Khalilah Johnson of ‘Redefined Unlimited’: “Never stop learning and growing”

One lesson I learned that helped me be a better communicator is, slow down. I would always hear my talk was powerful, but I talked fast. It’s important for every speaker to learn rhythm and timing, and the power of pace and pausing at the right moments for greater impact. Also learn to master the […]

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

One lesson I learned that helped me be a better communicator is, slow down. I would always hear my talk was powerful, but I talked fast. It’s important for every speaker to learn rhythm and timing, and the power of pace and pausing at the right moments for greater impact. Also learn to master the art of listening to the audience. There is an intuitive gift that I believe to be in tune and connected. If done right, every person in the room will feel like you were talking to them. My last live event was October 2020, and there was a line of women, some in tears, that kept repeating, “you were talking to me.” That always serves as confirmation powerful transformation took place. Another tip I’ll share is, to have a powerful stage presence, command and keep the audience’s attention, you must not just share your message, but show it. Your words are like a paint brush to an artist. Learn the power of words and how to bring them together to make a lasting impression. I didn’t perfect that right away but somewhere down the line, I found my rhythm and now every time I speak, lives are touched.


As a part of our series about Inspirational Women of the Speaking Circuit, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Khalilah Johnson, an Award-winning Motivational Keynote Speaker, International Best- Selling Author & Corporate Trainer who’s reached millions globally. With over 20 years’ experience as a Communication Strategist, she currently serves as the Co-Director of G.O.D.S.U Speakers Bureau, is a Licensed Interfaith Chaplain, and an Ordained Christian Minister.

She is the CEO of Redefined Unlimited Executive Coaching Firm, Brazen Nation Media Digital Marketing Agency & Founder of ‘Undefeatable University’ an Online Self Development Community. ​Khalilah is also a celebrated author, having published three books. Her first book Undefeated: Broken into Purpose, is her memoir and shares the inter-generational abuses within her family. Her second book, Reclaim Your Time, Mind, & Money: 5 Keys to Get Back Your Generational Inheritance, is a short eBook that helps the reader recognize the patterns of striving due to the accusations that come from painful experiences. Her third book is entitled, Speak Your Way to Success, an international Bestseller she co-wrote. She is currently working on 3 books to be released this year.

She has shared countless stages with many of today’s top thought leaders, including the late Honorable Elijah Cummings. This January she gave a Keynote for Blue Shield California Dream ERG for (A.C.E.) Adverse Childhood Experience Awareness.

​As an Intergenerational Trauma Survivor, from adolescence to early adulthood, she experienced multiple forms of abuse that caused paralyzing thought patterns and an unforeseen journey into motherhood as a teen that exposed repetitive family cycles. Her desperation for change led her to her purpose and she is now dedicated to helping others break free from the bondage of inherited thinking.

Today, Khalilah has defied all odds, she now teaches women how to unpack their past to impact future generations, to leave a legacy of rewards and not the burden of war. A multi passionate and talented youth advocate, workshop facilitator and gifted storyteller she empowers audiences of all ages. She is also a powerful poet, actress and media personality.

Khalilah gives tools and action steps to continue the conversation for healing and wholeness with strength and established boundaries. She is bold and brave when encouraging others to investigate family history to identify and confront dysfunctional patterns.

​A survivor who knows how to sell others on themselves and master the mental momentum it takes to turn resistance into resilience, and disadvantages into advantage.

She passionately teaches Natural Born Leaders, How to Regain Their Power after Trauma, by Rediscovering Their Divine Identity,

She has over 25 Certifications in Trauma Support and Resilience, Applied Psychology, Compassion Fatigue, Diversity & Inclusion, Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence, N.L.P., Stock Market Trading, Digital /Content Marketing & Life & Business Coaching.

In 2015 she became an internationally recognized online radio host of “ Broken into Purpose” with over half a million weekly listeners after four short months. In the same year she was offered two more shows, which she hosted simultaneously.

As of 2018 Khalilah was accepted into the exclusive mentorship ‘Woman Who Shape Our World’, of world renowned International Best-Selling author and Global Ambassador, Dr. Cindy Trimm.

Khalilah has been featured in Fox, CBS, NBC News, Chicago Tribune & most recently, International Magazine, ‘Empower U.’ This coming May 2021 she will be awarded with one of the highest recognitions of achievement, an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy from Global Oved Dei Seminary University.

As a globally celebrated author Khalilah has used her story to demonstrate the power of a transformed mind, ridiculous faith and radical obedience.

Known for her magnetic energy and gift to shift atmospheres, she effortlessly ignites audiences to become fearless rebels against cultural conditioning, and dysfunctional norms. To reclaim their time, mind & money, & show up in their authentic power, unapologetically!

​As a Corporate Trainer she offers practical steps to help organizational leaders create Trauma Informed workplaces and employees reduce stress from burnout, secondary & primary trauma and compassion fatigue. Her training includes experiential processing, and transformation techniques that assists leaders and employees in resolving symptoms of compassion fatigue, as well as developing resiliency skills and practices that prevent symptoms in the future.

Celebrated for her thought leadership, selfless advocacy and innovative contributions to society, Khalilah is said to be 2021’s top Women you want to know.

A popular speaker with a huge following, Khalilah is known for empowering others to transform into the best version of themselves and leave a legacy of being invincible. Her vision is to lead others through forgiveness, repentance, and to become people who change the world.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Yes, of course! I grew up in a very abusive and chaotic environment. I witnessed violence often. My sisters and I went without our most basic needs a lot of the time. At about 8 years of age I was sent to stay with my grandmother and step- grandfather, after another violent episode in our home. While I was in my grandparents’ home, I felt safe, cared for and protected. My grandmother even made sure I went to therapy weekly. I started getting better grades and playing instruments and gained more confidence. That was at least until my mom and her spouse returned and told us everyone was returning home again. My grandmother told me it was my choice to stay or leave. I couldn’t imagine them suffering without me, so I left my safe place, and returned to the chaos. As could be expected, nothing really changed about our environment despite the promises given everything would be better this time around. By 14 years old I had given birth to my first child. I didn’t know much about giving her a better life than I had seen but I would try my best. I vowed to her I wouldn’t make the same mistakes I experienced growing up. At 16 I was pregnant once again and I felt like there was no hope for me. Desperate and afraid, I returned to live with my grandparents. I knew if I had any chance at all at overcoming my reckless decisions, it would be with my grandmother’s help. And, fortunately I was right. Immediately after returning to live with her, she registered me in an alternative school, and had me find a fulltime job. She was very militant and kept me active, reminding me no one owed me anything. I quickly finished the requirements to complete my high school career and by 17 years old me and my small children were living on our own. We lived not too far from my grandparents but hours away from the chaotic home I was raised in.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

In 2015 I wrote and published my memoir titled ‘Undefeated: Broken into Purpose’, and I believe it sums up perfectly how I stumbled upon my current career path of empowerment. I had escaped my childhood home two different times growing up, but not the inner turmoil and trauma. After years of working to choose a different path for myself and children, I found myself in a relationship that mirrored what I saw growing up. I had broken the vow I promised my daughter that she wouldn’t experience what I had. The mental anguish and guilt sent me in such a downward spiral, I almost didn’t survive. Knowing the detriments of intergenerational trauma, it is now my passion and purpose to use my experiences and wisdom. I want to help as many as I can break free from the emotional accusations of their painful history to leave a legacy of victory.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I have so many, but this may be my favorite. It was immediately after I spoke when a 90 year old woman in a wheelchair told me to come closer, then she whispered in my ear, “ that happened to me when I was a little girl and I never told anyone until now.” Thinking of that interaction makes me a bit emotional still. One reason is because I hate to imagine how heavy it was to carry that burden alone for so long, and two because of the powerful transfer of trust through transparency. In this one moment she released what was never hers to hold because somehow, I had given her permission to.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I will share this story, but I can’t say it’s funny to me yet. I may need a few more years to laugh. I’m only joking! It was during the earlier times of my speaking career, and every time I got to share, I would anxiously prepare. In my excitement and preparation anxiety, I somehow read the start time backwards. I arrived at the time the flyer said it would end and not the time it started. I was horrified because the entire event was centered around me sharing my story, I was their only speaker. The women waited for me for hours. When I arrived, it didn’t seem to matter, no one left, and we spent several more hours together. It was powerful and nobody seemed to care about the time, except for me. I felt so bad to make them wait but I learned to take a deep breath, remember to always double check the details, and remember what it was all about. Those women didn’t need me to be perfect. I was there to inspire and remind them how valuable and purpose filled they are. When we make mistakes and when things don’t go as planned it helps to always remember our why.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Without a doubt my grandmother who loved me with order, structure, consistency and never let me feel sorry for myself. She herself had a very difficult childhood. At just 2 years old she lost her mother and was orphaned. Her love was stern, consistent and strong and everything I needed to overcome impossible odds. When I was leaving the abusive relationship where I almost didn’t make it, it was my grandmother that was there to help me through. This would be around the same time my family and I started to notice she was repeating herself a lot. It was later discovered she had Alzheimer’s. This past December my grandmother went to her eternal resting place, but her legacy lives on through me.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

I am very grateful every bit of success I’ve been fortunate to have. My advice to anyone who wants to be a professional speaker is, you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to start. When you push past the fear of failure, you will discover the power of your voice and give permission for others to find theirs. Your story, experiences, wisdom and skills are to be shared with the world. You will never know how far you’ll go, or how many lives you’ll touch, if you don’t try.

What drives you to get up every day and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?

What drives me is the privilege I to empower others through speech, is to recognize when I change one life, I also change generations. The message I want the world to know is, your past doesn’t define you, you are full of limitless potential. You have a divine identity of purpose, vision, and innovation on the inside of you that was there before you ever experienced any setbacks. You don’t have to discover it outside of yourself, you only need to reconnect to the powerful you that has always been.

Can you share with our readers a few of your most important tips about how to be an effective and empowering speaker? Can you please share some examples or stories?

One lesson I learned that helped me be a better communicator is, slow down. I would always hear my talk was powerful, but I talked fast. It’s important for every speaker to learn rhythm and timing, and the power of pace and pausing at the right moments for greater impact. Also learn to master the art of listening to the audience. There is an intuitive gift that I believe to be in tune and connected. If done right, every person in the room will feel like you were talking to them. My last live event was October 2020, and there was a line of women, some in tears, that kept repeating, “you were talking to me.” That always serves as confirmation powerful transformation took place. Another tip I’ll share is, to have a powerful stage presence, command and keep the audience’s attention, you must not just share your message, but show it. Your words are like a paint brush to an artist. Learn the power of words and how to bring them together to make a lasting impression. I didn’t perfect that right away but somewhere down the line, I found my rhythm and now every time I speak, lives are touched.

As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?

My husband was intimidated to speak to audiences. What I recommended for him was to take 3 minutes a day and record a video of himself speaking about whatever was on his mind. He was then to review it himself. He has been doing that for a while now and the other day I hosted a Clubhouse room and he raised his hand to speak from the virtual stage. I know it’s not a physical platform yet but him that showed major growth. I believe often it’s not about the speaking as much as it is the confidence that what we say matters. When we take the time to sit with our thoughts, ideas and imperfections and learn to appreciate them, we then gain the confidence in sharing with others. You must become clear on what matters to you and speaking becomes a lot easier.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

One of the main things I wish someone would have told me was, how many insecurities would come to the surface. I couldn’t listen to myself the first several years because I would notice every mistake even though the audience didn’t. Another would be to always get clarity on what is expected from clients and never assume. I had to learn every audience is not the same and to pivot my message based on who I was speaking to. Another lesson would be that this is a legitimate business and what we do is a valuable service. Have expectations for both parties written in contractual terms. Never stop learning and growing. The more you learn the more you can share. Finally find a mentor who is an expert in the field of professional speaking. It’s more than just showing up and giving a talk. You must learn the unspoken rules. One for good measure, don’t write out your speech using bullet points. Give space to use a natural flow.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

Thank you for the compliment on my work. Currently I am working on my new book, The Antidote: How to Regain Your Power After Intergenerational Trauma. “I also have a 90-day mastermind, ‘Unpack 2 Impact’ that begins in March. As the pandemic has affected speaking in live venues, I am making my way through the online channels and developing mini masterclasses for beginning speakers. I have been recently appointed the Co-Director Global University, GODSU Speaker’s Bureau. We have an event coming up on February 27th celebrating African American Month called,’ Living Legends’, where people get to learn from top industry leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs of change, the step by step process to make a significant impact. Our team will continue to host events throughout the year.

Can you share with our readers any self-care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

As shared earlier, I am an intergenerational trauma survivor. I am also a certified trauma and resilience professional. I teach and practice self-regulation relaxation methods that help regulate the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight responses). I love warm baths, meditation, nature walks and classical music. I also recommend having healthy boundaries and learning to listen to your body when it’s time to slow down. My most recent experience was in December where I was doing several events and had several deadlines. I was working closely with the co-chair of Blue Shield California to Keynote their employee training event for Adverse Childhood Experience. I was asked some questions during the preparation stage that were triggering, and it was at that time I took some time to self-regulate and slow down on the demands so I could reset and finish strong. I believe self- awareness is key to living healthier and happier lives.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One of my favorite quotes is by Dr. Maya Angelou, and it says, I come in as one and I stand as ten thousand. I shall not be moved. I hang this quote in my office to remind me of the legacy of resilience, and strength that has allowed me to live my purpose. I stand as one representing many.

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

The movement I wish to start is to encourage others to unpack the past to impact future generations. We all have a responsibility to push society forward and break the bondage of inherited thinking and limiting beliefs. To become fearless in discovering our greater selves. To rebel against cultural conditioning and prejudice programming to become purpose led change agents. It would be my greatest reward to see people understand the power of their voices to stand collectively against injustice.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I would love to have lunch with Oprah and pick her beautiful brain. One of the first questions I would ask is, how did she find the courage to become the media mountain she is today, having to overcome so many attempts to break her confidence and limit her impact. I would like to know what gave her such courage to be so certain and defiant.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

Yes, I am on most platforms. Follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/khalilahjohnsonintl/

and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/khalilahjohnsonIntl and LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/khalilahjohnson/

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!


    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Activity Recreation//

    SOULFUL TALKING: THE POWER OF LISTENING TO MANIFEST AN OPTIMAL OUTCOME

    by Adam C. Hall
    Community//

    Louisa Lawless of KÖE Kombucha: “Do what’s right”

    by Ming S. Zhao
    Community//

    Kris Orticello: “Kindness”

    by Ming S. Zhao
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.