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Speaking Human-First with Mary Knox Miller

EP 1.2 Abby Falik

Redefining How We Live And Learn

Original Air Date

June 22, 2023

Abby Falik is an award-winning entrepreneur and expert in social innovation and leadership. 

With an aspiration to, “only preach what I already practice,” Abby, her husband and two young sons spent the last nine months traveling across the globe to embody her commitment to bridging the gap between theory and practice, challenging conventional wisdom, and seeking innovative approaches to make a meaningful impact on the world.

A former founder and CEO of a global nonprofit, Abby is currently an entrepreneur in residence with the Emerson Collective based in California, USA. She’s building a global movement to redefine the rite of passage between highschool and college, while encouraging all of us to ask ourselves, "What are we pretending not to know?"

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Abby’s core value of authenticity drives her approach to practicing what she preaches

  • Why Abby, her husband, and two young sons immersed themselves in communities across the globe

  • Abby’s vision for a connective, empathetic and resilient orientation for leaders committed to solving problems

  • Why youth education should include creativity, risk-taking and innovation instead of a high stakes race to college

  • Why the transition between childhood and adulthood should become a global rite of passage

  • Why relational currency is vital to the spread of creative ideas and solutions

Learn more about Abby Falik:

Learn more about Mary Knox Miller:



EP 1.2 Abby Falik

Entrepreneur in Residence, Emerson Collective


Mary Knox Miller:

Hey! Or should I say, Hola! Namaste. Or Sawadika? You'll understand why in a minute.

I'm Mary Knox Miller. Welcome back to Speaking Human-First, a podcast that explores the art and science of communicating world-changing ideas.

Today, I'm thrilled to introduce you to Abby Falik, a visionary whose aspiration is to, "Only preach what I already practice." Abby, her husband, and two young sons have spent the last nine months criss-crossing the globe. Mexico, Argentina, Nepal, Thailand, Spain, and Scandinavia.

Why is she doing this? To live firsthand her belief that to solve the world's problems, we need to redefine how we live and learn, especially when it comes to our youth.

Abby is an award-winning entrepreneur and recognized expert on social innovation and leadership. She's been a founder and CEO of a global nonprofit, and she's currently an entrepreneur in residence with the Emerson Collective based in California, and she's thinking big.

Abby wants to create entirely new operating models to solve our greatest challenges, to go beyond books and lecture halls, and blur the lines between nonprofit and for-profit, private and public sectors. She wants to redefine how we get things done, and to ask ourselves this question. What are we pretending not to know? I can't wait for you to hear this conversation.



Abby, I am thrilled to speak with you. Thank you so much for taking the time. I cannot wait to delve into all the questions that I have for you.

Abby Falik:

Thank you. And really, I've been looking forward to this for a while.


Yay. All right. So I want to start with what I think can be one of the most important things that a leader can do, and that is to actually embody your message. So a lot of people have big, bold ideas that are really good, but there's this disconnect between what they say versus what they do. And again, the sense of, they're not embodying their own message, but you do.

You practice what you publish or you practice what you preach, however anybody would like to say that. Can you tell me about your past nine months of travel, how it came to be, and how it's influenced your thinking about how humans learn, launch, and lead?


Thank you for such a juicy opening question there. I would say that my aspiration is to only preach what I already practice. And it can be easy to forget to do that. We can get swept up in the talking points and the ways we're perceived by the world, or what people want to hear from us.

But one of my core values is authenticity. And when I think about the people who I look to as teachers and guides, the people whose wisdom light something up in me who feel like they've been somewhere I want to go, it is the integrity between who they show up as what they say and what they do. And as soon as that is out of alignment in any way, you sniff it out and that person feels less trustworthy, and less like somebody I am here to learn from.

And the power of the pause as well, the recognition that we can't see the water we're swimming in until we lift our gaze above that water line and can actually look out to a broader horizon again. And that's what this year has been for me and for my family.


And you're currently calling in from where, and what are all the places and locations that you've been?


Well, it's so wild. So this was not something we had planned for years and years. My husband and I each independently, before we were even dating, we were just friends in business school. And we had discussed this dream that we each had, that someday we would take an extended trip, journey with kids. And it turned out that that family was adjoined family, and that that timing was now. And we just looked at each other and recognized there were 100 ways we could have thought ourselves out of it and talked ourselves out of it. And plenty of people tried to. But there was real wisdom in recognizing that if we didn't do it now, who knew when we would?

So we were both professionally in transition and decided that we would take the school year, we'd pull our boys who are six and eight out of school, and travel for the year, with an emphasis on deep immersions in a small-ish number of places. So we have spent about a month in six places where we've enrolled our boys in local schools, where we have stayed long enough to move through those perceptions and stereotypes that we might glean from a flyby trip. And I think to just have a deeper and more formative flavor of experience. Spent a month in Mexico, and in Argentina, Nepal, Thailand, Southern Spain, and we're now in Denmark.


Incredible. And, of course, as we talk about embodying your message, all of this leads us to the particular area of focus that you have in your work, which is about developing leaders that the world needs. So our world, we need some strong leaders, right? The opportunities and challenges that we're facing are just way too complex for run-of-the-mill folks and management. So this much I think we can all agree on. But how does redefining how and what we teach going to unleash these leaders? And feel free to give additional context about the work that you are in involved in and your ideas.


The interconnecting problems that we're facing as a planet will not be solved by one perspective, one type of leadership, one sector, one company alone. It requires a sort of connective, empathetic, resilient, fresh orientation that doesn't continue to come up with solutions in search of problems to solve, but actually says, what do we need to solve for? And what tools do we have to do that?

So my work is very much about reimagining education as a means of preparing the types of leaders that our world needs now. And when I look at our current and traditional approach to teaching and learning, we reward conformity, box checking, perfection, at the expense of creativity, risk taking, innovation. High school has become a high stakes game to get into college. Kids can get through college having learned nothing about who they are, what the world needs, and what they're meant to do about it.

And if we're going to solve the problems that threaten survival on the planet, we need a critical mass of young people from all backgrounds and all parts of the globe who know their power, who know where the bright spots are in a broken and beautiful world, and who feel agency to do something about it. And it starts with reimagining how we teach and learn.


And are you still focusing in on the transition year between high school and college, or has this nine month worldwide journey kind of blown the top off of that?


I can't help but think bigger. What's needed is a wholesale change, starting as young as we can. And this has been my experience of watching how my young boys are learning this year by following their curiosity, and asking great questions, and then finding the answers themselves. There's been nothing formal or traditional about their learning this year, but it's really clear to me that they've learned, more in this context than I could have ever hoped for them in any more traditional year of school, of first and second grade.

So I would say that my vision is broad. We need a new template globally for thinking about the purpose of an education, for decoupling school and learning, for recognizing that the learning that matters most is unlikely to happen in a classroom, or in a cubicle, or in a boardroom. The learning that matters most happens through lived experience, through reflection, through coaching, through mentorship.

That we need a new frame that values, and honors, and gives credential and credibility to the other kinds of learning that are actually the most formative. And we need to be much more critical and much more aggressive about rethinking what happens in the classroom context. Because if all of our time, and energy, and money, and resource, and philanthropy is focused on getting incremental gains on standardized tests that AI can already pass, we've lost the thread completely.

So broadly, yes, we need a new template for learning what matters most. My vision as a social entrepreneur remains quite focused on a key lever that I think changes everything, and it is the missed opportunity in the transition between childhood and adulthood, when a young person has maturity to leave home, they haven't yet set their values and identity, they're still figuring out who they are. And there are a million better ways to help a young person figure those things out than sending them blindly to a freshman dorm.

And so my vision is to build a movement that says no one takes a next step until they've spent a year on purpose figuring out what questions matter to them, what issues break their heart, why they're going to college, not just where. What their mission is, not what their major is. And that if we could equip a critical mass of young adults with that perspective, and insight, and sense of their own power, that's how I believe we can create the greatest change over time.


And I wrote down an opinion piece you had on USA Today, this line. So it reads, "Our culture still encourages kids to run harder and faster toward an elusive finish line." So Abby, I ask you, why are we all in such a hurry to get to some proverbial destination that apparently is the be all and end all for life?


I've been listening to Jenny Odell's new book called Saving Time, and so I can't not think about how she might answer that question. I certainly can't answer it as eloquently as she would. But the premise is, what have we done to time? We have envisioned that we live on a clock, that time is money, that it's either well spent or wasted, that we're always running out of it, and that there is somehow a linearity and a quantitative value that prioritizes productivity per unit of time and efficiency in getting from A to Z.

My husband will laugh. I think he thinks I like these concepts just because I have a fluid sense of clock time, chronos. But I'm fascinated by the way she and others describe the idea of kairos, which is qualitative time. It's the notion that things take the time they take, that the buds on those flowers are not on a clock in the same way. We all know that sense of when the stars align and the timing feels right.

So I have to say, I think there's this sort of underlying engine of capitalism that has taken over our sense of what time is, that has given us all a sense that it is scarce, that it's to be competed for, and that we're all in a rush to get somewhere. And I think that's what keeps us hustling harder and faster.

I think we're also being deluded into thinking that there won't be opportunities in the future, that everything is in short supply, and so we need to get there first and win somehow. And I think the people who ultimately will get ahead are those who will reimagine their relationship with these timelines and recognize that taking a year "off" the treadmill is actually the year best spent because it's an investment in figuring out whether or not you're even climbing the right mountain in the first place.


Abby, you speak with incredible conviction and incredible... There's just power behind your voice and definitiveness. I want to know where this fire in your belly is coming from to best understand how humans learn in order to lead.


I am convinced that conviction appears when we follow the thing that breaks our heart, and we move through our lives seeing things that annoy us, or bother us, or jar us. And then we see the things that actually, when we let it sink in deeper, and something more fundamental is impacted. It's the thing we can't look away from. It's the thing we can't not do something about.

And for me, from a very young age, it's been an awareness of my own privilege, access, opportunity, an awareness of the huge gaping and growing inequities in the world, and a recognition that I am here to do what I can with my own life to help others find and reach their potential. The thing that breaks my heart is that we live in the year 2023, and that most humans on planet earth will never know or reach their potential.

Even at a time when we could give every person all the basic things they need to be safe, secure, fed, educated, when every person could have access to the world's complete information in the palm of their hand, how do we distribute access to opportunity? Talent and potential evenly distributed everywhere around the world, opportunity has never been, but we have the resources and know how to do it. So that is what breaks my heart, and that is what drives me.


Absolutely. I want to live in that world. That's the world that I envision-


Me too-


That we're all moving towards. I see the light. We can get there - if only.


Well, if only. We need to start envisioning it and believing that it's possible. And as I speak, I feel it in my bones that I am convinced all of this, it's not inevitable by any stretch, but it is absolutely possible. And so my job is to figure out what's working, take it to where it's needed, and pull the levers that can help unleash talent in the direction of this shared vision.


And as we think about this drive of yours, you recently were being interviewed, and I heard this question that you asked that jumped out at me. "What are we pretending not to know? So if we are out there, let's just sit with that for just a second. What are we pretending not to know? So if we want to change the world with our ideas, why do we need to be asking ourselves that question?


The answer that comes up for me to that question, which has changed my life again and again, what am I pretending not to know, is that I'm the only thing in my own way. That so much of the time, we're making excuses for why I can't start the next thing, the new thing, why we stay in contexts that are small or constraining. And I think we often pretend that we don't know our own power.

And I think one of the ways I've practiced that question is by thinking of myself in a past context and asking, what was I pretending not to know before something major happened or shifted? And it gives me such insight into how much we do know, and when we tap into our wiser selves, our deeper intuition, but that we rationalize ourselves out of, because it's inconvenient to acknowledge.


So you've also said in the past, listening to and using our gut instinct to figure out what we're here for isn't a privilege, but a birthright. So I want you to tell me more about that. But I also want to acknowledge that we are two white women who are sitting here having this conversation. We're talking about a world of equity, so it's just important to acknowledge who we are.

And at the same time, when we want to tell somebody to dream big, if they can't put food on the table, that's not the question that they're trying to answer, right? If they are having a hard time listening to their voice, their inner voice when the daily needs are drowning it out, or when people around them are discouraging them or denying all of who they are, that this idea of dreaming big and crafting this vision can be harder to see as a possibility. So just with all of that and reference, tell me more about why listening to our gut instinct for why we're here isn't a privilege, but a birthright.


I think the most shared human desire is for freedom. And I think we have opportunities beyond what we recognize to set ourselves free, often independent of lots of life circumstances.

So there is external freedom that some of us have more access to, and others much less. But there are internal freedoms as well that we work to create in unhooking from other people's expectations of us in finding what it is that brings us joy and pursuing it in small or big ways.

It is not reasonable or appropriate for me to sit here and say, "Everybody should just quit your job and follow your passion." That's not what this is about. This is actually about, how can we each find a more alignment between our convictions and how we live our lives?

And that may mean that you're working at a job that for some period of time, is not fully in alignment. But how are you aligning the other parts of your life, the other ways you show up? Or the way you show up at that job, can it be values aligned in some form?

And none of this is an arrival point. It's not like I've remotely figured it out or anybody I know has. It's a practice in the same way that leadership is a practice, building our lives is a practice.

So having an orientation, I think of it as when we have a compass, the map becomes less relevant. You don't need the map if you've got the compass. I do believe it's a birthright for us to all tune into the orientation that brings us to life, and that moves us in the direction of the freedom we all deserve.


I can tell that you have been spending the past nine months not tethered to a phone, not tethered to any particular set schedule. You're speaking in ways that are so beautiful, and big, and broad, that I'm so glad you're writing a book. I'm so glad.


Well, I couldn't have done it without this space. One of the things that's really emerged for me is a love for different forms of communication. I think in my various leadership roles, communication became talking points, and bullet points, and gaming algorithms, and whatever it is to sort of try to get spotlight on words and ideas.

But there's something else that's emerging right now, because I've given myself permission to create in a way that brings me life and joy. And I've been doing that through photography and through some writing. And there's been this total light bulb sort of flash of recognition that there are forms of writing that I love. And if I'm writing primarily for myself with the hope that it might be of interest or use to other people, that's the lane I want to be in.

But I've spent a lot of time, I think, battling myself and contorting my writing in the service of writing what I think somebody would want to hear from me. And I think that that shift is feeling like it's giving me a lot of energy and momentum. So we'll see how it goes. Who knows?


We're going to keep going on that train, because that is perfect, because that's exactly where I want to go next. All right. So sharing ideas, not so easy. It's both an art and a science, that there's no clear cut formula because every idea and everybody who has those ideas is different, right? Process of trial and error, trying to figure out not only how we speak so people will listen, but how to show up in ways that plays to your strength.

I love how you were just talking about how in a role as a CEO of an organization, you show up and you speak in bullet points. That's how you are translating all this information in your mind. Whereas now, with this space that you've been given, you're opening up to new ideas of ways of writing and creating. So you're in the midst of this change, but how would you say your craft of communicating has changed over the years so that you can be you and show up most effective?


There's so much pressure to be like everyone else, and social media just makes this so much more acute. We scan for the people we admire, and then we try to be like them.

And I think it's a hard thing for all of us to learn. And I have to keep reminding myself. There's a Joseph Campbell quote that's on my computer when I open it says, "If the path is clear, you're on someone else's." If the path is clear, we're on someone else's.

So what's needed from me is not originality at every moment, it's authenticity. And I think what has held me back for a long time in sharing ideas is a sense that I don't have any original thoughts. Every thought in my mind has been sparked by someone else who's planted it there or some experience, or idea, or thing I've read.

So my first endeavor at writing a book was I had 100 pages of notes of other people's thoughts. And I sent it to a mentor and I said, "Well, here's how I think I could structure." And he said, "Abby, try again. Where are you in all of this?"

And so I think that's one of the things that's shifted this year as well, which is rather than just summarizing what I've learned from other people, recognizing with the right amount of confidence and humility, what I also know. And bowing in deference to people who've taught me the things that I know, but then recognizing that what I'm here for is to integrate those ideas and to move them through my lived experience, so that they again, may not be original, but the flavor of them is my own.

And that's about, to your first question, speaking only what I've experienced or know to be true, and blending my head and my heart in what I say and how I say it. So when you say it's an art and a science, I realized I've never thought about it as a science. I've only experienced it as an art.

And I think in some ways, my, what someone could call a platform or body of work may feel more disparate or loose than somebody who set out to be a thought leader with a very particular agenda. So I feel like I am leading and learning out loud as I synthesize what I'm seeing and learning in ways that I hope can be useful to others.


So we're back to that inner knowing and that inner instincts that it sounds like that's where you take your cues, that's where you take your direction. And then it can translate in any number of ways as you go along your path.

I've also noticed you've talked earlier, and I've noticed in your writings from this past nine months that are fantastic, and all of your pictures, that you've opened your eyes to and discovered photography.

So tell me how this has shifted the way you think about sharing ideas and showing up. What is it about photography? And I'm a fellow photographer, so you're speaking to the choir here, but what is it about it that lights you up?


I've always enjoyed it. I remember taking a photography class in college and loving it when we were still developing prints in a dark room, and you had a roll of film, and you had no idea what was on it. And that required a patience that I may not have had over the long haul. But I think the more immediate gratification of being able to carry a camera wherever we go, it's such a high quality camera in my pocket, has made it so proximate, so accessible, so sweet.

One of the things I can't not do is share what I'm seeing and learning with other people, in hopes that some of it might impact how they see the world. I benefit from other people who help interpret the world through their own lens of experience and perspective. And when I get positive feedback that people are enjoying my writing, or my stories, or my photos, it keeps me going and feeling like, "I just want to share how I see the light right now," or the color in this context, or the happiness exuding from my boys in an unlikely scene, or the beauty in the simplicity of this composition.

And what's interesting is I really had a whole narrative around not being an artist or even a creative person at all. And I'm really aware that schooling, traditional schooling did that to me. I got poor grades in art across the board and always, so I knew from the teacher's evaluation of me, I was not an artist. I think it was just really damaging to my own creative instincts and abilities.

So it's been special and powerful this year in particular, to have room to indulge that interest, to follow the curiosity around it, and to discover that it's something that both gives me joy and lights me up, and seems to have some kind of impact for other people as well.


So you've got CEO and founder experience in your rear-view mirror. You've got nine months of travel with your family in your rear-view mirror. You have been writing and taking pictures. I'm wondering not only what's next, because that question's going to come, but more so from everything in your rear-view mirror, from everything that you've learned so far about sharing your ideas. What has been that lever that you've pulled on that has moved you, the farthest, the fastest, for your ideas to gain traction, for people to start thinking about what you're thinking about without you in the room? Where is it that you have pulled to help that happen, and how is that shifting what comes now?


My thought here is that it comes back to relationships. So when I think about the handful of ideas I've planted that have gotten some real velocity or cultural currency... I wrote at one point about my own user manual as a leader, a practice that I didn't create, but I decided to codify how to do it and then shared my user manual on LinkedIn. And it caught Adam Grant's attention, who then shared it. And from there, it's just been this phenomenon of its own. But I think the insight there was that it was all Adam Grant, which was all about having built a relationship.

So I'm thinking about the currency of trust and relational glue, that is not moving through the world in a transactional way, but I think it's about seeing ourselves as part of a relational web. Let's keep bringing it back to relationships and not just thin stats and data points, likes, and followers, and engagement. I mean, We can all play that game.

I think part of what's really tricky about it too is unless you are a full-time content creator/influencer/thought leader, it's kind of hard to compete on that landscape, because there are people with whole teams doing this and churning out content that is tailor-made to what the algorithm will then amplify.

So we need some middle ground here. I don't know what it starts to look like, but it does not mean that everybody needs to use the same playbook, I don't think. But we do need a more human and humane way of thinking about how ideas spread.


Again, for those of us who are the dreamers and the doers who are trying to get our ideas heard, what advice do you have based off of your lived experience? And also, what are you now in this moment working towards and trying to get your ideas out there?


I am thinking and writing a lot right now about this concept of the difference between real good and feel good in whatever it is we do. And I think in communication, and social media, and thought leadership in particular, there's so much feel good where you just scan for followers, and likes, and shares.

But if I step back, what I actually care about in this realm is the impact and durability of ideas that could hit a few layers deeper than somebody's eyeball scanning a tweet, but actually help someone pause to ask, "What am I pretending not to know? What is it that breaks my heart? Who am I when nobody's watching? What am I going to do with my wild and precious life?"

My favorite definition of poetry, David Whyte was giving a talk, beautiful poet. And he described that, "Poetry is the language against which we have no defense." And I think that is so powerful as we think about communication, because maybe it's less about how our thought leadership spreads, and more about learning what it takes for our ideas to resonate with others' hearts and souls in ways that embed them, that share them, from one human to an another, in a way that ChatGPT spit out a whole bunch of answers for us. But none of that is going to profoundly shape how we live our lives. But I do believe people become people through people. So how do we find ways to communicate as human beings in ways that can actually help make us all the best versions of ourselves?


You have just epitomized and summarized the whole point of this podcast.


Yay. I'm so glad. So glad, we converged perfectly.


And how would you answer that question? Those of us sitting on these ideas, how can we communicate them in a way that will resonate deeply with people and have lasting impact? Obviously, step one is forget about the spread. Forget about the vanity metrics, forget about all of those things, and focus on relationships. What would be part two?


Focus on authenticity, not originality. That the message and the messenger combine in a way that is specific and unique to who you are and what your experience has been. And to see your job as... I loved this, somebody described it as a bee that cross pollinates the flowers. So you find the people who have things to teach and share to spend more and more of our time with the people who are transferring their ideas to us so that we then integrate it through our own processing systems and find ways to cross pollinate other flowers.


I love it. I love it. It's such a wonderful image. And it gets back to what you were saying completely at the beginning about how you are trying to envision this world where the answers to the most pressing questions aren't coming from one particular discipline, or sector, or industry. It's literally coming from this cross-pollination of all these ideas, because there's no way that just one of us can figure this out, whatever this is.




So good.


Thank you. I've not had a conversation like this for a long time, which requires a certain type of presence and engagement that I'm appreciating. Because when I'm doing a podcast week, there's a sense of just falling into old grooves. And I think in this conversation, I'm really aware that those grooves are less deep, which creates a pause before responding, which is helping me see some of the rewiring that's happening real time.


Beautiful. What an incredible compliment as well. Abby, it is always a joy to speak with you. We could go on for hours. And yes, I will be following up with you about these very questions because you've presented the question in such a way that I finally feel like, "Wow, maybe this is the questions I'm trying to ask people. How is it that we can show up as human beings with one another and share our ideas in ways without judgment, without any type of anything, slight? How can we just each show up in ways that are true to us and offer something up?"

And the hopes that you're encouraging and inspiring others to do the same, as opposed to, "I need to get a certain number of tweets or likes," or, "I need to get the book deal," or I need to get whatever it might be. That if we focus on that, everything else will come.


So there's a full circle here, back to my obsession and passion around rethinking what we mean by education, and even your question about time and my comment around qualitative versus quantitative time. We are so programmed to focus on what we can measure, and what we can count, and track, and compare. And we do that with standardized tests. We do that with grades. We do that with salaries, we do that with number of followers. But the metrics that matter most have nothing to do with any of that.

But as long as we are distracted by those things, we are often doing it at the expense of focusing on the things that actually make our lives richer and thicker with purpose. So there's something very interrelated in our ability to start focusing on different measures of success between how we learn, how we launch, and how we lead.


Please tell me, for all of those waiting with baited breath, what is coming next?


Well, I am in the thick of a number of projects that feel really generative, and juicy, and all very much aligned with the same mission of helping people find the freedom to shape their lives in ways that aligned with what the world needs most.

Writing a book, as we've talked about, just gotten seed funding for a TV show, more on this TBD, but all along the same line. So it's feeling very mission-aligned and high impact.

And then eventually, beginning to envision a movement around this notion of normalizing a purpose year. Recognizing that we need a new cultural template for that stage of life, that there are cultures, and religions, and societies around the world, some of which I've spent time studying this year, that do this thoughtfully, deliberately, beautifully, in a way that is aligning experience with values, with wisdom.

So that's what I'm here for. My mission is still my mission, and I'm just feeling like I am in a really exciting moment of building new vehicles toward the possibilities that I know are needed, but also are on the horizon, if we can bring the visions to life.


Well, as a mother of three young children currently all in elementary school, I cannot wait. As you build this movement, I will fully participate in it. I'm already planting the seeds with them of gap year. And although I know that that has... Let me start that again. Because I know gap year, for some people, that's got a negative connotation, right? As if that's privileged. I just want to make sure that I said-


Yeah. I'm happy to even say something about it. I think we have historically called this period of time a gap year, which to me is exactly the wrong language to use. If there's anybody who understands and values finding the right language, it's you in this conversation, that the language we use plants an idea in people's minds.

And so to use a metaphor that suggests we're nudging kids into a gaping hole that they may or may not come out of is exactly the wrong way to inspire and motivate what can actually be an experience that fills in the gaps that were left by the rest of your education.

So we need new language, and I am liking the idea of a purpose year, a launch year. I also just met somebody who runs a program in France that's called the l'Annee lumiere, which means the light year.




So whatever it becomes, we need better metaphors and better language for that transition.


Gorgeous. Well, my children, all three of them will be right in this movement along with you.


Good, good


Thank you again so much, Abby.


Thank you.


What a joy.


All mine.


I mean y'all, what's not to love about this conversation? Here are a few questions swirling in my mind. As all leaders, instead of wide-scale visibility, should we be striving for sticking power and enduring insight? If our goal is to scale deep rather than wide, does that require connecting our expertise to our lived experience? And is the engine of influence ultimately powered by relationships?

I keep coming back to this idea that that's been in the back of my mind for what seems like forever. The most powerful ideas we can share are those that come from within in response to what's happening outside in the world.

As Abby said, conviction appears when we follow the thing that breaks our heart, the thing we can't look away from, the thing we can't not do something about. What is that for you? I'd really like to know. Tell me over on LinkedIn or leave a review to encourage others to answer the same question.

To learn more about Abby, you can find her on LinkedIn and Instagram. We also included a link to her family's chronicles from a year abroad in the show notes.

Speaking Human-First is a production of Thought Leader Media, a boutique visual communications agency for socially impact driven leaders. It's produced by the amazing team at Yellow House Media, and is recorded on the ancestral lands of the Nipmuc Nation. Many indigenous peoples continue to thrive in this place, alive and strong.

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