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Become aware of who you are: Joanne Perold

Michael Hunter


Welcome to Uncommon Leadership.

Today I’m talking with Joanne Perold.

Joanne is a coach and trainer in South Africa.

She runs a small coaching business and has been leading teams, individuals, and organizations since the early 2000s.

She loves to learn and keeps learning, and is lately excited about Wardly mapping, Flight Levels and Virginia Satir’s work.

Welcome, Joanne!

Joanne Perold 0:29

Hi, Michael. Very nice to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

Michael 0:34

You’re welcome. I’m glad to have you here and excited to see where our conversation goes today.

Joanne 0:41

Me, too. Very much so.

Michael 0:45

As you reflect on your journey to seeing people as people, and learning how to leverage the unique gifts that each of those people brings, what has had the biggest impact on your progress so far?

Joanne 0:59

A few things.

The first was back in 2012. I got to go to the Amplify Your Effectiveness (AYE) conference.

Back then, it was hosted by Jerry Weinberg and Esther Derby and Johanna Rothman and Don Gray.

I met so many amazing people and just got introduced to a whole lot of awesome, awesome things.

That was when I first got introduced to a lot of Virginia’s work, Virginia Satir, that is.

It expanded my brain quite a lot.

It gave me a whole lot of new tools for how to see people, tools for interactions, tools for change, and tools for just being a leader in general, that really helped me to see the world differently.

Since then, I’ve just built on those tools. Used what I learned there and then look for what was next. I could grow my learning and become better at using the tools or in different methods.

I definitely think that was one of the most impactful things for me.

Michael 2:16

I believe I was that AYE as well.

Joanne 2:21

It was the last one ever.

We were there together.

How cool is that?

We didn’t get to talk to each other.

That’s where I met George (Dinwiddie).

Michael 2:32

Ah, yes. I met him through AYE and Jerry’s SHAPE forum.

Joanne 2:41

Oh, cool. Okay, I never got to do SHAPE forum. That sounds amazing.

Michael 2:47

It was pretty amazing. And that’s where a lot of my journey has come from, things I’ve learned through AYE and his email forum and other people and events around that “Weinborg” experience.

That work has had a big impact on you personally. Do you have a story about the impact, of how you’ve taken that personal impact and turned that into impact with your clients?

Joanne 3:37

I do. I’ve got quite a few.

Often, when I learn new things, I want to take those things, especially if I think that they’re awesome, I want to take those things and then I want to share them with everybody.

I want to share them because I’m excited by them.

But I also want to share them because that’s the best way for me to learn.

If I have something really cool, then I want to teach it because then I learn more about it. I have to know it well enough to be able to tell somebody about it.

It’s this dual thing.

Through what I’ve learned there I’ve taken a lot of those tools into organizations.

A fairly recent example at the moment is a leadership training that I’m creating for a German organization that I’m working with.

We’re doing leadership training that’s got a whole lot of Virginia’s Satir’s models and a whole lot of that kind of speaking about congruence and interaction and change and all of those kinds of things as embedded into the leadership training as well.

Often, I’ll teach something and then, what I’ve learned, is that there’s so much nuance in so much of what I’ve learned that sometimes, when I learn it the first time, I just get a surface picture of it.

Then the more I deep dive, the more I teach somebody else, the more I learn about it.

As I teach it to those leaders, they learn and I learn again, and that’s really been quite cool.

I bring a lot of those models into both the work that I’ve done with customers, but also into other training that I do. And, into, I think, I lead the people that I work with when I’m in a leadership role.

Michael 5:44

I imagine, some of these times, since you’re teaching these and helping people learn how to use these models and practices themselves, some of the time it just works and it’s awesome and they get it and they’re off and running.

And other times, they never get it at all.

And, a lot of the time you’re sort of in between, somewhere in the middle.

And they’re not just getting it awesomely and using it beautifully.

How do you move people from, “I don’t get it”, to “Well, I get it enough to start using it and understand some of the impact it have on me.”

Joanne 6:24

I’ve been pondering this quite a bit.

There’s this, the “I get it and I’m gonna run with it” people. Then there’s the “I don’t get it yet, but I’m going to want to learn more about it and then I’ll get better”. And then sometimes I get a sense that there’s the “I won’t ever get it because I just don’t care enough about this kind of work or this kind of stuff” people.

Identifying the people that really just don’t care has also helped me.

When I see those people, then I think, “Okay. Well, that’s okay. I’m gonna share with you what I know. If something changes, then maybe you’ll come back to me. But if nothing changes, then I’m just going to let you go. Neither of us are going to get anything out of trying to push you in a direction you don’t want to go.”

So, there’s those people.

And then for the people where they are in the in between, “I’m not really sure what this is about,“ I have a few different things.

What I’m trying to do is to create more transformational learning.

What’s an adventure we can go on together that allows you to explore this concept in a more visceral way or in a more practical manner, that it’s not just knowledge that has just been passed down but it’s more experience.

I can feel this.”

See if that could help.

How can I create learning adventures that are more in a space where people can get transformative learning.

I also did Problem Solving Leadership with, Jerry, Esther, and Johannah were doing it at that point.

In Problem Solving Leadership, there is a big simulation that they do. It’s really quite amazing.

During that simulation, I got to learn a lot of stuff, which was so awesome that even now I think back on what happened and I’m still learning.

It’s really kind of exciting.

That’s what I’m trying to do. Create learning experiences that are more in their transformational space.

It’s also hard when you only have a little bit of time or translating some of the things that we do in person into remote space. Understanding which things can translate and which things just never will, so you just have to let them go.

Michael 9:22

As you’re working with teams, presumably the leader who brought you in has found value in what you teach, and wants to share that with their team. And some or all of their team may be in that camp of “I just don’t get it” or even “This is opposite from what I perceive happening or believe is even possible.” How do you manage those situations?

Joanne 9:57

I’m just trying to think, because I haven’t had…I’ve had people give me feedback that something was a little bit too…what was the word that they used, honestly, “esoteric,” but that wasn’t the word that they used…

So, feedback that “Oh, this wasn’t for me” from a training perspective, I haven’t had lots of that.

Not because I don’t think it’s happening.

Sometimes people are afraid to share that this is not for them.

I’ve been lucky enough to have not had a whole lot of people that “Just a load of rubbish,” and “Wow, what are you just wasting our time here for?” I haven’t had a lot of that. I’m very lucky in that I haven’t had a lot of that.

I have to think about how I would handle it.

I think I really want to make space for those people to just leave.

If I think about Virginia Satir’s work, one of the tools in your toolkit is this Yes No Medallion, which just speaks to “Does the fit for me right now?

It feels like that person’s Yes No Medallion is firmly on a “No” in that moment.

I’m not sure that trying to force them into something that is just a big “no” for them right then is going to be helpful for them. Or for me. Or for the group, for that matter.

I want to try and take an approach, or for the leader to say, “Okay, well, that’s great. If this isn’t for you right now, then feel free to do whatever. We’ll connect later and find something that suits your learning style or your whatever a little bit more.”

Then see if I can kind of move them in that direction. A little bit slower, maybe different, way of approaching the topic.

Someone else I was speaking to the other day was also about this kind of thing. Speaking about right or left brain dominant. Different ways that people think. Some people are feelings people and some people are thinking people and some people don’t know how to talk about their feelings.

There’s all these different ways of processing information.

If we can find the right approach that speaks that person’s language, then you might be able to open them up to a new idea. But you have to find the language.

But, like I said, I’ve been really lucky.

So, the feedback I’ve had from people that have found that it’s a bit esoteric, I was like, “Okay, cool. Thanks for that feedback,” and we had a bit of a chat. We’ve got a biweekly leadership cohort that’s happening. I expected the person not to come back, but they’re there every two weeks there, and they’re the most consistent member of the group.

So, “Cool, well, there’s something you’re getting something out of this. Even if that section wasn’t for you, maybe there’s other things that you’re gaining from this.” Because they keep showing up.

Michael 13:21

In some ways, I find those people to be the most inspiring for me personally.

Because they know that there’s something there.

They don’t know how to articulate what it is.

They may not even know how to articulate what it isn’t.

And yet there’s enough pull, and they’re enough aware of the pull, to keep showing up and digging in a little bit more, learning a little bit more, so that they can figure out what it is that they want to go after in that space.

Joanne 13:59

I find that I learn a lot from people who challenge that because it makes me think about, “What’s another way I might share this with people?”

Michael 14:16


Anytime somebody doesn’t understand what I’m saying, I assume it’s I haven’t found the right way to speak to them, like you were saying earlier.

The more that they’re willing to stay engaged with me, and help me find the right way to explain to them, and understand what they’re not getting so that I can adjust what I’m saying so that they can understand it, then we can have a conversation about how it fits.

But if they’re not even understanding what I’m saying, we can’t even know what amount of fit there might be there.

Joanne 14:58

Yeah, that’s very, very true.

Michael 15:02

And that’s maybe the most frustrating thing for me, when I just can’t find the right way. “How can you understand what I’m trying to explain?

Joanne 15:14

That is very, very frustrating.

I tend to get a little bit overexcited.

Then, sometimes, if somebody doesn’t understand, instead of pausing, I can double down and just say more stuff.

That doesn’t really help, either.

I’m just, “But wait, there’s more,” and they’re, “No, more isn’t going to be helpful right now.” But you missed that.

Michael 15:43

Is there a specific time you can think of, where you missed that signal that they weren’t getting? And you kept doubling down and it just really wasn’t helping you.

Joanne 15:53

This morning, actually.

I have a little Meetup group, and we were doing some Wardly mapping. Just kind of exploring it for fun and just seeing what we could learn.

We were going about it in one kind of way, and I was getting quite frustrated. It felt like it was the wrong way for me. I could see a different path.

And I was saying, “So I can see this different path,” and then I kind of took the path, and I just ran with it.

I didn’t really wait for anybody to be like, “Oh, yeah, let go and explore that path with you.”

Also, when I started on my path, I didn’t really make space for anyone else to be in the path with me.

I was just, “No, but listen, listen, listen.”

Then I was getting more excited and louder and more energetic and faster.

And I didn’t really…other people were checking out, and they were, “Oh, okay,” and “I’m gonna leave the table.”

And I was like, “Okay, wait.

Luckily, I have a really good friend who gave me some great feedback. So, then I could reflect on that.

Michael 17:19

What signals have you developed to help you recognize that this might be happening?

Joanne 17:26

That’s a good question.

Often, I’ll go and reflect on the past, on past behaviors that I want to shift, and then see if I can identify the patterns.

Sometimes, if you don’t, if you’re not aware enough of it creeping up on you, then you can’t pull yourself out of it.

You have to be aware of, “Hey, hang on a second. Here’s the thing that’s creeping up on you and if you don’t want to talk, you will be in trouble.”

So, doing that, this after-reflection, having great feedback from good friends, can help.

But I also, it was something that I learned from Jerry Weinberg and relearn all the time: listening to your body, because it’s giving you a lot of signals about something.

Usually, when your heart starts racing, or my stomach starts doing something strange, or some of those kinds of signals, that’s usually a trigger or a way to be aware that something is kind of exciting is happening here.

And now, I might need to make some decisions about what that looks like or how to deploy my exciting part or my whatever part in a better way.

So, trying to pay attention.

Sometimes it works and you can be like, “Oh wait, I see that, and you can catch us off and pull yourself back again. Hey, it’s okay. We got this kind of vibe.

And sometimes it’s happening and you’re just this observer in the background going, “Oh, this will be a car crash,” but it’s too late now.

How about you?

Michael 19:14


I have some signals from my body.

More for me is how much I’m paying attention to the conversation and how much I’m off trying to figure out what to say next, or what the right way is to help this move on to where it’s trying to get to.

“Amazingly,” the more that I focus on the conversation, the more that I know the right way to help the conversation get to where it’s needing to go.

The more able I am to help the people I’m working with understand what I’m trying to help them understand, the more I can help them understand what they’re feeling, and what they’re sensing needs to happen next, and what they’re experiencing, and help them bring that into the conversation, and help them move the conversation on their own, rather than me sort of guiding the conversation along.

Joanne 20:42

That’s a good thing to pay attention to.

That’s what happened to me this morning.

I did the opposite of that.

I stopped paying attention to the conversation.

I started paying attention to where I thought it should be going.

Michael 20:58

It’s the hardest thing a lot of times for me, and, I find, for a lot of the people I work with—and it sounds like you this morning: We saw the answer. We know how much awesomer that’s going to be if we can just get there. We lose track of, even if that is the right place to go, if the people we’re interacting with aren’t ready, then it’s not going to be the right place.

Joanne 21:37

That’s true. Very true. Very true.

Michael 21:45

So how do you suss out what people are ready for?

Joanne 21:56

That’s a great question.

I haven’t thought about that, in that exact way before.

There’s a few things that I do at a semi-unconscious, sometimes, I’m not conscious of it, that I should probably be more.

How eager people are.

If people are eager and expected, that’s usually a good indicator that they’re kind of wanting to hear more, that they’re with you, those kinds of things.

Although, sometimes, when the opposite happens, it’s actually people are thinking and processing.

They might have taken in a lot of what you’re saying or are sharing or creating a transformational experience so that people can experience new things.

But they haven’t finished processing it yet.

Then, more at that stage is not going to be helpful.

So, when people get quiet, that’s usually only an indication that peeps are thinking, and they probably need a break or a pause here to digest information or ask questions or see how to integrate something new with whatever they’ve currently got going on for themselves.

There’s obvious, very loud, “Hey, shut up because I’m not interested in your rubbish” sort of whatever. That’s usually a good indication that people are not interested in anything that you are sharing, or they’ve had enough.

Often, it’s more nuanced than that.

Distracted. If people are distracted or if they’re kind of quiet.

I find that if they’re asking questions, it usually means that they’re curious. And if they’re not asking questions about stuff, then they’re not always curious.

Michael 24:25

We opened with, what has had the biggest impact on your progress through this journey. What have you found to be your biggest challenge?

Joanne 24:41

What’s my biggest challenge? Another great question.

A few. Let’s narrow that: As a leader? Or as somebody who grows people? Or in general context?

Michael 25:17

Your personal understanding and activation of the tools and techniques you’ve found and picked up as you’re moving through this journey.

Joanne 25:32

Okay, cool.

Sometimes it’s scary to look at yourself and see things that you don’t necessarily want to see.

That’s quite challenging.

When you become aware of something, a part of you that you’re not, it’s not your best part.

For lots of people, that first confrontation.

For me, that was also one of the things.

That first confrontation of, “Oh, here’s this thing that you don’t love so much.”

One of the things I love about Virginia (Satir)’s work is she helps people to appreciate these parts, and then understand, “Ha, they’re the good bits.” I guess that’s the counter to that.

But sometimes I’m still, when you first become aware of something that’s, “Meh, that’s nasty, I don’t know if I can appreciate that part yet,” that can be quite scary. That’s quite scary.

That’s been quite a big challenge for me.

A second challenge for me is hearing things like “Oh, this is a little esoteric or a little too whatever.”

For me, when you’re trying to share things with people, sometimes it feels like it lacks credibility for a certain individual.

And that’s not true.

It’s just that they don’t really understand.

So, that, for me, has sometimes been a challenge.

But in an awesome way.

Because challenges are the things that you push through to grow.

The key things.

Michael 27:49

Do you have a story about how you turned one of those challenges into a success?

Joanne 27:58

Jean McLendon and Virginia (Satir) came up with these Seven A’s of Change.

First, you need awareness of something.

Then you need acceptance of something.

Once you’ve got acceptance of that for yourself, then there’s authorship, owning it for yourself.

If you own something, then you can choose how you want to deploy it.

For me, I’ve had some awesome successes with parts of myself, facing that horrible part of yourself that you hate, and then looking at it and understanding it from the perspective of what’s it trying to be for you.

What’s it trying to protect you from?

What’s it trying to be for you?

What positive intent?

And then transforming that into something that I can, instead of something that owns me, something that, it’s this part of me, and Joanne owns that part of herself, like the bitchy part or the overexcited part or whatever.

It allows me to then deploy those thoughts in a way that makes more sense, or is more effective, or has been upset, or whatever the case may be, or gives me more options for choice.

That’s been one of my good successes. Which I think has been really cool.

And then, for one or two of my coaching clients, I’ve actually helped them to do that for themselves. Come to terms with a specific part of themselves that they haven’t.

That’s been quite cool to watch that kind of transformation happen.

Michael 29:58


The more we pull ourselves back together, reclaim all these disparate pieces that we cast off because we didn’t like them, someone else told them they were bad, and myriad other reasons, the more we become who we really are, and the more able we are to bring it out to the world.

And actually, the world is really clamoring for it. For us to be us and our true selves and the unique gifts that we’ve written.

Joanne 30:33

Exactly, exactly. It’s a beautiful way to phrase it.

Michael 30:37

Thank you.

What else should I ask you today?

Joanne 30:41

What else should you ask me today?

This has been such a beautiful conversation.

I’m trying to think, what would be a generative thing to talk about?

Because there’s things I’m excited about and interested in.

And then there’s things that would fit in with all of them.

Really, ultimately, what should you ask me about?

Maybe, what am I learning now? What’s exciting me now about my learning?

Michael 31:56

I love that question.

What’s exciting you about what you’re learning now, Joanne?

Joanne 32:01

Oh, that’s awesome. Thanks, Michael.

At the moment, I’m lucky enough to be part of a cohort with a few different people in it from all over the world doing different things.

There’s some kind of big tech leaders, and then there’s some coaches, and there’s some social workers.

And they’re from Sweden and the US and China and South Africa and Europe and everywhere.

Well, they’re not everywhere.

It’s quite an amazing place to be.

We get together every two weeks and we learn from each other.

We learn about how we’re growing as leaders, and how we’re using some of the models and techniques that Virginia (Satir)’s taught.

We’ll talk about the different ways we might use them.

We talk about things that we’re struggling with.

Things that we’re learning.

It’s a really, really exciting place to be.

I learn every week.

It’s kind of like a coaching circle, but in a very different way.

And Jean (McLendon), who’s a longtime Virginia Satir student and teacher of Virginia’s methods, is the facilitator. Holds the space.

I watch her whole face for so many different things that are happening or that come up.

It’s also just an amazing way to learn.

That, for me, has been very, very cool.

And also, I started on a journey to invest more in my coaching side, using Virginia’s methods, and I really want to do the next level of that. So, I’ve done the first level and I want to move on to the next level because I can see a lot of options for how to support people and help them. And not just as individuals, but as groups as well.

That’s what’s exciting me at the moment.

Michael 34:28

Nice. It does seem exciting.

What would you like to leave our listeners with today?

Joanne 34:50

Top of mind for me, and maybe it’s just because of a recent situation, but awareness and acceptance and authorship are just amazing resources at our disposal.

Being able to become aware of things that we want to change.

Being able to accept the things that we want to change, especially about ourselves, can help us to own those things and make changes that we want to see.

Those are quite simple things.

It’s very difficult, but totally awesome and very powerful.

That’s what I’ll leave people with.

Michael 35:39

Perfect. Thank you.

You have a weekly podcast with a meditation.

Joanne 35:49

It’s on a podcast because of podcast app, but what it actually is, is it’s a centering exercise.

Weekly, I’ll record a centering exercise that I’ll do for myself.

Sometimes it’s got a theme, what’s going on for me, and sometimes it doesn’t.

Based a lot on Virginia’s meditations. Sometimes I’ll read one of those. Sometimes I’ll just make it up based on her principles.

It’s usually about seven or eight minutes long, sometimes five or seven minutes long.

It’s this opportunity to take time for myself, but then I share it with the world so maybe other people can also use this to take time for themselves. Be centered.

Michael 36:47

For our audience who may not know what centering is, how would you describe that?

Joanne 36:56

That is a great question, Michael. A very good question.

Centering is getting in touch with the best version of yourself.

That’s the way I describe it.

When we’re in touch with the best versions of ourselves, it’s so much easier to deal with anything that life is throwing at it, no matter what it is.

It’s not necessarily going to be easy.

But it’s easier.

Because we’re fully resourced. And we’re fully aware. And we’re fully centered.

We’re zen. We’re paddling in the middle of that perfect part of ourselves.

When we can get there؅, and it’s easy for us to get there, then it’s easier to deal with whatever else life might be giving you.

That’s what the centering is all about.

It’s about getting in touch with the essence of you, and the best version of you, and reminding yourself of your resources, and how powerful you actually are, and how well-resourced you actually are, and how you’ve got a lot of tools at your disposal already.

Then you can choose how you deploy them.

You can choose what to do better.

Michael 38:17

So, if I might rephrase, to make sure I understand: It’s being aware of who we are right now, even though we may not have brought all those disparate pieces out, back into us yet. We’ve accepted that that’s where we are right now, and what we have available, and we are authoring our experience with that, knowing that it’s good enough for now.

Joanne 38:47


Michael 38:53

Where can people find you? What’s the best way for them to connect with you?

Joanne 38:58

The best way to connect with me is to connect with me either on LinkedIn or via email,

My business Faethm is faethm_za on Instagram and on LinkedIn as well. And on Facebook. And we’re not sure about Twitter yet. So we’re just waiting.

Michael 39:31

How do you spell Faethm?

Joanne 39:35

Ah, so F A E T H M.

Michael 39:41

Thank you, Joanne, for a lovely conversation today.

And thank you, audience, for being here with us.

We look forward to having you continue on this journey with us.

Have a great day!

Thank you so much.

Joanne 39:57

Thank you everyone! Bye-bye!

Michael 40:00

Thanks for joining us on Uncommon Leadership today.

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