Transforming Trauma

With Yemi Penn, a British born Nigerian living in Sydney, Australia, is an author, documentary producer, speaker, engineer, and all-around fearless thought leader.

Yemi currently runs four successful businesses; an engineering consultancy based in Sydney, an F45 Fitness Studio in Brixton, London, a Transformation business under the name Yemi Penn and her latest ‘baby’, Golden Thread Café in Sydney. Through her Management Consultancy in Sydney, she provides leadership and strategic direction to a range of clients and industries including Sydney Metro, Transport for New South Wales, University of Technology Sydney, UNSW and F45 Training. 

Yemi has recently finished her first documentary titled “Did I choose My Trauma?” which shares her experience of childhood abuse and incorporates the knowledge and insight of leading therapists and healers. She is working tirelessly to raise the vibration of acknowledging and healing our individual, and therefore, our collective trauma. She invites us all to use our trauma as a catalyst for transformation and growth. She is truly a passionate advocate for awakening the dormant potential in individuals, organizations and corporations.

Join us for this engaging conversation as Yemi shares some valuable insights from her journey, including her early entrepreneurship experiences, and her lessons on just “showing up” continually in business (and life).

You will hear about Yemi’s journey to heal unresolved trauma, the overlap of this journey with early motherhood, and the impact that this healing work has had on her work and entrepreneurial journey as well. We discuss the topics of introspection, resilience, and the journey to parenthood. And Yemi shares about a time in her life where she experienced homelessness, and how that propelled her into creating a very different future for herself, which included a variety of pivotal moments on her entrepreneurial journey.

You will hear about her engineering experience in the corporate world, how she then created her own consultancy, and her thoughts on evolution and retirement. And you do not want to miss her thoughts on how to transform trauma, how we can do this work as individuals and organizations, and the importance of having radical conversations along the way.

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Biggest takeaways (or quotes) you don’t want to miss:

  • “When you figure out where you don’t want to be, you tend to figure out where you want to be.”
  • Talking about sustainability of humanity is underrated.
  • “When you find yourself finding a problem in society, you’re either part of the problem or a solution.”
  • Yemi’s thoughts on retirement, and how people who have had a single career for their entire life experience retirement differently than those who have transformed or made changes throughout their career.
  • Our discussion near the end regarding trauma.

“I’m really interested in the transformative nature of trauma. I know there are preventative strategies out there, but it’s also about doing that work and showing up to the people or organizations (after experiencing trauma).”

-Yemi Penn

Check out these highlights:

  • 08:14 Yemi shares her story about the trauma she’s experienced in the past and how that has impacted and shaped her journey.
  • 19:03 How Yemi’s circumstances coalesced into a period where she experienced homelessness.
  • 30:28 How we get “retirement” wrong, and what we should be doing instead.
  • 33:25 “If it starts in your mind, it’s possible.” (On the beauty of the entrepreneurial journey).
  • 34:25 “There’s a yearning or desire that they haven’t given language to.” Yemi shares on her superpower supporting others in getting really honest about what they want and moving towards it.
  • 47:12 Her final thoughts for the listeners.

How to get in touch with Yemi:

On social media:





Learn more about Yemi, by visiting her website here.

Imperfect Show Notes

We are happy to offer these imperfect show notes to make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who prefer reading over listening. While we would love to offer more polished show notes, we are currently offering an automated transcription (which likely includes errors, but hopefully will still deliver great value), below.

GGGB Intro  00:00

Here’s what to expect today…

Yemi Penn  00:02

And I think that was when I hit, there was a bit of rock bottom once again, you know, when some deep subconscious work happens, but you don’t even know it’s happening, or you go into fight or flight mode. Mine was flight. I was definitely scared. I couldn’t understand how six, seven months I was here sitting on this doorstep, just waiting for them to open up an ATM haven’t been there through the night in you know, definitely a suburb, you don’t want to be out on the street at nighttime. And that was probably my homeless journey. Because even then I got put in this halfway house that I really didn’t want to sleep in. Whether it seemed rodents or knowing damn well, people were having conversations about, you know, exchange of money and drugs. It just it wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. However, honestly, it’s been a big catalyst. When you figure out where you don’t want to be, you tend to figure out where you want to be. And that’s where my focus has been. So a big part of my journey.

GGGB Intro  01:02

The adventure of entrepreneurship and building a life and business you love, preferably at the same time is not for the faint of heart. That’s why Heather Pearce Campbell is bringing you a dose of guts, grit and great business stories that will inspire and motivate you to create what you want in your business and life. Welcome to the Guts, Grit and Great Business™ podcast where endurance is required. Now, here’s your host, The Legal Website Warrior®, Heather Pearce Campbell.

Heather Pearce Campbell  01:34

Alrighty, welcome. I am Heather Pearce Campbell, The Legal Website Warrior®. I’m an attorney and legal coach based here in Seattle, Washington, serving online information entrepreneurs throughout the US and around the world. Welcome to another episode of Guts, Grit and Great Business™. I am super excited to welcome Yemi Penn today. Welcome, Yemi.

Yemi Penn  02:00

Thank you. Oh my gosh, I just love how you described yourself in the title. I love it. So excited to be here.

Heather Pearce Campbell  02:06

Oh, well, I’m thrilled to have you. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation and to meeting you, I know that we’re gonna have a lot of fun and share a lot of value with the listeners today. You’ve got some phenomenal experience to share. So for those of you that don’t know Yemi, this is the short version. But you’ll have to stick around for the conversation and learn some of the rest. Yemi Penn is an author, documentary producer, speaker, engineer and all around fearless thought leader on creating your own memo. A serial entrepreneur with businesses in Sydney, London and the US, Yemi is working tirelessly to raise the vibration of acknowledging and healing our individual and therefore our collective trauma. Yemi instigates us all to use our trauma as a catalyst for transformation and growth.

That is – that is two sentences, the three sentence version, we can’t possibly capture all of you in an introduction. But I’m so thrilled to have you here.

Yemi Penn  03:13

Oh, it’s a pleasure. And that is enough. I don’t think I want any more. I’m tired of the long bios. You know, a great bit that labels but I’m happy with that. I feel purposeful when I hear that.

Heather Pearce Campbell  03:24

Good. Good. And well, you’re welcome. I’m so happy to have you here. I always love hearing people’s origin stories in especially as it relates to entrepreneurship, right? Because that’s who we’re talking to. Do you want to share with us a little bit about your roots into the path of entrepreneurship?

Yemi Penn  03:45

Yeah, I mean, I wrote it in my first book, because sometimes I forget and think of why just, you know, I just became a teen and started doing stuff. I think I’d seen tidbits. My mom, when we lived in Nigeria, in parts of the 90s 80s and 90s. She used to make like, kids, you know, back in the day were hot. And if you’d remember, but you know, you had these kinds of Pampers that were washable, like the stuff that kids she meets used to make that then school uniform. So there was something in there, she never did, the teacher would have something in there that made me think, Oh, you can be the person who makes things for other people. And then similarly, my dad would go on business, he was a lawyer, actually. And he would have his own legal firm, which he took over from his dad. So once again, it was this theory of oh, they kind of worked for themselves, but they never really spoke about it as a choice. It was just education, education. But I think I started to have my own desire. When I started university and myself and these three boys, we called ourselves black cases based on the cards and nothing else, believe it or not. We just did raves. We did, parties that university students would go to and then there was this. There was this kind of it was the sense of achievement. It was how can we just have an idea? Find a venue and then we decided to hold an event show like a fashion show talent show. And we spoke about sponsorship. And I remember going to pitch to a really wealthy man who owned a number of businesses in the UK. And I couldn’t believe it when he first we said, Yes, we wouldn’t have a meeting with us. And secondly said yes, and sponsor the event. That was when I realized you just got to show up. And when you show up, and you take a risk, and that honestly was the beginning. Since then, I opened up a little fitness franchise for kids, when I had my daughter. And then when I came to Australia, it was after healing some unresolved stuff. It was a game open. It started my consultancy engineering. Then I opened a gym in London. And then I wrote a book then it just started really fast. But I have to acknowledge the stuff at the beginning. That was part of it. But it just happened really fast in the past six, seven years where it became bigger.

Heather Pearce Campbell  05:54

Yeah, yeah. Well, it’s, you know, those early seeds, and I think they happen in different ways in life, but I love you just observing your parents, like, oh, you can do your own thing. And yeah, you know, and I think showing up and just taking the risk is so much of being in the game. Yes, I remember my dad in real estate and business, saying, you know, just making the choice, and sometimes just being in the right place at the right time is the game, and it’s you know, I think it’s really easy for us to think, because at times, I mean, let’s be clear that, you know, business is not an easy path. Most of the time, I mean, I think it can be enjoyable. But there’s always the next challenge the next phase of growth, you know, responding to market conditions, or a change in demand in the marketplace, or whatever, right? It can be complicated. And yet, the important part is showing up being willing to participate, to respond to maneuver going,

Yemi Penn  07:02

Even as you say that I can feel my body because I’ve just like, I know, I’ve got to show up, I’ve just done a major event where the opportunities afterwards are huge. But in order for this to continue, it’s to show up, and I’m listening to all the chatter. And that’s a lot to do with being in business. And entrepreneurship is learning to manage the chatter. Because when you are an employee for someone else, you kind of handover that responsibility to someone else. When you work for yourself, you’re in business or partnership. And so you have to deal with the belief systems that, in my mind are just talking a whole heap and nonsense, but you’ve really got to manage it. So yeah, it’s no couldn’t couldn’t agree more. It’s managing the risk. That’s a big part for me as well. 

Heather Pearce Campbell  07:45

Yeah. So true. Obviously, in reading about you hearing you know a little bit about your background you have some experience with and now help teach others on the topic of trauma. Do you want to share a little bit about your personal story and why that has been a theme for you? And how, how you either have or are transforming that for yourself and others?

Yemi Penn  08:13

It’s a good question. I probably want to segue, because I’m sure some people you think of what we’re talking about business. And now that trauma, I think there’s a really big link, I just want to highlight them. And I kind of glazed over it. Because when I relocated to Australia, from the UK, about eight years ago, it was for healing, it was healing unresolved trauma. But in the resolution of which is ongoing was when I kind of cracked open my creativity, my creativity to my version of true entrepreneurship for my version of true badass reads, I’d like to say, and so that’s the link I want to put. And I actually think a number of leaders, business owners, entrepreneurs could do well from looking at it, even though it’s scary. They probably think it’s scarier than business. But I think it makes a big difference to how business continues. Everyone’s got a story. My particular story that I think was relevant to me at the time and remains the pinnacle point of my work was as a child losing my power, my sexual power in particular, where a close family member had abused his and that the memory I have there is somewhere around the ages of seven eighths, possibly slightly younger but it was probably a big reason why I moved to Australia, it was just too close to home when I was in London, and it didn’t make sense to other people, but I just knew I needed to leave. My daughter was seven years old. My son was seven months I was on the brink of a divorce and it was just life was just a bit messy, not the way I wanted it to be. And once I finally kind of settled into the job, it was then a case of okay, what what should we stopped it and I couldn’t afford anything like I’m really like I was very blessed to have a great job, but I couldn’t afford to do therapy. I can’t afford to get three plane tickets to go back to the UK or will visit my my son’s dad in the US. But finding another way to just start looking at my trauma, which for me was talk therapy at the time was finding students who was still learning to become a psychologist and pay a reduced fee of $20 per hour. And it was the best $20. And there’s always a way, always away. And even though my psychologist barely spoke, it was just me speaking, she was asking questions that were allowing me to unpack things. And that was the beginning for me the beginning of there’s something here, I should look into it. And the journey, yeah, it just it literally cracked. And I think the crack is where people feel the pain because it cracks me open. But my goodness, I filled up those cracks with like, golden threads, basically, which has had a lot to do with. Yeah, my ability and audacity to open businesses.

Heather Pearce Campbell  10:51

Well, and I’ve spoken regularly with guests on this podcast about our potential and our growth in our business essentially being limited by the capacity that we hold in our in our personal growth. Right. Yes. And so I think it’s super relevant, you know, anything that is impacting our mindset, our mental health, our, our spirituality, like whatever you want to label it. Like, that’s the work to be done. Really, right. Yeah, absolutely.

Yemi Penn  11:27

And I love that you’ve connected that with personal growth. I just I don’t know. I mean, maybe I’m sheltered or in this echo chamber in Australia. I’m just not sure whether the corporate and entrepreneurial world had picked that up yet. That the further you build in your personal development and growth, it’s like directly linked to the potential exponential or deepening of the work you do. I’m just yeah, I’m not sure. I don’t know whether the past two years is an invitation for people to look into that. But we are going to need radical change. The world changes again, cost of living goes up. It’s just we yeah, we need to start having some deep conversations as as people not necessarily as governments, but I think as people. I’m already going on a different tangent here now.

Heather Pearce Campbell  12:12

Yeah, it is super relevant. I think anytime we reach, let’s just call it a ceiling of any kind, right? Where even for employees, like in sales or marketing, I look at my sister who’s in sales, and I’ve regularly talked about some of her experiences, just because we’re so close. On the podcast, it’s, you know, they’re always those opportunities to reflect inwards. On what are we telling ourselves? How is this impacting my performance or my ability to connect with the right people? And I think it’s super relevant to the entrepreneurs that are building small businesses, especially those that are heavily self reliant, meaning that, you know, they don’t have maybe necessarily outside funding or automatic teams built in, they have to build all of that from the ground up. I think we’re constantly met with our own limitations, whether it’s in regards to building a team or if we’re the one initially having the sales conversation or doing the enrollment, right? I think it becomes readily apparent, I fairly quickly on in an entrepreneurial journey, but you know, that might be my own reflection. And yet, I do think whether people label it that way, they very quickly start to recognize like, oh, I have an opportunity to work on things like mindset and language and how I speak to myself and what beliefs I hold about myself or my business or the work right. 

Yemi Penn  13:45

Oh, yeah, no, I think you’re right, there is a lot. It’s almost like a prerequisite. If you want to go into business, get really good at that introspection, get really good at checking yourself like that. That has to be it because I think when I do keynotes and I speak, that’s what people are really interested in. And it’s not I don’t want to scare them. You know, I felt like I was scared off when I looked at the definition it was entrepreneurship was about taking risks, but it never really said the potential opportunities. Work is needed. Definitely introspection would go along. Like for me when I had my gym, I mean, I’ve now sold it. I was really concerned about selling it. And it turned out through introspection and a conversation with my coach at the time that I was scared if I sold it, I lost my identity because I was still linking my worth to that. And to go even deeper, I’d managed to convince myself that that was just a fluke that I was able to open that business and might not be able to do that again. It was just I just I couldn’t I couldn’t believe that that was even in my psyche. But I had to stop and really look deep inside and yeah, having an exit strategy is really important for me as a business owner, so I eventually come to peace with that.

Heather Pearce Campbell  15:00

It’s, you know, I joke with people about, you know, an analogy that, like in business, especially if we’re bringing other people into the business, we don’t often start a business looking at how we’re going to wrap it up. Right? Just like we don’t jump into a marriage thinking like, how are we gonna get divorced? You know, people just don’t plan for that. And yet with a business, it is inevitable like it at some point, that business will come to a conclusion or your role in that business will come to the conclusion, right? Yeah, absolutely. Super important thing to be thinking about. And I have a friend who I interviewed not too long ago on the podcast, he runs a kind of a marketing Infusionsoft type of company. And that’s the primary tool they use, but he talks about having what’s called a return document, which is like a way of approaching and documenting. Why am I building this business? What is it doing for me? Right? How does it fit into my life? Because we so often are fitting our lives around the business.

Yemi Penn  16:11

So good. All right. Document, did you call return?

Heather Pearce Campbell  16:15

Yes, that’s what he calls it is the return. And so he says, whenever you’re facing challenges in your business, go visit the return so that you are constantly connecting with what is the purpose of that business in your life, because it can’t be the only thing it can’t be, you know, the reason that you’re doing everything else, it has to feed your life, it has to support your life. And I think so often as entrepreneurs, we can get that a little bit backwards, we start to shape our lives around our business. 

Yemi Penn  16:48

Oh, so good. So good. You know what? Because I mean, some people call it say, your why your your why, but I love the fact that this has been put in terms of business you returned on and because sometimes I do like you were saying, being there at the right place at the right time, sometimes I lose focus. And I’m like, Just go for days, because this is where the money will come. But does it relate to my return document?

Heather Pearce Campbell  17:12

Right? Yeah. What is the return? Absolutely. What is the return to you? What is the return that your business brings to you? I want to backtrack a little bit because I know people are gonna hear you talk, and they’re just gonna think, oh, my gosh, she’s got, you know, businesses on different continents and all of this success that you’ve created, and you’ve written books, and but I know that, you know, there was a piece of your story, having read more than what can be shared in your intro where, you know, you were experiencing homelessness, right? Do you want because I think so often, and one of the things not that I like to focus on all the hard stuff, but I want people to see the hard stuff in context. And not so often all we see is where people end up right, where they arrive to and the successes that they’ve created. You’d share just a little bit about that time and, and how you made the first step to get to move beyond experiencing homelessness.

Yemi Penn  18:09

And I appreciate you putting that kind of prelude which is not you know, some people wonder, Well, why do you keep on talking about stuff, but it’s to also give hope to those who think that there’s only one way. And it’s also kind of grounding for me on the premises, not just glorifying it, to remember where I’ve come from, because who knows how that I might be in? Who knows you never know if you might be in that? And I want to remember the resilience that I took. So this particular incident that when I share it, it doesn’t hold the weight, I think it probably would give people who hear the story on the other side. I had finished my degree. And I started working. And Heather, my goodness, I thought What is this? Is this what we sign up for? We study, study, and then just go into work and almost do more hours. I was really confused. And at this point, I’d had a boyfriend and I remember thinking surely the next thing is get pregnant. You know, we didn’t speak about marriage, because in this weird way, we thought we were too young to be married, not too young, deadbeat kid. I didn’t get the memo. Like really, we really had the dialogue. I don’t even say this is a joke. We really had the dialogue and it was the kid first. And I fell pregnant. And I think both families weren’t happy, because we weren’t willing to get married and we didn’t want it to be to be rushed. And it got to that point as close as I was with my family and I still lived at home. Having graduated. My mom gave us a couple of months to make the decision to get married or I’d have to move out. And my partner at the time didn’t have the ability to house me he was in a shared house. And it got to that really tricky point after being staying on sofas of people’s houses, lounge rooms and if I had to register myself homeless and actually be on the steps of the what we call the council where they needed to house me the halfway house for one of the better word. And I think that was when I hit, there was a bit of rock bottom once again, you know, when some deep subconscious work happens, but you don’t even know what’s happening, or you go into fight or flight mode. Mine was flight, I was definitely scared. I couldn’t understand how six, seven months I was here sitting on this doorstep, just waiting for them to open up an ATM haven’t been there through the night in, you know, definitely a suburb, you don’t want to be out on the street and mindset. And that was probably my homeless journey. Because even then I got put in this halfway house that I really didn’t want to sleep in. Whether it would seem rodents or knowing damn well, people were having conversations about, you know, exchange of money and drugs. It just wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. However, honestly, it’s been a big catalyst. When you figure out where you don’t want to be, you tend to figure out where you want to be. And that’s where my focus has been. So a big part of my journey.

Heather Pearce Campbell  21:09

Yeah. Well, you know, that contrast, I think sometimes it’s human nature, right? That we don’t get really clear on where we want to go until we experience a bit of pain about what we don’t want to experience, whether it’s, you know, with with your situation, and, you know, experiencing homelessness, whether it’s with our health, I think so many people end up compromising their health until they have experiences that give them a tremendous amount of clarity about what they want to work towards, rather than just avoid, you know, yes, yes. But there’s absolutely, yeah, you just highlight the power in that right, that can be a massively motivating factor, and that it was for you. Yeah. What? Like looking at where you are now? Are you able to highlight for us, maybe two or three, like what you consider really pivotal experiences in your journey?

Yemi Penn  22:09

My life journey, your entrepreneurial journey?

Heather Pearce Campbell  22:11

Well, let’s start with the entrepreneur journey.

Yemi Penn  22:16

One pivotal one would be when I had my daughter 2007. I wanted to go into schools and teach fitness. And what was really pivotal is that I did my first ever cold call, which, even today still gives me shivers. But I think it’s a big part, potentially of sales. I don’t know, I don’t know how much sales and marketing has changed. I think I’ve managed to build my brand enough that I get the calls, but then I needed to do the call. Yeah. And it was the fact that what I was offering was needed. And there was this worthiness thing of I couldn’t believe it. And then I employed my first person. Like, I don’t celebrate that. I don’t celebrate that I had a three month old, who I don’t even know where she was, I would have just found an auntie who looked after her while I went into just do this class. And so I’d go into schools and dis teach fitness to kids that was really pivotal for me, because I thought no one’s taught me this. This wasn’t taught in school, they didn’t even mention it at university, everything seemed to be geared towards working for an employer, which once again, is not all bad. Oh, my goodness, can we not sell it as the only way to be like, we can’t we? And we shouldn’t

Heather Pearce Campbell  23:35

No, we shouldn’t. It limits people who I think otherwise would have a chance if somebody could help them pique their curiosity or build a little confidence right through some education. It’s the same exact same experience in law school, like completing law school and looking back and realizing people got funneled essentially out of all their ideas they came into law school with into like one of two options. You either go into law firm life big law, firm, medium law firm, small law firm or government work, like, there you go. There’s your two options not and I ended up launching my own practice right out of law school, but nobody didn’t you teaches you how to do that. And none of us, I mean, I should speak for myself. Like we’re not just born with the knowledge of how to run a business, right? This is something that takes some learning. And so I wish as well, that our education education system across the board did a better job of teaching about options.

Yemi Penn  24:42

Yeah, you do have me thinking though, because we’re expecting teachers who are probably some of the most underpaid professions in most countries, potentially working heavily linked to some sort of government. So yeah, the…

Heather Pearce Campbell  24:59

Yeah, the system is in…

Yemi Penn  25:01

Requires some real deep revolutionary work. But we might be this might be a mini oxymoron here asking teachers to, but I don’t know, maybe this is where those of us who are doing it, we go back. And we offer this extra curricular note and we’re going against the grain, but I believe there’ll be people in there. So that was a big one for me that I had this innate feeling that I could be selling something or offering something to someone. I think the other one has probably been the past year and a half. I’m an engineer by profession. And that’s what I came to Australia for working on the railway. And I love elements of engineering, but it was doing engineering in the corporate world that was this brutalizing my soul. Because sometimes it felt like, people weren’t interested in solutions, they were interested in finding more problems. And I really have an abundance mindset, I think we’ve got so many problems in the world, trust me, we can solve this one really quick. So we can go on to the next problem, you really don’t need to create any more problems. And so that was when it became apparent for me to just step out from my engineering consultancy. And effectively something I’ve only admitted I think in the past two weeks, is I’m now creating a whole new another arm of the business, something I didn’t go to university for something teachers didn’t like, there’s, you know, there’s no immediate certificate at the end of exactly my life experiences. And my degrees that I’ve had, that validates me doing this, which is how can we get more people to show up authentically so that you can get an increase or, you know, have a healthier bottom line. So it’s once again, I’m just almost taken this from air, but it feels good. And so far, my clients are getting the results they want. So that’s huge for me as well, because I definitely didn’t think that I could change profession just as I hit 40. Right. But I love the challenge.

Heather Pearce Campbell  26:58

Well, and there’s something so refreshing to hear these stories about how people continue to evolve, both, you know, personally, but in their careers. Because I think it’s really easy for people to stay a little too stagnant for too long, right, because of all the shoulds like, oh, I shouldn’t be doing this. And this is a good career, I shouldn’t be leaving it. Like my family would think I’m weird if I just left and did this big right turn and did my own thing. But some of my very favorite clients are actually people who have left a corporate job or a big career, and they’re launching their own thing. Because they are following their heart’s desire and doing what they’re really called to do. And I think that’s the genius of entrepreneurship is listening to that voice, matching it with a marketplace in a way that creates value, like you’re experiencing now, with the work that you’re doing that, you know, it’s like that Steve Jobs quote that I’ve referenced several times about, like, you can never connect the dots looking forward. But they always connect looking backwards. Right? That one thing here like I never would have expected to be here. And of course, it’s, it’s the perfect expression of who you are, in this time and the work that you you know, that needs to be done and that your clients need you to do. 

Yemi Penn  28:22

Oh, oh, so good. What you just shared everything. So I have these things called downloads, as I call them, which is just this thinking, and this is why I really am always grateful for the platform to speak on podcast. So thank you, because I remember who I am. I remember what I’m capable of, even because sometimes you forget, sometimes you think you’re just flowing through. But you did that. And you can do it again, in a different capacity. Do before.

Heather Pearce Campbell  28:51

Well, and how fun that we get to do this, like how fun that we get to remember that at any phase in our career, we can make a turn, we can adjust course or make a change, small change, big change, right? Sometimes it doesn’t take much. I have a mentor who I worked with really early on in my law career. And he was really unique because he was super creative within the law, which you don’t often see that level of like openness and creativity. And so he was always willing to take a left turn or a right turn or looking at look at something in a new way. And we actually chatted just the other day. He’s probably in his late 70s, now maybe 78. And he wants to come back into like the full time practice of law because he’s having so much fun doing social justice work like he went and put himself through courses teaching, teaching himself immigration work and like areas of law he’d never touched before. And I just like it lit me up so much to think of people like this that like, no matter the age, no matter where they like, they continue to seek out those experiences. Yeah. Right. That allow them to create value and grow as a person and serve others. And that, to me is like 100%, the joy of entrepreneurship.

Yemi Penn  30:16

I got goosebumps as you shared that. And I really hope that that is me, I really hope and it really is, you know, I call this memo how we’re meant to live life. I call it calling the memo on its head, we just turn it around, you know, this theory that we work till 65. And we retire, our joyful about what you want to do, and go out there. And while we wait until we’re 65, before we start enjoying life, what when the bones are seized up a bit more. It just, it’s the biggest oxymoron. And again, it may have worked. Yes, I applaud those who did it. But my goodness, can we change it up now start living now and doing things we enjoy?

Heather Pearce Campbell  30:50

Oh, my gosh, yes. Talk about one more system that needs to change dramatically, right? I, my friend, I have a really close friend in the legal field who became a judge, you know, and she’s a few years older than me, but it’s like, a really significant thing for her at a, you know, relatively young age to be in this position and really happy that she’s there. And she’s already looking at the folks that are retiring at whatever, age 60 to 65. And she’s like, Heather, the statistics are not good. These are people that have only done law, like their entire career. And it’s some terrible statistic around how many pass away within like two years of retiring. Yeah, right. And so for me to have this concept of like retirement like, Heck, no, I never want to officially retire anything. Like, I want to see it as transitioning into now doing the next thing like, what is the next thing? Right, do that? Anyways? Yeah, I have a lot of thoughts around that. Because we get it so wrong.

Yemi Penn  31:54

We have and but you just said it, let’s look back at the dots and say, well, if people are retired and haven’t had one profession, one area for all these years, and we find that just in retirement, they sadly go through differently, where we get like who’s writing the studies? I mean, we have media who reports on every sort of foolishness in the world. Can we not talk about this? Can we not talk about hey, here’s a different way to or maybe it’s a message to ourselves to write these articles that invite in the conversation at a global level? Yeah, we can change it. We can change things up. I am. And we’ll definitely I’m sure teach our children that they’ve got the choice.

Heather Pearce Campbell  32:31

Yes, yes, absolutely. Now, I love that. So the work that you’re currently doing now, you said is the combination of some of your training, but also some of this personal experience and transformation? Do you want to share what you are doing with your current clients?

Yemi Penn  32:51

So what I haven’t put in my bio, which I need to take, I’m like eight months into a PhD that I mentioned, because I was very reluctant to study. And that was where I started making documentaries. Because I thought surely studying isn’t the only way. I can create new knowledge through documentaries. And that’s how I started. But then my thirst for more knowledge still came and the PhD. So I found the university saying, Hey, can I write half a thesis? And the other half is a documentary? And they said, Yes. This is my point. And this is the beauty of the entrepreneurial brain is that you could almost create anything. If it starts in your mind, it’s possible. Your task, then is how can you enroll other people into your vision? So I’m doing my PhD full time on this side. But that research is specifically on trauma, can trauma be transformative? I’m really interested in the transformative nature of trauma considering I’m not convinced we can control everything. I know there are preventative strategies out there. But it’s also about doing that work, and showing up to either individuals or organizations or corporates alike. We don’t go in there. I don’t go in there. Just focusing on the trauma. I just say what problem you have. And trust me, there’s always a problem. I’ve just keynoted for five weeks. So about over 3000 people middle management in one of the big four accounting consultancies, Price Waterhouse, Cooper house have I got that right. And when I’ve gone on to the stage and shared, there’s a lot of people afterwards who come in and lean in and say, I want to know more. They don’t quite know why they want to know more. But there’s a yearning, there’s a desire that they haven’t given language to. And that’s part of my superpower is saying, Okay, how can we give some language to this so that you feel a little bit more comfortable, either with the discomfort or what it is you want to do? Some of them don’t know if they want to apply to become partner. Some of them don’t know if they want to, you know, start their own business. Some of them don’t know if they need to go against the grain of what their parents think they should think they should be doing. So that’s kind of my work through my PhD. It’s starting these really radical, honest conversations, and not trying to be anyone’s guru or whatever, but just saying Look, just get really good at asking yourself questions and be really honest. And by the way, these are some things you can look into. It doesn’t have a name, you know, I call myself a transformation thought leader. And that’s enough for me, but most of the work links to some form of trauma. What happened? And if you started resolving that, you probably find the answers to a lot of your questions.

Heather Pearce Campbell  35:22

Well, this topic is so timely, I feel like all over, you know, my social media, even amongst people that I talk with regularly. I hear people starting to investigate this topic where it wasn’t so out in the open before. And I’m actually currently reading the book. The Body Keeps the Score.

Yemi Penn  35:44

which is featured in my TED talk. 

Heather Pearce Campbell  35:46

Yes, yeah. Right. But it’s distressing, and eye opening, to realize not only the extent but like the sheer number of people walking around you that have experienced some form of pretty severe trauma. I mean, I think they kind of sent me down a rabbit hole over the weekend, because I’m reading that book, and I’m actually getting ready. I’m pretty open about my own journey and my own health journey. I’m actually flying to California in a couple of days to work specifically with a chiropractor, who does energy work and healing around but well, yes, he’s, like, the underlying premise of his work is that when you experience trauma of any kind, your mind and your spirit and your body fragment. Right. And so his goal is to get those parts reconnected and talking to each other in the right way so that we can reach optimal health. And he said, people often find him because they’ve tried all these other methods, right? They’ve tried like whipping their body into shape, or doing extreme dieting or, or meeting with doctors who just can’t figure out what’s going on whether it’s mentally physically combination. And so he kind of ends up being like a final stop for people that I’ve just tried everything else. And now, you know, and so when you think about, and certainly when I read that book, you actually see like, right in front of you, the biological, physiological impacts of trauma to our brain, to our body systems, to our hormones to our dopamine levels, everything impacts everything, you know, and in our bodies are so brilliant at trying to like, mask the pain more or cope or help us continue to live and not have that experience, again, that we just remain in fight or flight or our systems are super trigger happy. Right? And so it’s just, you know, anyways, I’ll, I’ll spare going down the rabbit hole, just enough to say that it is significant. And I think, yeah, much any of us in our work, when we’re working with other humans need to have some amount of knowledge about what this can do. For people for our clients, right?

Yemi Penn  38:11

Really don’t mean if you want to call it rabbit hole introspection you’re doing you’re doing the work to get you whatever quality of life is for you. But here’s the other thing that I think I probably didn’t summarize it as succinctly my work now is, I appreciate we need to look at sustainability of the planet. But I think I’m not hearing enough people talk about sustainability of humanity, who are the custodians of the planet. It’s just a really big, you know, I hear and I see lots of TV shows. So David Attenborough that does stuff around the world, you can see his language has changed in a number of his documentaries. Because as he’s talking about, we need to look after the planet, we need to do this. And absolutely right. I’m not but do you know who you’re talking to, you’re talking to people who are bleeding, you’re talking to people who are walking around dead. And really, they don’t even have the time. So while you’re doing this great work, and naturally, I tell myself, when you find yourself finding a problem in society, you’re either part of the problem or solution. And that’s why I’m doing this work. Okay, great. And with you, let’s sustain this planet. It’s a gorgeous planet, we need to do better, but in the process at the same time, let’s sustain ourselves. Let’s do our traumas. Let’s clean it. And I promise you, our priorities will be focused our priorities would not be trying to solve world hunger in different parts of the world. Our priorities will not just be about can I make excess money so I can have six houses as opposed to three not trying to shame any of this, but it would change it would change. Yes. So that’s a big part of my work.

Heather Pearce Campbell  39:44

Now it’s huge and your point about like, Do you know who you’re talking to? Right? I think so many people right now are literally just in survival mode. They don’t have the luxury to be in abundance mindset or to you know, And it’s not to say that there’s not steps they can’t take to get there. But we do have to recognize, I think, when so frequently, people are literally just in survival mode, which do things collectively that help get us out of survival into creativity, right. So much of the book that I’ve read is about how creativity shuts down. Yeah, in the face of trauma and following trauma and creativity is everything. It’s everything. It’s how we build. It’s how we problem solve. It’s how children look at an issue and decide like tomorrow, this could be different because I have this idea. Like it’s natural, and we shut it down when we experienced trauma. Yeah. It. Yeah, just all of this is to say the work that you’re doing is super important, extraordinarily timely. I mean, it’s been timely for years, let’s be clear that we’ve all needed the work for years. Right. And more and more, there’s more language around it, there are more people that understand it. Right, we can start to actually make progress.

Yemi Penn  41:06

Yeah. Wow. That was a deep dive we just did.

Heather Pearce Campbell  41:12

It’s relevant. And it’s a hard topic. I mean, one thing that I found I was looking at was like statistics, even on just one form of trauma, right? Family incest. The statistics from the Department of Justice in the United States is that one in 10 families are experiencing or inflicting in one and 10 have experienced or inflicting incest and it’s like you know, an incest in has a broad definition just meaning like any family member, including those through marriage or cousins or right, but it’s a significant issue. And if we could eliminate the abuse to children, any form of abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, do you know that it would, the prediction is that it would eliminate 75% of alcohol and drug abuse in the United States? Three, all orders. Yes.

Yemi Penn  42:11

So you read or what was that?

Heather Pearce Campbell  42:14

Yeah, I know, it’s massive. The impact to our economy is massive. The impact to our collective health is massive. And it’s this also massively under reported crime, right? Families self protect, anyways, you know, there’s so much in there that felt like a gut punch, like a bomb just dropped. And yet, it’s like, this is what we’ve been living with, you know, yeah, so many people are experiencing trauma, and they need help unpacking it and looking at it anyways. It’s a lot, it’s a really big topic. So I mean, I love first of all, that you are an engineer by training, and that, like you have expanded your career and your work and your voice and what you talk about into all, you know, like, you’re creating documentaries and writing books, and it just do you ever just like shake your head? 

Yemi Penn  43:15

Like you say, you’re of? Did you say California or San Francisco?

Heather Pearce Campbell  43:20

I am in Yeah, I will be traveling. I live in Seattle, but I’ll be traveling to California. 

Yemi Penn  43:25

So the fact that you’re moving like you’re physically moving to go see someone who can help with some sort of what I call integrative recovery of some sort. I’ve been doing the same. And I remember very alternative for me, I had someone read my numbers, or you know, and I didn’t even know what any of that meant back in the day. And this is what he said to me would have made so much sense. So whenever I freaked myself out, saying, how have you done all these things, and you’ve done it with two kids on your own. And I don’t do it too, just to really kind of remind myself of what’s possible. And this guy who read my numbers said, Oh, that’s because we’ve been here before honey, and you’ve done this before. And so you’re so much faster at doing it. Because now you need to get to the real work. And that might be a lot of people. But these were things I never explored. And this is the creativity I’m talking about that we can unlock. I mean, you know, when people go in and look more about me, they’ll find out that this the me speaking now, I mean, I’m currently on Yemi version 11.3. Yeah, there was a Yemi version four, he could not have this conversation. Evolution,

Heather Pearce Campbell  44:30

Right. Yes. No, it’s just it’s so wonderful as a demonstration of what we’re capable as humans, right. What we’re capable of. Yeah, so fun. Well, I would love to know, do you like to connect with people online? And if so, where? Where do you point?

Yemi Penn  44:52

Does anyone ever say No, I don’t like to connect with people.

Heather Pearce Campbell  44:55

I just talked with a guy this morning on the podcast and he was like, no, like, I’m not on any social media and they can’t connect to me directly, they have to go through my website and I get it. I do you know, I love it too. I love that he was so clear on his boundaries.

Yemi Penn  45:19

Maybe I’ll get there one day but no, I do. I do love connecting with people. I love hearing stories – for me peer review is having conversation with people you know, it’s a scientific term period of peer review is just connected. So I’m on Instagram @yemi.penn and I’m the same with my website, you know, If you want to know what’s going on all the different things I have been working on a new things that are coming up. And I am going to start to call it mastermind, but I want to call it something else. Because I have a lot of people reach out to me and and I don’t have the time for one to ones. But I do want to reach people in a different way. So the website is definitely a good spot for that. But Instagram is also really great where I have this really open dialogue with people I’ve never met, but around the world to just share a view they say yeah, this happened to me. This works for me. It’s just, it’s so community based. I love it. So yeah, I’d love to meet people there.

Heather Pearce Campbell  46:12

Right? Well, it sounds like you. Yes, you you need a membership on your own? 

Yemi Penn  46:17

Right. That’s the next task. That’s the things I’ve got to do. But yes.

Heather Pearce Campbell  46:24

No, well, it sounds like it’s happening really naturally for you. Right as a precursor. So at whatever time, it’s the right time, I think it will just be a natural next step kind of evolution for you. Well, we are thrilled to share your links to your website and your social media and anything else that you want to share books, whatever, at the show notes page. So if you’re listening, hop over to where you can get to know some more about Yemi. Yemi, what final thoughts would you like to leave people with today? I know we’ve covered a lot and I apologize for jumping around. But I just feel like there were so many things that you could speak to, yeah, anything that you wish we’d covered or that you want to share here at the end.

Yemi Penn  47:08

Not that I wish we’d cover because you’re right, we did go over and this keeps on coming back to me it’s a title of a book by Brene Brown which is “You Are Your Best Thing”. It keeps on coming to me even in my sleep. And everything in this reminded myself and maybe it’s a reminder to others, like genuinely, you are your best thing. We are our best thing. Any changes we want in the world. Please to start with yourself. It’s in there. This isn’t grandiose, this isn’t Kumbaya. This is real, that stop waiting for other people. We are our bestie.

Heather Pearce Campbell  47:45

I love that – such a powerful reminder. And also I think provides real clarity about where you should start. Right. It seems so much more possible to do something inside of yourself than it does to like change the world. Right? Yeah. Great. Well, I love it. I so appreciate you. It’s been such a joy to connect and hear a little bit more about your story. Thank you for sharing with us.

Yemi Penn  48:12

Thank you so much for having me.

GGGB Outro  48:16

Thank you for joining us today on the Guts, Grit and Great Business™ podcast. We hope that we’ve added a little fuel to your tank, some coffee to your cup and pep in your step to keep you moving forward in your own great adventures. For key takeaways, links to any resources mentioned in today’s show and more, see the show notes which can be found at Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and if you enjoyed today’s conversation, please give us some stars and a review on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast so others will find us too. Keep up the great work you are doing in the world and we’ll see you next week.