Dec. 3, 2020

How Tribes Can Change Our Destiny in Life & Leadership | Leah Dean

How Tribes Can Change Our Destiny in Life & Leadership | Leah Dean

Leah Dean, Author of Assemble the Tribe,” shares her wisdom around believing in your value, finding belonging and BE Different. We have a conversation around women and girls with regards to their relationships and wellbeing.  Gentlemen, if you value the women in your life this is a podcast for YOU to enjoy too.  Join us for a conversation around Life & Leadership a Conscious Journey that includes Assembling YOUR Tribe.

Bullet Points

  • Why do we need tribes now? [Leah Dean  5:31]
  • The Formula Believe + Belong = Be Different [Leah Dean  11:03]
  • The Five Mindsets of Value [Leah Dean  15:00]
  • Necessary Conversations [Leah Dean  42:00]  

Knowledge Bomb

  • Taking the DARE [Leah Dean  32:40]  
  • The Dark Side of Tribe [Leah Dean  38:43[
  • This One’s for guardians of Girls [Leah Dean  52:42]

About the Guest

Leah Dean has built high performing teams across the world to build high-performing teams (aka Tribes) for nearly twenty years. She is a passionate believer in assembling our Tribes for impact Leah is the founder of several movements created to help women, girls, and communities to Find Their Tribes and Do Great Things. Leah lives on the island of Bermuda with her husband and two preteen/teen children, who have started to flip the script and teach her about life! 

FREE tribe health assessment you can take on her website

Assemble The Tribe website


Facebook: @leahjmdean
Instagram: @leahjmdean
Twitter: @leahjmdean

About the Show

Podcast Host: Life & Leadership: A Conscious Journey with Michelle St Jane

A podcast for Global and Re-Emerging Leadership creating a circle of influence, transcendency of compassionate leadership in the world and wider universe. A unique destination for learning about Leadership + Conscious Stewardship + Legacy.

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Michelle St Jane  0:01  

Welcome to Life and Leadership. I believe in creating community, connection and creating space to be curious. This podcast aims to take you on a conscious journey through quality, diverse, innovative content and conversation. My hope is that we create a circle of influence, a transcendency of compassionate leadership in the world, and Universe. 


Welcome to a dialogue around assembling your tribe. I believe there are benefits from taking a conscious journey that enables you to meet life's challenges with courage and grace. My featured guest today is Leah Dean, a coach, speaker, author, wife, and parent. 


Leah provides leadership to help women shift their mindset around the power of support, gain confidence and clarity to lead, thrive, level up in their personal and professional lives. Leah regularly hosts events and workshops that bring women from around the world together to learn to develop personal and professional tribe building skills. 


Leah believes that when we find our tribes, we do great things. She is the founder of "Design for Impact" and "Young, Original and Unstoppable" a conference and event series for women and girls respectively. She also does "Pay It Forward Bermuda," a movement created to inspire Bermuda residents to spread kindness. Listen up, Leah and I are going to have a very rich conversation. I look forward to you joining us.


How can tribes change our destiny and Life and Leadership? My featured guest today is Leah J.M. Dean. Leah is the founder and CEO of Conduit International Ltd. She's authored a fabulous book that I spent my whole Sunday reading, "Assemble the Tribe," which comes out December the first 2020. 


The focus of this conversation is devoted to dialogue around the relationship between experience and meaning. The implication of social connections or the lack of thriving networks in Life and Leadership. I believe there are benefits from you taking a conscious journey, enabling you to meet life's challenges with courage and grace beyond reactivity and compulsion. So, if you are not in touch with your inner NorthStar guiding you on a sacred path, or a life of greater significance and meaning and contribution, then I believe "Assemble the Tribe" may be a blessing for you to explore.  


Leah growing up did you ever imagine you'd become an author and write such a compelling book?

Leah Dean  3:01  

I had no idea that I would write a book growing up. It wasn't even on my radar. A few years ago, I started, actually a few maybe more than 10 at this point, I started writing these annual Christmas messages to my friends. That was really my only aspiration. I did not think that I would write a book.

Michelle St Jane  3:25  

Well, if you didn't think you're going to write a book when you grew up, what was your idea as a child or teenager or tween? What did you imagine you would be when you grew up?

Leah Dean  3:37  

I think every little girl thinks she's gonna maybe be a nurse or a doctor.  I did that, that whole phase. Then as I moved into my teenage years, my dad who I know, is one of my heroes, and at the time, he was working in the insurance industry.  Which is a big deal in Bermuda. As part of my high school day release program, I participated and worked for an insurance broker. I really thought that I would do something in the industry.  But that's really where I thought I would spend my life as an underwriter in the insurance industry in Bermuda.

Michelle St Jane  4:17  

Isn't it funny how we have these childhood aspirations? I thought I'd be an intergalactic Explorer. I was a latchkey kid. I got to see Lost in Space, Star Trek and Star Wars. 


I was a young child when I watched Neil Armstrong step on the moon. I had these visions from growing up in New Zealand, which is hardly on any global map in the world, that I'd be an intergalactic explorer. The closest I came was being on the edge, in the 1990s, of reinsuring, satellites and rockets. Now I'm just into being a stratospheric cosmic thinker. 

Leah Dean  5:01  

I was about to say dealing with people has its own type of exploration, right?

Michelle St Jane  5:08  

It can be universe expanding. Yes! So why do we need tribes now? 

Leah Dean  5:14  

I love that question because I had to wrestle with it. I mean, I had no idea when I sat down to write this book about just over two years ago, that I would be done now and that we would be releasing it at this moment in the world's history. 


There are really three reasons why I think this book is relevant now. I call them my three R's. So, I'll give you this really quick. 


The first is really about relationships, right? This year, more than any other year and in all of our recent memory has challenged how we think about relationships, whether it's, you know, political divides, or dealing with recovery from the Coronavirus, maybe you're dealing with it yourself, maybe you've lost a loved one? 


We all need our relationships more than ever. The science and the research really talk about the importance of healthy relationships, in terms of living longer and healthier. 


 I think, just because of the landscape and the tapestry of what's happening in the world right now, we need these relationships more than ever. 


The second reason is really about rejection. I did a proprietary research study with 1200 women. 71% of all women have experienced some kind of rejection in a group setting. Typically, most of that rejection happens when we're quite young. We have to, you know, navigate, how do we deal with that rejection. Maybe it happened on the playground, or maybe it happened in a work setting, or maybe it happened in a relationship that was really important to us. We all have to figure our way back.


I think this year, on a world stage, we've also been dealing with, a more sinister type of rejection, with the whole Black Lives Matter movement. There's a lot of healing that I think we need to do, and really wrestle this rejection to the ground. 


Which brings me to my last reason for why I think the book is important now. And I took a little bit of flak from this one from my brothers.  You know, they're like, "why are you writing a book for women? This idea of assembling our tribes or building tribes, isn't gender specific? Why on earth are you writing this just for women?" 


The reason why I decided to write this book for women, you know, you can only be an authority on so many things. I am an absolute authority on what it feels like to be a woman so but like I could check that box. But I think the impact of the coronavirus, everything that's happening in the world right now the role that we play in society, the impact that we can have on children and raising the next generation. I think women are positioned in a way that's not better, but just unique to influence how we think about relationships and engage in our relationships differently. The book is a bit of a call to action for women, but also supporters of women who feel passionate about this, like I do. 


I had a father emailed me the other day to say, "hey, my daughters are 18 and 21. I love the message of what's included in the book, you know, is this for me?" And I said, "Absolutely, because you have to navigate the world with all of the women in your life, so why not?" 


Those are my three reasons relationships, reduction, and the reliance that I think the world has on women. Now is the time whether or not better?

Michelle St Jane  8:42  

Absolutely. I celebrate your courage to say it was divinely inspired. All my work, all my life, has been led by Kairos, to be on spiritual time. Time and spirituality a very key in my life as a woman of faith. Could you speak to being divinely inspired?

Leah Dean  9:01  

I say, "divine inspiration" because as  you asked me, "Did I intend to write this book?" Absolutely not. I produce women and girls’ events. I've done it as a hobby for the last few years. 


After our second large event, I arrived home, I had the team here with me and we were talking about what we were excited about, of all the transformation that we were seeing take place. I think by the time I fell asleep; it was maybe about 2am. At 5am I just I woke up like with a start. Something just said to me "go sit at your computer." 


Now I love to sleep. I'm at least an eight hour a night person when I'm at my best. The idea of getting up after three hours of sleep was not very appealing. 


I really resisted this urge that I felt to go sit at my computer to write.  But it was quite insistent in terms of the urge and so I finally got up after maybe about 30-40 minutes. I sat at my computer and I didn't know I was there. Then I just started typing. An hour later, I had this outline for "Assemble the Tribe." Now, the meaning and the fullness of what it meant, in terms of tribe, didn't come until later. But the basic structure of the outline is exactly what you read on Sunday. I'm still blown away by the fact that that's how it all transpired.

Michelle St Jane  10:31  

That's an inspirational story. I'm so grateful that you share it, because when we have that call to action, I think a lot of people don't realize that if you don't pick up that call, it moves on to the next willing soul. So, the book was going to get written. I'm very grateful, because I really like your formula, believe, belong + be different. That's it. So how to build tribes can you explain the formula for building tribes using belief + belong = be different.

Leah Dean  11:03  

There's a really great story of how I came up with the formula in the books, I won't to share that now. But in its simplest form, believe + belong = be different. The way that the formula works is that if you believe that you have value, I think that all of us do, and you have to believe that you have value to really show up in healthy relationships. Then you can take that belief in your value and then you can go into these places where you want to belong and experience belonging. But it's really that fundamental value that you have in yourself, that helps you to show up in a certain way that creates more connection. 


What I love about the formula is that so often many of us, we get stuck in the belonging phase, right? Because isn't that what finding your tribe is all about? You want to find these places where you feel safe, and it's not complicated, and then you tend to stay there. But invariably, what happens is that we relax into the inclusion that we're finding. Then we tend to exclude everyone else around us. Then the question becomes, well, if I only have so much capacity to have these quality relationships, and what do I do with everyone else, because I'm still going to meet hundreds, if not thousands of people in my lifetime. 


The idea with the formula is that when you believe in your value, you find belonging, and then you leverage those two things to show up differently. Different means shifting the way that you think about how you engage in relationships with other people every day. Am I going to close myself off, because my friendship card is full? Or am I going to be open to meeting new people. 


I often find, you know, people, I talked to a lot of women, and they say I'm afraid, like I'm afraid to go outside of maybe these one or two people that I feel like I can trust. But in this belief, we won't be different from you. When you get to the different phase, you know, worst case scenario, you experience rejection. But think about it, if you believe that you have value in that you matter and you found these places to belong and experienced belonging and you've invested in those relationships, you don't have to be afraid, right? Because if somebody rejects me, I can say, Hey, I'm just gonna go hang out with Michelle, right. And best-case scenario, I add somebody else to my tribe. 


Now there are different levels of depth to those relationships. But to be able to exist in this place where we think of our close relationships and resist springboards of safety from which to build new connection. I think that's an incredibly powerful, powerful thought.

Michelle St Jane  13:42  

Absolutely. We live on an island with an amazingly diverse population. Which is complemented by an amazingly diverse expat population.  Which is complimented by lots of people coming to visit us as well. 


I'm with you, I love diverse friendships diverse interactions and things like that. I like the point that you brought up about how many of us struggle with feelings of worth. I'm really interested in what are some of the ways we can navigate, reverse those negative stories that we tell ourselves?

Leah Dean  14:16  

So that was one of the beautiful Aha, that I had in the process of writing the book. I'm going to get back to the first part of the formula which is believing your value. So, value, by definition is worth. It's important. It's utility, and belief, by definition, so this isn't just Leah. This is just the definition of the word, is a habit of the mind, in which you instill trust or confidence in a person or thing. So, if you put that back together, it's every day, I have to set my mind and my intentions.  Such that I'm building trust and confidence in the fact that I matter and that I have something to give. 


You know, one of the concepts that I talk about, or I share in the book is this idea of what I call Five Mindsets of Value. And it's actually become quite important to me personally, because I'm obviously doing something new. I've never written a book before, I'm on this podcast with you, which I've never done. 


There are all these stories that start to creep in. And you know, am I gonna screw it up and  how am I gonna do? We start to really focus on all of the things that could go wrong. But because I am really not focused on what could go wrong, I'm focused on who can I touch? Who can I share, maybe there's a listener, it that's going to tune in from across the world? Who needs to hear what I have to say today? When we focus on that, then that is when we really can make a difference. The Five Mindsets of Value, I talked about, you know, what are your gifts? Do you share your gifts with others? Do you compare yourselves to others? Do you focus on gratitude? Are we setting boundaries? 


I personally, in this process of stepping out into the unknown for myself, find that when I leverage those ways of thinking, then I don't really have to get stuck as much as I might have in the past. Which is beautiful. 


One last thing about kind of this whole negative story, because I love the whole idea. While I was writing a book, I interviewed this woman, she's a gratitude, neuroscientist, absolutely wonderful woman, Staci Danford . She painted a story for me to help me really understand this whole mindset thing. Staci said, "Leah, think about it like this, your mind and your brain are separate.' And I said, "Well, I've never heard that before." And she said, "neither had I, until I started my degree. But if I took your brain, I could literally put your physical brain in a jar." And I said, "Yes, you could." She says, "but I could not capture your mind. And so therefore they're separate. And your brain operates a certain way based on your experiences, right." So, think of what we just talked about earlier, where women and have experienced rejection, right? When you're entering into another relationship, your brain is remembering some of that pain that you felt because that's what it's supposed to do, it's supposed to keep us safe. But when you then say, in your mind, "I'm going to set my intention differently from what my experiences have been, we can just navigate our relationships differently." And we can tell ourselves that we're going to rewrite some of these negative stories that we've experienced. And so, for me, when she shared that it was like, there was just a whole kind of opening of my mindset. There's much broader ways to think about how we engage in the stories that we tell ourselves and the stories that we allow others to project on us. So, The Five Mindsets of Value, is how I navigate and then also really thinking about what I'm thinking about.

Michelle St Jane  17:58  

This being the month of gratitude, I'm glad you brought that up. I would just add on to that brilliant neuroscientist that you featured in your book, that we actually have three brains.  One in our head, one in our heart, and one in our gut.  The heart brain projects 5000 times more energy than that of the gut in the head. A fascinating area to look at. 


I'm also going to be exploring the body mind connection, because the different stages of our lives, and often things that have happened to you before a certain age. traumas have happened. Say before you're eight years old, there's no way to deal with it, because you didn't have the limbic emotional brain or the cortex, executive thinking brain to make sense of it. So, it's in your old brain, which sees saber toothed Tigers everywhere. So consequently, there needs to be a way to go back and resolve that. And I'm actually exploring what's out there. Because if you've suffered a trauma, at a young age, in your childhood, maybe beyond eight, I'm not an expert, the amygdala, the old brain, is going to go to the worst-case scenario. So, whenever you find yourself with anything that's similar, or could trigger this, like someone who behaves like a person who may have hurt you, your old brain immediately goes to the trauma, this is what might happen, and you have no way to process it. I'm looking for a way, a modality on how you would resolve those issues.  

Leah Dean  19:28  

I've actually developed a tool that I use in a lot of my programs. I call it The Mindset Bridge. Which is how can we follow the natural patterns of our brain to navigate some of these traumas that we've experienced or even navigate current situations? So where am I today? And where do I want to be? Because if your brain processes logically, emotionally, and instinctually, based on things that have happened to you in the past. How do you make sure in your thought process that you're checking all of these boxes? I remember when I was talking to the neuroscientist, she said to me, sometimes we tell people to just get over it. But if it's an emotional response, you still have to deal with that. And even if you can process it logically, maybe you're thinking about it logically, but your heart and your emotions are taking you in a different direction. And so, the Mindset Bridge that I use, it's really, how do I make sure that I'm thinking about things logically, emotionally, and then in the context of my past, to allow me to really deal with it holistically. I agree with you that our brain does work in amazing ways. But there are questions and processes that we can go through to help us navigate those. And I use that in a lot of my work

Michelle St Jane  20:42  

Fabulous. We can add in the show notes, a link to your Mind Bridge Program, because I'm sure if it's come up in this conversation people may be interested in knowing more.

Leah Dean  20:51  

The program's probably coming a little bit later in 2021. They could definitely sign up on the website, and I use it mostly in my coaching at the moment. I'm developing a program around it. So yeah, we can put that information in the show notes.

Michelle St Jane  21:05  

Fantastic. So, I'm gonna move on to the belonging part of your formula. We're biological beings, so it's so important for us to belong. Especially in these times of physical distancing, and social isolation. We're looking for the opportunities to heal our wound, no matter how deep, and transform them into strengths. Leah, what are the ways we can find belonging?

Leah Dean  21:26  

A big part of my journey, in the writing, and the research that I did, is really thinking about what a tribe is, right. So, most of us tend to think of tribes as these groups of three or more where we find safety and connection. But if you really start to pull the word of tribe apart, you'll learn that it's everything from the one-on-one relationships that you have, to the groups that you choose to be a part of, to the people that you connect with.  Outside of kind of where you've chosen to invest a lot of time who share similar beliefs and mindsets. So, our tribes in some ways are everywhere. And whether we like it or not, we connect on many, many levels. 


I talk about different levels of relationship, being the one-on-one relationship, that we have the groups. When I say groups, I'm talking about three or more that we choose to be a part of. And there are different kinds of groups, which was interesting to me, that kind of came through in my research. So 


There's kind of these organic relationships where, you know, they materialize like my best friend and I, we still can't figure out how we became friends. It's just, you know, where we're connected. And we're thankful, but we can't remember the origins. And so, some relationships are just really easy like that. Then there are others, where I call them life stage groups where you're connecting around different life stage events, it could be marriage, having a child going to college, and you have these life stages, there's also professional groups, formal groups, resistant groups, which is one of my favorite types of groups, which I stumbled across in my work, those are where we've kind of experienced some pain. And so, we come together with a group of people really to help support each other during times of need. And so, there are these different types of groups that we can choose to be a part of. And then in the book, in that kind of be different phase I talked about, there's the next level of relationship. Which is how do I connect with and navigate all the other relationships, to everyone else.  So those are all the places where we find belonging. There are all of the places where we can choose to be long.  And then hopefully, given how we show up experience belonging?

Michelle St Jane  23:48  

I really enjoyed doing some of the exercises in the book as well. I do not really have a lot of choice about being different. Then figuring out how to believe in myself? How to belong? Sometimes that can also make it tricky for you to connect up. I really value these segments the being different and the imparted wisdom in your book, because each of us is a unique and wonderful being. We make unique footprints in Life and Leadership, especially digitally, around our digital exhausts. 


I liked the way you referred to the equality of sisterhood, and how it offers us the freedom to express and produce our contributions that can only be offered by US alone.  I'm going to refer to your research, which I thought was a fabulous  sample size, you had 1200 woman respond. We're usually in the busies What was the most interesting finding from your group?

Leah Dean  24:44  

There was a lot embedded in the research that was interesting to me. I'll share two things and it may turn into three, but I'll start with two. 


I looked at least eight different demographics as part of my research because I wanted to understand, as women, are we really processing some of these dynamics around our relationships differently based on, you know, whether it's age or marital status or industry. And I looked at eight. And I would say there was maybe a little bit of difference in perceptions and propensity to want to engage in group relationships, depending on education and income levels. But I wouldn't have said that it was statistically significant. Other than that, there were no differences. It says to me, that as women, we are more alike than we are different. 


A few months ago, while I was writing, one of the chapters, I was traveling back on a plane, and I met a group of women from Saudi Arabia. We were having a great conversation. I just happened to be writing the chapter about the dark side. How we navigate some of these frictions that we find? The friction that we experienced in our relationships. Here was a woman, her background, her family life, her experiences, you know, she talked about the fact that they had just gotten the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. Like her experience was very different from me. Yet very quickly, we connected around this idea of the complexity, of sometimes navigating the relationships that we have with other females. And in fact, she was on a trip reconnecting with her girlfriends. It was very timely conversation. So that was really one of the things that really resonated with me and became very clear do the research. As women, we are more alike than we are different. And so that really paves the way for us to also experience connection, I think, in a different way. 


The other thing that really hit me, and maybe it's because I'm raising a 12-year-old girl, she'll be 13 in a couple weeks. Most of us have experienced, as I said earlier, those difficult situations as children, but when I went into the research, and I asked the women, you know, did you have the opportunity to observe positive relationships as a child? If so, what was the impact that that had on you? Like the impact that we have as adult women on the next generation is incredible, right? Most women said, “When I saw my mom and my my auntie engaged in that positive relationship, it made me want to have one, or it made me a little bit wary, but I was still open.” We have more influence than we think we do. How we talk about other women in the presence of our children, how we help our young girls navigate the difficult experiences that they're having as children, which are natural, right? It's just part of growing up, but the words that we use them. When I talk to my daughter, I don't say things like, oh, little girls are difficult and catty, and they'll just get over it. I use words like, Hey, here's what's happening with your bodies and your brain. So, in the same way you make up today, and you feel awful, and you don't even know why they're having those same kinds of days. So how can you maybe just be a little bit different and more patient when you're interacting with them. And so really teaching my daughter to figure out how to bridge some of those frictions, that she accepted friction that she experiences in school. I think that's what we need to be doing with our girls every day. And so those were the two things that really there's a lot of stuff in the research, of course, about 150 pages worth of research, but the role that we as parents, and mothers and Auntie's can play on influencing our kids. And then the fact that we're just more like them are different. That was really powerful in the research.

Michelle St Jane  28:46  

Thank you, Leah. My I have a paternal aunt, God rest her soul, she came in and out of my life sporadically. She was my inspiration. I decided to go off to law school and I used to go and spend my weekends with her at the beach. Towards the end of my first year at law school, she said to me, "I always wanted to go to university, but I never had the chance being the second oldest of 13 kids." She'd also come out from Wales on a ship to New Zealand in the 1920s, I think. She had worked her way up to the nursing profession, which as we said earlier, was one of her opportunities as a woman in the 20th century. But as a senior she had done a peaceful walk across Russia in 1990. When she was in 70, I think.  She had nursed with Mother Teresa in what was called Calcutta. She had also built roads, hospitals and schools in the South Pacific after World War II. Lastly, as I mentioned at the end of my first year at law school, I don't know what struck me, but I went to the admissions office at my university and asked them to mail her an enrollment form. I get back to school for year 2 after the summer break low and behold my Aunt Val comes rocketing up to me in a flap.  I'm thinking she's there to have a cuppa and catch up as she travels through the area. She says no, "I can't find my class."

Leah Dean  30:10  

She sounds phenomenal.

Michelle St Jane  30:11  

Oh, we graduated together. In the time it took me to do a law degree, she did a double degree in anthropology and feminist studies. She was very worried about ageism, and you know, not feeling smart enough. But she was a living legend on campus. Can you imagine meeting someone who nursed with Mother Teresa, participated in a peaceful walk across Russia in 1990, in the midst of still the Cold War! She was such an inspiration. She'd pop in and out of my life. I was so grateful because she was an inspiration. 


Most of the women examples present in my life did not have Joy de verve, a love of life, seek to adventure, which I certainly had. I'm really glad to have Val's inspiration.


 I celebrate women who are willing to be the Living Legends and examples for the young woman of our time. In fact, women of any age. I mean, the fact that I've started this podcast during quarantine. Believe me, I knew nothing, never even listened to a podcast. So, you know, sometimes it's just fun to follow your nudges and inspirations and suddenly find yourself publishing podcast.

Leah Dean  31:22  

And there will be someone who listens who hears that story and is going to be inspired just because you chose to, to take the leap. And I think that's a beautiful thing.

Michelle St Jane  31:32  

Thank you, Leah. I'm a stratosphere imaginative thinker. I use my skills to produce new ideas. There have been times in my life and my career where it makes it hard to fit into the norms. Especially as a futurist, often I'm about three to five years ahead of those around me.


 I celebrate your survey. But I would offer a different story. When I did my doctorate with global leaders, I could not get women to join, I was really, really shocked. There was so much resistance. I'd get comments like, "Michelle, we're not like you, you go ahead and do it, we're really glad." And I would sort of try, to try to gently encourage them saying, "divided, we fall united, we stand on the issues that I was bringing up in my doctorate, women needed to have a say,' and that was a massive challenge. So, I'm hoping now that it's six years later, that women will speak out on issues that are critically important. Even if you're not someone who steps outside of the norm.  


I want to ask you about the Four Step process, what you call DARE in the book?

Leah Dean  32:40  

ah, the DARE. I wrote and created that model for women who want to kind of take the bull by the horns and go out and create their own tribe. Now, I found that you can use the steps of the day or in your one-on-one relationships as well. But it they tend to work really well for people who want to go out and create groups. I'll use one of my own examples, as I explained what it is, the first step in there is really to define the relationship. 


A couple of months ago, as we were beginning this whole one of the lockdowns during COVID, I noticed that, you know, my friends were feeling disconnected. They were lonely, they were all struggling. And we were stuck inside, and we couldn't connect. And so, I said, “You know what, I'm going to create what I call now a resistant tribe.” And it's going to be virtual. And I will figure out a way to bring women together to talk about what we're experiencing, because we've never experienced anything like this in our lifetime. And so really defining what I wanted the group to be what we were going to talk about how often we were going to meet what was the purpose, the impact. And so, when you're the one creating the group, a lot of the steps you follow for yourself, and then when you get the group together, I find you almost tend to repeat them, right? Because you need to connect with everyone around why the group exists. 


The first step 'D' Define the relationship. Why do you want to have it? Then to the next step in the process is somebody has to 'A' activates, right? So, I'm, I'm a go getter. I like to bring people together. But I also am busy, and I have a family. And so sometimes you need somebody to support you. So, if you have this great idea, can you get it done on your own, which means you're going to carry all of the responsibility or do you need to find other people who are going to help to activate and bring it together and in group relationships and even one on one. Every time you connect, there has to be kind of an agreement. This is the person this is the individual who has the next step to bring us together. I mean, and I even use that in my one-on-one relationships. I met with a young woman last week and she wanted mentoring and to be free She left, we agreed, okay, who's the person who's going to activate next? Because if we aren't clear that we might not get back together, so the first step is defining the relationship, then figure out, you know, how are you going to make sure that the group stays together? 


And then when you are creating the group yourself, they got to'R'  reach out, right? So, with that tribe that I told you, I set up virtually, I had to reach out and I reached out to about 30 women in my network and said, Hey, I want to pull some women together for this purpose, are you interested? And I think maybe about 25 of them said, Yes, we're in five didn't. And so that's actually an important part of the process for us to remember, not every single person that you reach out to is the group or whatever it is that you're trying to create, it's not going to be a good fit for them. And it could be because they're not interested, it could be because they don't have time, whatever it is, just be open to the fact that not everyone's going to want exactly what you're creating. And that's okay. And then 


The last step of the process is, once you get the group together, take the time to 'E' examines the motivations of the people. What I mean is, you have to examine your own motivations and setting it up but take the time to have a conversation. 


I'll never forget, I invited someone to a group many, many years ago. And, you know, I just invited them because they want a connection. And my friends will tell you like I have an issue, right? They know that if it's a good thing, I'm probably going to try to add more people. And so, I invited this woman to a group that I was a part of, and that particular group was going through some really important life stage issues. And so, it was more of a support group. What that woman needed is she needed more fun. She wanted to go out and play games and just do things that were lighter. And so, it wasn't a good fit. And had I taken the time, I'm much wiser now, but had I taken the time to just examine her motivations and what she really needed, that I would have done a better job of making sure that it was a good, good fit. And


 I have a group of women that I have traveled life with now for almost 20 years. And from time to time, we have to have these conversations where we're just saying, Hey, we're shifting, we're growing, we're getting older, our lives are changing, kind of what are your motivations, and what do you need? And so, I think if we can define it, figure out how we're going to stay together the cadence. We're reaching out and connecting with people who have similar values and being open when some folks say No, that doesn't necessarily have to change our relationships.  Then taking the time to examine what are the needs of the people in the group that you formed? I think those are some simple steps that we can take to increase the likelihood that the groups that we create the organizations that we form will be successful.

Michelle St Jane  37:55  

Totally agree. For example, I'm an early bird. So, I'm usually at six, seven o'clock in the morning, if not 4am. So, it's really hard for me to do events at night, I really have to organize myself to do things at night. Close relationships, they're important to me, and certainly central to the decisions I make. So, I seek holistic balance by striving to maintain harmony and all aspects of my life. So 


I really appreciated you touching on the dark side, and the common challenges that are written about in your book. I'm going to ask you, what are some of the challenges? How do we navigate them?  

Leah Dean  38:43  

thank you for asking. One of the things that I love to say, "is to be human is to be complicated, and to be female is to be uniquely so." I don't say that to be condescending, rather. But there are many things that we struggle with as women in our relationships. I think the reason why we struggle, and there's kind of this dark side to our relationships, is because we're busy. We have a lot on our plates.  We're choosing these places where we want to belong and experience belonging. 


In our ideal world, we don't want friction, right? But we are we're human, which means we bring our history, the stories that we tell ourselves, our emotions. We bring all of that to the table. Some of the things that I talked about in the book are, number one personalities. I often hear women say, "Oh, it's the personalities of the group that you know, help us to be successful." Well, that's not necessarily true, right? If you and I Michelle formed a group, and every single person had the exact same personality, and you are I it would be a very boring group. So, the variance in the personalities is actually what kind of brings life to the groups that we choose to live with. So, it's not really About the personality, it's really about the maturity and the way that we navigate those differences that impacts our success. So that's a huge one that I really encourage the readers to try to unravel. How am I showing up such that I'm creating an environment where it's not all about me, and my personality is really about, you know, I want us to be together and to connect. 


So, for example, in my group that I just told you about, I was the activator. Which means that I'm the driving force to say, "Come on, we're getting together, we're getting together, we're getting together." And my personality, in that driving, if I'm not careful, can be could come across as very abrasive.  I have to make sure that I'm thinking about, well, how is it going to impact this person? And how will it impact the other, and just being mindful about that. So that's a big one that comes through. 


The second one that's worth a mention, there are 10 in total that I touch on in the book, is hormones. Now, I did not intend to write about hormones in the book. But as I mentioned earlier, I'm raising a 12-year-old, she's going through puberty. I'm now in that phase of life where perimenopause is kicking in, and I have other friends who are in menopause. And so over the course of our lives, pretty much from puberty all the way through, there are things that we are experiencing as women that is unique to us that can get in the way. I mean, think about it, Michelle, how many times did you get up and say, "I am going to eat this and I'm going to be very focused." Then you ended up eating, you know, a bucket of chocolate. Or, you know, you want it to get up and be hopeful and you end up spending the day crying. Like these are just things that happen to us as women that we can't often explain. 


And so really increasing our level of sensitivity, that the other person might be experiencing something that they are struggling to control. In the same way we would want people to be generous with us. We have to be generous with others. And 


The last thing that I think is worth a mention, because it is really one of the foundational things that we have to navigate as women, is how we communicate. In the book, I talk about this concept of Necessary Conversations. Which my very good friend introduced to me several years ago in a leadership course. And it's really this idea that when things happen, that create friction, you know, we talked about our brains earlier, right? There's this natural stress and flight response, because we tend to think of conversations as difficult and hard and scary. 


Whereas if we think about the relationship and what we want, and we come at it from a place of love and caring, then we could not we can experience different outcomes. So, for example, my husband bless his heart, we've been home, sheltering in place, he has this really bad habit of leaving the Keurig coffee in the machine. Which just drives me crazy. And so, I could kind of yell at him. Or I could shift my mindset and say, I want to enjoy the space that I have to live in every day with my husband. And so instead of really kind of shouting or getting frustrated, I will say, "Honey, I know that you have a lot going on and you're busy. But can you try to remember to take it out so that I don't have coffee grinds in my tea Would you mind?" 


Really, if I had to sum it up, Necessary Conversations is just shifting your mindset from the idea that conversations have to be scary, hard or difficult to the idea that if you care about the relationship or the outcome, we can choose to think differently and choose different words to move the relationships forward. Therefore, the conversation isn't difficult, it's just necessary, because I want to enjoy my time with you, Michelle, right.

Michelle St Jane  44:05  

Absolutely. In fact, I can give an example of a necessary conversation. I spent the last four years living with my grandson in New Zealand, while was at high school and I was doing my doctorate. He'd come flying in from high school, he dropped the bag in the doorway. He dropped his sweater in the hallway. You know, socks, shoes, there'd be the stream of things that I was going to trip over or have to pick up. So, I've found some space when he could actually hear me. I said "you know, your life is surrounded by women and when you leave things lying around, they scream at us women, all that screaming is in our heads until those things get sorted out. The first few times we might pick them up, but those screamers start having us look at you unhappily. If you could pick after yourself around the household and put things away there'd be a lot less screaming in my head.


I got it from some book on teenagers because finding myself after having had four children, raising my teenage grandson for four years, you know, in a family situation, I was like, oh my gosh, I need all the help I can get.

Leah Dean  45:24  

And for women, these things like they pop up all the time. Just to give you one more story. I have a girlfriend, and she is a loving, caring, empathetic person. We had an event at my house one night, and you know, someone came in and they were really hungry, and they were late. She just kind of went into the cupboard and grabbed something for them. And to be honest, in theory, I was very comfortable with her wanting to support and take care of the person. But it wasn't as comfortable with her going into the drawer and grabbing without having a conversation. I thought about it. I was like, Oh, this is a little simple thing. Maybe you shouldn't say anything, but because it bothered me. I said, you know what, let me just talk to her. So that next time instead of grabbing it, she just comes in, she says, Hey, Leah, here's what's happening with Sarah and so what do you want me to give them? When I told her, she says, "You know what, I wasn't even thinking , right?  I just was in help mode." And now I don't have to worry about it. Like, it's never going to happen. Again, it was a very quick three-to-five-minute conversation. And that issue is forever going from our relationships. And so that's just a really good example of, because we want that time, that we're investing that limited time to be enjoyable and fun and full of joy. When things happen that aren't quite right, we just have to hit them head on with the conversation. And the earlier the better.

Michelle St Jane  47:01  

Absolutely, I really appreciated your section on Necessary Conversations. I'm finding at this stage of my life; I'm not interested in gossip and drama Lamas. I'm very keen and happy to be connecting with people who have an attitude of gratitude, and always open to help but not to be involved in the drama and the gossip. There's a soap opera mentality that I just don't manage particularly well anymore. And nor do I actually want to. So, the Necessary Conversations segment in your book reminded me that relationships I wish to continue, to enjoy, need to have conversations around things like the drama lama  and gossip.

Leah Dean  47:41  

You know, that was the whole gossip thing is something that comes up again, and again, in my conversations with women and the research. Well, I would encourage them, encourage your listeners to think about it like this, if you found a group of people that you care about, and you've chosen to invest time, and you only have limited time with them. For example, my girlfriend's, the ones we've been meeting with for 20 years,  only get together once a month, and there are eight of us. I want to catch up on what's going on in your life and what matters and what's happening with your kids, and how's work going. I don't have time to talk about anybody else, because I want to invest and support you. I have to tell you, if my group even starts to go into something that feels like gossip, I start to feel very uncomfortable. There are a few of us that are almost like the gossip police. "Okay, guys, let's pull it back, there's only so much that we need in order to kind of experience our end belonging, connectedness that we don't really need to waste a lot of time talking about others. Think about it.

Michelle St Jane  48:46  

Thanks, Leah. So, for me experience in life and leadership has provided me with insight and understanding, so that I see the importance of legacy for others in the world that holds promise for the future. My soul's purpose, and my values drive me towards conscious stewardship for the greater good around social and environmental awareness, and particularly for future generations. Or should I say creating opportunities for collaborations, intergenerational collaborations. I really love your last chapter, which is about tribes and purpose. What do tribes have to do with purpose from your perspective?

Leah Dean  49:23  

 I start that chapter with a question.  Which is the one you just asked, right? What does my tribe have to do with purpose? And the answer is nothing and everything. So, you know, our true purpose and this is just my belief. Your true purpose lies at the intersection of who you were created to be and your desire to share it with others. 


I feel quite passionately, that and that's my life's mission, right to connect people and inspire change. When I'm taking the best of who I am, and I'm sharing that with other people I'm living into my purpose. 


There are some dreams that we have that are so big. Or even if they're not big, we aren't always able to achieve them alone. The chapter really encourages readers to explore and define purpose for themselves. I talked about kind of how you navigate that and figure out what it is for you. And then once you are really clear about what that means for you to talk to your tribes about it, you know, if you have a podcast, you know, how can the people in your sphere and your tribe, how can they support you? How can they help you; it could be everything from helping you get zoom up and running for your recording to just sharing it with their network?


Our tribes can push and help us to realize exponential results with some of our dreams. I don't know about you, but anyone who's in my tribe, who I love, and my tribe is quite broad, why wouldn't I want to support them and help them realize their dreams, because that's what they do for me. 


Again, our tribes have nothing to do with purpose. But they also have everything to do with purpose, because there's nothing like support to really give you the push that you need to keep trying something that's new. I feel that that's the gift that we can give to others. I like to say, never withhold the love that you can give to others. Well, if somebody from my tribe is doing something amazing, let me push them, let me support them as best I can.

Michelle St Jane  51:29  

I'm so grateful for your service. And you also touched on future generations. Which are very close to my heart in a multi-generational way. Personal mastery involves building up your muscles on being trustworthy and accountable. I actually call this response-able, these are positive values. Of course, there are the negative values or fear-based values that are potentially limiting, like blame or manipulation. So, if personal mastery involves overcoming or eliminating fear-based beliefs, correcting that being out of alignment with what is really important to each of us, otherwise, we lack this authenticity, which you bring beautifully. 


So, moving from self-interest and self-worth. To having the courage to develop and grow. Which I see your tribes really provide value.  I really love your statement. And I'm quoting you here, "girls are our future and female tribes will be the bridge to success and lifetime fulfillment" that is so beautiful. My question is, what is your number one piece of advice for mums’ grandmothers’ godmothers’ guardians of young women who are struggling?

Leah Dean  52:42  

My number one piece of advice is don't underestimate the power of how you show up and your words in the lives of your young ones. Just last night, I was talking to one of my daughter's teachers. She had pulled the girls together to have a conversation about whatever it was that was going on at school on that day. She said, "Here is what your daughter said in the group. She talked to them about some of the concepts that you share in the book." And some days I'm not even sure, like she will tell you I have not read my mom's book yet. I'm not reading it until I have my errand hardback and it's signed by my mom, I'll read the whole thing. But I've been teaching her the concepts as they've been unraveling for me. And so now she's teaching them to her friends. She's 12. It's just a beautiful reminder to me how the next generation look up to us. 


We have such an incredible opportunity to imprint.  But that imprint can either be negative, or it can be positive, and it's for us to choose. There's a lot of advice I could give. But what is probably by far the most important "you by the very words that you use by the actions that you take the way you talk about other women. And sometimes it's as simple as you know, a woman that you see on television, maybe you know, like our hair or her makeup or something about the way that she loves when we use those words. It's imprinting to our little girls."  I can use those words when I'm talking about other women. If we say that's very unique, that's different. I might not wear it, but it looks beautiful on her. It just leaves a very different impression with our young people. So that's not underestimate that.

Michelle St Jane  54:35  

Absolutely. I have a six-year-old granddaughter and we spent a lot of time together in quarantine.  I said to her one day early in quarantine, "Tessa, you are effulgence , you sparkle on the inside in the outside." I love it when I hear her sharing with someone that she's effulgence and if they understand, she explains the word for them.  

Leah Dean  55:00  

I may have to project that one on to my daughter "you are effulgence." I love it.  

Michelle St Jane  55:07  

Definitely putting a link to your book, Assemble the Tribe, which out on the first of December 2020. We're also going to put a link to your free offer of a Tribe Health Assessment. I think it's brilliant, which will be on your website, 


Leah, I'd like to give you the opportunity to share about any services or programs that listeners should know about and could possibly reach out to you talk to you.

Leah Dean  55:34  

Thank you for you for your time, and the opportunities to talk to your listeners about that. As Michelle said, there's free resources. I also offer coaching services, if you want me to come and speak to your organization, or your young ladies about this idea of how we create tribes reach out. In 2021, which we mentioned earlier in the conversation, I'm hoping to release a customized program based on some of the concepts in the book. So more to come on that. But if you want to visit my personal website, which as Michelle said is or you can go straight to the book site, which is Whatever is easiest. And whatever you remember, there's a lot in store for you there. 


I'm really excited about that Tribe Health Assessment. A very simple assessment to help you think about "how am I believing, finding belonging and showing up differently?" You know, I've had quite a bit of feedback on it. And it's really great just to take that to think about it. And hopefully, I think everyone can find one or two things they can do differently every day.

Michelle St Jane  56:42  

Leah, you are making an amazing contribution to the world. I'm so grateful for your service. Thank you.

Leah Dean  56:50  

Thank you, Michelle. It is It's such an honor, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I'm supposed to share this message. And that now's the time. And that makes it even so much more exciting. So, I'm really honored to be here with you today.

Michelle St Jane  57:06  

As a student of meaningful leadership in the world, and wider cosmos, I have a passion for service through sharing wisdom, strength, and hope. Thank you for the opportunity to foster open conversations, discussions, and exchange of ideas that create understanding and connection among diverse groups. 

Your support is valued. Please subscribe, leave a review and a rating. More importantly, share with your connections. Thank you

Reach out.  I am interested, do you have a topic you'd like to explore? It would be great to have your feedback.

Dr. Michelle St Jane

Podcast Host: Life & Leadership: A Conscious Journey 





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© Michelle St Jane 2020-2021

Leah J.M. Dean Profile Photo

Leah J.M. Dean


LEAH DEAN is a coach, speaker, author, wife and parent. She provides leadership to help women and shift their mindset about the power of support and gain confidence and clarity to lead, thrive, and level up in their personal and professional lives.
Leah regularly hosts events and workshops that bring women from around the world together to learn to develop personal, professional and tribe-building skills. Leah believes that when we find our tribes, we can do great things. She is the founder of Designed for Impact and Young Original Unstoppable - a conference and event series for women and girls respectively; as well as Pay It Forward Bermuda - a movement created to inspire Bermuda residents to spread kindness.
As former HR and Shared Services Executive Leah has led teams around the world and worked with boards and leaders to build high performing teams and organizations. Leah has served on various public and not for profit boards in Bermuda and is a member of the National Speaker’s Association and WeSpeak. Leah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Insurance and a Master’s degree in Risk Management from St. John’s University.
Leah is married to Terrance Dean and they have two hilarious kids - Tristan and Taylor.