Karen Walrond: Leadership Coach, Author + Activist
This episode features guest Karen Walrond, a leadership coach, photographer, author, team member for Brene Brown, and activist. She is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator trained in Brené Brown’s research on empathy, courage, and vulnerability, and serves on the board of the Houston Coalition Against Hate. Her latest book, The Lightmaker’s Manifesto: How to Work for Change Without Losing Your Joy, beckons Readers towards Lives of Integrity, activism, conviction, and joy. Karen and her work have been featured on PBS, Huffington Post, cnn.com, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Danielle and Karen start out the conversation by sharing their nostalgia for the old-school blogging days, before digging into one of Karen’s specialties: inspiring action through joyful content. They discuss the takeaways from Karen’s latest book, The Lightmaker’s Manifesto: How to Work for Change without Losing Your Joy, with advice for pursuing activism and why we’re fundamentally wired to be of service.
Plus: thoughts on how today’s creators can hold personal boundaries online while remaining authentic.
- (11:50, Danielle) There’s so much heaviness in the world and when you’re trying to make change because there’s something that needs changing, which can be very difficult, it holds a lot of people back from becoming activists, in whatever way they might be able to.
- (14:19, Karen) Happiness can be very fleeting. Happiness is somebody got your latte art right or you got a bonus at work. That’s happiness. Joy subsumes happiness, and it can often be alongside or arise from pain.
- (15:02, Karen) When you start to see that joy can arise from difficulty, attached to meaning and purpose, it becomes almost inevitable that you find joy in activism. Joy does feel good, but often it’s something that you see in hindsight because of moments of transcendence in your past. You can look back and say, “Okay, that was really joyful.”
- (16:21, Karen) I defined activism, or even light making, as using your gifts for purposeful action in the hopes of making the world better or brighter for others. The difference between activism and light making, or why I would call light making a subset of activism, is using your gifts in a way that also brings you joy.
- (23:57, Danielle) BeReal is so new. But there’s something about authenticity that some people interpret as an invitation to overshare. It can be anything from struggles within your relationship to sharing an intimate conversation. But there’s also the thought that, “You know what? I haven’t earned the right to know about that.” There’s nothing wrong with keeping private things private. Privacy is not a ding against authenticity.
Episode 8: Karen Walrond Transcript
Danielle Wiley: Welcome to The Art of Sway. This is a podcast that brings you inside the world of marketing through the lens of influence. I’m your host, Danielle Wiley. Each week, through candid conversations with industry insiders, we will uncover how influencer marketing is making an impact across all consumer buying habits and is changing the way we talk to each other. Let’s dive in. I always love talking to Karen Walrond, and our conversation for The Art of Sway was no exception. We go way back. She was one of Sway’s very first roster bloggers and I am so proud of the amazing work she has gone on to do as an author.
Danielle Wiley: Karen Walrond is a lawyer, leadership coach, photographer, author, and activist. Her latest book, The Lightmaker’s Manifesto: How to Work for Change Without Losing Your Joy, beckons Readers towards Lives of Integrity, advocacy, conviction, and joy. She is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator trained in Brené Brown’s research on empathy, courage, and vulnerability, and serves on the board of the Houston Coalition Against Hate. Karen and her work have been featured on PBS, Huffington Post, cnn.com, and the Oprah Winfrey Show. She curates the award-winning blog, Chookooloonks, is the host of The Make Light Show, and is the author and photographer of The Beauty of Different. Karen and her family live in Houston, Texas. Hi. Welcome, Karen Walrond. I’m so excited.
Karen Walrond: It has been way too long. I’m so thrilled to see you.
Danielle Wiley: I know. We had a nice phone conversation. I remember when I was still living in California, I called you. I was doing a really long drive somewhere and we had a great conversation so I at least got to hear your lovely voice. But it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it connected to a lovely face, talking at the same time.
Karen Walrond: I’m so honored to be here. Thank you for inviting me.
Danielle Wiley: Of course, of course. I’ve been diving into your book all week and I have so many… I kept writing down little… Jotting notes of little tidbits I want to talk to you about.
Karen Walrond: Yay.
Danielle Wiley: But we should bring everyone in and set the stage and kind of give a little bit of background, I think, because you’ve had a very interesting and varied career. We, of course, met through mom blogging.
Karen Walrond: Yes. Yeah. I’m trying to think of when we met. It’s got to be-
Danielle Wiley: Well, I knew you, not to be creepy, I knew you before you knew me.
Karen Walrond: Oh.
Danielle Wiley: As a fan. You were on… Was it Blogging Baby? Had all the blogs on it? Is that what it was called?
Karen Walrond: Yeah. Yeah. I was an editor on Blogging Baby too.
Danielle Wiley: Yes.
Karen Walrond: That’s funny. Gosh, that’s going way back.
Danielle Wiley: Well, Blogging Baby is… I had my blog, Foodmomiac, which three people read.
Karen Walrond: I was one of them.
Danielle Wiley: Not yet. Not until this happened.
Karen Walrond: Nope. Okay.
Danielle Wiley: Melissa Summers had a blog on Blogging Baby.
Karen Walrond: Wow. Yes.
Danielle Wiley: I commented something. Back then, if your comment got noticed by someone, that was the key to getting anyone… There weren’t that many blogs, and just getting acknowledged in the comments could be your key. I went from, I think, five readers a day to 300 or something like that
Karen Walrond: Nice.
Danielle Wiley: Because she noticed my comment.
Karen Walrond: Nice. Excellent. That’s so funny.
Danielle Wiley: Yes.
Karen Walrond: Back in the day.
Danielle Wiley: In the old day. Actually, that’s one of the things we can maybe… Why don’t we talk about this first and then we’ll dive into your career, because that will lead into your book.
Karen Walrond: Okay. Yeah. Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: I’m going to switch up my order.
Karen Walrond: Yep.
Danielle Wiley: This actually is from your book. One of the things you said, I’m going to read it to you, hopefully, you don’t mind being read your own content back.
Karen Walrond: No.
Danielle Wiley: You said somewhere along the way, as all this growth was happening, bloggers, and, later, YouTubers, Instagrammers, Facebookers, and other social media influencers began writing content solely to please their audiences. I thought that was such an eloquent way. I remember being at BlogHer in 2006, and they announced that banner ads were going to suddenly be a thing and there was a giant brouhaha. It was very controversial that people would want to make money from this thing that they were doing. But we all started our blogs because we loved to write and we wanted somewhere to express ourselves, and just share and connect with other people. I always talk about that difference between then and now as we started because we wanted to say something. I think a lot of people start now because it’s a career. They’re starting it as a career.
Karen Walrond: Mm-hmm. Yeah. For sure.
Danielle Wiley: But I thought it was so interesting how you pointed out that difference in the that mindset. When you are doing something to make money, you do have to suddenly be more concerned with what people think of what you’re talking about. It’s not just actually a web blog, like a personal journal, you’re actually creating something for someone else and have to take their feelings, into opinions, into account.
Karen Walrond: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I feel like when I first started… When did you start your blog? I started in 2004.
Danielle Wiley: I had a LiveJournal one.
Karen Walrond: Oh. Oh, you old school?
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, in 2003, 2004. I was very huge into eGullet, which was a message board for foodies.
Karen Walrond: Oh, right. Right. Right. Right.
Danielle Wiley: I developed a food blog out of that on LiveJournal. After I had my son in 2005, and then I discovered at the first mom blog I ever read was Amalah, Amy Storch.
Karen Walrond: Oh, gosh. [inaudible 00:05:25].
Danielle Wiley: And then just started following… Reading blogrolls and… I swear, I don’t know how I got any work done. That’s all I would do at work, just read blog.
Karen Walrond: Those were the days.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Karen Walrond: Yeah. I started-
Danielle Wiley: In 2005.
Karen Walrond: You started in 2005. I started in 2004. I started a month before my daughter was born. For sure, the only reason I started it was because we were in the process of adopting and I thought, “I want to do this because my family is in Trinidad and my partner’s family’s in England, and this cool weblog thing is a diary.” I knew they were feeling a bit disconnected from the whole process of the adoption, so I’ll just write and I won’t put a password on it because our parents weren’t young. I thought I will just minimize the complication of being able to see this. That was the only reason I did it.
Karen Walrond: Of course, people start reading, and then I had my dreams of grandeur that I would be the next Erma Bombeck or Dave Barry. It was sort of a way to be a columnist without having a column. But the idea, even that was not about making money. It was sort of about, “I’m going to tell stories and people will like to listen to my stories.” I mean, I guess there’s an element of that is, “I want people to like what I’m writing,” but it was very different. As soon as money tarnished it, it became a whole other thing. For sure. For sure.
Danielle Wiley: Listen, I have the career I have.
Karen Walrond: Sure.
Danielle Wiley: I’m not going to disparage the money, but if I listen to my heart and think about… I was telling Rebecca Wolff when I talked to her. I just discovered that Brenda Ponnay is still blogging at Secret Agent Josephine.
Karen Walrond: Oh my gosh. It’s amazing.
Danielle Wiley: I just sat there for an hour and a half reading through… Just going that previous… I was just drinking it up. I mean, it was like catching up with friends and it was what I did every morning, and I would check to see which one was updated. Certainly, and I do agree, that money is what kind of made that all.
Karen Walrond: Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: I mean, there’s other things too.
Karen Walrond: Yeah, for sure. Right now, I was talking to another old school blogger that you and I both know, Asha Dornfest, who is a dear friend, speaking of good things that blogging world has brought to us. She’s always been on the cutting edge of what’s the next thing. She is like, “Newsletters are where it’s at,” like that…
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. She has that Substack now.
Karen Walrond: Which is fantastic.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Karen Walrond: There is something about the newsletter that does feel like the old school blog, I think, in a lot of ways. What’s missing, for me, anyway, is the blogrolls and the seeing who comments and be going in, “Oh, that person commented. Let’s click on theirs and see what their blog is about.” It doesn’t really have…
Danielle Wiley: It doesn’t have the community.
Karen Walrond: Community. Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: That we built. Yeah.
Karen Walrond: Yeah. For sure. Do we sound like, “Get off my lawn.”
Danielle Wiley: Karen, increasingly, with these episodes, it’s turning into this, “Well, back in the old days.”
Karen Walrond: For sure. For sure. Not that the new days aren’t wonderful. You kids are doing amazing things.
Danielle Wiley: Well, I can go on and on about how Gen Z is going to save us all but… Yeah.
Karen Walrond: For sure.
Danielle Wiley: Okay, let’s take a step back because I want to talk about your book. There’s a lot to go through. But I would love for you to take us through the journey of engineer to attorney to-
Karen Walrond: Oh, God.
Danielle Wiley: … photographer, author.
Karen Walrond: How long are these episodes? All right. Okay. I started my adult career, I guess, working career as an engineer. I have a civil engineering degree from Texas A&M. I graduated, did that for a year, and realized that that was not my thing. I knew I was going to go to grad school. I was like this, “I can’t do this for the rest of my life.” I knew I wasn’t going to get a graduate degree in engineering because that just felt like more of the same. I thought, “Well, the only thing that my engineering degree qualifies me for, as far as graduate school, is either an MBA or law.” Many, many, many engineering friends I had were big MBA students. That was their thing. I thought, just to be different, I’d go to law school, especially because L.A. Law was on television back then, and they all looks-
Danielle Wiley: L.A. Law is why I call my husband Mickey. His name is Michael. When I met him, I was like, “I am so glad your name is Michael, because I’ve been looking for someone to call Mickey,” like Susan Day calls Harry Hamlin.
Karen Walrond: Oh. Bless Harry Hamlin. Look, there we go, being nostalgic again. Yes. That was why I was like, “Clearly, being a lawyer is this very, very high powered, sexy thing. That’s what I want.” Went to law school for that reason, and that is not a good reason to go to law school, but that is why I went to law school. Surprisingly, loved it. Loved law school, loved practicing law, and did for many years, and then got to the point where I was exhausted. By then, I was a mom and I had started blogging because my daughter was about to be born. I decided that I was going to quit practicing law, which was a bit of a crazy thing to do. It was a crazy thing to do, but it was time. I thought, “Well, I don’t know what I’m going to do, but it’s not going to be this.”
Karen Walrond: By then, I had been such an avid blogger, specifically photo blogger as well. I had sort of really honed my photography skills. I thought, “Well, I’m just going to see where this takes me.” The fact that I write a lot, and by then, my blog had a pretty sizable audience for that time, and I was feeling pretty confident about my photography skills. I knew they were solid. I thought, “Well, I’m just going to experiment and see what happens by doing these things and doing these things with a certain focus.” What happened was that it changed my life. I ended up writing books and traveling around the world as a photographer. Really, sort of everything that I do now, everything that I do now came because of either something I learned as a blogger or a relationship that I made as a blogger, for sure.
Danielle Wiley: Same.
Karen Walrond: Yeah. It’s crazy, right? Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. I think it impacted so many of us. Your book is The Lightmaker’s Manifesto: How to Work for Change Without Losing Your Joy. It’s actually beautiful. It’s been on my desk all week, which has been lovely.
Karen Walrond: Thank you. I love it.
Danielle Wiley: I’m rubbing it. It’s so shiny.
Karen Walrond: It’s so shiny. I love to flash it with the light.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah.
Karen Walrond: I would love to say I had anything to do with the cover design, I don’t, but they did a good job.
Danielle Wiley: Wonderful job. I mean, the premise, I’m going to try to summarize it and you can-
Karen Walrond: Yeah, sure.
Danielle Wiley: … jump in and correct me. There’s so much heavy in the world and when you’re trying to make change because there’s something that needs changing, which can be very heavy and difficult and, guessing you would agree, it holds a lot of people back from becoming activists, in whatever way they might be able to. The first part of the book is kind of the manifesto about making light and keeping your joy. The second part is a manual, a workbook, that you can work through to kind of figure out… Because you came to this decision, your decision on what you were going to do next came out of journaling. You kind of help the reader through that whole process, which can also feel daunting. Before we get into the… I keep saying before we get into. We will, eventually. But I want to talk a little bit… I loved your clarification on the difference between happiness and joy. I think that’s a really important understanding to have. It’s very difficult to figure how to keep your joy while making change if you don’t understand that difference between happiness and joy.
Karen Walrond: Yeah. If you don’t mind, I’m just going to step back a little bit to say that this book was not my idea. I would love to say that I had this muse in me that was just dying to get this book out, and it wasn’t. Again, because of blogging, a publisher found me and found my writing. They approached me and they said, “We have an idea for a book and it’s about the intersection of joy and activism, and I think you could write it.” I was in a place in my life where I was saying yes to whatever good things came my way. I said yes, and then literally hung up the phone and thought, “I have no idea how to do this. I’m not an activist, and there is no way to do activism with joy.” I literally had no clue how I was going to write this book.
Karen Walrond: Decided to actually interview, as you know in the book, I interview a lot of people who are activists. The book is actually really sort of an exploration on how it’s possible to do that for me. It was a personal kind of, “This is what I learned.” I think it’s really important to make that distinction because, as you said, we don’t get into activism because we’re happy, right? We don’t get into activism because things are great. We’re either angry or heartbroken or something needs to change, or there’s a cause that we really want people to know about. The distinction really is rooted in something I learned through a book, and it’s called The Book of Joy, and it’s written by the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Danielle Wiley: Oh, those guys?
Karen Walrond: Those, yeah, who’ve done a little bit of activism in their lives. But one of the things, I think it was Bishop Tutu says, is that joy is deeper than happiness. Happiness can be very fleeting, right? Happiness is somebody got your latte art right, or you got a bonus at work or something like that. That’s happiness. But joy subsumes happiness, is the way that he said it, and that it can often be alongside or arise from pain. The description or the example that he uses is about when a woman gives birth, about how when a woman goes through this excruciating pain and then when the baby’s born, then, suddenly, all she feels is happiness, even though seconds before, she was in this excruciating pain. That’s one thing. Then Viktor Frankl, who wrote an amazing book called Man’s Search for Meaning, talks also about how joy can be very tied to meaning and purpose.
Karen Walrond: When you start to see that joy can arise from difficulty, joy is attached to meaning and purpose, it now becomes almost inevitable that you can find joy in activism. That’s really, really important to understand, that I’m not just talking about sort of a feel good thing. It does feel good, joy does. But often, it’s something that you see in hindsight, and it’s because you’ve had this meaning and purpose and these moments of really transcendence that have happened in your past, that you can look back and go, “Okay, that was really joyful.”
Danielle Wiley: Actually, I listened to Armchair Expert, and Dax Shepard talks all the time about how being in Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the biggest lessons when someone is struggling is go find someone to help, go find someone to do something for. I kept thinking about that as I was reading that section of the book because it can really get you out of yourself and give you this fullness that it would be very hard to come upon artificially.
Karen Walrond: Sure. I think we’re wired for it, honestly. I had somebody ask me a question about, “Must we be activists? Is that something that has to happen?” My answer is, “Yes, in a lot of ways, not because of the responsibility to do good,” which, I mean, certainly, there is, but I think also we’re just wired to do it. I think we’re wired to be of service. The question is how we do that. But I think that’s what we’re here to do, is to figure out how we can use these gifts that we have, which we all have, and how can we help make, if not the world better, our world’s better by using those gifts. For sure.
Danielle Wiley: You said when they first came to you, you said yes because you were saying yes to great things. But then you said, “I’m not an activist myself.”
Karen Walrond: Yeah. No. I was not. Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: But I know you eventually came to realize that you actually are.
Karen Walrond: Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: Can you talk a little bit about that?
Karen Walrond: Well, it was so funny. The reason that the publisher had found me was she had found an essay I had contributed to a book and then looked me up, and then signed up to be updated whenever I updated my blog. She had gotten a feel of that I’d written a lot about joy and a lot about gratitude. That’s sort of been my shtick really, ever since I started writing even the blog, and I had done activist-y things, right? I had done things like I’d participated with the ACLU at a Pride Parade, and photographed it, and shared that on the line. I had done things for Habitat for Humanity and shared that online. I’d certainly done the Women’s March a couple of times, and done that. I traveled to Africa with NGOs and done… I’d done things, but I had never really put them in my mind as… I mean, I think I would’ve said that they were probably activist-y related, but I was not an activist.
Danielle Wiley: Did you feel like you had to have been the one to inst instigate, sounds negative, but that you had to start the Pride Parade or conceive of the trip to Africa versus just going?
Karen Walrond: It wasn’t even that. It was in my mind, and I think this is probably true of a lot of people, I thought that activism meant that I had to be at some risk. It couldn’t be something that it was just fun. It couldn’t be that, “Oh, I went to the Pride Parade and this is amazing,” right? Those were really fun. Or, “I went to Africa and this was really fun.” It had to be that I was teargassed, or arrested, or had police dogs set on me, or stood in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square. I had to have some sort of personal bodily risk to consider myself an activist. That’s what I was thinking in my mind. What ended up happening is I thought, “Okay. Well, fine, I’ll write this book.” I had written a book in the past before and interviewed a lot of people in that book.
Karen Walrond: I thought, “Well, I love interviewing people so I’ll just… Surely, I know activists. I’ll find activists to interview.” I made a list and the first person that came to mind was my friend, Brené Brown, because Brené has done a lot of stuff on shame and vulnerability and courage, but she is also very vocal about Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ rights, and she’s done a lot of stuff. I was like, “Okay, she’s an activist” I put that down. The second person came to mind is another friend of mine, Tarana Burke, who founded the Me Too movement. I was like, “Okay. Clearly, she’s an activist. I’m going to put her down.” I sort of came up with these names and then I realized that all of the names I came up with, even if at some point in their lives they did find themselves in some sort of physical peril, that’s not what they’re known for.
Karen Walrond: You don’t know these people because they are constantly getting arrested or teargassed or having police dogs. It suddenly dawned on me why is it okay for me to call these people activists, but it’s not okay for me to call myself an activist. That was really the crux of what I wanted to figure out as I did this. What is it? For me, I defined activism or even light making, which I think is another level of activism that I’ll explain, is sort of using your gifts to purposeful action in the hopes of making the world better for others. Using your gifts in purposeful action, in the hope of making the world better for others or brighter for others. The difference that I would say from just activism and light making, or why I would call light making sort of a subset of activism, is that using your gifts in a way that also brings you joy.
Karen Walrond: Not only are you making the world brighter for other people, but you’re doing it in a way that is sustainable. Because, I think, a lot of people go into activism and it feels like a chore or they feel like, “I have to do this,” so it’s going to be a chore, and then that’s not sustainable. Right? But when you start to do things like for me, when using my camera to go to Africa to share what’s going on, or even the Pride Parade and showing the joy and everything, and using it in a way to connect people to the cause, that brings me a lot of joy. It doesn’t feel like work. It doesn’t feel like a chore. It’s actually, “Yes, please. Put me in the middle of this. I want to be a part of that.” I think that’s what light making is about, and that’s really sort of the secret sauce into how you do activism in a sustainable way.
Danielle Wiley: I kept writing down just, like I said, all these words. One of the other things that you haven’t touched on yet that I wanted to make sure we talked about was this difference of authenticity versus integrity.
Karen Walrond: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: Which I think is so juicy because, as I said, I’d spend a lot of time thinking about the difference in social media then versus now, and this word authentic comes up. Oh, I mean, it’s the most overused buzzword in all of influencer marketing.
Karen Walrond: Yeah. Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: It’s just a word I’m talking and thinking about a lot, but it was very interesting to me to see it, see that authenticity versus integrity.
Karen Walrond: Yeah.
Danielle Wiley: I mean, your point was that it’s less about being authentic and more about having integrity, and it kind of all follows, if you act with integrity.
Karen Walrond: I think that’s true. The whole thing about authenticity, back when we were first vlogging, I don’t know that anybody really thought about authenticity when we first started writing. We were just writing, right? We were just writing it sort of as a byproduct. People read was authentic. But because of that authenticity, because of the people were just writing what was happening in their lives or what they were wrestling with their lives and people started reading it, then, of course, all these marketers are like, “Oh, it’s the authenticity that people are responding to. We want to hire authentic people.” It’s really hard to be authentic when you’re marketing yourself to be a product or to be used to sell a product. It’s just a really hard thing to do. I want to be clear that I’m not knocking people who do this. I think that there is a definitely a viable way to make money doing this. I think the people who do it well as a consumer, it’s much more enjoyable way to be sold something on if we-
Danielle Wiley: Well, that’s what I was going to say. I don’t think it’s any kind of insult to the industry, as a whole, because the people who are making a lot of money at it and who are successful have integrity, are not talking about things that they’re not already passionate about.
Karen Walrond: Right.
Danielle Wiley: As a result, the authenticity shines through. It’s more interesting to the people who are reading it and it’s doing what it’s supposed to do.
Karen Walrond: Absolutely.
Danielle Wiley: Everyone is pleased all down the line, from the person paying the money, to the person sharing the content, to the person consuming the content.
Karen Walrond: Absolutely. That’s one thing, is sort of like, “I authentically love this Swiffer,” right? It doesn’t make sense unless that’s something about the Swiffer, something that you’ve been talking about all along. That’s one part. But then the other part of authenticity, which I think is really interesting, and it’s especially interesting with this new social media platform, BeReal, which I just got on.
Danielle Wiley: Do you love keeping up with your daughter on it? That’s my favorite thing is-
Karen Walrond: Right? That’s the thing, right? Because that’s the thing. It’s like I was afraid to get on it, but she was like, “No, you should get on it.” I’m like, “Oh, great.” BeReal is fantastic, just so you know, for everybody out there who has a kid that’s about to go to college, it’s perfect for proof of life. Right?
Danielle Wiley: My second is a senior in high school, and last week, there were two BeReal pings during the school day. Both days in a row, that kid was in class watching football film.
Karen Walrond: You could catch it. There’s something very, very interesting about that. Back to the authenticity thing, BeReal is so new, I don’t know how it’s going to play out. But there’s something about authenticity that some people interpret as an invitation to overshare, or to share way more than maybe those of us who see what they’re doing have earned the right to know about. I mean, it can be anything from nudity to sharing about an intimate conversation you had with somebody. Or you’re struggling in your marriage, and people are like, “Well, I’m struggling with my marriage and so I’m being real and sharing it with people.” But there’s also, there’s a part of it that’s like, “You know what? I haven’t earned the right to know about that.” There’s nothing wrong with keeping private things private, right? Privacy is not a ding against authenticity.
Karen Walrond: I think that that’s a really interesting sort of frisson that I think people have been rubbing up against for years now, right? It’s like how much of authenticity is sharing and how much of it is just being in integrity and going, “You know what? Some things are just private or some things are just…” The world hasn’t earned the right to know about that yet. It’s not that I’m being duplicitous or it’s not that I’m being cagey, it’s just that this is the line, and this is where I’m boundaried. I think that’s a really important thing for people to sort of understand. That’s where the integrity thing comes in, is sort of understanding where the line is for what you share, and always being truthful, certainly, but also being able to feel really comfortable with what you’re sharing and what you’re not sharing. For sure.
Danielle Wiley: I think it’s so important too. If you are that light maker and what you’ve decided to do is shine a light on what’s going on and help be a voice for something that needs a voice, it’s so important to understand what your boundaries are, what’s okay to share and what not to share, and how to do it in a way that feels comfortable for everyone.
Karen Walrond: For sure. Also, understanding what your role is, right? Because I think that’s another thing that… Especially when it comes to activism and light making, one of the tripwires that you can fall on when you’re doing this is sort of the virtue signaling. Sort of saying, “This is my cause and aren’t I amazing for being part of…” Really understanding that amplifying a cause and also taking your own ego out of it is a really tough thing to figure out how to do, right? On one hand, you have a platform and that allows you to amplify a cause, and that is gift that you have that, and it’s not about your own worthiness or your own specialness. It’s about how do you use that in service. I think that’s something that, like I said, it can be a little bit of a tripwire figuring out how to do that.
Danielle Wiley: It’s probably especially hard for people who have a career sharing. Right?
Karen Walrond: Sure. Sure. Yeah. For sure.
Danielle Wiley: To pull yourself out it for once when it’s all about you all the time.
Karen Walrond: Yeah, exactly. It’s tough. It’s a tough thing to do. I mean, I’ve certainly struggled with it myself. There’s no question that when I write a post or have shared a story that’s really not about me, but it’s about the story is really figuring out how do I do this in a way that does service and honors the story and keeps me out of it. It isn’t about me, right? That’s a tough thing to do.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. Well, this has been so amazing and I haven’t dove into the manual part yet. I’ve been saving a juicy bit. I’m very excited.
Karen Walrond: Yeah. Well, I hope you enjoy it.
Danielle Wiley: So, one of the questions we ask on the podcast is we’ve been asking everyone what their favorite commercial was as a child because growing up for me in the 70’s and 80’s that was my form of influence was television, so.
Karen Walrond: There was some good ones, right? Especially the 80’s were like, really, really good. So, my favorite- I knew this was coming and so I immediately thought of the 7UP guy. Do you remember the 7UP guy? “Never have it, never will. Never have it, never will.” Do you remember that? The uncola guy?
Danielle Wiley: I don’t remember the 7UP guy..I remember the words you are saying.
Karen Walrond: So the uncola which was about 7UP. I don’t even know what it never had or never will. I don’t even remember what it was.
Danielle Wiley: Color?
Karen Walrond: But, the guy who did that, he was this wonderfully very elegant black man dressed all in white and he had like a fedora. His name is Geoffrey Holder, he is from my country. He is from Trinidad.
Danielle Wiley: Ohhh
Karen Walrond: And so it’s always so wonderful to hear a good Trinidadian voice and also he looked like my family and he goes, the uncola ha ha ha, “never had it, never will”. (laughing)
Karen Walrond: “Never had it, never will”. I was clearly thinking, that’s my favorite. It’s such a great commercial. And I have no idea what 7UP never had or never will. I have to go look it up. I don’t remember.
Danielle Wiley: The podcast does not have a fact check, so (laughing). Folks will have to google it on their own to figure it out.
Karen Walrond: May he rest in peace, Geoffrey Holder. He’s passed since then but he was amazing.
Danielle Wiley: I love it. I love it.
Danielle Wiley: I want you go get it and then tell… If you can tell everyone where they can find you.
Karen Walrond: Yeah. Well, BeReal, apparently. My blog name was years ago, it’s stuck, it’s called Chookooloonks. Once you can spell it, you can say it, but C-H-O-O-K-O-O-L-O-O-N-K-S. But if that’s too tough, karenwalrond.com will get you there, and all of my socials are there on the site.
Danielle Wiley: Well, and we’ll link everything on the episode page on our site.
Karen Walrond: Thank you so much.
Danielle Wiley: We will help out as much as we can. But it was so good to catch up. I’ve told you before that I need you to record some bedtime stories. For me, it’s like nighttime medic. Your voice is so relaxing to me.
Karen Walrond: Oh, thank you. Well, you can also get The Lightmaker’s in audiobook and I did narrate it. It’s such a pleasure. It’s been so long and more’s the pity. It’s so good just connect with you again.
Danielle Wiley: I know. Thank you. Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. Please check back next Monday for a new episode featuring marketing conversations through the lens of influence. I am your host, Danielle Wiley, and this is The Art of Sway.