who had a mysterious life up to that point for which you have no medical history whatsoever.

Leslie Ehm: And they're going to put that little human in your. I want to tell you that if you are someone who has the capacity, I'm going to cry while I'm talking about. It's funny because I don't talk about this so much anymore, but if you are somebody who has the capacity for love like I do and the biological process was for me in consequence.

Leslie Ehm: I was like wait, there are babies in the world who need mothers will fuck up. I'm not going to make more babies. I'm going to go get the babies that need mothers. Why would I go make more babies? That's a vanity. It's so selfish. It's parenting is about raising children. It's not about making children, so you take someone like me and that with that recipe from the second that they say, this is your child and here's a picture. You want to rip the throat out of anyone who is standing in the way of you and your child, and you think if anything happens to my child between now and when I can hold her, someone is going to die.

Leslie Ehm: Get know, like it is the amount of ferocity. The protective, nature. And that thing that happened even before I met my daughters, it was I'm like, I'm totally crying. It was unbelievable. And then when they handed them to me, oh my God, you would have to have pulled them out of my cold, dead hands.

Leslie Ehm: We bonded from second one. Neither of them were particularly easy for their own reasons. No child is easy. Every kid has their own stuff. You have to learn them. They're just more formed and you don't know what's happened to them. And in the case of my younger daughter, bad things happened to her.

Leslie Ehm: She was pretty much left in the dark, on her back for five months. In terms of her development, it was completely unnatural. I had to decode her. I had to figure out what, cause they don't tell you that. But when you discover that the back of your child's head is completely flat as a result of being left on her back and her legs are splayed, like a frog that she can't bring them together because of the weight of her knees from being left on her back, you start to unravel the mystery and go, okay, what are we doing?

Leslie Ehm: For this child from day one to try and regain some ground. And there was ground that we could never regain. Whereas my elder daughter was already a year old when I got her and she was a fiercely independent little thing. She was like, ah, you, people can love on me, but I will decide just how much I need from you.

Leslie Ehm: She was not a cuddler. She was not a snuggler. She was not a, whatever, but she allowed her. To parent her, but it took her a lot of years before she can accept just how much he was loved by us. It was really fascinating. But you do this, because it is an important thing to do for all of you for all of you, and and so that, that is, my spiel about bonding. And so when, in terms of culture I've always been incredibly torn because. Biologically Chinese. They are like they are ethnically Chinese, but culturally they're Jewish Canadian because that's the environment that they grew up in.

Leslie Ehm: And so what I was very conscious of is the poll of making them feel even more like other, like the other. When they were little and we'd, we'd spent a lot of time with social workers when you go through the adoption process and a lot of talk about, about celebrating their culture and integrating it so on and so forth.

Leslie Ehm: And, my older daughter was in Mandarin class initially, and we took a little bit of Mandarin, but my, I turned to my husband one day who's I'm Jewish and he's like white bread, and I said, okay, so they're going to learn how to speak Mandarin or she can look, what the fuck is she going to talk.

Leslie Ehm: It's not like it's like now they're easy. There's even more otherness about her. And what she is getting used to is the Jewish holidays and her Bubby and her Zaidi and her cousins and blah, blah, blah. And I want her to feel a sameness. An acceptance, a part of a family and a community as opposed to a reinforcement of, but you're different.

Leslie Ehm: You're other, so what we did was we always played in Chinese culture. We always embraced that. We always celebrated Chinese new year. We always, spent a lot of time in Chinatown and wait, we found friends that, in the Asian community so that our kids could have those kinds of relationships and see themselves reflected in their eyes.

Leslie Ehm: But we didn't get. Deep into Chinese culture, because I think you it's really hard to do that. It's really hard to do that. They it's they have to accept it as part of themselves and not be afraid of it, but decide what pole it has for them. And I think that's going to come later in their lives, I just didn't want them to have a hate on for it and for it to make them feel.

Leslie Ehm: Even more different than, then they do as children of know internationally adopted children. Because think about this when you're, if you're an adopted child. There's no assumption that you're adopted you walk around with your parents and nobody goes, wow, that kid really looks different than their parents.

Leslie Ehm: They don't notice it, but when you're w but when you're internationally adopted everywhere, you go with your family, people go, Ooh, look adopted child. It's a burden. It's really hard on them. And you have to be really conscious of what that must feel like for them. And how do you make them feel the least.

Leslie Ehm: Other than you possibly. Yeah.

Srini: By sort of natural follow-up to that is, is how old were they when you told them that they were adopted? Because

Leslie Ehm: from forever, I had a story always known. Their Chinese were white, there's not, it's not like it's a big secret, but what I did was I I, from day one with my little one, I had a story that I told her about.

Leslie Ehm: What happened, and I think what's important is adopted children tend to I, they tend to focus on. Why wasn't I loved why wasn't I kept, that is the big thing for them. That is the source of all of those abandonment issues and so on and so forth.

Leslie Ehm: So I told her a story from day one about how daddy and I were looking for our perfect baby. We couldn't find her. And we looked all over the world and we asked all of these really smart people for help. For to find our perfect baby. And they looked in Africa and they looked in, in India, they looked, we made up this whole crazy big story.

Leslie Ehm: And then one day we got a phone. And they said, we found your perfect baby. And we said, oh my God, finally, where is she? She's in China. Okay. And then I make up this crazy thing about all the things we packed in our suitcase. We did this for a perfect baby. We did that for a perfect baby. We did that. So we went to China and then blah, blah, blah.

Leslie Ehm: And then they gave us two and we said, oh my God, there she is our perfect baby. That's the thing. And I never, and I don't know how other people would feel about this. And I don't know if I would get a hate on for this or, or not, but I never referred to my daughter's biological parents as her mother, biological mother or her biological father.

Leslie Ehm: I refer to her biological mother as the lady who made. Because I want them to know that I am their mother because a mother in the tr like in the parenting sense is not someone you ever wants to think can leave. You that's like the opposite of what abandonment is. So I never wanted them to have that sense in their head that a mother could leave you because I am their mother and I would never leave them.

Leslie Ehm: So I made that distinction with.

Srini: Yeah. So you naturally, that liberties is another follow up question. I had a really good friend who, when we were studying abroad in Brazil, he was from Denmark. He was Danish, but he was adopted by Danish parents to come from Columbia. And he actually started looking for his birth mother and because he just happened to be in south America.

Srini: And I remember asking him about the experience. He said, it's statue because he said one it's Columbia. We have no idea what the hell we're getting ourselves into. He said the other thing is for all I know I could discover that she's a prostitute. It was really just this like web of intricate emotions and I wonder, have your daughters ever asked about their biological parents?

Srini: Had they been curious about finding out who they are or where they are? Anything like that?

Leslie Ehm: Yeah. If my mind, my 19 year old, for sure she talked more about, she lamented the fact that she. She didn't know what her biological mother looked like. She couldn't look into that mirror of family to see what are, what are the things that I got from my biological mother and, and that kind of stuff.

Leslie Ehm: And also not knowing her medical history, that's been, she's found that to be challenging. I don't know if I'm prone to this or if that could be an issue or whatever, she's, hasn't really talked so much about, about Wanting to know if she had siblings or any of that kind of stuff.

Leslie Ehm: And she's talked a little bit about she's curious, but she doesn't seem to be driven. And we said to her, look with the almost zero information that, that we have you say the word and we'll go we'll do whatever they do everything we can to go and try and find, but that's what you want to do.

Leslie Ehm: I'm so down for it, she doesn't seem to have that. And she may never. But she knows that we would support it a thousand percent. Like we are tight, we're a tight little unit and she knows that whatever she wants to do in this world, I have her back, no matter what it is. So there's that my little one it's.

Leslie Ehm: Much more difficult concept for her to grasp. So she likes to tell people that she's born from China as she puts it on board from China. And once you have Asian of Asian descent, she'll say, where were you on board from China? Where were you born? And then they'll say, may, it might be China.

Leslie Ehm: It might be Korea. It might be whatever. And she's very interested in new. So where were you born from? China. Where in China. And do you go to China? But she's never so far expressed the. To go there. And again except that I got to admit that, for her, my, my little one I want to kill the people from that orphanage for what they did to her.

Leslie Ehm: I went, I want to kill them for the level of neglect that they inflicted upon her. So I am much more just don't even look at my baby to look at my child. Cause I'm mad at them. I'm mad at them. My other daughter's orphanage was fantastic. It was amazing. But my little one got a really rough.

Srini: So one thing I wonder is, when you have adopted kids, particularly when you adopt them that young, it's like certain things, if you have biological parents, you inherit certain personality traits. Like I, I realize I'm a lot, like my dad and there are certain things I definitely get from my mom.

Srini: And so I wonder, they're probably not things that get passed on genetically. What have you noticed that has been passed on to them? It's just a, by-product the environment of the by-product of the fact that you're their mother carry on genetically

Leslie Ehm: nurture. Kicks the shit out of nature, the kids, the shit out of it.

Leslie Ehm: My daughter and I are so much alike in so many ways. My mother used to laugh. And she said, even when I watched the two of you walk from behind you even walk the same way, we also have all kinds of weird similarities in terms of like weird things. We both have incredibly flat feet. We both suffer from eczema.

Leslie Ehm: We both got shingles at a really young age, which is unheard of. We both like all of these weird things and she's like, why do I have all of the crazy stuff that you have? Like you've got crazy stuff and why do I have. All attitude. She is all spice and in your face. And it has an incredibly strong, creative streak in her she's super musical.

Leslie Ehm: She's all of these things, which are, so me she's, my daughter is a bad-ass. She doesn't. She is oh my God. And I have been told so many times. Oh, my God, your daughter is so much like you. And she is in some ways, and not in many other ways, she's her own person. And she has a lot of stuff that, that is very dissimilar to me.

Leslie Ehm: But boy, you can tell we are from the same family or sizzle, and my little one is her own it's her own person. I think she is much more the product of how. How safely loved she feels. She suffers from anxiety. She suffers from, all kinds of stuff. And if she did not understand just how fiercely she was loving.

Leslie Ehm: She would have a hard time functioning in this world. So I'm just so glad that we were the ones to get her. Cause she's her own little beast with what she sassy though, for sure. Versus Scott, she's got the sass, we call them M women. They are M women through and through with the SAS and the.

Srini: I love it.

Srini: One thing about the little one, which I think it will actually make a perfect segue to talking about swagger. I don't have severe ADHD, not the kind that your daughter apparently has, but one of the patterns I've noticed in, in, you've come across this in books often, it's the CEOs of companies who are either dyslexic have ADHD.

Srini: So for some reason, whatever, weakness, they have, they can basically channel that and compensate for it. With these sort of extraordinary traits. One thing I saw was. I can do more in a couple of hours, if I'm interested in something, then most people can get done in a week. When my editor at penguin said, can you finish writing this manuscript in six months?

Srini: I said, yes. Which looking back that wasn't very smart, but yeah, but I did it and I realized it was because I gave a damn, whereas if you put me in an office job and said, can you finish this in a week? I'd be like I can finish it in an hour and then you should let me go home. And that's probably why you're going to fire me.

Srini: I wonder what you've seen in terms of sort of superpowers that emerge, in terms of compensating for those deficiencies or those sorts of, weaknesses.

Leslie Ehm: I think I didn't get getting into the whole swagger idea and waiting, we've been talking about swagger.

Leslie Ehm: I just want to make sure that your listeners understand when I say swagger, what I need, because w when you hear the word, you often think of that show Offy, peacocky arrogant in your face. That it's, that external persona crap thing, which is so not what swagger is all about. When I say.

Leslie Ehm: The ability to manifest who you really are and hold on to it in the face of all of that psychological crap, that's going to come forward, regardless of situation or environment. So using that as a baseline what I've learned it to be true is that. Only by tapping into all of the things that, that make you different, magical, special, unique idiosyncratic, not the same as And diluted on assimilated, that's actually where your true power lies, on the things that perhaps you had a hate on for growing up, because you didn't understand them and they made you feel different.

Leslie Ehm: And there were things that you didn't know how to use yet. That you didn't know how to step into them because they were too big for your body or for your mind or your heart. Those are very often the things that. Create success for us. If, when we learn how to embrace them, those become the superpower.

Leslie Ehm: So for example, if you have ADHD, like I did growing up you, can't, it's really hard for you to go deep on on a lot of things, but you're happy to go broad on a lot of things. So you become Jack of all trades master of none, or you become someone who goes super myopically deep.

Leslie Ehm: Like Superman, you go, you find the thing that is your jam and you become the absolute expert in that. And as a result, I think you, you have more empathy, more compassion for people who also have those differentiators, which makes you a better leader, for sure. And I think you also learn how to work around what you perceive to be weaknesses.

Leslie Ehm: And when you do. You you strengthened so many other aspects of your sensibilities, your intellect your perspective. Cause you need to, because you've got it because you recognize this weakness. If you're dyslexic, for example, you got to find other ways to learn. If you're going to learn, you got to find other ways to do it, and you're going to have to get real smart about it.

Leslie Ehm: And so that's lifelong that's lifelong cemented process then, because that's now the way that you do things going forward. So I, I almost feel badly for those kids who were just genetic. Mainstream. Yeah, whatever. It's all good. Cause they didn't really face the challenges.

Leslie Ehm: They didn't have to overcome. They didn't have to develop the grit. They didn't have to figure out the workarounds. They didn't, they, those kids have a harder time succeeding later. I think when.

Srini: Yeah, it's funny. You just said. So then I worked with Don for a drive one. So we were talking about high school and he, Jasmine is approved straight A's student in high school.

Srini: I said to I'm Indian, that's a given I said, but I said, let's listen to. And I was like being a straight a student in high school is not an indication of intelligence. Any idiot can be a straight a student in high school because all you have to do you play the game? Like you said, you listen to the teacher, you turn your assignments in on time.

Srini: A few things. Like we learn that very quickly when you, I, this was the lesson. I remember when I got to Berkeley and I took an economics midterm for the first time. You think you understand this, you go, you solve these problems that you do all the homework. Okay. I understand. Then you get to the midterm and they basically ask you to apply what you've learned in a context are completely unfamiliar with and you realize, okay, I actually don't have a clue which is really

Leslie Ehm: in university is when you learn.

Leslie Ehm: Yeah. That's when you learn to learn, because you start, you it's unique context, right? You have to have point of reference. You have to, it's not just rote learning,

Srini: yeah. Sadly, unfortunately, even the university level, I think fails at this because that's one thing I, when I go back, I feel like if I went back to Berkeley now, knowing what I know from having done all the interviews I have in the show, I would probably crush it compared to by that, because nobody taught me how to actually study, which is, one of those bizarre things that you are left to figure out for yourself.

Srini: And by the time you do, you're like, oh, it's graduation. And my GPA sucks. But you opened up this book, when you in the chapter that you call the case for swagger, by saying fundamentally, if you believe that you're truly worthy of owning your awesomeness at the stage you're currently at, then you do nothing or no one can tell you differently in that light, it makes sense to flip the adage from fake it till you make it to feel it until you find it.

Srini: And I guess the question that arises from that is what is it that prevents people from believing that there were the, of owning their own awesomeness? Like where does that come from? Because

Leslie Ehm: every other fucking person around them is going to make it more difficult for them. It's like we have, somehow we all have forgotten that we all come from a place of, I have no idea.

Leslie Ehm: Yeah, we all start from there, have a place of, I got nothing. If the page is blank, my resume is blank. I have no skills, nothing. And we go through hell to develop all of these skills and this acumen and this experience and the world keeps telling us we're supposed to somehow be further along than we are.

Leslie Ehm: I'm like, based on what, how does that the mark of someone's successful? We. This is not, it's not about complacency, owning where you are and being in love with where you are in your journey. It's taking a frickin breath man, and just going, wow, I just got here. This is awesome. Let's look around here in this, at this particular stage of my life and let's take a breath and we get into it and revel in it.

Leslie Ehm: And so when as opposed to going, oh my God, I just arrived. Okay. What's. And that's what the working world does to us now and force assistance. It's that place of fake it till you make it, because we're terrified that we will be perceived as not good enough. This was the thing that made me write this book.

Leslie Ehm: I'm trying, I'm traveling the world with my company combustion, my training company, and I'm working with the people who are supposed to be the best of the best, the Googles the Uber's, the, all of the. Silicon valley clients and all the financial services and the tech clients is that all the kids who went to Stanford and MIT.

Leslie Ehm: And so when they were supposed to be the best of the best and not only are they scared shitless, but their leaders are scared shitless that working with the senior level executives at. Who are also scared shitless of being seen as less than competent, less than credible, less than powerful, less than good enough.

Leslie Ehm: And I was like, okay, add to their core. People do not believe that they can reveal who they are and still find a success that they're dreaming of. They don't believe that they're good enough. To actually achieve their dreams. And so they believe they tell themselves the story that they have to put on this coat of persona and get into this whole fake it till you make it paradigm in order to gain the credibility that is going to lead to the attention that's going to lead to their success.

Leslie Ehm: And it's bullshit because as soon as they get into that culture personally, That persona is based on an assimilated view of the world, because they're looking around and saying, how can I fit in here? How can I be like everybody else here, walk and talk and dress and act the same as everybody else. So I'll be accepted into this tribe by definition.

Leslie Ehm: You're no longer standing out. And then you wonder why you don't get no. Like this whole this whole paradigm that people get, get trapped into, and it's just, it's a disaster, it's a disaster and a recipe for the imposter syndrome.

Srini: Thank you for listening to this episode of the unmistakable creative podcast while you were listening.

Srini: Were there any moments you found fascinating, inspiring, instructive, maybe even heartwarming. Can you think of anyone, a friend or a family member who would appreciate this? If, so take a second and share today's episode with that one person because good ideas and messages are meant to be

Leslie Ehm: shared.