Emily Harman’s Unstoppable Dream | IT 022

May 27, 2020

What will life be like after retirement? Can your weaknesses actually become your strengths? How can you find your people?

In this podcast episode, Kathryn speaks to Emily Harman about strength, authenticity, and unstoppable dreams.

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Meet Emily Harman

Emily Harman has 38 years of service to her country as both a Naval Officer and civilian federal employee. Emily retired as a member of the Senior Executive Service in May 2019. Emily’s last assignment was Director of the Department of the Navy’s Office of Small Business Programs where she served as the chief advisor to the Secretary of the Navy on all small business matters. During her career, she served as a Contracting Officer for the Naval Air Systems Command and the Naval Supply Systems Command.

Emily finds deep satisfaction in helping others achieve their goals and realize their potential. She continues to serve through her business, Emily Harman Coaching and Consulting, LLC, as a personal life coach, retreat leader, small business consultant, host of the Onward Podcast, and leader of the Onward Movement.

Visit Emily’s website and connect on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and listen to her podcast.

In This Podcast

Summary

  • Emily’s story
  • The atmosphere/culture of men towards women at the Naval Academy
  • One-on-one connections made during tough times
  • The Onward Movement
  • Challenges and insecurities getting in the way
  • Finding your people
  • Starting and running an online business

Emily’s story

Basketball

Talented basketball player, Emily, knew that she wouldn’t play much basketball after college so she wanted to make sure she went to a college that would give her a good education and set her up for a good career. Emily was recruited by a lot of different colleges, and ultimately ended up at the Naval Academy.

The Naval Academy

Emily completed her education and became a supply corps officer (the business end of the Navy), stayed in the Navy for seven years and then got into the small business portion of the Navy, which is where they help small businesses to sell their products and services to the Navy and the Marine Corps. Emily did this for the last thirteen years of her career, the last three of which were for the Department of the Navy (Navy & Marine Corps).

Retirement/Graduation

Emily retired, or as she calls it, ‘graduated,’ in May last year, knowing that she wanted to do something different with her life after that. She felt that she was on to bigger and better things.

The atmosphere/culture of men towards women at the Naval Academy

Initially, the men were very accepting. In July, they started with a tough six-week training with just their classmates, not surrounded by a lot of upperclassmen, which really bonded them all. They knew that the only way to survive was to be a team. When the rest of the classes returned for the start of the academic year in July, some senior women came to talk to the women in Emily’s class. They were told that things would be different now and they weren’t going to be as accepted as they thought. It was challenging, and the women talk about that time now wishing that they had bonded together but at the time, they were all just in survival mode. They didn’t have the internet, they didn’t have ways of really connecting with each other. Being on the basketball team really helped her though, as she wasn’t picked on when sitting with her team, it was another group of support.

One-on-one connections made during tough times

After Emily’s knee surgery, she relied on her roommates a lot. They helped her physically and mentally and are still her best friends. It was a very difficult time for Emily, having to navigate crutches, a full leg cast, snow, 20 hours of classes, and heavy books. She turned to an upperclassman who showed interest in her, which got her into trouble at the time, but looking back on it, she forgives herself as it was a really hard time. When you’re a plebe, and you’re going through all of that, you really bond with people.

The Onward Movement

People in the group either already look at authenticity and vulnerability as signs of strength, and value sharing their story, and value helping others, you know, look at it that way. And then there’s other people that can be in the group that don’t look at it that way but that want a support system.

Emily’s work on her podcast led her to create the Onward Movement. One day, she caught Pat Flynn’s interview with Mark Bowness, on Pat’s podcast, “Smart Passive Income”. Mark spoke about how the old way of running a business (website, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) is not necessarily the best way to build a business. You need to create a tribe or a movement of like-minded people. He told his story of overcoming adversity (which Emily could relate to) so Emily decided to invite him onto her podcast. He spoke about the importance of creating a tribe of people, and, with the internet, we are now able to reach a lot more people. Emily wants to reach and help people in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, all over the world. The Onward Movement is bigger than the Onward Podcast, it is Emily’s unstoppable dream. She is still working on this unstoppable dream but right now it is about embracing authenticity and vulnerability as strengths. The movement’s three values are…

  1. Authenticity
  2. Continuous learning
  3. Engagement in and outside of the community

Challenges and insecurities getting in the way

  • Wanting to quit – there were times when Emily wanted to quit but she pushed through and is so glad that she didn’t quit.
  • Frustration – Emily is someone who likes to check things off of a list. She gets frustrated that she hasn’t finished writing her perfect, unstoppable dream, but realizes that sometimes things need to be thought over and talked over.
  • Can Emily reach the people that she wants to reach? – There is so much wisdom in the movement so she wants to reach the younger generation and help them out.

Finding your people

Emily joined Mark Bowness’s Facebook group which was offering a two-week class on “How to build a tribe”. Emily completed the challenging class, on her second try, and then joined Mark’s year-long program. They are working on how to build your tribe and are focused on the people in their groups. It’s not about the likes and comments, it’s about the people. Emily is also working with Mark to get a book published next year.

Starting and running an online business

You can’t just build a website and host a podcast and expect people to want you to be their coach. And, you know, you’ve got to give a lot, you’ve got to earn a lot of trust points, you’ve got to, you know, find your tribe.

She had to learn how to do a podcast, how to be active on social media, how to streamline her business, and every day she continues to learn something new. Throughout this process, Emily has seen the value of having a coach, someone to hold you accountable, to motivate you, and to really keep you focused.

Useful links:

Kathryn Ily

Meet Kathryn Ely

I’m Kathryn Ely and at age 50, I’m enjoying my very best life. I spent years as a lawyer and then stay-at-home mom helping others go out into the world and live their best lives. While this was very important to me, I did not realize that I was losing myself in the process. I followed all of the “shoulds” like “women should always care for others” and “taking time for yourself is just selfish”.

As two of my children were getting ready to go out into the world I realized I was lost, without my next purpose, and it was scary. So I went back to school and over the course of several years, I not only found myself, but I designed the formula for women in midlife to achieve their most fulfilling lives. It is my mission to equip as many women as possible with this design and the tools to make this chapter of their lives the best chapter.

Thanks for listening!

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Imperfect Thriving is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive, imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom Podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Podcast Transcription

[KATHRYN]:
There are so many ways to keep your practice organized, but TherapyNotes is the best. Their easy to use, secure platform lets you not only do your billing, scheduling, and progress notes, but also create a client portal to share documents and request signatures. Plus, they offer amazing, unlimited phone support. So, when you have a question, you can get help fast. To get started with the practice management software, trusted by over 35,000 professionals, go to therapynotes.com and start a free trial today. If you enter promo code JOE, they will give you two months to try it out for free.

Welcome to the Imperfect Thriving podcast, for all of us women in midlife to discover your self-limiting beliefs. Determine exactly what you want your life to look like and the imperfect actions to get you there.

This is the Imperfect Thriving podcast and I’m your host, Katherine Ely. I am so glad you’re here today. On today’s podcast we have Emily Harman. Emily is one of my many friends I met at Podfest. She is an amazing woman with a really interesting story and message. We are going to talk about strength, authenticity, and her unstoppable dream. Before we jump into today’s episode, if you enjoy this podcast, please rate, review, and subscribe to it on iTunes. Have you joined our Imperfect Thriving Facebook group? If not, you are really missing out on the fun. We recently had an amazing summit; 10 speakers over five days on so many different topics from how to start a budget, to tech ideas to stay connected, how to plan travel and so much more. And this was all free to our Imperfect Thriving Facebook group members. We’ve had virtual happy hours with guest hosts showing us new drink recipes, sharing stories. So if you want to be a part of a community of thriving women who are just hitting our stride, learning to be who we are, what we’re capable of, and nudging each other toward our best lives while letting go of perfection, then please join us, we would love to have you.

Now let’s jump into today’s episode. Emily Harmon has 38 years of service to our country, as both a naval officer and civilian federal employee. Emily retired as a member of the Senior Executive Service in May of 2019. Her last assignment was Director of the Department of the Navy’s Office of Small Business Programs, where she served as the chief adviser to the Secretary of the Navy on all small business matters. During her career, she served as a contracting officer for the Naval Air Systems Command, and the Naval Supply Systems Command. Now, that is amazing. Emily, I am so excited to have this opportunity to connect with you again. Welcome to the podcast.

[EMILY]:
Thank you, Kathryn. It’s really nice to connect with you again. I enjoyed Podfest and we made so many friends, it was kind of cool that the, what was it, women over 50 got together and just had discussions and I learned so much, I still haven’t digested at all.

[KATHRYN]:
Well, I haven’t either. But I’ve got to tell you my favorite thing about Podfest was not what I learned when I went to the different speakers in the meetings. It was the connections that I made with people like you. And I was talking about you with my daughter and her friend the other day who were both college athletes. And I was telling them, I was like, I know this woman who was in the Naval Academy, I think if I’m correct, the fourth class?

[EMILY]:
Sixth, the sixth class to graduate.

[KATHRYN]:
Mm hmm. The sixth class of women in the Naval Academy and that you played basketball there. And my daughter was like, in awe. She was like, I want to be that cool. And I said, well, Emily is that cool. So, I’m so excited to have you here and to be able to bring your story to our audience. So, I know a little bit about your background, but for our listeners who don’t, please share a little bit about your background and then how you got to where you are today.

[EMILY]:
Okay. So, I think the reason I ended up going to the Naval Academy all started with basketball. When I was in third grade, my parents signed me up to play basketball and I hid behind the defense because I didn’t want the ball; I was really shy and intimidated and everything. And my dad spent a lot of time with me, teaching me basketball. And it wasn’t until I became an adult and a parent and recognized what it’s like to work, and he was working two jobs, and then spending his time on the weekends teaching me how to play basketball. So, I’ve written a tribute to my parents, and that’s one of the things I put in there. I just really appreciate everything he taught me because basketball is one of the main reasons why I am where I am today. So, I got really good at basketball because I worked hard at it. And I ended up going to basketball camps with the guys, playing against guys. You know, basketball was my life. And I was recruited by a lot of different colleges. When I was a senior in high school, I was the leading scorer in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. And basketball, I think it was like 25, 26 points a game and I really wanted to get a good education cuz, you know, I knew that basketball wasn’t going to be something I did after college and I wanted to have a good career. So, one of the colleges that recruited me was West Point. And I lived in Northern Virginia, so Annapolis, where the Naval Academy is, is closer and I went to West Point. It was cold, rainy, and gray. Everyone was wearing gray, that’s their uniform colors. And I stayed there for a weekend and I liked it, liked the team and everything but then I went to the Naval Academy, and if you’ve ever been there, it’s just beautiful.

[KATHRYN]:
It is beautiful.

[EMILY]:
Yeah. It was a sunny day and I liked the team and it was closer to home. And I didn’t really know a lot about the Navy, but I knew some, I knew enough to know what I was getting myself into. And so, I decided that that’s where I wanted to go. And it’s good that I didn’t make basketball my number one thing in life for college because I ended up having two knee surgeries when I was at the Naval Academy, major knee surgeries. My freshman year I was in a cast from my toe my hip for seven weeks and on crutches, and that plebe freshman year is hard enough already. So yeah, I overcame those injuries, still got my education, got out, graduated, and became a Supply Corps officer, which is like the business end of the Navy. And I stayed in the Navy for seven years. A couple of those years, I was stationed on a ship. And then I got out and became a contracting officer. My last job in the Navy as a lieutenant was in contracting. So, I just was able somehow to keep that similar job and just work for the same organization in contracting. So, then I became a contracting officer for several different organizations within the Navy, buying things like supplies and services, as well as helicopters, major weapon systems, cockpits for helicopters, things like that. And then I got into the Small Business portion of it, which is where we help small businesses figure out how do they sell their products and services to the Navy and the Marine Corps, because big companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing, they have lobbyists and they can figure it all out. But for the smaller companies, it’s hard. And I did that for the last 13 years of my career, and in the last three years I did it for the Department of the Navy, which includes the Navy and the Marine Corps. And so that’s what I did until I retired in May of last year. And I actually called my retirement ceremony my graduation, because I felt like I was graduating on to bigger and better things. I had been in the Navy for 38 years, either as a civilian or a government employee and I wanted to do something different with my life after that.

[KATHRYN]:
Okay, there are so many things that I was trying to keep up with within that story that I want so much more information about. Okay, so the first thing that I was really thinking about was the fact that you grew up playing basketball with guys. How were you able to do that, be probably one of only a few girls or the only girl playing with and around so many guys at the time, and how did that help prepare you for being in the Navy?

[EMILY]:
Yeah, that’s a good question. The way I did it is when I was taking a shot, they acted all macho, it swished, and so that’s what I… you know, I had confidence on the basketball court, I think and I just loved them underestimating me and me being able to make the shot.

[KATHRYN]:
Yeah, it was all about your actions speaking for you.

[EMILY]:
Yeah, because I was really shy and introverted. And that’s the first time I kind of thought about it that way. But you know, and I had a couple of other girlfriends that were good like that too and we were actually on the Junior Olympic basketball team. We made it to the finals; we played against Louisiana State, this is in… I think it was in New Orleans. Yeah. And Louisiana had really… that state had really good basketball players because, at that time, I think it was Louisiana Tech, was a really good basketball team, and we played against them. So, I’ve played a lot with some, you know, women that can play too. But that I think did help me at the Naval Academy because I knew how to get along with guys. I knew how to be one of the guys and fit in. So, I think that that really did help me because women were clear. We’re very much minority at the Naval Academy at the time that I went.

[KATHRYN]:
And when you went, what was the atmosphere or the culture like? Were the men at that time accepting of the women there or were you fighting an uphill battle?

[EMILY]:
Well, what happens is, initially they were accepting and that’s because the freshmen, or the plebe class, starts in July. We had our swearing in ceremony on July 7, and were put through a week or six weeks, six weeks of training, really tough training with just our classmates. So, there was… it was led by upperclassmen, but there weren’t a lot of upperclassmen around. So it’s just our classmates and we really bonded, we had to do a lot of physical activities together, a lot of mental activities together, we had to, you know, the only way you could survive is to act like it… is to be a team. And so, but then, when the Brigade, the rest of the classes, came back to start the academic year in August, I do remember some seniors that were women coming and talking to the women in my class telling us that things were going to be different. We were not going to be as accepted as we felt we were during the summer and we didn’t believe them. Yeah, maybe for you, but for us, no, so and so is my buddy, we’re gonna work, things are going to be fine. And it actually was different. And I’m not saying every guy turned but it was just, it was challenging. And the women will talk about that time now and say that we wish that we had bonded together, but it was like we were in survival mode.

[KATHRYN]:
Sure.

[EMILY]:
I don’t think that… there was I think 76 or… 72 or 76 women that graduated in my class of over 1200. So I don’t think that we did a good enough job of bonding together but we didn’t have… thinking about it, we didn’t have the internet, we didn’t have really ways of connecting except for you have to go down the hall in order to find them. And the dorm we stayed in is like the biggest dorm in the world. It’s hard to get anywhere and when you’re a freshman you have to run, they call it chopping, and you have to keep your eyes in the boat, meaning you have to be looking straight ahead; you can’t turn your head to read the signs on the door to see where somebody’s room is. And you have to square your corners so you’re chopping in the middle of the hall, running down the middle of the hall and you have to… every time you make a turn around a corner you have to say like, go Navy, sir, or beat army, sir. And so, to go and find somebody else to kind of commiserate with or talk to, especially in your freshman year, you just don’t do that. You stay in your room.

[KATHRYN]:
So, what I’m hearing is when you are all together with just the plebes, everybody was sort of indoctrinated in the same way and it was easy to bond with your class. But then once the male plebes became indoctrinated by their upperclassmen, there was more of a separation and a shift.

[EMILY]:
Yeah, the culture changed. And yeah, so there was times when it was pretty tough, and I think especially women who were athletes had an easier time or a better time of handling it because, you know, we got to eat lunch and dinner at our tables with the team when our team was in season. So, I didn’t have to sit with my people in my company. And we weren’t picked on when you’re sitting with your team. And just you have another group of support, you have a team. So, if you played on a sports team, I think that that really helped, and the fact that I knew how to get along with guys helped too.

[KATHRYN]:
So, another thing about your story that I really honed in on, and want to know more about, is during that difficult plebe time, to have to have knee surgery and have a cast from your toe to your hip, what did you draw upon within yourself to get through that and to carry on?

[EMILY]:
Tears are coming to my eyes, cuz I really don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, but it was hard. I had two roommates at the time, and we’re still best friends. We just had a phone call last night and we talked and they helped me out a lot because I remember, it was in November that I got hurt and we had a lot of snow, and I had to crutch to classes and you know, the snow gets on your crutches and everyone’s shoes and it makes the hallway slippery. And I had chemistry and I had history, I had like 18 or 20 hours of classes, probably 20. And the books were big, you know, and I had to carry them in my backpack, and it was just hard. And I’ve never said this on the podcast, so I’ll tell you that during that time, I think there was an upperclassman that lived across the hall from me and we’re not allowed to date upperclassmen, but I think it was just at weak moment of my life, and he showed interest in me. And he visited me in the hospital, I was in the hospital for a week, and I got in a little bit of trouble for that, for talking to an upperclassman. And I feel really bad about that, but when I look back, I forgive myself because I just think about how hard of a time it was. I can look back at it at age 57, which I’ll be next week, and just think about that. The other thing is my roommates helped me out a lot and I still talk about this. I remember Darlene, one of my roommates, coming back from the library one night and she had written down the words to that song ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. And that meant so much to me, that she was thinking about me and that she helped me out. And my basketball teammates helped me out too.

[KATHRYN]:
So, I’m hearing it was really those one on one connections that helped you get through. It’s bringing tears to my eyes, really. Are you sure you’re human? Not superhuman? Because I can’t even imagine crutches, books, cast up your whole leg, and being a plebe. It just, it’s really fascinating to me that you are a…

[EMILY]:
It was really hard. I don’t even know why I didn’t quit. I don’t even remember that quitting came across my mind. But you know, when I got the full length… I was in the hospital for a week, I got my full length plaster cast off, and my leg was like as thin as my arm and I had to, you know, then I was in a movable brace. Now you’re in and out of the hospital in the same day and you are in a movable brace and you’re just bending your leg right away. But the surgery, at the time when I had it my plebe year, that’s what it was like. And then when I had another surgery on my other knee my senior year, it was a little different. I was in a moveable brace right away, so I didn’t have to go through all of that learning to bend my knee again. But anyway, yeah, friendships and when you’re a plebe, and you’re going through all that, you really bond with people.

[KATHRYN]:
I wish I could get back in and could be in your head at that time because it sounds like what you just said is that there wasn’t even a thought about quitting.

[EMILY]:
No, I don’t think… I don’t remember that. I’d have to ask my mom, but I don’t think I did.

[KATHRYN]:
That to me is truly amazing. Um, so you have the Onward podcast?

[EMILY]:
Right.

[KATHRYN]:
Tell me about how that came to be and what your focus is on that podcast?

[EMILY]:
Well, I think it started in about 2014. I didn’t retire until 2019. But I knew that I wanted to retire at age 56, that was the minimum retirement age from the government, and I was thinking about what I wanted to do and a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go to this event called the World Domination Summit. And I hadn’t heard about it, but it was in Portland, Oregon. And I love that show Portlandia, so I’m like, I want to go see Portland, so I’ll go with you. And I went there, and it was like, when I was there, I felt right at home. It was like, these are my people. And it was people that are different than people in the military where I had spent my whole life starting at age 18. And it’s not that the military wasn’t my people, but I felt more like these folks, I mean, they were people that did blogging, couch surfing, podcasting, all things I hadn’t even really heard about since, you know, working for the military. And when I worked for the military, most of the time I was a single parent, so I just didn’t have time to look up and explore what I wanted to do.

So that was the first exposure to that, and then that got me just thinking and then in 2018, I went to World Domination Summit again for the third or fourth time, third time that time. And I listened to a podcast called… there was a speaker there, Kathy Heller, and she has a podcast called Don’t Keep Your Day Job. So, I started listening to her podcast. And then at that same time I started blogging about divorce, and then I wanted… because I’ve been divorced three times, which I’m not proud of, but then I decided, you know, when I read about divorce on the internet and stuff, it’s all negative and blaming somebody and yeah, there’s usually maybe one person more at fault than the other but it takes two and I didn’t want it to be a negative blog or just all complaining. There’s things I had to look at within myself. So, I decided I’m just going to interview people on how they faced adversity in their life and how they move forward because I thought of the adversity I’ve faced. I’ve interviewed on my podcast my daughter who has several invisible illnesses, and I haven’t talked to her about that, but I’ve talked to her about her anxiety on an episode. I’ve interviewed my son. And that episode’s the most popular one; it’s called A Mother-Son’s Discussion on Addiction and Recovery. He’s 26 now but when he was 23, he finally sought help for his alcoholism and drug abuse.

And so, I’ve overcome a lot of things and so I wanted to interview other people that have overcome, because I think that our stories matter. And I think when you hear a story, you put yourself in the shoes of the person telling the story, and you kind of live through that story in your mind. And you can relate to it better than someone just telling you something to do. And then you can say, “Well, okay, my circumstance isn’t the same as this guest’s, but it’s very similar, and I can apply that to this challenge that I have in my life”. And so that’s what I like about the Onward podcast, just interviewing different people about how they face adversity in their life and what keeps them going. And it’s everyday people, not famous people that… it’s people that have the same, you know, just about the same resources as you and I do to overcome something.

[KATHRYN]:
Yeah, I absolutely love that. So, is it the Onward podcast, and your work there, that has led you to create the Onward movement?

[EMILY]:
Yes. So, what happened is, I listened to another guy’s podcast called Pat Flynn. Pat Flynn is a guy that taught me how to do podcasting. He has a podcast called Smart Passive Income. And I was happened to be listening one day on a walk to an interview, and I don’t listen regularly to his, I can’t. I don’t have time to keep up every week with his but for some reason, I was listening to this one, and it was with a guy named Mark Bowness, B-O-W-N-E-S-S, from Australia, and he was talking about how he builds tribes. And what he was saying is that the old way of running an online business where you have a website, which I have, and you have a Facebook page, which I have, and you have an Instagram page, which you have, that’s not necessarily the best way to build a business. You need to create a tribe or a movement of people, of like-minded people. And what he said in this podcast episode, that I related to, he told his story of overcoming adversity and I thought, I got to get him on my podcast. And I’m going to have him as a guest sometime in the fall. So, he told his story, and then he talked about the importance of creating a tribe of people. He said that, in this world of seven and a half billion people, there’s at least 10,000 people that wake up every morning crying silent tears because they need what you have to offer. I thought to myself, you know what? That’s true. I believe that in this world, remember I was saying when you’re a plebe at the Naval Academy, you know, it’s very hard to find people because you don’t want to go down the hallway and we didn’t have the internet. But now we have the internet. And you have other ways of reaching out and finding people so I can help people in Australia. I can help people in New Zealand, I can help people in Europe; they connect with me on the Internet.

And so, the Onward movement is bigger than the Onward podcast. And let me see, I’m looking at… I’m still working on like, Mark recommends that we have an unstoppable dream and I’m still working on the wording for my unstoppable dream. But what I have right now is, ‘We, people in this movement, strive to embrace authenticity and vulnerability as strengths’. And we’re on a journey to inspire 10,000 people to join us in looking at authenticity, you know, to join us in that: looking at authenticity and vulnerability as strengths. And we boldly embody our authentic self through continuous learning, fearless engagement, and community. So, our three values in this movement are authenticity, continuous learning, and engagement in and outside of the community. And we’re really working on creating a community. So, it’s a Facebook group, and eventually when we’re off… when the COVID stuff passes a little bit and we can get together, we’re going to have retreats and things like that. And basically, people in the group either already look at authenticity and vulnerability as signs of strength, and value sharing their story, and value helping others, you know, look at it that way. And then there’s other people that can be in the group that don’t look at it that way but that want a support system. And right now, you know, I told you I’d be authentic about some of the challenges I’m having in leading this movement, because I’m definitely, I might sound confident, but there’s definitely days where I’m like, what am I doing? I don’t know if I can do this. And so, some of the time… yeah, go ahead.

[KATHRYN]:
We’re in the perfect place, right? Because in this podcast, we’re all about embracing imperfections and recognizing what beliefs we have that are limiting us and acting toward what we value and what’s most important to us, despite those limiting beliefs. So, what have some of your challenges or your insecurities or beliefs about yourself that have tried to get in the way of this incredible movement?

[EMILY]:
Well, one thing that’s kept me going in the movement too, is that I’ve had a lot of insecurity and beliefs… not the best thoughts about my podcast. There have been times when I’ve wanted to stop my podcast, but I’ve published like 64 or 65 episodes. And I’m coming up on a year and I’m so glad I didn’t quit. So, you just got to keep going and recognize that some days, you’re going to feel that way. But then a lot of times the next day or a week later, I’m motivated again. And I’ve also realized that I’m somebody who likes to finish something and check it off the list. And I’m very frustrated that I haven’t finished writing that perfect unstoppable dream yet, for the movement. I’m frustrated by that. I wanted to just get it done in a day and check it off my list. But sometimes it takes thinking things through, talking it over with other people.

And one of the things that I want to do is… most of the people in the movement, there’s like seventy… I have 500 people in the Onward movement group right now – I want to get to 10,000. There’s about 71% women; a lot of the women are my age, like 55 and older. So, there’s a lot of wisdom there that can be shared. And I think that if I had a group like this when I was, you know, 25 to 45, I think that that would you know… like a group of people that can mentor me and help me through some of my challenges; a fear of being judged, fear of being inauthentic. You know, how do I handle this situation? I think that that would have really helped me. So, I really want to get to… and we have men too in the group, which I think is good too, because they’re actually participating. And they’re giving us their feedback and thoughts and we’re sharing with them because they work with women, so they need to learn how women think. And so, we really want to get the movement to be more some of the younger generation so that we can help them out. So that’s part of my insecurities like, can I get to those people?

[KATHRYN]:
So, there are so many things to dig into, and what you’ve just told me. Let me see if I can remember them all. One that’s really interesting to me is that you see in your focusing in on authenticity and vulnerability as being a strength.

[EMILY]:
Mm hmm.

[KATHRYN]:
That’s not something that you were taught in the Navy way back when, right?

[EMILY]:
No.

[KATHRYN]:
Yeah. So how did you come from the teaching and the culture of the Navy to authenticity and vulnerability equals strength?

[EMILY]:
I think the Navy needs to change from that perspective. I think the culture in the Navy needs to change; the culture in the military needs to change with respect to that. So, the way I came to that is, you know, I moved up through the ranks, I came in as a, you know, an ensign in the Navy and then a GS 11. And then I moved up to… it goes 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 – that’s the ranks that I kept getting promoted. And then I was a Senior Executive, which was the equivalent… my job was the equivalent of a two-star Admiral. And I was definitely a minority my whole career, as a woman working in a man’s environment in the military. And I always thought that the people higher up had a… I don’t know why I thought this – they had everything perfect, they don’t have any problems, they don’t have any challenges. And then, as I kept getting higher and higher, I realized, you know, these people are just like me; they put their shoes on, put their pants on just like me. And I just started speaking up. Maybe part of it was my age, but I remember one time when I was really vulnerable it was a class for new senior executives and flag officers, admirals and generals in the Marine Corps in the Navy. There’s like 300 people in that class because you could bring your spouse and at that class is when my son went to the hospital for his alcoholism. And I didn’t leave the class to go help him out. And you can hear that in the episode. I’ve already done this, whatever I could do to help him. He had to do it himself, and I wanted to show him that he had to do it himself, that I cannot rescue him. But his blood alcohol was point three-nine when he went into the hospital, but I was in that class.

So I have also been very outspoken about the opioid epidemic because I know a lot of women who’ve lost their kids to drug overdoses, and I’ve been part of this group called Parents Affected by Addiction where we counsel parents and how to not enable and stuff like that. So anyway, I spoke up and I shared what was going on with my son at that meeting; I was very vulnerable. And I said, we are all leaders in the Navy and the Marine Corps and I guarantee you, that somebody on your staff, somebody in your organization is going through what I’m going through, and they feel like they can’t speak up. They feel like they can’t talk about it because addiction is considered a weakness. And it’s not a weakness. If somebody had cancer, you would not be ashamed to say that, and people would be delivering meals to your door. When it’s mental illness or addiction, people turn the other way and we’ve got to change that culture.

So, I spoke up and so many people after that, thank me for that. And I urge them to go back and figure out what’s going on in their organizations because we have an opioid epidemic in the United States. Figure out what’s going on in your organization. And because of that, I was able to go and speak at two different organizations about it. They invited me to come speak. And I know that one Admiral thought, you know, we don’t have that problem in my office. Well, after I spoke at his organization in the theater, five people raised their hand. The first person said, ‘I’m raising my granddaughter, because my daughter is a heroin addict’. The next person said, ‘My son overdosed twice last week, and I don’t know what to do’. And so other people spoke up too. So that was my point, is as leaders, we need to speak up. And so that’s kind of a long story to tell you how I got to just… I figured if me as the equivalent of a two star Admiral, a senior person, can speak up and say my son is an addict, my son is addicted to alcohol, and I’m not ashamed of that, I’m getting him help and I’m speaking up about it, then that gives other people a voice too.

[KATHRYN]:
Okay, I love that. I love that story. So, once again, so many questions; I’m trying to keep them all straight. You’re building a community, right? You’re trying to get out there and find your tribe. Find your people. And I’m doing the same thing and there’s, I think there’s some overlap, but there’s some definite distinctions about the communities that we are trying to build. And it all stems from our experience, right? Our background, what we’ve learned through our 50-something years. And for me, most of my life, I was held back by anxiety; I had so many negative limiting beliefs that I was afraid to try. Afraid to try so many things that I wanted to do, and I missed so many opportunities. And I feel like, like you said earlier, you kind of saw your Navy retirement as a graduation, this is not time for you to stop. This is when you really feel like you’re getting going.

[EMILY]:
Right.

[KATHRYN]:
And I got past my limiting beliefs and my anxiety. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t ever creep up, right? It just means I don’t let it stop me anymore. I’m at that same point. I feel like I’m just starting to live in my 50s and the community that I’m trying to build is of women in midlife who want this to be the best part of their lives, but they maybe don’t even know how, right? I want to give them a place. I want to give them a voice, something that they can be a part of that’s going to nudge them and help them in a positive way, to dig down deep to see what they really want and to live out their best potential without being afraid to try. A struggle that I’m having is how do I find my people?

[EMILY]:
So I ended up, when I heard Mark Bowness talk on Pat Flynn’s podcast about tribes, he was holding a… he asked people to join his tribe, Facebook group, and then when I got into the group, which is free, I saw that he was offering a class – a two-week challenge – on how to build a tribe. And I participated in that two-week challenge. It was 47 bucks. It was the best 47 bucks I’ve ever spent. And it was a lot of work. In fact, the first time I signed up in March, I wasn’t able to finish because I was on travel for one week in the beginning of March, and I didn’t realize how much work it was going to be to do what he was having us do in the class. And so, he called, and he wanted me to maybe join his year-long program, and I’m like, I didn’t even finish the two weeks. And so, he offered me the ability to do the two weeks again, which I did. And because he offered that to me, and because I’m a people pleaser, I did it. I made sure that I didn’t fall behind, and I did the work and I learned so much. And so, I did hire him for the next year. And I’m in a different group where we’re really working on how to build our tribe. And part of it is getting the right people in there. It’s not about the number of likes and comments in your group, in Facebook. It’s more about finding the right people in the group and I’ve told people, if you’re in the group and you join it, and then you decide this isn’t for me, please leave, it’s fine. I’m not going to be offended. I know that, like there’s people that would want to follow you, Kathryn, there’s people that want to follow me, and really be active and be in the group. So, I’m working with Mark for a year on this, and one of the things I’m gonna do in the next year is get a book published, he helps get it in the media. So, there’s, there’s a strategy for this. And that’s what I’m working on.

[KATHRYN]:
That’s so great, because I just, it’s so frustrating to think that there are other people out there who have gone through what we’ve been through in their own way. Or they might be in the position that we found ourselves in a few years back that just through our experience, we want to help and bond with, so that they don’t have to suffer through all the same things that we suffered through. Right?

[EMILY]:
Right. And back then we were in our mid-30s, or whatever, like 20, 25 years ago; we didn’t have the internet, we didn’t have an ability to reach out to people like they have now. So I just really don’t want men or women to finally find their voice when they’re 50 or 60. You know, find it when you’re 20 or 30. And join a group like yours or mine that can help you with that.

[KATHRYN]:
Yeah, exactly. It’s not just for the people who are around our age, who aren’t there yet, or have something that they need to get past. It’s so that everyone can learn from our experience, that whole thing of ‘I wish I knew then what I know now’.

[EMILY]:
Yeah, yeah. And some people aren’t ready to learn that; some people want to learn the hard way. I remember when I was trying to coach my son in basketball, and I was outside teaching him something and he goes, I just want to learn naturally. I tease him about that all the time. Fine, go learn naturally and it’ll take you 20 years instead of, you know, maybe a year or something.

[KATHRYN]:
So, you know, you’ve made this big shift in your retirement. And I love that it’s just this jumping-off point. What challenges have you faced along the way and the shift in starting your business? And what have you learned about running an online business through that shift?

[EMILY]:
I’ve learned that what Mark Bowness, about the tribe building, has said, is true; you can’t just build a website and host a podcast, and expect people to want you to be their coach. And, you know, you’ve got to give a lot, you’ve got to earn a lot of trust points, you’ve got to find your tribe. And there’s a lot of new things I’m learning. That’s one thing I like about it is that I had to learn how to develop a website, I had to learn how to do a podcast, I had to learn how to really be active in social media and what works and what doesn’t. I’m learning how to streamline my business, you know, people can sign up on my website through Calendly to schedule a podcast interview, you know, how to how to streamline things. So, every day I’m learning something new. And sometimes it does feel like two steps forward and two… and 10 steps backwards, but I’m learning also from every single guest that I interview. And you know what a couple of key themes that come out from every single guest that I’ve interviewed about overcoming adversity and challenges in life is, that you have to know where you are and where you’re going. You have… you know, from point A to point B and figure out a plan to get there, and then you have to stick to it. And you have to ask for help. And you have to be persistent.

I noticed… I mean, I have in the past year signed up for a lot of classes, online classes, like how to build your email list, how to start a mastermind, how to develop a class and put it online? I mean, yeah, like an online class. And I’m a go-getter, but I haven’t finished a lot of those classes. And I finished the Tribe Building Challenge in two weeks because Mark, the leader of that group, called me out, like if I didn’t do my homework, or if I hadn’t posted my homework in the group, or if I hadn’t been active on the page, he would tag me in a post, say, Emily, what’s going on? So, I really saw the value of having a coach for accountability reasons and to just motivate you and keep going. That is what I really saw. And that’s why I hired him. So I saw the value of a coach and I think that that’s my biggest takeaway over the year, is that you can be a go-getter, an A-type personality like me, but when you’re starting your business, there’s so many shiny objects, oh, I think I need to take that class, I need to do that, I need to do that. And to really just stay focused, and know that you’re on the right track, it helps to have a coach guide you along the way.

[KATHRYN]:
Absolutely. I could not agree more. We all need someone who can kind of, not just keep us on task, but show us the way because you’re right, every day, there are so many different diversions and different paths that we could take, that having someone say, this needs to be your focus, is just worth so much.

[EMILY]:
I’m sure you saw that at Podfest. I’ve got so many notes on all these different things I need to do regarding my podcast, but actually, that’s not where I need to focus my time now because my podcast is going pretty well. I need to start building this movement. So you can go to conferences like that, and I learned so much, but there’s just no way to implement it all and build this movement and, you know, do other things that I want to get done in my life. So, having somebody… and I’m a coach to a few people, and some of them are like, you’re better than a therapist because, you know, just somebody to talk to when you feel insecure or somebody to bounce your ideas off of, it just really helps.

[KATHRYN]:
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So, you know, I could talk to you for hours and hours and hours. But I know that you have other things to do as well. So, I usually end, well I end each podcast with asking my guests, what is one imperfect action we can take today to get closer to our best lives?

[EMILY]:
I think the answer is in your question because it’s just ‘Do something’. I think it’s helpful to have a list of goals and not just write your New Year’s resolutions but have measurable actions that you’re going to take against each one. And then every day when you’re thinking about what you should do next, compare it against your goals to make sure you’re moving forward. And sometimes it’s just taking a small step. And I’ll tell you an example, and this isn’t even with building my online business, but my kid’s father died in December, and we’ve still got to clean his house out and it’s been just hanging over my head. He was a hoarder and there’s just so much in it. Hanging over my head, hanging over my head, and we’re finally going to get together next week and start making more progress. We have made progress on it. And just calling and ordering the dumpster to be delivered next Wednesday felt like a load off my shoulders. But that was just a little tiny thing that I did, but it still felt like I’m moving towards finally getting that house cleaned out, because looking at the whole house can be like, oh my gosh, it’s just overwhelming. But I got the dumpster ordered. And so sometimes it’s just a little something like that, that can keep you going.

[KATHRYN]:
Absolutely. And I heard when you were talking a little while ago about all that you’ve been learning and doing, it made me think about my journey as well. And that’s how we learn. And that’s how we get things done is not by thinking everything through until it’s perfect. We learn by doing it, taking a little nugget away from that action, and then pivoting.

[EMILY]:
Right, right, right.

[KATHRYN]:
Taking action is just what we have to do. If we wait till we feel perfect about it, we’ve waited too long.

[EMILY]:
That’s right. I mean, there’s no way I would have thought a year ago that I want to start this Onward movement. It’s only because I started the podcast and then there’s been lots of redirections along the way, but you just have to do something. And actually sometimes the something that you need to do is to take a break, and not do anything, you know, because sometimes I just get overwhelmed and I think too much and I need to call a friend or go for a bike ride or, you know, something like that. That helps to.

[KATHRYN]:
Absolutely, we have to treat ourselves with flexibility and forgiveness even when we’re striving for all of these great goals, right?

[EMILY]:
Yeah.

[KATHRYN]:
Absolutely. Well, I have loved our conversation today and I can’t wait to follow and learn more about your tribe and your Onward movement. So where can all our listeners go to be a part of your tribe, or to learn more about you?

[EMILY]:
Okay, my website is just emilyharman.com. H-A-R-M-A-N. And then you can follow the Onward podcast on Instagram and Facebook, there’s pages there. And to find the Onward movement Facebook group and request to join it, just go to groups on Facebook and search for onward movement. And I’ll make sure you have the links to put in the show notes as well.

[KATHRYN]:
Perfect. I will definitely do that.

[EMILY]:
And connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m active on LinkedIn too.

[KATHRYN]:
Okay, awesome. Well, Emily, I’m so happy to have had this time with you today. And for all our listeners, I’m so glad that you all have joined us today for this episode. We have learned so much about authenticity, strength, perseverance, and really shifting and making this part of our life just a jumping-off point for so many good years and so many good things to become in the future. So, I encourage everyone to do exactly what Emily said and just go for it. Just start, right? Take that one action towards something that’s important to you. And when you do that, pat yourself on the back, celebrate the fact that you took action towards something to make your life the life that you want. And until we meet back here next week, go out and find a friend or a loved one to add to our community of women, and really of men as well. Striving toward our best lives supporting and nudging each other along the way. Share the website, share the podcast, share the Imperfect Thriving Facebook group. Y’all will hear me again next week.

If you love this podcast, will you rate and review it on iTunes, or your favorite podcast player? Also, I have a free nine-part Blueprint to Thrive email course. It’s a step-by-step guide to find out what you want your life to look like, exactly what’s holding you back, and how to get to that life you want. Head on over to www.imperfectthriving.com/course to get the course today.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information with regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or guests, are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, I encourage you to reach out to one.

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About Kathryn

I’ve created Imperfect Thriving to help you get back to who you really are, and live your best life possible, imperfectly.

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