How clear are you on what you must do differently to reach your goals? What is the one thing that will help you change and shift to become a better leader than you were yesterday? Having clarity, confidence, and consistency in what you want will help you to consciously break your patterns and make a shift.

Dr. Deena Brown, is the Director of Global Inclusion, Diversity & Equity for Medtronic, a healthcare technology corporation, and the Founder of The LeadHerShift Movement, a nonprofit that helps women shift how they think to elevate how they Learn, Experience, and Apply and Develop. In this episode, she talks about clarity and how to become consistent in transforming into a better leader.

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  1. How to affect change and create impact by making inclusion your core mission
  2. How to write down your goals and create systems to help you move with clarity, confidence, and consistency
  3. How to be clear with who you are in this season of life and work towards consciously changing things.
  4. The power of reflection for leaders to be one percent better than yesterday
  5. How to shift from the “savior complex” to the “server mentality”

“The only way you can do something different is to consciously disrupt that pattern.”

- Dr. Deena Brown


[04:24] Deena’s education, career background, and what she’s doing in diversity, equity, and inclusion

[7:30] The behavioral and organizational changes needed to take inclusion to the next level

[11:41] How to avoid burnout by leading with integrity instead of taking on the burdens of others

[13:58] Deena’s entry into the LATTOYG Playbook: The 21-42-63 days rule and the process to help you commit, identify, take inventory, investigate, and take action

[19:31] How to be clear about who you are and what you want, and consciously break your patterns to do something different as a leader

[24:00] Signature Segment: Deena’s LATTOYG Tactics of Choice

[27:03] Deena on how The LeadHerShift Movement helps people get to “the why of their why”

[29:37] The leadership qualities you need to develop in order to effectively shift

[35:23] Signature Segment: Full Disclosure

[40:19] Signature Segment: Karan’s Take


Dr. Deena Brown has worked in Organizational Development, Change & Transformation, Executive Coaching, and Leadership Effectiveness for over 20 years. Dr. Brown is a keynote speaker, author, and trusted strategic advisor for C-Suite leaders.

Dr. Brown teaches leaders how to shift from confusion to clarity, from cowardice to confidence, and chaos to consistency to inform, influence, and make a global impact while navigating uncertainty. She helps you embrace “The Shift” as a natural progression to lead a life of significance. Dr. Brown founded the non-profit The Leadhershift Movement in 2017 to help women shift how they think to elevate how they Learn, Experience, Apply and Develop (L.E.A.D).

Dr. Brown is the creator of Melanin TôKs. Melanin TôKs™️ is the PREMIER global movement to Activate, Elevate and Amplify Black women’s voices. Dr. Brown currently creates impact as a Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Director for Medtronic.




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Episode 17 | Own Your Shift: Transform From Confusion to Clarity Faster with Dr. Deena Brown

Dr. Deena Brown  00:00

What wasn’t considered for many leaders was their own piece to the ingredient. So they were seeing the work being done outside of them—not necessarily the work that was going to be done inside of them.


Voiceover  00:19

Welcome to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast, where we equip you to more effectively lead your seat at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. Each week, we help you sharpen your leadership acumen by cracking open the playbooks of dynamic leaders who are doing big things in their professional endeavors. And now, your host, leadership tactics, and organizational development expert, Karan Ferrell-Rhodes.


Karan Rhodes  00:56

Hey there, superstars! This is Karan, and welcome to today’s episode. You know, as quiet as it’s kept, being an effective leader is really, really hard. You know, my coaching clients are always sharing with me that most of their time is spent feeling confused and uncertain about whatever their next step should be, and their dream wish was to be basking in clarity and knowing that what they were doing were the right things and that they will be done… done in the right way. So as a special treat, my guest today is an expert in helping individuals navigate the jungle of uncertainty that naturally exists in the workplace. Dr. Deena Brown is the Director of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity for Medtronic which is a healthcare technology corporation, and she’s also the founder of the Lead Her Shift movement—a nonprofit that helps women shift how they think to elevate how they learn, experience, apply, and develop. You know, in our chat today, Deena and I start out by dissecting the reasons why the focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is currently waiting a bit at some companies, and we closed out our conversation by discussing practical tools that leaders can use to gain clarity in today’s world. Be sure to listen to my closing segment called “Karan’s Take,” where I share a tip on how to use insights from today’s episode to further sharpen your leadership acumen. And now, enjoy the show! Hello, listeners! How are my superstars doing today? We are so thrilled to have you to this episode of the “Lead At The Top Of Your Game” podcast. I am super honored and pleased to share with you all a very dear friend of mine—Dr. Deena Brown. And when I tell you she is unbelievable, you’re going to definitely leave me comments and send me notes to confirm because she is absolutely fantastic. Deena is actually the director of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity for Medtronic, and she’s also the founder of a company called the Lead Her Shift movement, and I’m gonna let her share a little bit about those two entities in just a second but welcome to the podcast, Deena!


Dr. Deena Brown  03:23

I’m so honored to be here.


Karan Rhodes  03:26

We are so happy to have you. I always ask the guests: are you ready to crack open that leadership playbook of yours and you have a leadership encyclopedia so that’s what I’m gonna ask you for.


Dr. Deena Brown  03:38

I’ve been working on this for over about 50 years now.


Karan Rhodes  03:42

Oh, wonderful! Well, we were joking right before the episode that we literally could fill up probably 50 episodes just between the two of us but we’ll get started now. I’ll definitely want to invite you back at some point to share some of the new and great things that I know is on the agenda for you in the upcoming months and years ahead but before we get into the nitty gritty, as much as you feel comfortable, would you share with the audience a little bit about your personal background—like where you grew up, and maybe a school that you attended and how did you start out your career?


Dr. Deena Brown  04:23

Absolutely. Well, I am a native Southern Californian—born right at USC Medical Center; had the distinctive pleasure of going to undergrad at San Diego State where my Bachelor’s Degree is in Economics; then floated all the way over to Virginia and got my Master’s in Education at Old Dominion but there was really like a switch there because in my life, I literally wanted to be Richard Gere from Pretty Woman. I wanted to do more (unintelligible) acquisitions. I want to go into companies, and I was initially a Finance International Business major. I was gonna go to law school, be a corporate attorney, focus on mergers and acquisitions, and then fell in love with the ideology of truly creating impact through learning, and switched my major at grad school at Old Dominion and went into education. And my doctorate is from the University of Southern Mississippi, and educational leadership and research. And so, that’s a little bit about the educational journey, and so, from Southern California to the south, and then spending over 16 years with the Department of Defense stationed overseas, I literally am a global citizen.


Karan Rhodes  05:37

Yes, you are! I think you and I both share that love of traveling the world in common. I think we both have that definitely, and I consider myself, too, a citizen of the world as you know. So, I know you’ve had a long journey through I’d say the corporate ranks, but would you mind giving our listeners a little bit of information about what you’re doing right now?


Dr. Deena Brown  06:01

Absolutely. My current role as Director for Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity for the Cardiovascular Portfolio at Medtronic, it’s really a new role—it’s really revolutionary as an organization. And what I do is really more of an internal consultant to the Cardiovascular Portfolio to help embed and integrate inclusion and diversity at really at a… at a core level. So to stand up, implement, strategize, advise, and to implement really the systems that it takes to really create cultures and communities of belonging across the enterprise as well.


Karan Rhodes  06:43

Wow, that is amazing. What fantastic work you are doing there! And I’m, you know, curious a little bit of… in the last few years, there was a big, I would say social awakening or reawakening, if you will, and with like the clients that I’ve been serving there, they did… they felt they did a good job in laying the foundation for at least the understanding that there are a lot of inequities in the world, but they’re really struggling with that next step—like how to make it real for their teams and people and even their clients. Just curious if you’ve seen this something similar and/or, you know, how are you all at Medtronic dealing with taking inclusion to the next level?


Dr. Deena Brown  07:30

Well, one of the things and the ways that we take it to the next level is that we really make it part of the core mission that we have, and in no way shape or form do I speak for Medtronic (unintelligible) does a great job of doing that but I can speak to the work that I get a chance to do is that the role that… which is a new role–I’ve been one year in this role–is that we have business partners to the portfolios and the functions that actually help mitigate and transform that and one thing that was done right prior which is actually to make the space for me to be in that particular role is that compensation for our… our executives is tied to the… it’s tied. So, I said put the money… put the money where your mouth is. So…


Karan Rhodes  08:16

That’s right.


Dr. Deena Brown  08:18

(unintelligible) in order to truly be at that point to effect, you know, change and create impact. And that, again, our leaders know that it’s critical, know that it’s important to the business tied to innovation but then as an organization, as an enterprise to say, again, we also see that and we want to make sure that there’s alignment, and that it doesn’t get lost when we’re tied to looking at all the changes, all the opportunities that actually exist is that we don’t lose focus. So one phrase that I share–and I have been socializing it at every meeting and I shall do it here–is that (unintelligible) is the egg in your batter? Not the icing, or the sprinkles on your cake. So when you’re talking about an…


Karan Rhodes  09:02

I’m sorry, say that one more again. One more time.


Dr. Deena Brown  09:05

“(unintelligible) is the egg in the batter. Not the icing or the sprinkles that you put on the cake,” and what egg is in recipes that you use is a binder. And so, what’s the binding part? It’s not something that’s extra and so where you spoke earlier that some foundations were laid out there, yes, but I don’t think that they were made with cinder blocks—I think that they were made with straw and so the wind and the wolf is blowing it all down. One thing that I speak to–whether I am speaking on global platforms or speaking with the team or the organization that I work with–is that we didn’t look at the psychology of (unintelligible). What is happening at the subconscious level? What is happening from the neuro level? And what neuro leadership practices do we have to understand when we’re talking about… some people are talking about initiatives and activities but we’re talking about change management, we’re talking about behavioral change, organizational change. We’re talking about disrupting neural pathways and creating new understandings, and that’s often (unintelligible) created people that we start (unintelligible) and now that we’re in the marathon of the work, they didn’t condition and train properly.


Karan Rhodes  10:26

That’s right.


Dr. Deena Brown  10:27

They’re stressed. They’re wounded. They’ve got blisters, and they’re tired.


Karan Rhodes  10:34

They are.


Dr. Deena Brown  10:34

They’re really tired, and now, it’s time to take a… we need to have a different type of infusion, and we need to train better, and what I call a cinderblock foundation, and sometimes we got to go slow in order to move faster.


Karan Rhodes  10:48

That’s absolutely correct. There… there are trends, I mean there’s a ton of reports and research out there but some of the trends now are that, you know, the leaders are just mentally drained and tired, and because it’s a struggle, especially when you really don’t know or unsure of yourself of what to do next, or how to act and you… you still have your team’s best wishes, and the intent and heart, you want to support them to the best way you can. But just the… I guess the brain power it takes and the emotional power it takes for leaders to say what I’ll say on top of their inclusion game they’re struggling with right now.


Dr. Deena Brown  11:39

Right, right, right. One of the things–as you said that and just sparked for me–is that wasn’t considered for many leaders was their own piece to the ingredient. So, they were seeing the work being done outside of them—not necessarily the work that was going to be done inside of them.


Karan Rhodes  12:03

Yes, yes.


Dr. Deena Brown  12:04

We leave and fuel the work outside of them, and so when you leave yourself out, you’re now pouring right from a teacup, right? Instead of brewing a teapot and serving from the pot, you’ve been serving from the cup.


Karan Rhodes  12:22

That’s right, that’s right.


Dr. Deena Brown  12:23

And that in itself had… leaves leaders a little bit more drained, and one piece of insight that I was given during one of my conversations at one of my talks was that I need you to understand is it’s not your job to save the world. And if you can own that part of your shift, then you’re not as burned out because you know that you lead with integrity in that particular space instead of taking on the burdens of every single person around you. And that’s really been what I have seen in the space where people are navigating the space and they’re trying to take on doing and moving the entire needle at once like they were (unintelligible) holding up the whole (unintelligible) the world, you know, on their shoulders.


Karan Rhodes  13:09

That’s right, and what a great lead into your particular… one of your many particular areas of specialty but when we want to go a little bit deeper on this episode about… which is all about the mind shift that leaders need to take in order to really perform at their best in a way that aligns with their values and passions. And I know you’re also an expert on the imposter syndrome which we all suffer from every now and then but I’d love for you to share to our listeners a little bit about your research and thinking and maybe your tool to help with elevating, you know, their… shifting their minds to where they need to be at the time they need to be there if that makes sense.


Dr. Deena Brown  13:58

Oh yeah, absolutely, and so I want to start by giving you three numbers. And when you hold on with these three numbers, it relays (unintelligible) the first numbers (unintelligible). It takes 21 consecutive days for you to start a new habit really to break the habit use… where we use that 21 days which is why you see 21-day (unintelligible), 21-day (unintelligible). 21 days—this is the neuroscience of it all, right?


Karan Rhodes  14:30



Dr. Deena Brown  14:32

21 days and it has to be consecutive. The next is 42—42 consecutive days in order to get to change behavior. So, 21 to break the habit, 42 so that this new… this behavior that you truly desire (unintelligible) and 63 to shift a mindset.


Karan Rhodes  15:00

I’m writing this down for myself, this is great.


Dr. Deena Brown  15:04

So, that being said, when you understand the 21-42-63 rule, you realize that… Take a look at the calendar. So here’s the action item—what in your calendar are you doing consecutively, consistently, with clarity, and with confidence to shift you from where you are to where you desire to be? And if it’s not written down… I’ll say it again—if it’s not written down, then it’s not embedding it into your neural consciousness. You must write it down. Write it down. So when you begin to do that is that you now begin to create the systems for yourself, and for yourself as a leader to be able to move in the space with clarity, confidence, and consistency because if any one of those three are missing, something’s not going to be right. And when all three of those things are present, life is really good and you’ll see that your flywheel continues to turn. And so, one of the things that you can begin to do when you’re taking a look is to take inventory. So, I have a four-part process, right? The very first thing that you do is to identify what is the one thing–not a thousand things–what is the one thing that you really, truly want to shift right now in your life? What do you want more of? I say more of–not what you don’t want–because if you focus on what you don’t want, that’s what you’re gonna get. Only what you desire; identify what is that one thing that you truly want desire as a team leader, as a leader, as a parent, but the first person you’re charged to lead is yourself. What do you want? You identify that, and then the second thing that you actually begin to do is you take inventory. What do you have right now at your disposal? What are the already in your toolkit? Too often, we start looking for new things or whatever we have is we already own it. We have it. What’s in your toolkit right now that you actually can use? And so, once you’ve identified what that one thing is, and you’ve taken that inventory, what’s in your toolkit, then you actually can begin to say, “Let me investigate.” Did it work? Is it gonna work? Did it work the last time? Did I… did I do with fidelity? Did I implement… so you kind of go through that particular process. You identify, you take inventory, you investigate. If it didn’t work, how do you want to stop, start, or continue? And then, the fourth thing you want to implement, take action, do something, and then, once you do that do something, you go back to the cycle again. So, what we’re talking about is a continuous improvement process flywheel.


Karan Rhodes  17:51

I love that. Even if it’s baby steps, do something because this will… that will generate additional momentum for you to take the next baby step.


Dr. Deena Brown  18:01

I’m not pulling it out of the stars in the sky. This is your brain—it releases the dopamine effect and the 21-42-63 is really you creating new neural pathways. You’re literally rewriting your brain. That’s why you got to do it consecutively over and over again.


Karan Rhodes  18:18

Yeah, the brain is a wonderful muscle that can be rewired but it takes, like you said, consistent practice to do that.


Dr. Deena Brown  18:26

Yeah, you’ve got to do that. So, absolutely… And the very first thing that you do–I’m sorry, I forgot to admit this–the first thing to do is commit.


Karan Rhodes  18:34

Oh, yes, absolutely.


Dr. Deena Brown  18:35

(unintelligible) commitment. And I don’t use the word sacrifice because sacrifice is painful and it says something to your brain like, “I don’t want to do that.” (unintelligible) And when you say I commit, inside of the word commit is the word “omit”. You omit behaviors, actions, people, situations, and places that are going to get in the way of what you committed to.


Karan Rhodes  18:59

That’s right. That is so true. I have a question for you: when you and your coaching advise individuals to choose one thing to focus on, does it need to be one thing that can be… that one thing can be done consecutively for those 21-42-63 days or can they select each day what is the biggest priority that they need to work on to…


Dr. Deena Brown  19:32

No, it’s the same thing. It’s the same thing. Now, here’s what it could look like though. So, you select that one thing but the one thing could be set aside five minutes to review my priorities. Do you see that? So, the one thing… so, not different hours every day. I’m setting the time and being intentional about the time and so I’m gonna… For 10 minutes every morning, I’m going to look… review my priorities and identify them, right order them, and execute. That’s how we’re supposed to “Today, I’m prioritizing… I’m going to do this.” So, it’s one thing that you began because you’re creating a new pattern. You’re creating that pathway for you to follow, and that’s tied to if I can get just 30 seconds to tie it all, and I’ve got to mention (unintelligible). Have you ever… when we still kind of drived into work or to the office, right, you notice that Monday through Friday, you drive the same route. You could just go—you’re almost like on autopilot. You just go. And then, (unintelligible) you get in the car, you’re taking the kids to soccer practice, and you wind up at the office? And you go, “How did I get here?” (unintelligible) Oh, you don’t need to think about it, I got you. We’re going to do what we do every day. So, the only way that you can break that cycle is consciously. So, that’s how it works. So, the same way that you can literally go, “I don’t even remember how I drove here.” (unintelligible) I get here. Right?


Karan Rhodes  21:10



Dr. Deena Brown  21:10

And so, (unintelligible) basal ganglia saying, “You taught me how to make decisions. You don’t need to make a decision—I’m going to use the pattern that you already set for me and I’m going to do that.” So, the only way that you can do something different is to consciously disrupt that pattern which is why 21-4- 63 works.


Karan Rhodes  21:34

That makes a lot of sense.


Dr. Deena Brown  21:35

Okay, everyone, do that.


Karan Rhodes  21:37

In your observation, where do people get tripped up? Is that they… they make… Is it they lose the energy to stay committed or is it something else?


Dr. Deena Brown  21:49

Clarity—it starts with clarity, being clear about what they want right now in this season. Oftentimes, we’re living in a bastardized version of ourselves and we’re leaving a bastardized version of ourselves. And so, what are we actually creating, we’re creating orphans on the side of the road as leaders who don’t have that person that’s there to lead. And so we don’t really have clarity about who we are, and how we… and how we lead. We’re taking what other people said about us. We’re taking other people’s narratives about who we are and it’s not working and so we kind of start… and it doesn’t… we can’t be consistent about it because it’s not the truth of who we are. And for the clarity part, because once you’re clear, you now can own that part. And then, you can be confident that, “Yeah, this is it.” So I can come and say, “Well, Karan, you don’t want this,” “No, I want this. I’m good.” But when you’re not clear, you notice when people start talking to you like, “Woah, do I really… Wait, wait a minute. Should I change?” And then (unintelligible) chaotic. And then, you’re consistently chaotic as opposed to standing in that knowing of who you really are and what’s critical, important to you right now. And I say in this season because it changes over the seasons of your life, the roles that you hold, and even when you talk from an organizational perspective. What quarter you could be in based on what the numbers are actually saying.


Karan Rhodes  23:14

That’s right, that’s right. One of the things that we… you and I both have in common is that we’re really focused on helping who we’re serving to, you know, move forward or take that next step. For me, I focus on strategy and leadership execution—you also do a bit of that including mindset. I’m not as deep in mindset as you are because I work with, you know, helping them overcome any obstacles that go their way, and so what I’ve done, as you know, I’ve written a book about some of the more common ways or leadership tactics or behaviors that more successful leaders do use, and I was wondering, were there any of the seven that kind of resonated for you in some way, shape, or form?


Dr. Deena Brown  24:00

Absolutely, the two that resonate the most with me was one: the intellectual horsepower, and for that, I felt like we don’t often give ourselves credit for our genius that we bring from our journey. And I’m pretty bad because even in a recent project that I was working on where the very first thing they said, “Okay, Deena, what we chose to do,” I said, “Wait a minute, I need to go be on the fly, what I need to do a diagnostic.” I need to go see what’s happening; I need to just kind of go back and take a look and knowing all the different areas that I’ve had an opportunity to serve as a school principal, as a, you know, corporate C-suite advisor, as a fractional CEO, I was able to bring in all of those elements and say, “Ah, here is the break in your flywheel.” And so bringing in what my own knowing, my own genius, my own skill set, and some of it is on the job, and some of it does come from some of the book learning and the practices that we talked about, systems thinking per se to be able to bring that, to do that. And then the second one is executive presence is how you communicate is critical and knowing what I call “How to read the room.,” but in order to read the room and to speak into those that you’re charged to lead, you first have to have clarity about who you are so that you can own that particular… own that particular space. And so what I’m communicating and how I’m communicating it to you is really important based upon the room that I’m in but believe me when I walk in the room… And I used to actually kind of take a step back and I didn’t know how to respond when people say, “You… you… you act like you own the room and when you walk in, you could just feel your presence.” And in the beginning, being a black woman in leadership, I didn’t know if it was a stereotypical aspect of what they were saying or what, and then here’s what I decided: I didn’t care. I know who I am. I do own the room. I literally do own the room. You know why? Because I own myself. I’m very clear about who I am. I’m very clear about the impact of my voice. I’m very clear about really what my moral compass looks like and how I’m called to lead, and that shows up every time I walk in them. It’s the energy of me of what they were speaking about, and to me, I think that that’s an elusive element of executive presence that people have a hard time pinpointing it. It’s not just my power pose but actually being able to have clarity and unknowing about who I am. Because when I know–K-N-O-W–I can now–N-O-W–stand in my truth because what’s known to me–K-N-O-W-N–I can own my shift and own my space.


Karan Rhodes  26:54

That is so powerful, Deena. And is this the type of coaching and curriculum that is part of the Lead Her Shift—your… your personal coaching company?


Dr. Deena Brown  27:03

Absolutely. The Lead Her Shift movement, and the actual is called paradigm. And it’s really about making the shift from confusion to clarity, from chaos to consistency, from that cowardice and that comfort to really being confident and being able to help you get to the why of your why.


Karan Rhodes  27:26

Oh, “why of your why.” Love that.


Dr. Deena Brown  27:29

So people go, “Here’s my big why.” Great, but why is that your why? What are the rest of the ingredients that bring you to the point of your now including your triggers, including your traumas, your trials, and your testimony.


Karan Rhodes  27:52

And for you, I know we’re always in a mode of continuous learning. What are you focused on right now to be–I mean you’re a great leader as it is–but to be an even stronger leader, what what is an area of focus that you’re personally working on?


Dr. Deena Brown  28:11

The area of focus? For me, it’s all about intentionality. And really recouping my regrets. Daniel Pink’s “The Power of Regret” is one of my favorite books that, you know, I’m reading multiple books right now but they all have a common theme. And so, whether I’m listening to the Celestine Prophecy or Daniel Pink’s “The Power of Regrets”, it’s really tapping into the journey and alchemizing my experiences to make sure that it’s compost for my growth.


Karan Rhodes  28:54

I love that—alchemizing your experiences to… what was the last phrase?


Dr. Deena Brown  29:01

It’s “compost for our growth.”


Karan Rhodes  29:03

Compost for our growth. Wow, that is powerful. That’s wonderful, and also I’m just curious if there are things that you have seen–and I know it differs based on individuals–but if there are one or two things that you have seen or behaviors you have seen that help people be even stronger leaders whether they’re individual contributor or people leaders.


Dr. Deena Brown  29:37

Reflection, reflection. I will tell you that don’t sleep on reflection, and really taking a moment and that can be part of your practice five minutes to sit and reflect. And you’re going to ask your question, you know, I said the question is, “How did I serve today?” And being quiet. “How did I serve?” If I had to read based on my own measurement, I didn’t ask for Karan’s measurement because the power of intention is important. In the morning, I set my intentional goal and so at the end of the day, I ask again, “How did I serve?” And I don’t beat myself up and so I will say, “1 to 10, how did I serve today based on the intention I set at the top of the morning?” It could be a six, it could be a seven. I do a quick reflection. “Okay, where’s my opportunity?” I don’t sit there and beat myself. “Oh, my God, I’m horrible.” No, where’s my opportunity? That’s the alchemy I’m talking about and say, “Okay, so now my intention for the next morning is to increase the score from the night before. 1 percent better than yesterday.” That’s what I say: be 1 percent better than yesterday.


Karan Rhodes  31:03

And there’s so many of us that don’t take that time, and me included. I mean I’ve tried to do that but I will, you know, be fully transparent. I’ve maybe do it 60 percent of the time but there’s a 40 percent of the time that I miss out on being intentional. I just get into the weeds without really, like you said, taking a moment to reflect and think through what the appropriate next step should be versus just diving in.


Dr. Deena Brown  31:32

See what gets scheduled gets done. We know that (unintelligible).


Karan Rhodes  31:34

It does.


Dr. Deena Brown  31:35

Schedule it so if you look on my planner, on my phone, and my alarm, you’ll see it’ll say “Beep, this is your time.” So, schedule it. (indiscernible)


Karan Rhodes  31:46

Well, I do schedule it but you know what my problem is, is that I  so want to help and serve others. If I get a client call or someone ask if they can talk to me real quick, I don’t protect the time and I’ve got to do better about ring-fencing the time.


Dr. Deena Brown  32:02

(unintelligible) as we work through that, and (unintelligible) having clutter on the boundaries, and this is what was given to me. And this was one conversation at a woman’s retreat that I recently attended—we talked about the savior complex and the server. The savior saying that I have to be the one to save that person from that particular space and then we compromise our own boundaries because we feel we have to save them, as opposed to the server, who says I’m serving and I’m modeling for you what boundaries look like. I’m modeling with you what this looks like by also holding space for myself at that, and so we put ourselves in there. We don’t serve ourselves at the capacity to give us the greater capacity to serve others because often we get caught up in being a savior like “I’ve got to… I’ve got to do this for them.” That’s right. Guilty. Try me. You don’t understand, I had my own session with myself and I was like, “That was me.” If I don’t do it, I’m gonna… yeah, so we have to shift from the savior complex sometimes to the server. And when we’re serving at our full capacity, we truly are saving—saving time, saving energy, and saving the attention for where it needs to go.


Karan Rhodes  33:33

I needed to hear that today. Dr. Deena. Thank you. I want to get back on track and be 1 percent better than I was today.


Dr. Deena Brown  33:44

Because if you say 1 percent better than yesterday, in 7 days you’re 7 percent better. You didn’t start at zero, did you?


Karan Rhodes  33:52



Dr. Deena Brown  33:52

So you know what I mean? So, know where you are starting from. Know kind of like what I mentioned to you earlier before we kind of got on and I think it’s an appropriate place to talk now. We’re talking about change, right? Organizational change and regional change adjustments. It’s that we keep saying, “Oh my gosh, change is so hard.” Change is not hard. You’ve been changing since conception. Okay, change is not hard. What is the shift that sits underneath the change that you’re struggling to navigate? Because you don’t know what your position actually is which is why you need to get clear about where you are. So, know your position, and once you can get clear about that, then you know where to step. You know what step to actually take and that’s where that clarity, confidence, consistency falls right into line. So, it’s not change—it’s the shift and by the time you notice the change, the shift already occurred.


Karan Rhodes  34:49

You’re… You’re so right. But it will put you on a greater, more solid foundation. So you… like you said get back into the cycle and get ready for the next shift and understand now where you are and then where you want to go, right?


Dr. Deena Brown  35:02

Absolutely, absolutely.


Karan Rhodes  35:05

Alright, gosh, time has really passed so quickly but I’m not going to let you get out of here without a couple things. First, we have a segment called “Full Disclosure”. I promise you there’s no gotcha questions but just a few questions that might be fun for the audience to hear. And my first one for you is, what would be a perfect birthday gift for you?


Dr. Deena Brown  35:30

A year-long cruise.


Karan Rhodes  35:35

Taking note. Year-long cruise. Love that, I’ll be there with you.


Dr. Deena Brown  35:41

Around the world, first class.


Karan Rhodes  35:44

Nice, nice. Wonderful. What was the last movie you saw, book you read or article you read, or podcast you listened to?


Dr. Deena Brown  35:59

Lead At The Top Of Your Game, I was listening to that this morning so I guess that’s the (unintelligible)


Karan Rhodes  36:04

Yes! Okay, but what before that?


Dr. Deena Brown  36:07

But before that I actually was listening to the Celestine Prophecy. And so, read… listening and rereading that as well.


Karan Rhodes  36:16

Nice. And then lastly, what is one thing that people don’t know about you but you feel comfortable in sharing.


Dr. Deena Brown  36:26

I’m an ambivert. It’s that I am out, I’m a speaker and I’m out. I’m on but I’m heavily introverted. And so once I’m in, I’m in. It’s getting me out is like the challenge. So once we were out, I have big energy and so when I go out, people are drawn to that energy and if I’m not receiving any energy, it can be very tiring and draining. So I will go back in and stay in. I’m heavily introverted—I spend a lot of time alone by myself and in my head, but when I’m out…


Karan Rhodes  37:02

You’re out. Clicking, and I think I’ve seen both so I’ve witnessed both but you operate very effectively in both arenas so that’s what’s so impressive. Alright, and can you please share… We’ll have a lot of links in the show notes where people can find you but there are a few exciting things that you’re about to do. I believe you’re working on a book and a few other things so anything that you’d like to share with our audience, I’d love to be able to highlight it at this time.


Dr. Deena Brown  37:37

Absolutely. So, very first thing, you can go to That’s where you can get your shift gear. I’m all about making shift happen and so if you want to have your very own shiftgasm, you can go ahead and get your shift gear—there’s journals, there’s apparel that’s actually there. And I’m super excited about the upcoming release of my book, “Walking Through Glass”. It is a playbook, it is a roadmap about navigating the key shifts in your life. So I am excited about that as well. And more importantly, I’m really, really super excited about “Melanin Talks”, which is scheduled for March 25, and that’s about us sharing our stories, particularly about our stories, our truth. It’s the first-of-its-kind platform. 100 percent dedicated to women of color sharing their stories uncensored in a very intimate space. So those are the three things that I’m currently working on. I’m super excited about.


Karan Rhodes  38:44

Amazing. Well, I would definitely want to include as much as possible in the show notes, especially where our audience can find you and can stay on top of when your book comes out and all of the wonderful offerings that you provide to individuals to help them navigate both now and in the future. So, thank you so much, Dr. Deena, for being a fantastic guest here on the “Lead At The Top Of Your Game” podcast.


Dr. Deena Brown  39:16

Thank you for having me. It’s been such an honor and a pleasure.


Karan Rhodes  39:19

Oh, awesome. Well, listeners, thank you again for tuning in to another episode at the “Lead At The Top Of Your Game” podcast. As I’ve mentioned, all information about Dr. Deena and additional resources will be in the show notes so please make sure to check them out. Please also subscribe and rate and invite a friend. Thank you so much, and I hope you have a fantastic rest of your day. See you next episode. Bye! I hope you enjoyed our conversation today with Dr. Deena Brown—the Director of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity for Medtronic and also the founder of the Lead Her Shift movement. The links to her bio are entered into our leadership playbook, and additional resources can be found in the show notes both on your favorite podcast platform of choice and on the web at And now for “Karan’s Take” on today’s topic of leading with clarity. Today, I just wanted to take a moment to emphasize why clarity and leadership matters. Clarity and decisiveness are inseparable from leadership execution effectiveness and are key to both your personal career success as well as your organization’s longevity. Without possessing clarity, there is no roadmap to the future. While Dr. Deena gave us some great tips during the podcast, here are a couple more for you to think about. First, before any leadership effort, take the time to conduct a current versus future state assessment. Ask yourself, “Where are you now and what can you realistically achieve in your chosen timeframe?” And as hard as it may be, know that if you put your head in the sand, this may come back to haunt you. And you never know, your current state may not have a worthy future state to pursue so be ruthless in your assessment so that you don’t waste your time. The next tip I wanted to reinforce is to remember that the truth will set you free. Don’t hide behind excuses. Reject the urge to fake it until you make it. Be open with your planning including the mix of data and hurdles and mistakes and changes that need to be tackled. Involve others who are also passionate to help you to mitigate any of their fears, and to surface diverse ways to accomplish your goals. The clearer you are with the strategy, and the more authentic you are with yourself and others, the smoother the execution will be the lies ahead. Now, if sharpening your leadership acumen is a priority for you or your team, head on over to and submit a request for more information on how we and the team at SDL can help. Thanks so much for listening and see you next week!


Voiceover  42:30

And that’s our show for today. Thank you for listening to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast where we help you lead your seats at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. You can check out the show notes, additional episodes, bonus resources, and also submit guest recommendations on our website at You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn by searching for the name Karan Rhodes with Karan being spelled K-a-r-a-n. And if you liked the show, the greatest gift you can give would be to subscribe and leave a rating on your podcast platform of choice. This podcast has been a production of Shockingly Different Leadership, a global consultancy which helps organizations execute their people, talent development, and organizational effectiveness initiatives on an on-demand project or contract basis. Huge thanks to our production and editing team for a job well done. Bye for now!

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