Despite the changes we have seen in the world, being a woman of color remains challenging. Moving up the corporate ladder, for example, can feel like the odds are already stacked against you. International bestselling author Kelly Markey is well-familiar with the struggle. She is a Nobel Prize nominee for both literature and peace, a Woman Changing the World award finalist, and Top Executive of the Year 2023 – International Associations of Top Professionals. In this episode, she shares the challenges she faced across her journey—from living under the apartheid regime to moving to New Zealand and Australia, where she worked towards every corporate opportunity available. Kelly shares the challenges she faced along the way, tapping into psychological safety in the workplace and DEI. With her book, Don’t Just Fly, SOAR, Kelly provides inspiration and tools to find resilience and overcome life’s adversities. So follow this conversation and don’t miss out on the wisdom Kelly imparts and more!
01:51 – Living Under The Apartheid Regime
08:20 – Psychological Safety In The Workplace
12:01 – Creating More Inclusive Environments In The Workplace
31:25 – Don’t Just Fly, SOAR
43:24 – Kelly’s Nobel Prize For Peace Nomination
54: 25 – Method For Creating Resiliency
How do we leverage continuous uncertainty to thrive in this unprecedented new world?
The answer is to build the resilience we need to power us through the challenges we face so that we become “Change Proof.” Prepare to tackle the future with confidence by reading Adam’s latest book Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience.
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Finding Resilience To Overcome Life’s Adversities With Kelly Markey
I am so looking forward to the conversation that I’m going to have with Kelly Markey. She is a remarkable woman and a remarkable thought leader. She is somebody who has great experience in business and is going to share so much more with us. She is an international bestselling author. She is a Nobel Prize nominee both for literature and for peace, a Women Changing the World Award finalist, and Top Executive of the Year in 2023 by the International Association of Top Professionals, but she is so much more than even those amazing accolades. Sit back, relax, and enjoy my conversation with the amazing Kelly Markey.
Kelly, you have quite an impressive bio, history, and life experience. It is pretty amazing. I want to ask you something that I love to ask our guests at the very outset of this conversation, which is what is one thing that is not part of your standard introduction, bio, and all that? What is one thing that you would love for people to know about you?
The one thing I would love you to know is that I am a fighter, which is not in my bio, no matter what the circumstances. I have been living that. My brother committed suicide and I was in transit. I felt like jumping off the cliff. I had to pull myself together, and here I am still fighting.
When you said you were a fighter, the first thing that came up for me was the fact that you have been nominated for a Nobel Prize both for literature and peace. When you said you are a fighter, I thought, “This will be a very interesting conversation about the relationship between peace and war or war and peace.” Given what you said, if it is a place that you are willing to go there. We don’t have to. I want to respect your privacy and your process, so I will leave it.
Thank you for that. I feel like I’m still in the woods, so it is still a haze. Going back to the Nobel Prize, I was born and raised in South Africa where apartheid reigned. I have lived through some experiences. I immigrated for a better life in New Zealand and then Australia. Sadly, the sad aspects of discrimination are throughout the world. I experienced more of it outside South Africa than I did in South Africa.
Maybe I’m a few years older than you. I grew up hearing about apartheid and then going to college. It was during my college days when many people, at least in the United States and a lot of people in the university world, were getting quite serious about influencing an end to apartheid as were musicians and Amnesty International. It was a lot of people who were full-on wanting to see Mandela freed, wanting to see apartheid end.
It did, miraculously, or maybe not so miraculously, I suppose, but there was some element of the miracle in there. It would be shocking. That’s why I said, “Wow,” to hear that your experience of discrimination and racism that you felt is greater outside of South Africa than you did even growing up in that world. Did I get that right?
Yes. Granted that we were living under the apartheid regime, which was enforced upon us. We lived in segregated communities. I’m of an Indian background. I’m the sixth generation, born in South Africa. My forefathers arrived in 1820 from India. We lived in a predominantly segregated Indian community. We went to schools that were predominantly Indian. You shopped in areas that were Indian. You didn’t get any of that discrimination or wrath. We all felt blended and fit.
My first experience with the cosmopolitan melting pot was immigrating and being in the corporate environment in New Zealand and then Australia. I experienced so many things, some of which I have penned in my memoir, Don’t Just Fly. It was shocking because I never thought that people in the civilized world would treat humans that way.
I think that way or feel that way. I almost feel naive. I’m not saying that you are, but I have felt a bit naive in the sense that I still am in disbelief, honestly, and I don’t know how else to put it, that people treat each other in that way. I get it that we like people and dislike other people. We get along vibe with people and connect with certain people and other people. As perhaps our grandmothers would say, “Not our cup of tea,” and all that type of thing.
The idea that you would look at another person and make up your mind about them that you would treat them somehow inhumanely because they look differently, have a different shade of skin color, different gender, or different religion is amazing to me that it’s still part of our more conscious world.
On some level, the consciousness of our world has elevated and expanded during my lifetime. It’s still shocking to me. I feel naive to even say that because it is such a reality in so many places in the world, including the country I live in, the United States. Let me go back to that statement I made and see if you even buy into this. Do you think that the consciousness of our world, and that’s a very broad question, has elevated and expanded during the years of your growing up through that?
We have evolved. We have put a man on the moon. There are so many other things we have done as humanity. What has happened is the fabric of who we are. We have a mindset that’s passed on from generation to generation. It’s conditioning. We get conditioned in a certain way, whether it’s conscious or unconscious. We pass that down.
I spoke about my experience on previous podcasts about the groups that I am affiliated with in Sydney and outside Australia as well. You see that common thread. I see it in the corporate arena as well. It’s what their forefathers have mentioned to them that goes down to the parents and then the parents indoctrinate the kids with it. Whether they choose to be different, there’s something within them that says, “I need to be careful. I need to be wary. I need to treat this person with disrespect or the status quo.”
I spend a lot of time in the corporate world myself often speaking as a keynote speaker on the topics of resilience, mental health, work-life balance, or what we like to refer to as work-life harmony, and things of that sort. Often, I also speak or mention this concept of what psychological safety in the workplace looks like.
For me, that’s the level at which you feel comfortable in your skin, to be in your skin literally and figuratively, to be there as you truly are, to speak, to feel welcome to speak, even to object and dissent, and to push back on the status quo. To me, that’s what psychological safety in the workplace looks like and feels like. Do you think we are making progress in your experience in that arena? Are we getting better in the workplace even if we are not better when we are sitting down with our grandparents per se?
We are moving at a snail’s pace. It’s a broad brush. We have organizations that are aiming towards a better world, but we have fundamental humans that have flaws or that taint the landscape. From my personal experience, in Sydney, we had prolonged harsh lockdown conditions. We, as a couple, decided to move out of the metro and go into regional in New South Wales.We have organizations that are aiming towards a better world, but we have fundamentally flawed humans that change the landscape. Click To Tweet
I moved for a corporate position. I’m normally headhunted in Sydney for roles. We wanted a more laid-back lifestyle. I got into this role, which was on merit and experience. The first day that I met my CEO, he offered me a promotion because there was a vacancy upstream. I had the merit. I have done this role previously many times. He said to me, “Don’t worry about the paperwork. We will catch up with the paperwork. This is what I want you to do.” I flew in, hitting the ground running. I was also doing my portfolio that I was hired to do. I was doing two roles at once.
There was another person within the organization. Granted that this is a small regional town where the big opportunities are limited. The other person assumed that they would get this position. When the news broke unofficially that I was doing the role and I was also taking on the tasks and all of that, I was flabbergasted. People confronted me point blankly and were like, “Why are you doing this role?” I was like, “I was appointed to.”
Eventually, they threatened the CEO to take him to the board for giving me a position that was not advertised. He backstepped and the whole organization was too weak to do anything and take the right path. I was like, “What’s going on? You are senior managers here.” They couldn’t. There was this one individual that threatened them because he wanted the position. Eventually, I had to say, “I can’t work in this environment. It’s not right.”
The irony of it is he didn’t have the qualifications or the skills. For my mental sanity, I had to exit. I was like, “We are in the 21st century. Who behaves this way? Why are we at that corporate level we allow this?” They all came to me and were like, “We don’t want you to leave. What can we do?” I was like, “You want me to tell you what you should be doing?”
It’s entirely juvenile, right?
Exactly, but sadly, I have seen that behavior so many times.
I want to probe this a bit further. I don’t want to say know, realize, or anything, but in my belief system, people are primarily driven by two emotions. There is a lot of nuance to it, but two emotions, fear and love. This is not a show about spirituality or anything like that. Yet, there’s something fundamental to the human condition of us as sentient beings. One of those things is that we are driven by fear or love.
When we are driven by fear, jealousy, envy, anger, and all of it, you could look at that behavior and go, “This is a scarcity mindset.” People who are afraid, a person, or whatever it might be who decided, “This is unfair. I should get it. I have been here longer,” or whatever nonsense or very small-minded thinking would be. What was it about that? Was it the sense that you, as an Indian woman, that was more of what was underlying, which is that fear-based behavior? Did you get a sense that it was mostly behavior?
It was because I wasn’t White and that I arrived and I was female. They felt threatened as well because I had the experience. It’s an amalgamation of many things. I am married to an Australian. I find that sometimes, it’s hard for him to understand my world because he’s never had the same setbacks or the same behavior enforced or thrust upon him. He is, for the first time, understanding what it feels like to be in my skin because he gets to experience it firsthand.
I said to you before we even started the interview, I have been to Australia many times. I have spoken there. I love the country. The physical nature of that place is remarkable. I speak on resilience. It’s a resilient environment. You have to be resilient in many places there. The people are hearty as well. I enjoy having grown up in New York and being a kid from the northeast and the city. I would appreciate also the bluntness, the directness, and you know where you stand in that environment.
Sydney is one place and Melbourne is another. The country is vast. Along the way, I also learned and didn’t see personally but heard that Aboriginal people have been discriminated against in that country forever. It’s like the way the Americans have treated the Native American Indians. It’s despicable.
They are still fighting that. We still have issues with it when we celebrate Australia Day.
I know in the United States, and I’m not sure how aware you are of this particular thing, but in the corporate world, there has been a lot of movement toward, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. That is another word that’s being used to describe how it is that we create more inclusive environments in the workplace where people can feel as though they do belong and that they do belong.
I can’t imagine a team functioning at its best where anyone on that team wouldn’t feel as though they belong. Sports is a great universe for analogies of that. Can you imagine any team, whether it’s a rugby team, a football team, a basketball team, any team at all, or a cricket team not creating an environment where each player feels as though they belong? They would never be able to succeed. They’d never win, don’t you think?
Yeah. Sadly, for every corporate opportunity I have had and every career opportunity, I felt like the odds were stacked against me. No matter what experience I brought to the table, it always was uphill. I always had to prove myself even in my role. I have more experience. I have been in the health industry. I work in health IT for over 30 years. I have done some major projects around the world that have enhanced the health landscape. You put me in a room and you put someone who has no experience. Sadly, because they are different colors, they are treated differently.
It’s a remarkable occurrence regardless of where we are in the world. Are you aware of any major cultural center where that is not somehow the case?
I have come across an organization. It’s a huge organization here in Australia. I don’t want to mention the name for obvious reasons, but I had a conversation with them. They are designing a new model of care for the health industry, a first in the world. Communicating with them, I almost felt like it was alien because they were saying to me, “It’s not about skillset here. It’s about world set and willingness.”
He said, “What we want to carve is a culture within the organization and the people that work for us to be seen and encourage resilience. What we are trying to do for humanity is bring them into a system. We can’t design the system and get it to excel if we cannot excel as individuals working beside each other. Work is about making the other person feel seen.”
It blew me away. I mentioned at the beginning my scenario. I was in transit when I discovered what happened to my brother. On the last leg, I was returning from Europe. Europe is a long way from Australia, so I had another leg to go. On my last leg, I got COVID. When I got back, I couldn’t return to work. I had to be in quarantine.
I got to work and a few people asked me, “You were meant to be back a week ago. What happened? Were you jet lagged?” Even when I mentioned to them that I lost my brother, I got no empathy. It was like the conversation stopped or they were like, “Oh.” Even the next day, when they saw me, it wasn’t like, “How are you doing?”
I went to Europe for an award. I was a finalist for Women Changing the World. I left work on a page where my manager and I were on an amazing record. Maybe because he discovered this award and I was the finalist, when I got back, he was a different person. Even though he knew I lost my brother, he ripped me apart on the first day back at work for things that had no reason. It was because he could.
From that experience and then moving to this organization where I thought it’s like utopia, I can see the difference. Communicating with them, I was like, “I know where my alignment is, who I want to work for, and where I want to go because of what aligns with my values, my brand, and my heart.” Communicating with this cohort from this organization, they said to me they can see where our world is heading in terms of treating people like they don’t matter. Expecting results and driving that force is not how they want to operate. It was so refreshing.
I think that those types of cohorts and then ultimately systems organizations will be the future. We are moving in that direction slowly. I see signs of that in my work all the time. I work in the medical, health, and biotech space quite a bit because they are quite driven. There’s a lot of pressure to perform. Many of the companies that our company works well partner with and consult. Our public stakeholders are involved, so there’s a tremendous amount of pressure always to perform.
Even in that environment, we found there’s been an openness or a receptivity to the idea of how you develop mental resilience, emotional resilience, physical resilience, and even spiritual resilience. In our world, that is defined by that alignment that you described. I cannot imagine in the 21st century that the future of organizations won’t involve more of that and less of what you have been describing.
I also wonder whether new generations are becoming the decision-makers. Maybe you have an opinion about this. My wife and I have four kids. They are all in their 20s and one turned 30. Their view of the world is so different. Their worldview is much more inclusive and equitable in the sense that they don’t have a lot of pre-judgment.
Maybe you could say, “Maybe you guys raised them that way. I don’t know.” I suppose there’s an element of nurture and there’s an element of nature, but I also think that they are wired differently. That’s my belief. I’m a glass-half-full person type of thing. These younger folks honestly see the world differently than older people. I hate to say it that way, but I feel like that’s the evolution. How do you feel about that? Do you see the signs of that as well?
I believe that the younger generation is wired differently. I am all for being optimistic. There is also the other sector that has been disadvantaged or treated a certain way. They unravel in their ways. The string of pearls falls wherever it falls. For us to have that sustained change, it is up to you and me to create a platform or a place where we showcase it. We don’t just talk. We walk the talk and all of that.For us to actually have sustained change, it's up to you and me to create a platform or a place where we showcase it. Click To Tweet
Often, if you look at history, there are choices that people make these decisions. The book that I wrote which is due for release end of 2023 and has two Nobel nominations is called Making Sage Decisions. It is decisions that we make as individuals, organizations, and a global country at a country level. It looks at historical events and personal stuff.
I’m not sure if you are aware, but when we were in lockdown, there was horrific unrest in South Africa where they almost wanted to wipe an entire demographic off. I didn’t know if I would ever see my family and friends again. This was all fueled by corruption. Even though we have generations that are moving one way, we still have the younger generation that is caught up in corruption. For them, it is like, “This is my opportunity to grab whatever I can.” You can’t break that mindset. We have to show them a better way.
I know you don’t live in South Africa anymore, but how is the influence and the legacy of Nelson Mandela still alive and well in that country?
It is so sad. A whole chapter of my book is unraveling what’s going on in South Africa. Sadly, Nelson Mandela, or Madiba, as we know him, stood for so much. He went to prison. He came out and looked for that evolution, but corruption reigned. We watched people die in the pandemic because money was stolen and people were murdered. It still goes on.
It breaks my heart with the unrest that went on during the peak of the pandemic and the violence. They looted almost every single mall. There was no food. There was no place where you could even shop or get an appliance. They stole everything. There was no bread or milk for days. People had to resort to protecting themselves. They were on the roads with sticks, shovels, and all of that to protect their family in the community. Who does that in the 21st century?
I apologize to everybody reading that I keep finding myself flabbergasted. That was not making the nightly news in the United States. It wasn’t making the New York Times or lots of other publications. I didn’t live with my head in the sand. I don’t immerse in the news or content all day long either. I try to find a nice, healthy medium, honestly, but I don’t remember hearing or reading very much about what you described.
It wasn’t in the news, not even in Australia. I would have missed it. The only reason I knew was because my loved ones were going through it. Some could post, so it was coming on my stream, and then I had to tap in. It was not anywhere in mainstream media. Sadly, we had corruption, even with the money that was donated to fight the pandemic to get PPE. This money was dwindled.
When people tried to stand up, the younger generation, they were gunned down and shot in cold blood. It’s shocking. I would love to think that the new generation stands for better choices, but not all of us. We need to make sage decisions. We need to think more critically when we are making decisions about how it impacts our history and what it creates for the next generation.
I want to talk about the book that is out in publication, and that is Don’t Just Fly, SOAR. Share a little bit, if you could, about what that book entails and what inspired you to write it. I’m an author. I often speak with other authors. It takes a village to create a book. It’s not usually a solo act, for sure. It’s a lot of commitment. It’s a lot of time. It’s a lot of effort to get it across the finish line. Would you share a bit about it?
Yes, sure. Thank you for the opportunity. I had no desire to write. I wasn’t an author prior to this. We were traveling from Europe again. This was the end of 2019 and then the beginning of 2020. We were in the thick of the pandemic unleashing itself and we didn’t know. We went transit in Hong Kong, and I wasn’t aware that this virus was going on. We got back to Sydney and the apple cart had toppled. We went into lockdown and the whole shebang.
Normally, I am burning the candle at both ends in the corporate world, traveling around the world, buzzing, being the social butterfly, and everything, and then I find myself in lockdown. I have lots of international connections. People were reaching out because we were all panicked as to what was going to unleash and what was going to happen. There were so many unknown elements. People were reaching out for obvious reasons, thinking that I had some level of resilience and could always find my way back on the horse no matter what came my way. They wanted assurance that we were going to come out alive, and I didn’t have the blueprint or anything.
I found myself staying awake to talk to people in different time zones because they needed that comfort. I realized, “I have got all this lived experience, things that I have gone through in my life. Maybe I should share it because I don’t know if I’m going to come out of this pandemic alive.” I grabbed my laptop and started writing.
I wrote about my journey, what I have gone through in life and the lessons I have learned. I thought some of the things were difficult because I’m living away from my family nucleus. Granted, the things we spoke about being so disadvantaged in the way that I was treated at work or even sometimes in the social scene made me realize that I had something in me that didn’t give up. I needed to share all the lessons that I learned.
When I was in South Africa at a young age where I was about 8, 2 of my cousins were murdered brutally. I discovered that the hard way at school. The teacher unleashed it on us and then we had to walk home. I was petrified. I talk about that in my book and having to find resilience as a child. When I say brutal, I don’t want to be graphic because it was shocking. I never thought that I would be alive. I was so scared that I could be the next victim, but I survived that.
When I began working in South Africa, I was held at gunpoint. I was in a horrible marriage with domestic violence. I talked through that. I discovered the hard way that I had severe endometriosis, so with that came infertility. I had to try the whole shebang of IVF. I have gone through the whole circuit many times and had a miscarriage with all of that being in the corporate world, showing up, and having to perform as a professional and be at the top of my game no matter how broken I was.
I began writing, and then I realized, “I also need to share the tools of what got me out of this vortex because not everyone has that level of resilience, the mindset, or the world to get out.” I wrote my memoir, which is about 372 pages to be precise, in 10 days. It took longer to publish. I kid you not that every person who reads it is saying to me they are reading it for the 4th or 5th time. I have had people contact me in the middle of the night via Messenger who I haven’t met and they are in tears. They are like, “I feel you are writing about my life.” Even if I haven’t identified with this the way in which they connect is amazing. It changes lives. It unleashes something in people that is remarkable.
I’m feeling in the moment that a lot of the things that we experience that are very difficult, we bury those things perhaps for reasons that are important that we are able to move on and move past things. I don’t know that there is any place in the world or any environment where what is taught to a child beyond reading, writing, socializing, getting along, and things of that sort, the values of community, wherever that community is. Those things are taught, for sure. What I don’t think is taught anywhere, frankly, is how we process the experiences of our lives.
This is what’s common among writers going way back. You find that there’s a thread of what is the human experience. What do we have in common other than breathing the same air and all that and saying that we are one or, in spiritual terms, believing and teaching that we are one? What is it that we do share? What is our common thread? In many ways, it’s that we live lives and have experiences. Many of those experiences are quite painful and difficult. They are hard to reconcile or make sense of in the stage and phase of development that we are at when those things are happening.
We all share different stories and different levels of what we took away from an experience, how much it has been a guiding force in our lives or a force in our lives. The human condition, on some level, has been to adapt to the changing landscape and move forward. That has been an element of resilience in the past that impedes our growth in many ways in the present.
Part of the paradigm shift that I like to speak about has to do with that Darwin-esque ability to survive. Survival through adaptation is important, for sure. If we don’t process these things, understand them, and be able to integrate them, then we are not only doomed to repeat those personal histories in different forms and fashions but we don’t get the essence of what makes us human and what makes us truly the same. It would be an anathema to ever treat someone so poorly because you understand what it’s like to feel that way in some other wildly different circumstance. Yet, the feeling is the same.
Loneliness, despair, isolation, anxiousness, fear, and hate are things that we all have felt. To hear you speak about it and to know that you have written a book, I’m not at all surprised that people would be reaching out to you to say, “Our circumstances are different but I get the feeling of having to move through such heavy stuff.”
Especially in the corporate world or in the world where we get paid for the surfaces we provide, people are not interested often in hearing about those things. They don’t want to hear about excuses. They don’t want to know anything other than, “Did you do the work I asked you to do? Are you performing?” It’s an interesting thing. This book has been received quite well, I understand.
Exceptionally. I have got over 5,000 stellar ratings. It’s been sold in 70 countries and counting. Everyone that has given me a review has asked me to write another book. This is my first and only book, but I have written a few, the next solo one being launched in December 2023, which has been nominated for two Nobel Prizes.
With what you shared, I so identify with that because I found we all bury things in the name of survival. I found when I was writing, I could feel the emotions rise. I could feel myself choking because there were so many layers that I hadn’t dealt with. In a way, it was therapeutic. In a way, it was confronting. In a way, it was forcing me to get on a new lens.
We don’t want to go there. I have a wonderful client who is a doctor and a keynote speaker herself. She talks about the trauma-informed workplace, which is a term that’s not so in use yet, but it’s one that we have to be willing to look at. The trauma-informed workplace is one where we recognize that the people who are coming to work, whether they are coming virtually, they are coming in some hybrid situation, or they are in the office with other people are showing up as human beings with traumas. That is everything from being abused as a child to any other thing that you can imagine.
Anybody reading this, you don’t have to look any further than your own life to think about the ways in which you have been impacted and where you have been. I’m a surfer. I love a lot of different sports, but I love to surf. I love to be in the ocean in particular. When you get a ding on your surfboard, it’s not the greatest day in the world, especially if you like the board you are on and you don’t want it to be dinged.
As human beings, we are dinged almost from birth. I was delivered with the use of forceps, which is something they did quite a bit in the timeframe when I was born. If you were not making your way out right away, you were coming out breached. They would move you around or pull you out if need be with a pair of salad tongs. I know it’s a bit graphic. I apologize. I came out with a deformed head. If you guys go on YouTube, you can see I have a lovely-shaped head. It’s bald, but a good shape, and no dings in the head, at least not on the outside. We are all dinged in many ways on the inside and outside sometimes as well.
That’s the workplace, but that’s also the world. It’s not just the workplace. It’s the entire world we live in. People are walking around dinged. There are people who are homeless. There are people who are starving. There are people who are on the verge of violence at every moment. That’s a reality. I don’t think we talk enough about what’s the cause of so many of those things that we can work on.
It’s big to help create peace in the world. That was something that I brought to an organization that I used to be the CEO of. I am a CEO of a different company for the last couple of years. For about 5.5 years, I was the CEO of a very large training and development firm that was based on 3 different continents.
At a certain point, I was feeling like, “We could commit quite a bit of our intentions, resources, and attention to the creation of peace to the work that we were doing.” A lot of people called BS on that, honestly. They didn’t buy in. It was too big. It was too much. Regardless of whether it was or it wasn’t, it is a big thing. It is difficult to wrap your brain or your arms around something like that.
You have been nominated for a Nobel Prize for Peace. You have to come from the inside out. You cannot create peace in this world by the outside in. We cannot force people to be peaceful. You cannot force institutions, organizations, and governments to be peaceful. It has to be an inside-out game. Do you agree with that?
You have to show without using words if you don’t have to. For me, it was the journey of this book. It was the chapter about South Africa, what unraveled in that chapter, and how we need to live in harmony and let live. There was so much racism during that time and still is towards the Indian community in South Africa. For some strange reason, they seem to think, “Even though they were living there for generations, they should go back to India.” The government in India had to intervene for the safety of the Indians in South Africa during this time.
The fact that people had no food to eat, and this is people of all statuses in the social ladder. It was sad. Peace is when you need to reflect on yourself. Do you have to kill someone because you are corrupted and you want to line your pocket? What’s the point when we are all trying to survive the pandemic? You may be rich, but you could be dead. It’s asking all those critical questions.
There was a lot of corruption as to why the unrest began and unraveling those as well. That’s where the nomination came from. Also looking at how we do things in Australia, New Zealand, the US, and the UK, there are different scenarios and different chapters of the book. That’s what spoke to people in terms of peace.
I have been influenced greatly by another South African author. I’m not sure if you have heard of this gentleman or read anything he’s written. His name is Michael Brown. Do you know that name? Does that ring a bell?
No, I haven’t.
He wrote a book called The Presence Process. It’s a remarkable book. I have mentioned it a number of times in different contexts on the show. I find it quite intriguing as I’m listening to what you are saying what your book is about, and where the influence of South Africa has shown up profoundly in my life.
This gentleman’s book, The Presence Process, was quite an inside-out journey. It’s the idea of how we resolve these things, whether they are at home or in the workplace. The trauma that we walk around with is something that we are responsible for ourselves. It’s something that we have to resolve from the inside out. My feeling is that when enough people are focused on that one thing, if that one task is their own to create peace from the inside out for themselves or create resiliency, in that way, then some pretty miraculous things are possible.
We talked about Nelson Mandela. He was in prison maybe no better than me, but 27 years or something like that in a tiny little cell. To spend three weeks in a cell of that size, many people would have lost their minds. While the South African government or the apartheid regime stole so much from him that they stole much of his life and took away his freedom of movement and many things, they could not steal one thing from him. It cannot be stolen from anyone regardless of their circumstances, and that is the freedom to think. They could never steal that from Mandela. That’s why after several years or what have you, he was able to be a person that could lead a country toward reconciliation.
It is indeed sad to hear that his legacy may not have been expanded. Perhaps it is not forgotten, but not expanded. I know I’m going to think about it. South Africa, there’s a lot about that area of the world that has been secretive. There’s a movie that came out some years ago called Searching for Sugar Man. It’s a movie about a musician named Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a phenom in South Africa. He sold 400,000 records but didn’t know about it. He’s from Detroit. He was a person that grew up in poverty and made some albums in the early ‘70s.
His manager was corrupt and stole from him. The record company discovered that people were buying these albums in South Africa. People were in love with his music and sold many copies, but the royalties never made their way to Rodriguez himself. They stopped with certain people who had stolen from him. I won’t give it away if people haven’t seen this movie, Searching for Sugar Man, but it is a wonderful movie. It’s incredibly uplifting in the sense of where that reconciliation, even 30 years later, to have been a superstar in a part of the world and you didn’t even know it. That was Searching for Sugar Man with Rodriguez. Amazing.
I’m adding it to my list.
Bringing this interview and our conversation a bit full circle, I want to ask about your method for creating your resiliency. As you have described the world, and I believe this is accurate, we have made some strides, and yet, we have a long way to go. To think of it that way is exhausting. It is 1:00 AM or almost 2:00 AM in Sydney. As you and I are having this conversation, it is the morning on the eastern seaboard of the United States where I am. You are at 2:00 AM where you are. You are an incredibly resilient individual. I want to know. Is there something that you do daily on a ritual basis that helps develop your resilience as it is?
Thank you for the opportunity again. For me, life has unraveled in so many ways. I don’t have a set formula to say, “This is my daily mantra,” or whatever. I find my true north for me is God. I have to say in the past few weeks, it was dark. I had to dig deep to find my mojo and to get up and breathe. I had to find myself crying out to God.
I have reached rock bottom many times. I know the only thing that picks me up is God. I do the normal conventional stuff. I try to unwind on the weekend. I go cycling. I go for a walk. I love hiking. I love watching the ocean, sunset, and sunrise, doing yoga, and all of that. It all helps, but my core is connecting with God.
For some reason, like when I got the news, I felt cocooned by my brother. It was stuck, my emotions. I cried a bit, but I was in shock. I was in denial. It was weeks later when I connected with God. I unraveled. I could feel the ease of my shoulders and my head. I let it out. I cried. We can share with people. Sometimes, they don’t understand. Sometimes, they do understand. Sometimes, they have the reaction we want. Sometimes, they have a reaction we don’t want. With God, for me, it feels like he knows even before I’m going to say what I need to say. He gives me the strength. That’s where my resilience comes from.
You and I are truly kin. I so appreciate you taking the time to stay up, to be as present as you have been, and to share what you have shared. I’m certain that this has been valuable to the people who are reading it and those who will read it in the future. I’m sure people will want to know more about your books, the one that’s coming out in December 2023, as well as this memoir, Don’t Just Fly, SOAR.
If you have questions that you would like to ask Kelly, I’m not volunteering her for this, but I will say that when comments come in and we refer them to the guest, the answers that you will receive back from those comments will come from that person or myself, depending on which one you have asked. You can go to AdamMarkel.com/Podcast to leave a comment there.
My request is if this has been valuable, and I can’t imagine it hasn’t, and you also know someone that would benefit from it, not just yourself but someone else who might benefit from some aspect of this conversation, please share it. It is a request that is self-serving. We want the show to reach more people. How that happens is that you do share it. If you leave a five-star rating or whatever the rating is that makes sense to you on the platform that you are consuming, that’s also helpful.
I get the algorithm. I couldn’t code it. I couldn’t write it. I couldn’t tell you how it works. Other than that, when more people consume something, more people get to consume it. It’s like that. That, I suppose, makes sense. Sharing it with other people and rating it will be helpful to us. With that, I want to say thank you so much, Kelly, for just going there. I appreciate you greatly.
Thank you. I appreciate being on this platform. I want to say that I have been on many shows. I genuinely felt connected with you in terms of the way you approached this conversation. I felt it was authentic, and I genuinely felt connected. I felt like it wasn’t orchestrated. Thank you for this opportunity.
I will just say ciao, everybody, where you are or wherever part of the world you are. I wish you great peace and great resiliency. Thank you.
I don’t even know where to begin. This conversation with Kelly Markey was so beautiful. I enjoyed it so much. I hope that you all have and will continue to enjoy very deep, expansive conversations about life, business, relationships, and how we are as human beings, how we show up in the world, where we go, the dark places that we go, the dark places that we have been, the trauma that we have experienced, and the ways that we bring that forward for good and not.
We took a very interesting tack because Kelly revealed something at the outset of our conversation that was so devastating. That is the suicide of her brother, her state of mind coming out of that, where she has been since. She also talked about her book, which has made such a phenomenal difference in the lives of many people around the world. It is this memoir, Don’t Just Fly, SOAR. It’s a wonderful title.
It is, in so many ways, a book about a world that we are all living in but also trying to navigate tremendous change, uncertainty, and some deep, dark things that create despair for people individually speaking. What do we do about that? There’s a real through line and a thread of hope. Also, there’s a pragmatic look at it, too, from my father-in-law’s standpoint. He was much more of a pragmatist. I am someone who leans toward what is good, right, and hopeful. Yet, the realities are the realities, at least as they are at the moment and also as we perceive them to be. That’s a bit of a riddle there.
This conversation is one that I would like to read again. I hope you will want to read it again and that you will share it with others. Please feel free to do that. Let us know what you think. AdamMarkel.com/Podcast is the way to do that. We’d love for you to share it with other people and rate it. Give it the highest number of stars that make sense to you in the platform that you are rating.
If you have not already gotten a snapshot of your level of mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual resiliency, then all you need to do is go to ResilienceRank.com. In three minutes, you are going to get a wonderful set of signposts or markers of resilience for yourself in those four specific zones. Feel free to do that at any point in time at ResilienceRank.com. It’s a free resource. It’s a tool for you, your teams, and people in your life personally and professionally to dial in to see where you are at this moment. Therefore, there is room for improvement and greater capacity for all the things that are important to you. Sit back again and enjoy this episode. What a remarkable opportunity I had to speak with Kelly Markey.
About Kelly Markey
Kelly Markey is a international bestselling author. Nobel Prize nominee for both literature and peace. Woman Changing the world award finalist and Top Executive of the Year 2023 – International Associations of Top Professionals.