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Conscious Business Leadership: An Interview with Kamin Samuel

Who are you being in this world? What are you taking a stand for? Who do you want to be known as?

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Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the amazing Kamin Samuel, who also happens to be my wife.

Kamin started her professional career as the U.S. Navy’s first female African-American helicopter pilot. She transitioned to having several small businesses and then to corporate as a web developer at a computer electronics company. Kamin moved up quickly working for several organizations, even serving as Vice President of Online Merchandising and Vice President of Global Website Operations at a billion-dollar company.

Kamin is now an International Business and Executive Life Coach, and an IMPAQ B STATE® Coach, helping professionals increase their wealth mindset, improve performance, develop Breakthrough leadership skills, and create strategies to expand their opportunities.

Kamin is a bestselling author and is passionate about helping people live more in their natural gifts to achieve greater success and satisfaction. She works with clients to clear limiting beliefs and blocks to success. She also assists her clients in connecting with their own intuition and to partner with their spiritual practice to achieve the life of their dreams.

This interview is a snapshot of a Facebook Live dialog from last week, which can be viewed here.

What experience has inspired you the most in your journey of becoming a conscious business leader?

I would have to say my degree at the University of Santa Monica. I spent nine years in the military as a Navy helicopter pilot and my communication skills coming out of the military weren’t exactly the best fit for corporate – I was used to giving orders, to being very direct. The problem was in corporate they don’t appreciate that. They don’t take orders as well as they do in the military!  I had to learn some new communication skills. I looked for programs and I really wanted to find a program that was very heart centered, one that would allow me to manage people better. That was really the first entree into conscious business.

What 3 tips would you give any leader for making a meaningful difference in the lives of their direct reports?

1. To care. I had to learn to care because I was so mission oriented. I cared about the mission. I really cared about my people. It’s only the other people outside of there that I had to work on – to care about them and be compassionate without being intrusive.

2. Empowering people. I  really learned this from the military –  empowering people to make their own decisions and to grow. It wasn’t very popular when I became an executive to do this, but there were meetings where my direct reports and I were in and I stopped going because my direct reports really were the people who had to take action and follow through, but if I was in there, they weren’t listening with the same skill level as if I wasn’t there. I allowed them to watch me answer questions, learn from how I was in meetings, and then, I set them free, so that they would make their own decisions, make their own agreements with other teams on delivery. Even if they knew that I probably wouldn’t have made that agreement, as long as they knew that they were accountable for whatever decisions they had made, I backed them up. It was one of the ways that I was able to develop leaders where other leaders began to see them in new ways. When it came time for promotions, it was easier to get them promoted because people knew what they were capable of.

This also includes giving people autonomy and encouraging  critical thinking with mentoring & support

One thing that managers forget is that their people aren’t them. We can give them the information and set them free, but we, as managers, are responsible for helping them with their critical thinking, helping them think differently. We can’t expect them to do it without training, without mentorship.

I let my team know that I don’t promote them. My boss with the budget promotes them. If they have no visibility with my boss and the other bosses, they’re not getting any extra money. It gave them a sense from the very beginning. You can impress me all you want, but you have to be willing to step in, step up into a meeting. Let me also add, practice. Some of my wonderful, wonderful managers would flush up and get really embarrassed. We practice for speeches. I practice. Whenever I was going into a meeting and I had to present, I practice the night before, almost to the point of memorizing, because I never left it up to chance.

3. Help team members with their personal development, help them grow as individuals so that they can continue to learn and grow in their careers.

What are 1 to 3 mindset changes business leaders need to make in order to truly create a working environment that fosters inspiration, connectedness, and transformational personal growth?

1. Conscious leaders have to develop themselves.

2. For leaders, it’s also about spending time with their people more than just their one on ones…getting to know them and spending time with them – so that they know when I say, “I have an open door policy,” I mean that. Most of the time, I just listen. When I’m working with my clients who are business leaders and consultants and coaches because I teach a lot of those and coach a lot of coaches, it’s that ability to sit as a leader and call forth, not be the expert in somebody else’s life. If you know them, you can create a safe place for them to tell you what’s actually going on, how are they thinking and that’s one way you can teach critical thinking, is to give them the space to tell you what they’re doing, walk you through the process.

 3. One other aspect about caring, especially during this COVID time, it’s helpful to check  on your people more from the perspective of how their natural way of being is. If they’re introverted like myself, going through  lockdown and quarantine, yay. The extroverts, my extrovert leaders, oh, my goodness, they struggled the first couple of weeks so much because they’re so used to human contact. Understanding people’s nature, understanding how they are so that we can be there for them in a different way is so important.

How do you see the connection between business success and personal transformation for today’s leaders?

I work with people on what we call the being and the doing line. A lot of people come to me who want to make more money, want to grow their businesses, want to grow their careers and that’s what in USM or the University of Santa Monica terms is going on the goal line. They’re going after a goal, make more money, get their career, but it’s who we are being which is the soul line.

Whether you come from a spiritual perspective or not, the being versus doing line works. The waking up versus growing up line of thinking works also.

It is that actual elevation in consciousness – who are we being? That is why personal growth, our own personal growth matters. The highest point on that soul line, waking up line, being line is God if you’re spiritual, love, creativity. Those are the highest peaks. The more we grow into that, the more we see life from a different perspective.

Some of my executives, my amazing executives who come to me have all the money, homes, stuff, but they’re not sleeping at night. They’re not able to … They’re worried all the time. They’re not loving what they’re doing either.

Some of that, I call bankruptcy of the soul. We work on who are they being, how are they seeing … one of the terms I also use is Boogeyman in the closet. How are they seeing all the external threats, whether it’s COVID, whether it’s something else?

If you have enough elevation, you have creativity. You can actually solve a situation differently.

My business brick and mortar people and professors got online faster than anyone in the initial weeks of COVID because we weren’t coming from the bottom of the ladder on what , my dear friend, coach, mentor, Steve Chandler calls the ladder of consciousness.

At the bottom of the ladder is fear, worry, grief, all of that. At the top, again, is love, connectivity, creativity, spirit …and looking for the blessing.

The first question I ask under any circumstances, whether it’s pandemic, Black Lives Matter, anything is, “How is this here to bless you? How is this here to help you learn and grow?”

How can conscious business leaders better support people of color to create fair opportunities in the workplace?

Take inventory. How have you been up until this point? What have you done, not from a place of blame or judgment, but were there opportunities to help a person of color advance that wasn’t taken, that they were overlooked?  Again, take an objective, get higher, as you would say, so you can see and from an observation point, “What happened? What can I do better?”

When you do that, then you can take stock of what you would do next time. Many of my leaders are devouring information, books on Black Lives Matter  – they’re a little bit in overload and so what I’ve been saying is, “Make sure to take time to integrate and decide what kind of leader you want to be.” I’m encouraging myself, first, to do some mentorship. I encourage them to do mentorship, to help people grow. It could be a skills issue, right? Not everyone has access to the same education. If it’s a skills issue, that’s an easy one to fix. Get them the training that they need that is a gap between them and somebody else. Everybody wins when we have different points of view, diverse views of how we create products. Anybody in a business at any level can have the thing, have the idea that turns something around.

What was it like for you growing up being African American? How do you think that ended up shaping you becoming a leader and then a business consciousness, conscious leader at the same time?

My parents  just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary yesterday and I grew up in all-white areas. We were literally the only family in an all-white area for one of two for miles. There was a lot of minding our Ps and Qs, speaking articulately, speaking in a way that didn’t draw any extra attention to yourself, knowing our manners which my mother was very good at making sure we knew our manners. That was a way to keep us safe.

My mom was a principal of a very large high school in Montgomery County, Maryland and so we really had to be on our best behavior because we represented her. My dad was a prominent businessman.

One of my dear friends and colleagues, Devon Bandison has a talk, Co-Creating the Bridge and he asks the question, “What question has been running underneath you?” From all of my life, it’s been, “Am I safe?” Now, it’s varying degrees. It hasn’t stopped me from being a pilot. It hasn’t stopped me from being an executive. It hasn’t stopped me from being a successful business owner. If I walk into a restaurant, if I walk into a store, I’m aware of my color where other people don’t have to ever be aware. It’s emotional labor. My stepdaughter  Sarah, wrote an extraordinary piece that I’ve been sharing with a lot of people on this from her viewpoint. What I love about this time is that the dialogue does feel different.

All we’re asking for is black lives matter, too. That’s all. It’s not about all lives matter. Of course all lives matter, but it’s the comma too, that T-O-O, that we’re looking for, at least I’m looking for, I’ll speak for myself. Because when I’m driving, I am aware that if I get pulled over, I know my procedures, keep my hands up here, identify myself and many times I’m like, ready to identify myself as former military because just in case that helps. Nobody should have to live in that kind of fear running underneath them.

What role do American conscious businesses and conscious business leaders have outside of the workplace?

One of the things that my step daughter  Sarah put in her article and I think that I have so appreciated is many people will say, “What can we do to help?” and I will say, I will quote her, “It really is a white-on-white discussion now.”

Don’t tolerate jokes or comments about anybody – and not tolerating any disparaging remarks of others. We have too much work to do in this world to be talking about anybody behind their back. There’s no reason for it. I’ve talked to a lot with having coming from a Christian background. I’m really clear on the red text.  Jesus’s primary commandment was love and that’s it. That’s where I come from all the time.

Also speaking up. One way I’ve advised some leaders is think of a past situation where they would have wanted to do better. Practice speaking up. Practice saying, “No. Let’s not have that conversation. No, it’s not okay to speak to somebody that way. Don’t you have anything else to do?” which my people always hear, ” You got some work to do rather than gossiping about people.” Those are some practical things people could do.

I also think it goes back to “Who are you being in this world? What are you taking a stand for? Who do you want to be known as? Do you want to be known as a true leader?” It doesn’t mean you’re going to not make mistakes. I make plenty. I’m first in line for the mistakes, but it is recovery plans – re-centering. It is coming back to your creed, to your own personal value of, “What you want to be known for? How do you want to be thought of – what’s your legacy? Do you want to be known as someone who lifts people up or tears people down?  My highest creeds are love and gratitude and peace and joy and creativity.

Which authors have influenced you the most and that you are grateful for their inspiration and wisdom?

There’s a great book by Ron and Mary Hulnick, Remembering the Light Within. That’s one of the books that I go to. There’s The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. All the books by Steve Chandler.

There are ways for us to work on who are we going to be and I will say that  B STATE and Making Yourself Indispensable by Mark Samuel are amazing books that help people.

One of the principles in Making Yourself Indispensable is the wheel, the wheel of accountability- we centered versus me centered. Being values driven. Being purpose driven. All of those things on the spoke of the wheel helped me grow more as a leader as well.

Tell me about your latest book, Successful Life Transformation Journal. How did that one come to be?

My newest book is The Success Transformation Journal. That’s really for people who are looking to redefine success on their own terms, for themselves.

This is a perfect time to reset. It has a journaling part that has to do with for me, I used to be super hypercritical of my own self and my own behavior at work. I get to the end of the day and judge myself. I had to learn so it’s a technique that I use to learn how to shift to being to seeing myself as successful and it’s been really helpful with my clients as well.

How can readers follow you or your company on social media, and get a copy of your other books? 

www.kaminsamuel.com has  lots of resources on growing your mindset and wealth and abundance.

Increase Your Abundance Starting Today  is the gory details of how I got into debt and got out of debt. All of it is in there.

 The Wealth Transformation Journal, which is really about wealth consciousness and the mindset and taking your mindset to a new level on, again, the end and being able to achieve things from a conscious perspective.

Email: [email protected] 

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