Getting Smart People To Soar with Sarah Gruniesen

Imagine we could take x-rays and see people’s emotions,

You could see the layers of hurt and pain. You could see the fears and insecurities. You could see a tiny seed of potential.

You could soothe the pain and reassure the fears.

Then you could take that seed and bring it into a safe incubator. You’d water it. And nurture it until it sprouts.

The seed would grow.

And that is Sarah Gruneisen’s superpower. She sees the seed of potential in people and she nurtures it into a great oak.


Rob: [00:00:00] Okay, let’s start with the most obvious your posts you give loads of information and loads of insight in your posts, but they’re almost, all of them are dragon themed. Yes. What’s the dragon theme and where does that come from? Why is it so important to you?

Sarah: The dragon is my brand. It’s important for people to identify with the brand. In the way that When people see dragons or even the dragon emoji, they think of me. So that was the what is my brand is where it started. And why did I choose dragons? I, my Chinese new year is the dragon year.

Sarah: So fire dragon specifically, I actually have, I can’t pull out my arm, but I have the tattoo here, which is actually the basis of my logo. When I decided to have a logo, it just seems natural to use my tattoo and simplify it because my tattoo is, of course, a lot more complex. And why do I identify with dragons?

Sarah: Like I said, [00:01:00] I am a dragon in my Chinese New Year, but dragons also In a way they are introverted they, they hang out in their cave they can be quite protective of their trove, their treasure trove, and they’re also known for being loyal. If you look at like traits of dragons, you have dragons of different sorts that bring out different aspects.

Sarah: The fire dragon in particular is actually known in Chinese astrology for leadership. So they are quite powerful and they let’s say take care of their flock in a way, if you call flying dragons, a flock. And what I really especially when I’m teaching and coaching people, I usually like to get people when they’re trying to figure out who they are.

Sarah: yoU have all different types of terms and words for the inner child or let’s say your inner demons or monsters. I usually talk about monsters that we have monsters in our lives and when we [00:02:00] are younger, we are taught to actually when we’re really young, we love these monsters, so we play with them a little bit, but at some point we learn to fear them.

Sarah: And we throw them out of the room we get angry at them, we yell at them, or we ignore them. And monsters that are ignored, they get ferocious they want to burn you they get louder. It’s not like you can just ignore. them. What’s also very interesting is when you learn to recognize and see and let’s say, love these monsters in our room.

Sarah: That’s where I believe the real power of people come from. So if you look at my monsters, one of them is very obvious. If you have followed anything about me is that abandonment. And I could, if I wanted to ignore that I’ve been abandoned or I’m not going to feel this bad feeling. I’m just going to feel like I’m accepted and embraced wherever I am, I could Get shameful about having abandonment, it’s a hot because [00:03:00] of my past or something like that.

Sarah: Or I could say, hey, I’ve got abandonment. What does that mean? How does that evolve into who I am as a person? How does that make me react in certain ways or even in a way? It’s a basis of a lot of my convictions. So people that have abandonment at least if I refer to myself that also created other monsters in my life of unrelenting standards.

Sarah: Because I want to be accepted, I have subjugation because I’m afraid to be abandoned. So what happens, I get into this slave mode, like you are the master and the slave. I lose my control. I, there’s different aspects of my personality that evolved in, let’s say hyperdrive because I have this abandonment monster.

Sarah: In my room. And when I learned how to embrace it and to love it and to recognize like, aha, right now subjugation is here, or unrelenting standards is here. I am able to, let’s say, speak [00:04:00] sweet words to these dragons and get the power from them instead. So instead of this fire burning you, you’ve got the fire to heat up your soul.

Sarah: So in my case, I have hyper empathy and it’s something which not all humans have an opportunity to develop to the extent that I was gifted by my past. When you have a past which is full of let’s say trauma, in my case, I had to be hyper vigilant, hyper aware of everyone around me, making sure that they’re okay, which in a way, created a superpower in me.

Sarah: Now, this superpower Can be toxic if I’m not aware of the dragons in the room behind it. When I become aware of these dragons and I use their power for good, this thing that can be toxic is my power, which helps the world. That’s something which I, in every leadership course or one on one [00:05:00] coaching, or even when I’ve coached engineers.

Sarah: And so it’s about recognizing these and of course it starts with vulnerability and it’s a long journey. It’s not like that easy to get there, but dragons are my visualization so I have next to me, my sweet dragons. And you can imagine when I’m feeling something, I can look at my dragon and be like, ha, yeah you’re sitting here with me and that’s okay.

Sarah: I’m going to sit in this feeling of I’m going to be abandoned right now and I’m okay with it. And because I’m okay with that and accept that. I get the power that comes from it, that helps. Love 

Rob: that. 

Rob: What often happens is someone who’s been in your someone who’s gone through that kind of experience will often have those and they may not even be aware of what’s going on. When they are, they’ll probably just suppress it and just let it go on. And what you’ve done is not only embraced it, but you’ve brought it right out where you can deal with it [00:06:00] and you’ve manifested it as a like actual physical thing so that you’re able to manipulate and that’s enabled you to go from what was, internal conflict to being an external strength.

Rob: People don’t always recognize that, someone’s strength usually it comes from a dark place and that creates a fear. So like I’ve posted, the Enneagram is one way of looking at it and so like I’m a type 5, and a 5’s fear is Not knowing or being incompetent.

Rob: And so that’s led me to seek lots of knowledge, which is then like I have a base, 

Sarah: that’s a skeptic, right? Type of investigator. It might be just in my mind, trying to figure out which one that was. Yeah. 

Rob: Do you know which one are 

Sarah: you? I’m type one, a reformer. Okay. So my core fear is being defective.

Rob: And you mentioned that unrelenting standards.

Rob: Have you ever come across the work of Dr. Mario Martinez? 

Sarah: I don’t know. 

Rob: Basically he says that everyone has one of three core, the three core wounds and [00:07:00] it’s abandonment abandonment, shame and betrayal. And one of those will be most. Dominant. So you’re quite clear and most people aren’t aware of that. And so there’s a whole aspect of how they are, how they orient to the world and how they are in relationships that they’re not aware of. 

Sarah: So I’m familiar with something similar, probably not with exact that work.

Sarah: But. I think it was called reinventing your life and it refers to 11 lifetraps. And those three are part of those lifetraps like defectiveness and failure abandonment. So there’s 11 of them which are there. So it might be some kind of parallel work or something. 

Rob: Yeah, I think, there’s lots of different ways of getting to it but basically the same idea. Okay, so what would you say that has led, so if abandonment is like the trigger deep dark situation, what is the strength that gives you? 

Sarah: It’s very interesting [00:08:00] because early in my life, Before I became self aware.

Sarah: I believed my core strength or what set me apart from others was my resilience. I was, and still am very resilient. I’m flexible I can stand on my own two feet. I can shift in any environment and make it work. I have this crazy drive to live and believe in myself that I will live and make it through this.

Sarah: And that’s coming from needing to rely on myself from such a young age. And so I had this strength of resilience and this ability to take on everything. I don’t have this fear of that I’m going to fall apart or something, probably because I had so much happen to me in my life, which. Should have destroyed me and I made it to the other side.

Sarah: So I, I got this power to dissociate and to step out of the moment into the [00:09:00] future, which is always nicer or better. So I thought that was my strength. And of course that still lives with me. I have that, that’s something which lives with me still. But it turns out that’s also my biggest weakness.

Sarah: That was the, my biggest blocker for me to find my real power because I am so fully resilient and independent and I, I guess you can imagine most likely avoidant attachment style. I had a very hard time to accept. help bring someone really close to me because I’ve always had this wall, this and it’s interesting because I evolved this kind of empathy, but I wasn’t able to connect with it.

Sarah: So I had this superpower deep within, underneath the This other, let’s say, fake power that was built above my core abandonment issues, which was hiding the [00:10:00] most valuable aspect of me as a person, because without being able to let people in because of my walls, I couldn’t create the connection which comes with hyper empathy.

Rob: So you could understand what someone was going through, but because of the pain of feeling it, you couldn’t step into it. I couldn’t step 

Sarah: into it. And it’s very interesting because people in my whole life, since I was even a teenager, I don’t know how to explain it.

Sarah: It was like I had a lot of energy vampires in my life or people which really enjoyed my presence because I made them. better or they gained from me, but they weren’t walking with me. I kept myself at a distance. And I felt drained and I felt more abandoned in a way, like why do all of these people need from me, but I still feel alone.

Sarah: I still feel I don’t exist in this space. So that was a very hard. [00:11:00] Emotion to understand, and to find out that feeling of alone and really it was within me and it’s something which I didn’t, there were people in my life that most likely would have loved for me to have my walls down and connect with them in those moments, but instead I could only give to them and keep them for me because I wasn’t able to let people into my 

Rob: core.

Rob: because the fear is if you let them in they would see who you are and they would abandon you. 

Sarah: Most likely. It’s in the mind, of course when you say it like that it sounds like I, I would sit in that room and oh, I’ve got the fear that they’re going, but no, it’s so weird.

Sarah: I was smiley and I was the one which was the source of so many people, like I fixed relationships and I made people better in their careers and I was the source of making other people better, but I wasn’t truly connected with them in a way in which they could walk with me on that path.

Sarah: And therefore there, my real power was blocked. [00:12:00] There was something blocking me from really being able to transform. And being a reformer. It’s all about transformation. So I was stuck leveled down instead of leveling up until I could access that.

Sarah: I wasn’t even aware. That. I had trauma because I was so resilient. I always thought that I worked it out and I’m so strong. 

Sarah: So I think people like me are even harder to shift into that vulnerable state because I was like the anti of vulnerable in a way. I was like, even if people asked me about my abuse as a child or trauma, I would always say I got over that because I worked it out myself.

Sarah: I’m strong, it doesn’t bother me, it doesn’t affect me those are the kind of words that I had. 

Rob: And when you come from that looking from the perspective of the one when you come with that frame, the fear of, I must be defective. Is the hardest thing is going to be to actually look at it.

Rob: It’s very easy to make yourself think that you’re over it and you’ve worked through it. But it’s [00:13:00] so hard to look. And I also think Not having a good start, like not being around people who you can trust and where you feel safe. pEople who will give you that strong foundations.

Rob: It’s so difficult because you’re starting from a place where you don’t know who to trust or what to trust. Whereas if you grow up and you grew up in a loving, safe. environment, you learn that you have something to relate that to. But if you have nothing to relate from that it’s always hard that there’s no, you’ve got no reference point.

Sarah: Yeah. Trust was, it’s so weird. Because in there’s something about me, which was always a bit like, I remember my mom, she’s my adopted mom, but she said I was like a carpet that people could like, Put their feet on or wipe their shoes on in a way. And I have this kind of never ending. It looks like trust because I was always a bit vulnerable or [00:14:00] very open in a way, but I actually wasn’t.

Sarah: On the surface in that space of being defective, even the road to strength if you have that core belief is really hard because even the process or the road you want to be perfect at it. You want to do it good and be a good girl and not make any mistakes and you so even you can go into unrelenting standards on your healing path.

Sarah: Now that I’m a coach and a trainer, I’ve encountered people that a bit like me, a couple of them. They’re the hardest. They’re the hardest to actually help because they are just like me. I remember gosh, there was a therapist once and the therapist said you don’t love yourself. And I got in an argument with them like, what do you mean I don’t love myself of course I love my, I was really like if someone would say something like, You’re having a fake smile or you’re hiding, I would get so [00:15:00] angry because, you don’t understand me.

Sarah: I really care, but I didn’t get it. I didn’t get like there, there was something that I was hiding from myself, even so I couldn’t see it. But it’s a hard journey to get there. 

Sarah: Like the one therapist that said, I didn’t love myself. And then another therapist that asked me, it was such a simple question. And it was, what do you like? What do you like to do? 

Sarah: It made me fall apart because I didn’t know who I was at all. I didn’t know what I like.

Sarah: And it was so weird to be in my late thirties or something and not know who I was or what I liked. Like, how could I? Was everything I do, was doing until then for other people? 

Sarah: I remember having this crisis of, do I not exist? Am I not a person? I started then also looking at my patterns.

Sarah: I also learned that I can’t change other people. And that was probably the biggest learning. I can only change myself. So if I want to make this better for my children, I want to make my life better, I’m going to [00:16:00] have to find something in myself that I need to change, 

Sarah: once I started let’s say I got pointed in the right directions. I ended up taking schema therapy and diving into my past traumas and it’s almost like it became this ball rolling snowball rolling down the hill. Like I started making more and more connections and everything just started to make more sense.

Sarah: And everything in my life just started to get better. I learned how to step out of the drama triangles. . I learned how to set boundaries. I remember my therapist. Was talking about people and boundaries and you have a wall in between and people usually have their boundaries here and the other person has theirs and once it crosses the wall, then people move away like toxic people.

Sarah: They explained to me that I’m, they called me this pure altruist. With zero boundaries. And so I have this but very strong wall there. Like you have this really tall wall, but you have where people have normally the line you’re like right here. So people can cross over the line. And [00:17:00] get really close on to you until they’re like right on and that’s when your walls start coming up, but it’s a bit too late because at that point, they’re like that big, around you.

Sarah: And I was told to set fake boundaries at first because I said, I don’t understand about setting boundaries because I don’t have a problem with the situation like if I don’t care then why would I set a boundary, like they said just start doing it even for fake, I know you don’t care, but just do it.

Sarah: Set a boundary here, set a boundary there. It was life changing. I started to realize I do care, but I had to first do it before I could understand that I cared about it. My, when I dived into my past and the stuff I went through, it’s my past was really extreme.

Sarah: As a process. I learned to survive in this world by making everything great for everyone else around me and making sure that no one is bothered. But I didn’t exist. And so I was the problem. I allowed that [00:18:00] to be like that and it’s not that I did it on purpose because I remember going into arguments, but I don’t care, no, it’s not on purpose.

Sarah: That’s how I evolved and it can change. And it starts with that, creating those fake boundaries. And I remember expanding into that space over time and liking the feeling, liking the people that were now in my life, like somehow those toxic people started to not want to be with me because the, they had the wall in the places like, Oh, but she’s not somebody I can, and so they went away from me.

Sarah: So that started to change my life, but the moment was I, it was around my children and wanting to make their life better, not wanting to recreate what you call the multi-generational traumas in them. 


Rob: It’s funny how it can be someone else’s needs still that is the stimulus. Yeah. I Always think with relationships, you can, like everything is out there and every kind of relationship, and it’s how you [00:19:00] navigate and. Here’s someone who is very giving someone who is very concerned with other people is going to be the person that’s going to attract people who are going to take advantage of that.

Rob: oKay. One last question on that, but I’d like to move on to what you’re doing. But one last question is you talked about how hard it is when you’re looking at The fear of feeling that you’re a bad person and how that is a key to the growth and acceptance. Was that about your children or what was the link that made?

Rob: you let go of that? 

Sarah: That happened a few years later. I’ve taken so many leadership courses and stuff. I was always over addicted to personal development. One of those people that go to that section, the self help section at libraries and stuff. And always trying to fix myself. Anyway, in one of my leadership courses Not quite sure if it was because it finally was at that point in my evolution that I got to it, or if it was that course in itself.

Sarah: [00:20:00] But at the end I had to write a we had to write a synopsis for back of a book or something and we had to do it very quickly. So I’ve shared it. The poem water that I wrote. I wrote it in 30 minutes and it poured. From my pen. So the one that I shared on my LinkedIn post wasn’t even edited.

Sarah: That’s just what came out of my pen. So like the castle and the barren lands and there being life in it and Being able to finally get into that castle and that well deep within and not wanting to rot the air around me and like somehow my mind’s very visual. I’m a poet in a way or I’ve always been I speak in metaphor often.

Sarah: Anyway

Sarah: there was like a moment when I realized that You know how everyone has that one fear. Some people have that fear that

Sarah: they will die alone, or they will people have different people. End of life fears, for example, that they will die in [00:21:00] pain or they will, whatever. And what I realized is that I will evaporate, that I don’t exist, that I’m just water that evaporates in the room, that I’m not there at all.

Sarah: And I related myself to water in the way that I’m the water which nourishes life. I make you live. But as soon as there’s like heat or something, then I’m just gone. I’m not there at all. It’s just, I’m not existing. And that happened in that leadership course. And I remember making a vow to myself that I’m not going to be the water that evaporates anymore.

Sarah: I’m going to be the water that nourishes. And by doing that. I’m going to stand in my power and exist. I’m going to exist in the room even when I get that fear of conflict or that fear of I’m not good enough or somebody by the way, writing on LinkedIn like I do now, I would not have been able to do 10 years ago.

Sarah: I was the one that made everyone else successful, but I would have never stood [00:22:00] up and said, I’m the one that did it ever. Like I was, I remember the fear I had, even in writing my first post, like that people are going to say that it’s stupid or where did I get my ideas from, or, like I had all of this fear that I’m a defect or that I.

Sarah: I don’t exist or shouldn’t exist. And that I just wanted to be not in the room at all. ThE realization was in that leadership course. 

Rob: That’s so powerful on so many levels that I really like the the water can be vaporized or it can be nurturing and that speaks to me because I always say like, All kinds of relationships are out there and it’s how we navigate them.

Rob: And that speaks to navigating to where you can be nurturing and not where you can be. It 

Sarah: means what kind of environment I can thrive in. If you want a leader that’s with, I don’t know, all fire and everything. That’s not me. I’ll evaporate in that environment, but I’m also very powerful when I can be water.

Sarah: So it’s a self [00:23:00] acceptance. 

Rob: Yeah, and water is the most powerful. When you look at, like the caves and you look at the structure of a cave that has evolved over millions of years, it’s just from a drip of water, just continuous 

Sarah: drip of water. The waves that ripple from a drop, if you think of a reformer, like it’s a drop of water and it’s making these waves of change around it and water nurtures and water flows and shifts.

Sarah: Yeah, I really resonate with being water, but it also means there’s some environments I don’t thrive in. You put me into a really hot place,

Sarah: I don’t thrive in. 

Rob: Yeah. The irony though is you’ve gone from water to dragons, which is a very hot place. 

Sarah: It’s very interesting that I’m a fire dragon, but I am water. 

Sarah: You have to really make sure that flame isn’t destroying that you can be sweet with your dragons and instead make some ripples from a bit of heat and warmth.

Sarah: There’s a difference between the warmth of the passion in [00:24:00] your soul and the heat that comes from a fury.

Rob: Because fire is nurturing as well. Okay. So that’s been fascinating. Now we know you, how does all of that what do you do and how does all of that come into your work today? 

Sarah: Right now, I’m a bit at a I’m a bit at a crossroads in my career. So I have come from being a software engineer.

Sarah: So I was a software engineer for some 20 years and I had all different hats in my career where I was an agile coach and business leader and transformation coach. And team lead engineering manager. Now I’m a director of engineering at a company. And now that I. Recognize my power and where it lies and where it is.

Sarah: I am finding myself wanting to help others, which I mean, what do most coaches do? They take themselves from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, and they help [00:25:00] them get to where they are today and. I want to help other leaders step into their power too and use the talent that I have of seeing people.

Sarah: “You have to be a leadership that coaches” kind of person. A lot of people are very like single minded in their approach “this is how I do it. So this is how you need to do it in order to succeed”. And instead I can see people, I even can see a red leader and help them embrace their redness and become an effective leader and stand in the environments that are best for them.

Sarah: sO I want to help people step into their core power and their ability to lead themselves. And ultimately, if you also can lead yourself, then perhaps also lead others and help. I see so many bad leaders out there. I’ve had a lot of bad leaders. I see, and it’s [00:26:00] not that they’re bad people. They’re great people.

Sarah: They’re loving they want to do good and they just don’t know how to they’re stuck. And right now I have ABAGASA coaching as a side. business. I don’t earn any money yet with Avogadro coaching. And now I figured out that’s a real background and not a green screen. So great. wHat happens next?

Sarah: I don’t know. Either Avogadro coaching will end up being my future business. Maybe I end up joining another venture along the way. I do know that just being a leader of one group. Is not going to be enough for the impact I want to make in the road. Like I want to be able to make bigger change.

Sarah: That’s broader and helping more people than I could. If I just lead one group in one place.


Rob: It seems that you’ve learned you’ve now done it. You’ve seen the skill, you’ve got the skills that you know that you can help other people do it. And so it feels like teaching is how you finalize your knowledge, isn’t it? Yeah. You apply it. It’s 

Sarah: how I embrace the [00:27:00] reformer in me.

 Would this be like first time managers or just generally anyone who’s feeling challenged who needs to step up a level in order to lead? When I 

Sarah: first started with Avogadro I didn’t have a small niche. iT was like, I can help anyone, which is having a trouble self leading in their life.

Sarah: And part of me still wants to do that, but in order to succeed as a business, I have niched it down to helping leaders. But

Sarah: I still don’t know if that’s the right decision yet. Like I’m still trying to figure out if I because I feel like if I look at myself having been this woman software engineer that wanted so bad to do well in my job and to grow in my career and I had this. The ceiling like on top of my head and I would work harder and I would work more hours and I would do great work and I somehow couldn’t get [00:28:00] that raise or that position I wanted or there was something really blocking and to find out that was myself.

Sarah: And once I could unblock myself. I just soared. I mean I just went from one level to the next level to the next level I feel like I could help so many people in that, like there’s so many people that are with that blockage that they can’t, they don’t know what it is. A lot of the time they’re at that point still that they’re angry at the world or they think it’s other people that are blocking them or they think it’s unfair they’re a victim to their life or something like this, and I have their eyes opened not in a stressful.

Sarah: mean way, but compassionate way where, I’m walking beside them while they’re unblocking. Those walls in themselves. Does that happen at the leadership level? I think there’s so many high leaders that need this. I even find they may even need it more just because of the different personality types that can exist once people get high up sometimes.

Sarah: But are they as open to it? I [00:29:00] don’t know, there’s a lot of people which have made it to the top. They’re not doing that great, but they’re surviving and they’re not self reflective enough. to let in help. So that’s my experience so far. 

Rob: We have a frame, like our culture and all, everything we’ve bought has given us what I call the operating system.

Rob: And that everything we’ve been taught has been stuff that’s worked in the past. And the problem is that the world has changed and leadership is a level of change where. Everything that works, like the frame that we’re given is to be a follower, we go to school, we’re taught to follow, we’re taught to be like this, so we go to work, we follow.

Rob: And then to be a leader is suddenly to step out in that spotlight. And if you’re not comfortable with that, then that, it means that I think what happens with so many leaders is. They’re doing things for for the sake of how they look and from their feelings of what people are thinking of them.

Rob: [00:30:00] And so if you imagine like 100 percent of your energy, it’s probably 50, 60 percent is going on concern what other people are thinking about, which means that you’re operating on so much less. And then all of the, and then there’s the problem of what made you successful. Is no longer going to make you successful and so you need to change the frame. We’ve come from a logistical Business of making moving mining stuff and now we’re in something where it’s about people and about insights And where technology was the great unlock for that, now I think it’s more emotional intelligence and it’s awareness and understanding of all these things.

Rob: So in a nutshell, what it is you do, I guess that what you’re doing is you’re helping people develop their own frames for what makes them like 100%. Able to focus on what they need to do. Yes. 

Sarah: You put the hammer on the head. Yeah, a lot of leaders they only have the [00:31:00] example of leaders in their past.

Sarah: They try to copy what they saw. Very often it’s not their leadership style. It’s has nothing to do with them as a person. So they fail at it over and over again. If I would go in and try to be directive. It will always fail because I’m not that type, and you may have leaders, especially if you’re in middle management that are telling you to be how they are, and you keep feeling like you’re failing.

Sarah: This is not working. I don’t get it. So yeah, I can help those people. Those people stand in confidence in their, in the way they are and stand in their core and embrace. And it starts, like I said, embracing those monsters in the room and figuring out what the real power is behind the power that they thought they had or have.

Sarah: And especially in technology, as you said. The majority of the leaders I’ve met, they were engineers and they were great at it. They were content experts. They were masteries at their craft, exactly what made them good [00:32:00] leaders is making them or good in their craft is making them bad leaders because you have to let go being a master in the craft and empower others to be masters in their craft instead.

Rob: And when your identity is built on being the master, that’s difficult to do. It’s very 

Sarah: hard, especially when you’ve got ego wrapped in there. 

Rob: I don’t know if you follow soccer at all, but if you look at, I’m sure it’s true in most sports, but it’s very rare that a great player becomes a great manager.

Rob: Usually the best managers are players who are average or didn’t really make it. 

Sarah: They can empower others to be great at their craft. They know they need others to be great at their craft. And I even, had this argument at my last company because there were engineering managers and they wanted to hire only X engineers as engineering managers.

Sarah: And I said that’s not the way actually some of the best engineering managers were never engineers before, because they know how to empower those tech leads. Which are made to be like they are present in [00:33:00] technology right now. And I was an engineer for 20 years, but it doesn’t mean what I knew 10 years ago is still valid today or, and if I try to keep up at it and keep up in tech and make sure that my coding skills are just as great all the time, then I’m not where’s my time being spent?

Sarah: It’s not being spent on being a better leader. I think, especially in tech. Leaders need helpers like you and me. 

Rob: I always look at relationships. And the key to great relationships is a shift in identity. It’s going from me to we and being able to shift and to function at two levels or three levels at the same time.

Rob: And to shift from. An engineer to be a leader is a shift in identity. 

Sarah: Yeah. And you don’t know how many times I have to say when I try to empower, let’s say someone to step up and take ownership of a project or something that just because you have the accountability. Or you have the ownership of this deliverable.

Sarah: Doesn’t mean you’re the [00:34:00] one that has to do it. You just make sure it happens. That’s like something, which a lot of people think because they are the accountable person or the one that owns it, that they have to do it too, and that’s just not true. Yeah. 

Rob: And it’s also a bit like, Oh, I don’t want to put the burden on them.

Rob: It’s down to me. I’ll take responsibility. We’re actually in doing that. You’re limiting someone’s ability, prove themselves to grow. And also 

Sarah: You’re not very good. We all aren’t, I’m not good at it either at looking at ourselves and discerning if we’re doing it really well or not. We’re not, we have biases.

Sarah: It’s hard for us to say, Hey, Sarah, maybe you could have taken a look at this in a different way, by having that oversight, you can ask the right questions to get people to think in different ways and empower them. You’re not going to do that for yourself. You’re not going to think of the right questions to ask yourself.

Sarah: You can try, but we’re stuck in our own loops.

Rob: Okay, so trying to pinpoint [00:35:00] typically what are maybe like two or three things that people come to you with that are the key changes or the key changes or the key problems that they face?

Sarah: I get asked often

Sarah: like they feel blocked. So they want to grow in their career and they don’t know how to, like they they. And because I’m a woman engineer, I think this type of thing comes to me like it’s because I’m a woman or there’s some like external force that’s preventing me from being able to be who I want or grow that happens very often.

Sarah: I’ve actually helped women see that’s an excuse. I know there is sexism. I’ve experienced it throughout my career, but because I’m a woman engineer, they come to me hoping that I will just talk bad about all men, and I usually don’t look at it like that. Another thing is.

Sarah: I am a single mom of three kids with two dogs and I’m a leader and I’ve always been a high professional working full time and still I [00:36:00] have friends. So how do you get all of that done? Very often when they come to me, they’ll say that for them it’s impossible. I must have some kind of magic that they don’t have.

Sarah: mAybe wanting some kind of reassurance that’s true. And I usually help unstuck that. Another thing, which I was called in my previous company, the incubator. So I had engineering leaders come to me with their bad engineers often that I even got known for it. There’s this person that’s not performing bad team member, not a good engineer.

Sarah: I heard that you have this way of inspiring people or getting them out of their funk. And so they would give them to me to incubate them and even put them on the HR path out of the company, maybe. And I would instead light them on fire and make them somebody that everyone wants in their team.

Sarah: They weren’t broken. Those are usually the reasons people come to me. 

Rob: I can imagine how satisfying that is. Yeah. 

Sarah: It feels good, even when I have new engineers. [00:37:00] Very often leaders will come to you and they’re like, Oh, let me tell you all the history of this person.

Sarah: And I’ll say, I don’t want to know it. I want to develop it myself. I want to see this person myself. And I think that the seeing there’s some people which maybe engineering isn’t the right field for them. And that’s what I end up seeing. And we open up other doors to go where they really will thrive.

Sarah: But I don’t know where I get it from. I love people. I know a lot of people say they hate people and they think they’re horrible, but I love people. And I think the majority of people, I know that there’s. I’ve had some experience with people with personality disorders and stuff, but I think it’s really 1 to 5 percent of the world and the other 95 percent are amazing, and they just need a little someone believing in them.

Rob: Yeah. And it’s so powerful when someone does believe in them and it can unlock so much for people. 

Rob: If the fairy with the magic wand give you three wishes and you could change what in the workplace, what would be those changes?

Sarah: The first thing [00:38:00] that I would like to change. Is that belief that I hear coming from a lot of leaders because I’ve heard them say it out of their mouth that the people in their teams are not capable or they can’t handle knowing a bit about business or they are lazy. I would like to change that.

Sarah: They see that they’ve hired. People which I mean, most of these engineers or people that they work with have university degrees and they’re smart and they’re intelligent and they’re capable. I would love to be able to take a magic wand and get leaders to see their people.

Sarah: And what I would really love to do is to change the way people are hired and the way people work. In general I even have it in my mind that there needs to be a new way of mapping people to their next jobs around matching values so that people can thrive where they are and on people’s talents and passions rather than job titles, and [00:39:00] that people are empowered and encouraged.

Sarah: Even if you’re an engineer, if you are a highly creative person, maybe you can help with the creation of the, let’s say presentation for something or creating a new logo, or maybe you like working with events and sometimes you’re the one planning the events, although you’re also writing code so that people can be their whole selves where they work.

Sarah: And what I would really love is that. In every team that we put a line around that says this is a team. So whether it’s a 5 percent team or 10 percent team that everyone’s values in that team are honored.

Sarah: Yeah, 

Rob: I always think, yeah, so for me the way you talk about dragons, my kind of, when I’ve used the logo, it’s like a spiral circle, not spiral circle, yeah, a circle inside a circle, concentric circles and it’s because there’s me. aNd then there’s me maybe as a couple, as a family, as a team and in the community and well.

Rob: Yeah. 

Sarah: [00:40:00] So impact circles. 

Rob: Yeah. It is partly that, but it’s also that my identity shifts from me to being a couple, to being a family, to being part of a team, to being part of the world, being part of whatever. But all of them, I think it has to be fractal. That there’s you in all of them and you’re the same and they are you as well.

Rob: Yeah. And it’s how relationships are the way that we express ourselves and achieve and experience everything that we want to experience and we do it by joining with others with the same in that. So it’s probably a similar view to you have because I think deep down we’re all looking at the same thing.

Rob: We think the same thing. We just say it in different words and from different perspectives. Okay. So I’m going to sum up what I think I’ve understand of you and you can tell me if I’m accurate or not. 

Rob: So I think. When it, to me, it comes quite simply is that I think you look at people and [00:41:00] you’re able to see the seed of potential.

Rob: You’re able to see like the blueprint of who they could be or you maybe see the seed. And I can really understand that water nurturing because what you are, I think is like a plant needs the water and it needs the heat and it needs the soil to grow in. And I think what you do in your coaching is that you provide that space, which is like an incubator and you give the heat and the water that people start to see.

Rob: What they can do and what they can be. And once they have that’s like the unlock that you had. Which from there, it can be anything and it will grow naturally and organically as it should. 

Rob: I think that’s so needed because so often work has been fitted to you have to fit this job’s description and these are your roles and these are your limits and people can’t fit into moulds.

Rob: And what the world of work really needs is for [00:42:00] us to. Bloom and blossom and the organization has to be the thing that shapes and shifts around the potentials of the people. sO is that accurate? 

Sarah: Yeah, it’s a very interesting also how you stated because Even in my coaching course that I give, I talk about seeds and I talk about planting seeds in deserts versus in, to tropical forests.

Sarah: And I talk about pretty much the words that you came up with now to help people visualize and I don’t tell you what kind of, let’s say tree you’re going to be or plant. That’s you. I may help you figure out. The right environment to plant it in, but I’m not even going to tell you not to plant it in a desert if that’s what you want, but you need to then be aware you’re going to have to bring bucket loads of water every day to that desert, if that’s what you want.

Rob: Yeah, I think you’ve done some Darren Brown tricks and framed it so I’m going to say it in those words. Yeah I think all you can see when it, when the seed is his seed [00:43:00] that’s all you can see. And it’s only over time that you can see what it can 

Sarah: become and I see seeds and Yeah, I believe in them But there they need to be they need to grow, 

Rob: I think, I think that’s so needed. And I think it’s can be so powerful, but for someone who senses that they might have that little seed and they want that nurturing environment to develop, how would someone reach out to you?

Sarah: I Have several ways that people can work with me. They can arrange a discovery session with me where it’s all about figuring out what they need and how it can map to working with me. Because I only work 20 percent of my time right now for abacus. So my time is quite limited. So I usually choose to work with people which are more dedicated to the process.

Sarah: anD I think my biggest help right now is the group course that I give so that it’s all about finding your core and moving forward with worthy goals. In the end, it’s a leadership course. So [00:44:00] I offer it in three month and six month Time periods. And unless Abagaso shifts and becomes more my main company, then I can imagine doing things more tailored to particular needs of leaders, et cetera.

Sarah: But the best way right now is to either sign up for one of the courses I have or sign up for a Discovery chat with me maybe one on one coaching is what you need, and we figure that out together. 

Rob: Okay. Thank you for your time. It’s been fascinating to, to learn more about the inspiring work that you’re doing.

Sarah: Yeah, thank you. And it’s, I’m I feel honored to be able to have this talk with you. You’re one of the people that I really admire on LinkedIn. I love what you write and how you speak and it feels like speaking to a celebrity. So that’s really nice. 

Rob: Likewise. 

Sarah: Thank you.

Share the Post:

Related Posts