Sandra Addae, Podcast host Da Millennial Coach, shares her experience working as a leader in the entertainment industry based in the Middle East and gives guidance on how to be more intentional about your life and addressing disrespect in the workplace.
Twitter - https://twitter.com/DaMillennialCSupport the show
Kaili Spear 0:00
Hello everyone and welcome to define today's interview is going to be awesome. We have the opportunity to hear more about Sandra. She is the podcast, host of millennial coach, I've had the opportunity to listen to a couple of them. And she's just really cool, really insightful. And I'm very excited to have her on welcome Sandra. Thank you very much. Kaili, thank you for having me.
No, of course, um, would you be able to share just a few things about yourself so our audience can get to know you a little bit? Absolutely. So I started my career off in journalism, started at CNN. And then I went to different broadcast houses across the UK. So why did discovery just mean National Geographic, then I moved to the Middle East for seven years. And I worked for broadcast in Bahrain, and then moved to Dubai, and was for Showtime, where we launched.
And that's really my story that I came back into the UK, and I've been sort of working in marketing and comms, I want to do something more inspiring. And therefore I started working in education. I've been the last seven years I've been teaching, lecturing, educating, doing talks and motivational speaking and stuff like that, of course, the UK
Kaili Spear 1:16
cry awesome. It, you've had an incredible life from the little that you've shared with me? What is one of the defining what's one of the defining moments that you wanted to talk about today in particular?
Well, I think is, the defining moment for me is, when you strip yourself of everything, you know, and moving out to the Middle East,
where I had zero comfort zones, no friends, no family, and basically starting your life from scratch. You know, if you're in the UK, you can move to another part of the UK, but get a train back to London, if you're in the US, you can get a train from state to state or tribe. You know, I was eight hours away from everything I ever knew.
And it was a lonely experience. But I always say thank you, for the US military, they made my life a lot more exciting in Bahrain.
And that also brought some sense of reality of home from home from a Western mindset to another Western mindset gave you some type of comfort. But for me, the defining moment was having to grow up very quickly, when you have no defenses, it was a place that Middle East is a case where you would need to experience it to understand but you would need to experience it by yourself. Were working with certain types of individuals who don't have a Western mindset can be quite soul destroying. So for me, it was a case of, you know, very abusive, I would call it management, where you didn't have human resources, who had any power, human resources, were intimidated by management, everything was controlled by money.
And that was a tough time, especially when people look up to you, as a leader in the business when you are disintegrating, you know, and you have to be strong for everyone else. It's either you have to rise like a phoenix, or you will literally, you know, collapse and crumble by left Bahrain and moved to Dubai, where I was able to really embrace who I had become the woman I had become working in the senior leadership team. And also as the only black woman in the senior leadership team, there was multiple layers that I had to work through to be able to stay sane.
And also working with people who may be on the same level as you but have zero qualifications. And, you know, and I'm not suggesting that if you don't have qualifications, you are less than not suggesting that at all. But you do have a different perspective, when you're exposed to new information on how to deal with certain levels of management, but also set certain levels of self development.
Kaili Spear 4:04
Now, that's, that's crazy. To me, what, what was kind of the moment where that helped you embrace it was just moving kind of gave you this idea of a fresh start? Or was it something that happened before or right after that?
The move from one part of the Middle East to that next was when you know, when you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. That is when I have to take action. I am somebody who, you know, we know depression as well, I have experienced those bouts of depression where you don't feel like you want to be here anymore. And you have to make a decision whether you your life was in vain or not. And I believe my life was in vain. So I just decided, you know, I'm not going to stay somewhere where you know, you're being abused in the workplace. And you know, people might not define, you know, screaming at people as abuse in that part of the world.
In my opinion, that is a form of abuse, and threat being threatened with job loss and things like that. And
having that level of self belief, knowing that you can do better is very important, especially when you know, that
element of failure in the back of your mind, if I go back to the UK, it may look like I've failed. And so you have that defining moment. For me, it was either you sink or you swim. And it was a colleague, we all hated working, then the Westerners, and there was a colleague in Italian colleague who had said, you know, I've seen this role, why don't you apply for it is exactly what you do.
And I remember sitting in the car outside the supermarket with a 50 degree heat having a telephone interview, to my parents have come over from the UK, and I didn't want to have the interview in the house. So I wanted to be in a neutral space. And I had the interview for about an hour. And, you know, there was a lot of synergy. And I never heard back from them for about two or three months. And I just thought, Well, at least they gave me the opportunity to interview and, you know, really hone in on my skills. And then I got a phone call, can we fly you over for face to face interviews, I was like, okay, so because I was so unhappy in the workplace, what I decided to just phone up sick for the day, I got on a flight, because device half an hour flight from Bahrain, got on the flight, and parked at the airport at 5am on the fly, stayed in Dubai for the day, had the interview. And the interview was like three hours, which was fantastic, I met the CEO, etc, and then got back on a flight and then went to work by afterwards. And they were like, I thought you were blasted here for a little bit better. So it was a case of having to do things where you know, people were very unaware of you making the moves.
And that's how, for me that level of resilience, and not even complaining or making it a big deal to my family was important for me, because when you're away from home, people, your family will worry, they don't have any idea what you're dealing with any idea what you're going through emotionally and psychologically. So that that level of resilience that I believe I was born with, I really had to tap into that, and rise above to be able to get to the other side.
Kaili Spear 7:22
Now, that's amazing. And that's a hard skill to learn, especially when it's you have to or you don't really have a choice, right, then what what made you want to move to the Middle East in the first place. And it sounds like it was a career move. But that that took a lot of guts to just kind of leave everything what kind of pushed you to do that?
Well, at the time, I was working in central London in Soho for a film organization, which also was affiliated with the Baptists. So it's like the version of Emmys in the US. And that was the campaign that we were running, but I was I get bored when my mind is not being
stretched, I get quite bored. So I was like, I need to get back into TV because film is even slower than anticipated are coming from CNN coming from news into television, and entertainment and movies is slightly slower than news and then going into film is like No offense, but having a stroke the industry so slow. And so I was just like, Okay, I need to do something. And also, I felt like in the UK, in comparison to the US. There's a maturity level that, you know, a lot of my counterparts respect about younger people in the US because a lot of people get married at younger age, you know, the values are very different. And I just felt like and I'm also from a family of African heritage, and you can live with your parents, so you're 60 in our culture, so and it's not something where people look down on you because you end up looking after your parents. But my parents didn't care where I lived, they all didn't. So it was a case of let me just grow up in my own way and follow my own lessons. Because you know, we get muddled coddled a lot in the UK I feel by African parents and I don't think that also helps us develop as individuals. People could disagree with me but that's just the experience that I've had. And I know a lot of other counterparts in my life have had the same you know, parents like to interfere with your life constantly and if you're living with them, it's even worth
it to get away from the UK. I want to I was sick and tired of the cold weather as well. It's always not always but the winters are for me brutal. I'm a summer baby. So, you know, it was partly for the sun sanding TV, and also to mature.
Kaili Spear 9:53
Oh, that's awesome. How is that? Have you run into situations where you know as a leader, your role, especially after your experience in the Middle East, or where it is such a different work culture, special wealth, culture, General, you know, Western culture. How is that? How are those lessons kind of help translate to coming back.
Now, that's very interesting, I had a conversation with one of my is now my literally like a best friend. We met in Bahrain and was, you know, in 2006, and is now in the Netherlands. And we spoke last night. And I said to him, since returning to the UK, there is no, I will not put up with bad behavior. It is unacceptable for anyone to be disrespectful, it's unacceptable for people to reject you based on race, gender, disability, whatever their reasons being. And I will always speak my truth. I don't care if it offends people who may be in senior positions, but a competent, and one of the things of transitioning into a business coach and actually doing a master's in executive coaching, there is so many people in the wrong roles. And I think there needs to be a level of confidence within businesses that need to identify that people are in the wrong roles and are having an impact on the careers of people that are trying to grow. And therefore I like this is partly why I love coaching, I coach into the biggest TV companies in the UK, as an independent contractor. And what I do love about it is you can foresee and also work with managers to coach other people and help people see fit them that visibility on how to improve their communication. And that's what the podcast the millennial coach is all about. It's really about to give people insight into relationships. And it's not just platonic. It's also romantic, because there's a link to your mental state, when things are not going well at home, who do underperform at work, or you spend much longer hours at work to avoid the situation at home. And your behavior impacts the relationships you have in the workplace that also can be negatively affected based on the fact that you're having a negative relationship in your house with your spouse, your children, your parents, whatever it may be. So it's given me It's given me more wings, and I build up my strikes.
And I am very
clear, when I speak, I don't I'm very intentional, there is no misunderstanding, if I'm not happy, if I do not want to work with a particular client, I have no problem with withdrawing to my services.
Now, that's a big deal. And some people have a hard time doing that. So it's great that you're coaching people be more intentional about what they're doing, and why. When
dealing with dealing with conflict conflict or conflicts, when we're dealing with disrespect period is always difficult. How do you how do you handle it? Or how do you help others handle it when that disrespect is coming from something completely out of their control? You know, you mentioned race and gender? And unfortunately, people have to deal with that. How do you handle that kind of disrespect, when it's something that really I mean, it has a lot to do with your identity, but has nothing to do with your performance? Absolutely. Well, first and foremost, I actually asked people to take notes of what has transpired and how that experience has been going on in the workplace.
And then I asked them how they were they like to maintain a relationship with their superior? Because there's different ways you're going to respond if you do want to maintain a relationship in the business, or if you don't, so I actually have to find out what is their intention is, because if you have to work there, I don't work in all these work cases, I have to be mindful that this is their life. And one of the things that I always say to people, if you do get a coach, check that they're accredited, because a lot of people don't realize that their hand in their life and their behaviors, patterns into the hands of somebody who could possibly destroy their their future. One of the things that I tend to do is I like to do mediation. And I think it's important for people to have the opportunity to speak and also find out what the policies within the business are in order to make a formal complaint and hold people accountable. The first thing though, you know, I was encouraged to have a face to face have a conversation with somebody and I'll give you an example. We have I was working at a trade union and I met a woman who I started coaching and she was being victimized. And you know, she was in her late 40s and just hated coming to work. So sometimes when I was going coach other people she would never be in the office and I wanted like
I just don't get what's happening, something doesn't make sense here. So she would explain to me how she's been treated, disrespected. And obviously this person that she's been managed by is very narcissistic, and has complete lack of awareness of their own behavior. So I encouraged her to have a conversation with her managers superior. And to find out some information in a way that is, was a friendly approach, which she found out.
And so I said, so what would you like to do with the information
and then she applied for a circumvent so sets where you have two options, you either confront the situation, or you leave the business. So she actually, we sat down one day, and she, she, she went through went through her options, but what I always take into consideration is people have to work to pay bills, you know, we need to be very realistic, when we're coaching people, they can't just up and leave, okay? It's important to take into consideration all the connecting factors to why they're in the business and all also the extrinsic motivations, that keep them there. Because when you're at a place within yourself, where you're unhappy, the intrinsic motivations have died. So
I encouraged her to have a conversation with this woman.
She was too intimidated. And then the second role came out. So she took the role. And she did an amazing job at the role better than the person that was actually on maternity leave.
And so, when the lady returned from maternity leave, I asked her what would her options be, if she's going to return back to, you know, unsatisfactory environment. And there was some issues after the George flight, death, and so on, when was ignored. And then there was a questionnaire done across the business find out there was a lot of racist behavior within this particular trade union and every trade union. So it's just ironic that the racism stems within
she actually confronted the woman, so I will have conversations, but she actually told her that she's unhappy with how she talks to her, she does not want to continue working with her. And therefore, the business created a whole new role for this lady. Now, it's taken almost nine months to work through her confidence issues. And she told me, there were times because I'm very firm as a coach. And if I know that you're doing things that are not in favor of your growth, I will make it clear to you that it doesn't support what you're trying to achieve in the long run. And she actually said to me, I cried a little bit when you did tell me some stuff. But through the tears, and the strategies that we put into place, she now has a new role that has been created for her, she no longer has to work with that woman, she's given the respect that she's given, and also the senior director who was new to the business, who I know they had a little bit of conflict, they now he now has a lot of respect for her. So that means always a happy ending, when I can see that sometimes it will take a year or two years for someone to change, you know, because it's working with their fears, and letting them know, especially if you're working in a union, you should know your rights. You know, so it's, it's important to use, the strategies I use
in an environment that I would say, is conducive to the changes that can occur when you're confronting the people and issues within a business.
Kaili Spear 18:46
Now, I like that, that makes a lot of sense to me, what
when you mentioned when you mentioned your experience, there was really no
HR department with power, there was a lot of problems with money and management and issues with that, when when you are faced with a situation where the environment isn't necessarily conducive to it and you decide, you know, I want to stay in changes what what like what helps you it helps you kind of take that role. I mean, you you mentioned moving to the Trent, the position in Dubai by imagine that it was still just kind of a difficult adjustment.
It was it was very different Dubai was run by Westerners, they had what they had done Showtime, you know, you know, Showtime in the US who were owned by Viacom. So, what they had done was
operate from Western principles as a business. So the thing is, they were located in the UK, so the Middle Eastern arm of the business was located in the UK and they moved to the Middle East. And they still had a lot of the policies in place of you know, the UK we have a year's maternity leave, and these things were still in place.
You can go on SOCOM and they had a very different power structure or hierarchy that employed, I would say,
a version of the sanity for anybody's sake, from Bahrain. Yeah, that's a big deal. Yeah, I'm also working with the CEO, I was able to influence him in ways because I made it clear to him that you know, you know, do put me into a business where we would sit in Tuesday meetings, every Tuesday for an hour, and discuss the business of TV. But when I arrived, it just seems like a joke of a beating. And I think he mentioned to me, you know, you don't speak in the meetings, and I made it clear to him, I said, Do you want me to tell you the truth, or you want me to humor you, because I can give you either platform to humor you, I will just tell you, it's too early to have a meeting before we started the truth, which I told him. I said to him, you, you're paying me a lot of money to sit here to entertain jokes. Now I'm here to talk about the business of television. Now we're going to talk about TV, my advice to you is to think about the individuals that are in that room that talk for the sake of talking and do not add substance to the conversation. If we there, we need to think about how are we going to grow subscription base? How are we going to bring in more revenue? What are we going to do in terms of on promotions? And how are we going to get more sponsorship, this is why I'm here. I'm not here to joke about. And I think he started to realize, okay, this girl is a little bit, she's not coming to the comfortable. And I don't believe I think if you are someone who really respects growth, being comfortable is not an option.
It's just not an option. Okay, if you are going to you may be comfortable for a little while things may work out. But what is the next step. So and then also, because I was in my MBA at the same time of university in the UK, he had a little bit more heightened respect for me, so and he also had an MBA, so we met from a business perspective on the same wavelength.
You know, yeah. And anytime the channels were launching, you know, I was the person you would come to, right, we need to launch a network or blah, blah, blah, and then I will give you a timeline of how I can achieve that, and what team member I'm going to use, because I always make sure I'm at the forefront of every launch. And then I hand over the project to my team to run it consistently.
Kaili Spear 22:28
Now, that's fantastic. I love I love hearing that. You just learned, okay, this is what I'm doing. And this is how I'm doing it. And we can absolutely have a respectful conversation, but don't waste my time. That's wonderful. And I
The thing is because I respected him, I didn't want to insult his intelligence. You know. And, you know, when I tell people and I've had in the UK, I find a lot of people in leadership positions, they do not like straight talk is that and this is what why do you prefer working with more US based organizations or working with people who are not British, because British people, they're over sensitive, but they also don't tell the truth. When it comes to business, there's a lot of data, which will give you a call, and then there's no phone call. And this is even feedback from people from other parts of the world, that I'm friends with that say I don't understand the behavior of the way people behave in the UK, they don't tell you the truth. And so telling people, the truth in this country in business
is often rejected. And if you become popular in what you're doing, then you become somebody, they try to respect your education and background. As far as they're concerned, they don't care because it's you're not in the same position as them. And that's the downfall of I believe, why a lot of people in the wrong roles in the UK. And that could be global. But this is this is the platform I'm working from.
Kaili Spear 23:51
Yeah, no, that makes sense. And that's really interesting. I, we don't get the opportunity to work a lot with international. So it's really cool to hear those kind of insights. So thank you.
What, what are, what are some of the things that you would recommend to people who are starting their careers?
I, I totally 110% for straight talk, you know, I met director of marketing and software. So I totally understand the value of that. Yeah, so I understand. And I wish I could like ingrain that into some of my new hires. So what do you what do you recommend to help encourage the right culture when you're starting in your career?
First of all, as the leader, Kaili, you're the leader. So I would say you need to set an example. Because leaders are the reason people behave the way they behave at the lower tiers of the business.
And it's vital that you how you want your department to be is how you work. One of the other things is have a culture where people tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or you don't. The problem that we have in business
is now his people get into some position. And they are led by ego, which then turns into arrogance. We want to train new hires to be able to speak their mind respectfully but also have a solution, because it's about the impact of what their ideas are going to have on the overall business and the bottom line.
First thing I always turn up on time, lateness is a disrespect. I don't ovulate the lateness if you if I'm teaching, you turn up late, either don't come to the class, or I'm not, I'm not repeating at least the first half and I was going to repeat it for you. You're going to have to make the teas and coffees as a newcomer, it's not something that, you know, you've got to earn your stripes, somehow, you need to stay late, when it's five o'clock and your trainees come in, you're going to have to get the six o'clock train because you need to show that you are enthusiastic. They're awake ways to do things. But a lot of stay off your bloody mobile phones. That is something that I definitely will say, No, no leaders want to see a member of staff on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, like it's unacceptable.
You know, it's unacceptable. And if you are someone who's new to business, read the internet. YouTube is like my new television channel. There is a plethora of information on how to behave, conduct yourself, how to approach if you're in a meeting, like one of the things I say to new starts is if you've been in the IT department for six months, and someone suggests something, and you are a little bit intimidated by the team meeting. Agree fair, you know, like to agree with Kaili simply because you know, I've seen in the latest report on CSS cnn tech
page that Bitcoin is thinking, increase increasing in value. That's it, have something to contribute? You know, and the thing is, if you if a newcomer has issues with communication, it's your responsibility as a leader to then report in some elearning blended learning, do some team group work with HR find out if there's team building days that you can do have some communication workshops and soft skill workshops. Because it's, you know, it's a universal effort with the business, everybody needs to be working together to allow someone to grow, what we need to avoid doing is your new start, here's here's a booklet on how to start and use your computer and leave them to me, that's where we go wrong. So it is got to be a collective effort.
Kaili Spear 27:43
Thank you so much. I'm, I'm going to be following more of your stuff.
I just want to I just want to clip that part and put it in training. I think that'll be great.
No, thank you so much is there I I appreciate your time. And I love your insights and your life experience to kind of help drive those points home. Is there something you wanted to kind of bring up or address that you didn't get a chance to earlier in the conversation? Yeah, I do want to address diversity of minds, I think we are at a place within society whether you know, universal society, I'll say because the Internet has made the world so much more smaller. And we need to be open to engaging diversity of the mind. Because just because you think, oh, I've got an Asian person, a black person, a gay person, you know, a disabled person. So I've ticked all the boxes. But that doesn't mean that they're any good at anything. Okay, so in order to find people and really learn about your team, it's very important as leaders is you talk to people in the business, not just Hi, stop and have a conversation of you. What did you do this weekend? How's your family where your family based? Or where did you grow up? Because you might not know that that person's escapism, maybe just come into work.
And I think we are not very conscious of the people we work with. I'm very nosy I think this is why I did the degree in journalism. So I people would never understand how I know so much about somebody. But I'm very I make people's business, my business. And people are my business. And if you are in a senior leadership position is very important that you get to know that you're working with because that will add value to how you sustain and build that relationship and the respect factor you will get out of that is unparalleled to the longevity of the relationship. So I definitely will say diversity of minds can only be investigated by having conversations and I'm not talking about them.
Putting in a new product to the business find out who they are in the business.
So I hope that's been useful.
Kaili Spear 30:08
Oh, absolutely. Thank you so much. And again, I really appreciate your time Sandra, everyone.
Yeah, everyone go follow her I will I will include links to her podcast on my site and as well as on the social posts. So if you're not sure where that is, just go check out my Facebook page. It'll all be there. And if you know anyone that you would love to hear their story and love to hear their defining moment, please go nominate them at Kaili speaks comm slash podcast. Thanks again, Sandra for being on. I can't wait to hear more of your content, you know, as a as a leader, you know, as the leader on exec team and the only woman it's it's a lot of fun. It's a blast, and I have a good team. But learning and establishing the right things is can be tricky. So I appreciate your feedback on that and to help me become a better leader. So thank you for that, personally, more than welcome. You're more than welcome. Thank you very much for having me. And hopefully, we'll see you again. All right, no, absolutely. Thank you so much, everyone, and have a great day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai