Leading with vulnerability: A podcast with Selena Armstrong

August 23, 2022



This is a podcast about leading with vulnerability with the CEO of New Zealand Institute of Safety Management Selena Armstrong.

COVID has impacted everyone’s life and a lot of us have struggled with maintaining a separation between our personal and professional selves. Why then do we expect people to ‘be professional’ and leave their personal problems at home when they come to work? Is that even realistic? Meet one CEO who is not afraid to speak about her vulnerabilities with openness and authenticity. Find out how vulnerability can transform our lives and revitalize our relationships with others in this heartfelt conversation. And most of all, learn about the power of listening and connecting with others.

Further information




Nippin Anand: Welcome to another episode of embracing differences with me Nippin Anand. This week, I speak with a very close friend, Serena Armstrong, from New Zealand Institute of safety management, also referred to as the NZ ISM. This podcast is a very personal insight into the life of a person who shares so openly what many of us have experienced but never dare to speak in the open. We talk about how COVID has impacted upon silliness personal life, her family life caused her so much trauma, and most importantly, how she gave meaning to her sufferings and experiences, and grew out of it so much more resilient. For the first time in the last few months, I felt the need to use the word resilient. There is a lot of humility and vulnerability in this podcast, I hope it will make you think, reflect and actually do something to change things in your own life. Let’s hear it from Selena.


Selena Armstrong  00:00

Just gonna take this where it goes.


Nippin Anand  00:01

Isn’t that nice? Is that’s such a wonderful way to start the conversation, we have no idea where this will go. But let’s see. So on that note, I would like to first of all ask you tell us a little bit about yourself.


Selena Armstrong  00:17

Well, I’m the Chief Exec of the New Zealand Institute of safety management. Next week, I have been in the role for five years. It’s actually the longest job I’ve ever had. I did four years at the Open City Council, in my early 20s, I did not expect to still be here, I really did not, I was thinking two, three years, and then I’ll be out the door and onto something different. But I think with the COVID pandemic, you know, even if I was thinking about going, you just can’t walk out the door in the middle or something like that, you’ve got to get everyone through. And then I found at the other end of it, you know, I did get itchy feet there for a while, but then something else came along and piqued my interest. And that’s the funny thing with this job is that it’s just not static, things are changing and moving, often at a rapid rate. So when you think you’re, well what I normally like, you know, I really like change. I like implementing change. And I like transformation. But actually, what I’ve discovered is that I don’t need to change jobs to be able to be operating within that. Because it’s happening all the time in this industry in this organisation. So when I’d normally be looking around, right, what’s the next thing I’m hearing it fired me from some other angles sitting in their job. It’s I think that’s probably a lot to do with why I’m still here. But we’ve got a really small team, it’s probably one of the most high functioning teams that I’ve worked with them these these three teams I can think of in my career that have operated like this in this group of women are one of them. It’s the only pure female national office team I’ve ever worked and but we work really well together. In my background, I started out well, actually all I ever wanted to do my early years was travel the world. I had no career aspirations at all, I just wanted a job that would pay me enough to get to the next destination. So I I had all sorts of different jobs from a door to door sales for a while in the UK in the US. You know, I’ve been a barmaid in London, that was probably my most favourite job I’ve ever had actually working in the, at the George, just off Oxford Street loved it. But you know, I’ve done all sorts of stuff debt collecting. And then I finally did my away got all all the places almost all the places I want to travel came home and work centre with Auckland City Council. And then decided that I really needed to think about what I wanted to do. So I was sort of late in the game came in my mid to late 20s thinking about a career. And I started out thinking about HR because I loved working with people, I think I discovered that as a traveller, and an explorer, you know, learning about different cultures and people, I was always really intrigued by that. So I started studying HR. But I soon quickly understood that actually, there wasn’t really the fundamentals for HR were about, it was more about the organisation. It wasn’t what I thought it was. So I changed tact and studied project management and international business. And I had to go to Australia to finish that and write a paper on on a role that I’d get there. I ended up working in the construction industry and being the only woman on a site at the construction site was 75 men. So that gave me a lot to write about, actually, that was a fabulous introduction to how I do not want to be in my career. And that is fighting the fight constantly. I thought no, I want I don’t want to be fought. I don’t want to fight to hear it be heard. Now I’ve got something to offer. And I want to work for places that want to listen. And so I actually looked at industries where women were taken seriously. And I went into telecommunications, so worked at Telstra and Sydney for a while and honed my project management skills working for what was big pond then. And they were a small organisation 20 people but they ended up coming massive. And we were promised that once we got to 1 million customers would get taken to Fiji and we did get to 1 million customers but by the time that happened, there was something like 250 people working there. They weren’t prepared to do it. So that was that was entertaining for us early early starters. But I loved that until I I guess got exposed to what corporate culture right across the business. And one of the last projects I worked on at Telstra, was cutting the effect of a business. And you know, we know the effects on people. And I was a project manager that really wanted to build things up, not tear them down. And I really struggled with it, I just couldn’t. I got through phase one of the project, and I just did not align with my values with my ethics. I think that a lot of the practices that were going on were very underhanded, and certainly not transparent. They were people that were being, you know, they were trying to get out of the system. And they’ve been working for them for 30 years. And it was because they were on these amazing contracts that you know, signed up to very early on, and these workers had been smart enough to never ever be shifted off them. And essentially, one of the key things was for me, was getting in and trying to figure out how to get rid of them. I just couldn’t do it. And that’s when I had a real awakening about my value system. My job, I kind of already had a little taste of it in the construction industry and what I knew what you know, my boundaries were and what I wanted to work around. But then this was another deeper layer of understanding to how I wanted to work and the sort of work I wanted to be involved in the people that I wanted to interact with on a day to day basis. So I cut the cord and thought, No, I’m going to do not for profits and see where that takes me Is there a different culture in the not for profit system. And I worked for the Institute of Chartered Accountants, written set up the project office, the National Project Office, and it absolutely was the right thing to do. It was a massive shift the culture in the year was incredible. I was still a really high functioning organisation. You know, nonprofit nonprofits often get a bad rep. But not if you’ve got the right people. And they’re often I think you have to come in, generally, with a corporate background, you’re going to get that training of the hard work, Mahi, the work, the work ethic, hard work ethic that is sort of formed in those corporate environments. But then you move into a nonprofit environment. And you get to take that work ethic with you and apply it into a culture that is really about delivering way more than a bottom line. And then you use us surrounded by other people that get that too. And I loved it. I absolutely loved that job. I would have been there for a long time. But I had an end that was one of the most high functioning teams I worked on. But we had a suicide in the team. And we were a small team of four or five of us. And it just blew the team up. And we just we were never the same in because we were all really really good mates we socialise together. We were family and I stuck around for a little while I wanted to run the day it happened and not ever go back but I stuck around to get kind of us through it, I guess. But I just I couldn’t be there much longer. But then also I ended up having a baby. It’s a timing worked for me and I went on maternity leave. And the call to home back to New Zealand to Aotearoa was just too strong. So I jumped on a plane and came home and I took a few years out of the workforce. Everyone told me I was mad I’ve never you’ll never get back in where you started. You know the these ideas about woman leaving the workforce and what happens to you? Well, I took four years out which was a long time but I had a husband at the time who did fly in fly out work and so what about it to be around it was too tough and I decided that would be me because I wanted that job anyway. And I really enjoyed it I was a gift having those early years with the kids but then I wrote myself a list because a friend seemed to me Selena, you’ve got to get back to work. There was a gin and tonic on the bench at 330 Every time she said you’re bored go back to work. So I did. But before I did that I wrote myself a letter what I really wanted. You know, I wanted a project management role. I wanted it to be in leadership. I wanted it to not be in a profit focused organisation or what I like to be local. I wanted two days a week and everyone laughed. All my friends laughed at me. You’ll never get it. Well. It was the first job I applied for meet all those things and I got the job Working at a good fellow unit Auckland University running continuing professional development for GPs in primary health care. They had no money, they didn’t even have money, enough money to cover my salary for the year. But I knew I, you know, I suspect myself and don’t worry, I’ll be able to sort that out. I’ll go in and I’ll find contracts, I’ll get the money, we’ll find the money. And I did. Which was pretty brave at the time. But I think that’s what you have to be when you when you want to when you’re very clear about what you want to have to back yourself to enable others to do the same really. And I enjoyed that job I really did. It was I was there for three or four years. But then I needed I needed to change. And I walked into NZICM. And it’s been an incredible journey. It’s my first CEO role. And I Yeah, it was a, it was one of those things where I actually just, I was angry at the time, I changed jobs, various reasons, which I won’t get into. And I think it was the anger that got me across the line to actually apply for the job. Because women, we feel like we have to know everything to apply for a job. You know, we don’t do the 6040 rule, or even the 8020 rule. We’re like, Well, can I meet all those requirements do I know how to do everything. But I was angry at the time and I thought bother. And I’ll figure out what I know. Because I know half of it at least. And I’m pretty sure most of the other people applying for this job won’t know how to do all of this. So I’ll have a go. And in the meeting, in the interview, I just connected really well with everybody, I think because I’d already made a decision that the way that I was going to be in my career in my life completely actually was authentic. And I know we’ve been through that around a lot. But I like to think I really do live an authentic life. I make hard decisions for myself, because of that I make those choices aren’t always easy, but you know, and I swear like a trooper, which I I shouldn’t do. And my kids tell me off, I’m just I’m just me, I’m just who I am. Whether I’m at home when I’m at work or when I’m at play. You know, I’m I’m very much myself in so I went into this organisation with that very clear. And I guess who I was resonated with the people that were on the interview panel. And they took a punt on me too. So we, we all took a punt on each other and it’s worked out. It’s worked out really well. Yeah, I mean, that’s my career history to date, I guess, in a nutshell. It’s been a good fun journey. I’ve loved it. I’ve loved the variety of jobs I’ve had, you know, and being able to be a CEO now and still say being a barmaid was the best job I ever had. It’s part of that authenticity, really, being aware of what you enjoy, and who you are, where you’ve come from. No, I, I’ve been in nany and cleaned houses and done all sorts of stuff to get myself through university. And every single one of those jobs taught me something. And I don’t the title chief executive, you know, people sort of get a picture about who you are. And the hint, I think I used to be a bit nervous about saying when people say what do you do? And then the first year or two I was like, oh, Chief Exec. You know, I couldn’t say it strong and proud. I’m a bit nervous. I didn’t feel like I fit the job description, or the title anyway. But now I’m really comfortable. That’s who I am. That’s what I do. I mean, it’s just a job. Really, it’s about the way I see my job, I actually do work all the members, that’s who I work for. They don’t work for me, it’s a member organisation. So it’s completely different. And I don’t know anywhere near as much as half of them do because I’m working in an industry where I am not a trained professional. So you have to be humble. You’re dealing with people that know this shit, you know, and I have, I don’t know, the background health and safety. I don’t have a qualification mm at all, and I have never spoken without that being very clear. I know a lot about the profession. Now. That’s a different thing. But I’m certainly not a health and safety practitioner or proof professional, you know, that is what my members trained to do. And I’m very clear on that distinction. And I think that helps. I found that really don’t quit in the beginning. And it’s that imposter syndrome, you know that that we fight with every day. But I’m really clear where my role is. Now when we my knowledge as in it is actually about the profession. I know I’ve learned in five years a lot about it about where it’s going, what it needs, what we should be doing, where it should be patched, and the recognition that our members deserve. But I am not a health and safety practitioner or professional. I’m really clear on that. Yeah.


Nippin Anand  15:29

Thank you, Selina. That’s wonderful and heartful Introduction, I have always enjoyed having a conversation with you from the first time we met, and the series that they did in New Zealand, I think I gave you the example of your moderation and listening skills to a lot of people. So you kept saying this one thing towards the end, that you’re not a health and safety professional? You are. And I think I get it. But I would, I would like to understand from you, where you see this distinction between a health and safety professional, and outsider? What does that really mean to you? Why do you see that distinction?


Selena Armstrong  16:17

Because I think that there are core technical skills that the health and safety practitioner and professional learn in the job and through qualifications. And I think that I could be considered a leader in the industry, definitely. But I’ve come at it from a different angle. And I would always defer to a health and safety professional on technical issues related to health and safety. Because I do not know enough. I think I know how to bring the right people in to solve problems. I’d certainly know how to do that. I can do this solving on my own. I could do you know, I could do it. So I can really support change management, project management, all of that sort of overarching management stuff. And then I’ve been I’ve got significant experience in all of that, but that really technical knowledge. You know, I just simply don’t have it. That’s the distinction for me.


Nippin Anand  17:23

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think I’m glad I asked the question. The other thing is that, you? Well, let me just put this to you. What would you like to talk about? Is there anything particular in mind that you would like to discuss?


Selena Armstrong  17:43

Well, I think we got we begin talking about this initially, because I’ve been on quite a journey the last couple of years. everyone hears right, the half of us, but some of us a little bit more traumatic than others, I think. In the beginning of COVID, well, halfway through probably, I went through a marriage separation. So I’ve been listening to a lot of Esther Perell, for those of you out there who have heard of her and she said that COVID has taught us two things about relationships. You’ll you either moved forward and formed a stronger bond than anything, or you have said enough and got out. And I did the latter. And I’ve got two young kids, you know, and all that comes with an uncoupling is difficult. But mine was especially tough, because I ended up dealing with puppet ex husband who wouldn’t, wouldn’t move out of the family home. wouldn’t speak to me really, except through lawyers. And we were in lockdown together. So I was trying to juggle running an organisation being a mom and trying to protect the kids while trying to stay sane in the middle of a what was really pretty. For me, it was a battleground. It really was. It was a war zone in this house. And I think what, you know, surviving that and coming out the other side of it, I got to really look back on a lot of things and I’m, I’ve changed a huge amount is a person through their experience, way more in touch with my own thoughts and feelings and how my body reacts to things. But I’m also profoundly aware of how much my team and the support that I got from my organisation got me through that period. Because there were days where I just couldn’t do anything more, then get the kids through the day and put a meal in front of them. Sometimes I couldn’t even do that. And I had the support of an organisation who said, We, we’ve got you, you know, my team were incredibly supportive. The board said, Just do what you have to do to keep the business running, we’ll get through it. Just do the minimum, do what you can. It doesn’t matter. You know, we’ve got you. And so I had this safety net, to fall into was one less major thing in my life that I didn’t have to worry about. A job was secure. Even though I knew I couldn’t, I couldn’t fulfil the role properly, I had no ability to do to do that for for a period of time here. I put answering emails that was about it. I could turn up to team meetings and even I walked through a lot of them. And the team, were just so incredible, and just listening and being there and letting me know that they were there. And we were this was all in lockdown. So you couldn’t even get out and do things. So I came through that experience wondering how the hell do people that do not work in an environment like that survive. You know, I just can’t imagine going through what I did. And actually haven’t that having the heavy expectation of trying to still operate at that same level, and have not have home life not impact on work life. It’s just not possible. There’s just no way through it, I don’t, I’d like to meet someone who’s done it well and find out how, how they do it. Because I hadn’t come across anybody, I simply simply could not imagine it being possible. But what it also did was me being really raw and honest with my team about what was going on, opened up doors for everybody. And we learned a lot about each other. through that period, we learnt we learned things we’d never have found out. Because I’d come and talk about what was going on. And somebody else would say, Well, look, you know what this is what’s going on for me. And it just it laid everything out for us. And it broke down all the barriers. It was just very raw, very real and very humbling. So it was kind of this a couple of things, I think there was the impact that it had on the team. But there was the impact that it had on me having that experience knowing now, when you’ve got somebody that goes through that journey, what you need to do to support them through it. And you know, 50% of marriages won’t survive. That’s a That’s a hell of a lot of people out there going through this, some will will have great separations, right? Apparently, some of us won’t. And so there’s a lot of people that are going through these experiences and what what what’s our knowledge around how to help them what type of knowledge around best practice in terms of supporting someone through that? I mean, it just doesn’t exist. Unless you’ve been through it, you’ve got no, no way to know because I had no knowledge of this before I went through it. I mean, I’d say I got my dad’s got four sisters that all separated and most of them have had pretty good separation. So I’ve seen what good looks like. But I hadn’t been immersed in it. And I’d had a friend who was a single mum for years. And I just never really got what she went through on a weekly basis just to get the kids out the door and thing you know, and I just never appreciated really quite how how tough she was doing it. And I just have a very different perspective on all things. Now. I think it’s been a beautiful gift actually, not only have I been gifted this, the freedom of my life again. And the ability to really reflect on who I am and what I want into redefine life as it is today for me, which has been something I never thought about but now I’m just loving. You know, I’ve been given that gift but I’ve also been given the gift of perspective. Now I can really I can put my there I mean, I was hitting empathy, but perspective is different. No, I can really see and understand what it’s going to take to support somebody through that in a work environment. And when you’ve got really valuable people that you don’t want to lose, you’ve got to do whatever you can to get them through those tough times. And simply being able to say, do the bare minimum, we have to do get up, answer your emails, deal with major staff, leave everything else if it’s not urgent, just saying that this incredibly powerful, it how often do we say that to people? I bet we don’t say a lot. I bet people don’t hear that a lot. When things are tough. We offer either be incredibly grateful for the support in the love, you know, I really felt love and from the team, from, you know, from my boss, from, from everybody just offered their support, it was really wonderful. It was very humbling experience. It as tough as it was, you know, life is really good. Things are going so bloody well, I’m just, it was the best thing to do. But it was a really tough journey. There’s still that guilt tied up and what you have to put your kids through to get there. And you know, I’ll probably ever lose that. So it’s just gonna be part of the process. But, yeah, it’s, there’s just been so many lessons that have come out of it for me, and I wanted to kind of touch on that. Something we just don’t talk about at all. And I think it’s something we need to think about. Because with the statistics, you know, there’s a lot of people suffering through this silence in pain.


Nippin Anand  26:55

Indeed, I can never forget, you know, it was what, three or four months ago that we had a call scheduled, and we just talked about it, we started the conversation and off it came from your end, and I thought, Oh, my goodness, there’s something we need to do. And I’m glad that you you, you took the time to talk to me. It’s, it’s, it’s again, one thing I wanted to ask you, and you said it, but I want you to elaborate on it a little bit said you could feel your body, you know, your body is is not really coping with it. And I know there’s a lot of talk about psychological safety. But tell me a little bit more about the body, you know, what, what experiences did you feel at a bodily level


Selena Armstrong  27:49

we’ll call the quarters, to streaming through my system on a daily basis, just you know. It was very, I think, physically and mentally, I went through a massive metamorphosis. It was a huge, huge transition. And there was not a part of me that was not changed, that did not transition. I shared everything through the process. And I’ve done a lot of yoga, and so I guess I’m fit and healthy and in touch with my body, and how it feels, how it moves, all that sort of stuff. But I think that going through that heightened sense of , constant anxiety, because I really felt like I was in a war zone, there was no ability to relax at all, because you had to be very careful about what you said. I couldn’t leave my room was in leave my computer on because he would go through it looking for information. I couldn’t be on the phone without somebody, you know, listening into the conversations I was having. So it was really high, high levels of anxiety and stress that I was constantly an event you couldn’t sleep couldn’t relax. He was in the lounge, I was in my room and you’d hear it you know, it was just this constant stress. And so your body just shifts up a notch in it doesn’t come down and all the cortisol levels just to constantly high and God knows I reckon I took two years of my life but I gained them back with the freedom so I’m on equal footing now I think. But you just you get a sense about constantly so I did a lot of yoga as much as I could. I did a lot of walking as much as I could. I really reconnected with my body and my breath work to try and lower everything as often as I could And you know, your coffee didn’t help it. It helped me in the morning, I would my parents live at the end of my road. And I’m very fortunate. So I would go down to them in the morning, they were part of my bubble. And I would have a coffee with them. And then I would go down at the end of the date and have a general topic. And that was kind of the ritual that got me out of the warzone into a state of well, we it was a place I could debrief. And just rest for a bit, it was a safe space for me. And again, if I didn’t have that, I don’t know how I cope. I mean, I suppose you find a way. But they were amazing, you know, that support that they offered me. But you’re physically you just app your app all the time as anxiety levels are just through the roof. And you have to try to find any way possible to alleviate that pressure. But it also means that you end up going becoming you internalise everything. So I ended up just being able to focus on me, which means the kids get to do their own thing, which you know, there’s a Lego tied up in that. But I understand very much now that I could only do it that way. I hate to get myself through to then go back and bring them through once I’ve got myself through. And so that’s what I did not spoken to a few other people who, you know that yeah, they get that they understand that what they could do as well.


Nippin Anand  31:30

There’s so much to think selena


Selena Armstrong  31:31

get in touch, you start to recognise your thoughts you’ve got?


Nippin Anand  31:39

Yeah. I’m just thinking, as you’re speaking, you know, what, what, what label would you give to this experience? Would it be reasonable to say that this was a traumatic experience for you? What you went through?


Selena Armstrong  31:57

Most definitely, most definitely.


Nippin Anand  32:02

Yeah, and I think that the question I want to ask is from this experience, because as you very rightly said, a lot of people around the world are going through experiences like this. And I think there is very little, if any, awareness and, and competence, I would say in the in the safety world to deal with issues like this, have you thought about it, Selena?


Selena Armstrong  32:30

I have, I mean, you know, our, our roles are broadening in the profession, and psychosocial risks are the most dominant risks most of us have to deal with now, right. And people’s wellbeing in the workplace, how people are managing on a day to day basis is part of that whether or not the risk is on the job or at home. And if you’ve got a workforce that you want to maintain, that you want to keep on board, our role is to get them through life’s ups and downs as best we can. And in a way that doesn’t do more harm. And at that at a minimum, but imagine if we can be a place a safe space, that person can come that is a harbour for them through those traumatic times. Because the outcome is you end up with a workforce that are incredibly dedicated, loyal, and engaged. That’s the end result.


Nippin Anand  33:45

Indeed, indeed, but but even at a very basic level. How do we how do we educate the people in this industry to start recognising trauma? You know, what is what is it that we are? Well, you you made a very beautiful statement and I loved it is that you cannot make a distinction between home and work it’s impossible to do that, how you know all that all that we are doing those site visits and inspections and audits and we will come across people who are bringing a lot of baggage from home how do we help people to recognise these things in the first instance let alone deal with it?


Selena Armstrong  34:34

Well, I think first and foremost you simply have to know your team is getting to know people you have to create a relationship with the people that you spend time with every day so that you know what’s going on for them you know they’ve got kids is have a sick kids they’re dealing with you know, they’ve got a they got a spouse who’s sick, have they got a parent Who’s dying? What is going on for that person? Who are they outside of work. And if we know who the people are, that we’re working with in to like really know them properly, then we’ll be privy to all of that stuff naturally because they’ll want to talk about it. Because we’re part of the world, I think it’s quite simple. We’ve got we’ve got an approach that we take here in Tirana, in, se now when we welcome new people on board in, it comes from a Maori practice, to come practice, whereby we get to know the individual. And it is really about understanding that, first and foremost, who are you? Where do you come from? What’s important to you? You know, what’s different about you? What don’t we know? What would you like to share? Where are your values? Getting to know all of that stuff as a human being? First and foremost? And then, okay, so this is the job. And this is how you fit into the team. And this is how you fit into the organisation. But who are you as an individual first. And I love that approach is very new. It’s borrowed from an ancient ancient practice, and beaded a Maori culture. In why we haven’t been doing this for years, I do not know. But it fundamentally gets down to the very important fact that we must get to know each other first as people to understand each other. And when we can understand what each other are going through, and who we who we are, then we become privy to that stuff. Because we’re in their world. I think it’s that simple. I’m not sure that you can do it necessarily easily when all coming into sights and don’t know everybody, but you can certainly do it in a small way. People First just Who are you? You know, this is who I am. Who are you? I want to know who you are. It’s not that.


Nippin Anand  37:32

Well, it’s not that hard. But it’s it’s, it’s, it’s deceptively simple, I get it. But and yet, so little attention is paid to this one aspect. I think it’s so difficult for most of us to enter into a conversation without having some preconceived notions. And I love the way we started this conversation, say, let’s see where this goes. That doesn’t happen in many conversations, right?


Selena Armstrong  38:03

No, doesn’t it doesn’t. I think that too. I mean, I, as a project manager, and I’m all about efficiencies, and that’s just who I am. I’m very process orientated. Naturally, that’s just who I am. I’ve got a process for doing everything, you know, stuff gets done around the house in a certain way, and quickly, efficiently. And so I’ve always approached things with that. And that way, is does not lead itself to building relationships, the relationship stuff comes next, you know, once you get all the other stuff out the way so I’ve got I’ve always done a kickoff meetings, right. Okay, so this is the agenda. This we’re gonna do, right? Bang, bang, bang out the door done. But now I have learned, slow down. Connect with the people in a room first, I still forget every now and again, because it’s not natural for me. Who’s in the room? How are we going? What’s where’s everyone? Ah, get that stuff sorted first, really properly connect, then move on. I still occasionally forget to introduce myself, you know, it’s the first thing I shouldn’t be doing. But it’s a learned behaviour. I have learned to do this because it is not something that I do naturally. And I still pick myself up occasionally when I don’t do it. But it’s really about taking time to value who you are spending time with. So they feel valued and heard and seen. It’s all we want really as humans as the people to see us hear us understand us and love us for all of it. You know, ultimately, I think that’s it.


Nippin Anand  39:50

Beautiful Selena, I, I I can’t tell you is it’s it’s so many powerful things you said in today’s conversation how would you like to end this conversation? Or


Selena Armstrong  40:10

I think?


Nippin Anand  40:13

Is there more you would like to say? Sorry


Selena Armstrong  40:19

Yeah, well, I have got a topic that I’d like to talk about. But we’ll do it another time. Let’s do it for another podcast. Is it? So I think in terms of ending this ya, I can’t do it tonight. Yeah, we need to do it another time. Sure. I think in terms of ending this, wrapping it up. I have been on a tough journey. And it has been traumatic, but it’s been a beautiful gift. It really has. It’s gifted me a whole lot of stuff personally. But professionally, I am changed for it. I see my team differently. I look at the organisation who got me through this differently. And I will forever look at the people that I work with differently. And I want to know what’s going on for them? How can we help them through whatever it is, because we’ve all got moments, we’re all going to have moments in our life that are traumatic, and we don’t want to be losing people. Because of that. There’s a way through all of that. And it just means that sometimes you have to accept that people can only do the bare minimum every now and again. But they’ll pick it pick things back up. And they’ll get back on track. They always do if you give them the space to take the time that they need. And I think that’s been a really important lesson. Thanks Nippin.


Nippin Anand  41:56

Wonderful. Is there anything else you would like to say before we end?


Selena Armstrong  42:02

No, I’ve enjoyed chatting to you. I always enjoy our conversations. They’re always they’ve always been enlightening. I’m just so very pleased that we met.


Nippin: Wow, what an authentic conversation it was. What did you think? If you have listened to it carefully, Selena used the word gift so many times in this conversation. So as a listener, we must ask about things about words that repeat and repeat consistently. Because what that means is that the unconscious of the other person is trying to tell us something. And I’m glad I did. Because I wrote back to her to our Selena, what what was gift? Can you please elaborate on that. And this is what she responded in the email. She says the gift has been many things, but primarily the ability to rewrite my story to reimagine the life I want. And to live it and to create the sort of relationships that I want. I both want and deserve, which was not possible previously. I had been living half of the life I wanted and now I’m able to fulfil my potential. That’s powerful. My old friends say that they are reconnecting with the Selena they met when I was 16 Crazy and full of laughter with a light in my eyes of a future Unlimited, but smarter, stronger and wiser. This is just how I feel this incredible sense of freedom and possibility. The other gift has been seeing how when we are raw and honest and vulnerable with people that it allows them to be the same and create incredibly deep and profound connections. I’m comfortable telling my story sometimes to strangers, allowing people to really see me. What I always knew this creates great outcomes. And I tried to be authentic. And all I did. This is another level, being able to live it. And be so comfortable being so close to truth with others is so powerful, it actually makes you feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof. And I’m not sure I ever saw that gift coming. What beautiful metaphors. Of course these are, there are moments of self doubt and pain and guilt and all other emotions. But you can’t have the great stuff without the tough stuff, too. And lastly, the relationship I have with my daughter now is really special. They see me as Selena as well as mum, they have seen that I can’t do it all. And that I have limits and moments where I need help and support and their love. And I think that often doesn’t happen until your kids are adults. It’s meant we are all able to be really vulnerable with each other. And that is a beautiful gift to them and to myself. I could go on and on. The gifts are many. But those are really the top ones. I’m so glad I asked her about this idea of what she meant by gift. Another thing I found interesting about this podcast was to be careful not to draw the line between work and personal lives. Stop asking people to get professional, or at least become aware of what that really means. You know, people bring so much baggage with them when they come to work. It’s pointless telling people that leave that personal stuff behind. It’s not possible. I also love the question that she said she asked, and I’ll repeat that verbatim. Who are you? Where do you come from? What’s important to you? You know, what’s different about you? What don’t we know about you? What would you like to share about you? Where are your values? It’s so important when you bring in a new person to your organisation that before handing them a job description, you get to at least know them. Something that is sadly missing in most organisations. And the most important thing I took away from this podcast was the importance of being yourself and showing your vulnerable side to your people. You know, we have a certain view about CEOs CFOs board members, as high performing all too powerful, successful result oriented non negotiable mechanistic humans. But Selena, when she offered her vulnerable side sends a very different message. My pains, my sufferings, my life is no different from others. And so when we speak authentically and open about our lives, others will also come close to us. They see in us what they’re experiencing in their own lives, instead of creating that divide between us as just common people and them as the heroes, the CEOs, the most successful people in the world and so on. And so I thought it would be so nice to call this podcast to give it the title leading in with sorry, leading with vulnerability. And I hope that you will enjoy listening to it.

Thank you for listening to embracing differences. And I’m your host Nippin Anand, if you’d like to know more about me and about my work at novellus You can visit us at novellus.solutions. Thank you and have a good day ahead.