Today, I interview Dr. Pelè who grew up during civil wartime in Nigeria. He and his family were refugees, fearing for their safety with every step, never sure of their next meal. In order to comfort her children, his mother would sing and tell stories. Dr. Pelè says this diversion created a change in his mindset as a child.
Our youngest childhood years are the most formative, and while childhood trauma often imprints negatively and requires later work to overcome, Dr. Pelè’s sweet mother helped him to flip that switch and see past his physical pain to focus on pure happiness. What a miracle!
Later in the workforce, Dr. Pelè had a strange experience where someone was surprised at his boldness to speak his mind. His race was mentioned in a negative light, as if it meant he had less of a right to speak than others. He had never questioned his identity or validity before. He was able to go to school in search of better opportunities.
Through his learning journey, he was able to reevaluate his passions and discover what he was truly meant to offer the world. Today, music continues to be a great source of strength and joy for Dr. Pelè– his way of finding connection, clarity, and happiness. He also works with entrepreneurs, businesses, and coaches to hone their marketing and vision. He has a thriving online community where he’s able to connect with people on a global level and help others to share their voices too.
Dr. Pelè is an educator, musician, bestselling author, and the Founder of ClientJam™, a software and community that delivers consistent client acquisition for highly paid experts. Through hands-on mentorship, he helps creative entrepreneurs, coaches, and consultants unleash their hidden powers of mindset and marketing to achieve the business success they seek.
Find Dr. Pelè here:
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Learn How to Speak Without Fear!
Transcript of Interview
Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast
Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing
Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com
Episode # 52 Dr. Pelè
“Embrace Happiness as Your True Self”
(00:09) Dr. Doreen Downing
Hi, I’m Dr. Doreen Downing host of the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast. As a psychologist, I’ve spent many years working with people around fear and overcoming fear and finding their true voice. That’s what this podcast is about. I invite people to unzip a little bit and give us some history about how or at a time in their life where they felt like they didn’t have a voice. Usually by now they have it because they’re on my show, and they get to talk about what they currently get to do. Today I get to introduce you to one of my best friends, Dr. Pelè and I’m going to read a little bio about him because that’s really important to get some background on how magnificent this human being is. Dr. Pelè Raymond received his PhD in Organization and Management from Capella University with a specialization in Leadership Development. He is the author of several books, all focused on the intersection between human capital, technical marketing, and the power of narrative as a business construct. He has served in diverse entrepreneurial and executive roles such as Vice President of Human Resources at a healthcare facility, Director of Technical Marketing at E the S and Vice President of Product Marketing. Oh, wow. At Dale Carnegie of Texas, you know you bring that spirit today I just want to say I’m so happy to have you and welcome.
(02:50) Dr. Pelè
Dr. Doreen. It is such a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me. I appreciate it.
(02:56) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, one thing isn’t in your bio is the podcast that I got to be on—yours– and it was called Profitable Happiness. I have to tell you, all those episodes, if people could go look up hashtag Profitable Happiness. There’s not just learning, there’s entertainment, the way you interview guests, I think was– or the way I was interviewed was a lot of fun. I felt like my truth came out. So, here we are. Tables turn, let’s get to your true, your true. So, I always like to start with, well, in your life I know you weren’t born in this country, but in your life tell us a little bit about the early upbringings and what was challenging about having a voice?
(03:47) Dr. Pelè
Wow. Well, first of all, let me just say that Dr. Doreen your topic is perhaps one of the most important topics that every single one of us has got to address. At some point, we have to ask ourselves, who are we? What are we here to do? What are we here to say and give to the world? My life has always been a little bit of confusion in this department. I’m one of those folks who was blessed with a lot of abilities. But because of that, not really being clear on what my voice truly actually was, what my possible impact could be on the world. For anyone who thinks, hey, what are you complaining about? You’re gifted with different talents? Trust me, it can be very difficult to find yourself if you have too many choices. So, going back to your question, I was born in a war-torn African village. Back in the 60s I was a young child during a civil war in Nigeria. I’ve never really unpacked whether or not those origins are part of my confusion, but maybe we’ll do it here today. During the war, my mother and I were refugees running around, afraid of dying at every step, hungry, and if you can imagine worrying about bombs all over the place and thinking you’re going to die, that’s pretty much what it was like to be a young child in the war zone in Africa. But my mother did probably the strangest thing and the most powerful thing in my life during that time. When she couldn’t give me food, and she couldn’t protect me from all the mayhem, she simply would sing. She would sing songs and she would tell stories of those songs, using those songs, and she would take my name, Pelè, and put it into the songs and sing them to me. What that did was, it played a little trick on my young mind. It diverted my attention from the fear of dying, from the fear of hunger, and from all those negative things, and simply made me happy. That’s where I learned my life’s lesson about happiness, which is, happiness is a form of diversion from pain and fear. When you get into a zone, where you’re happy, all of a sudden confusion goes away, your voice shows up, everything starts to work. So, for me, I think that early beginning was my introduction into a tool that would help me solve the problem of not having a voice or being confused about my voice. So, that’s my very beginning is that my mom tricked me into being happy so that we could survive the war.
(06:35) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, that’s very powerful. I like the sense of your mother witnessing you and singing back to you in a way, it’s almost like voice, your voice is given back to you by her singing into it and using your name. An hour of your name being fed back to you through this other realm, not just words, but a song, which I think goes to a different part of our brains.
(07:07) Dr. Pelè
In fact, if you look behind me on the left here, for those of you who are watching this as a video, you’ll see guitar, you’ll see– what you don’t see is all the other guitars on the wall here, and the keyboards and this is actually my music production room. Ever since that gift of music, at a very tender age, the only way that I have been able to fully express my truth is through music. That has really been part of my confusion all my life, because where was music going to fit in the corporate world? Where was I going to be using that form of expression to help anyone in a nine-to-five job. So, I’ve always been, you know, one foot here, one foot there, confused about what to do and how to help others. But anyway, that’s the past, right? You want me to unpack it? There you go.
(08:03) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes. Well, I happen to be an admirer of your music and you used to– I don’t know if you still do on Fridays– on LinkedIn, you’d put a song up. I know that that’s part of your history is producing music and I would direct people to your LinkedIn account to listen to some of the marvelous kind of music. It does always contain happy. So, there we go again, I think there’s a theme, when I said earlier, happiness, the podcast that you did, then the story you told about your mom, creating a joy, a sense of happiness inside of yourself, and then music. Now you’re saying, well, it’s another question. We can talk about that a little bit later here. About what does that mean in terms of business, but I think one of your messages to me along the line, just as a business woman, is to find my happy and this podcast is part of my happy.
(09:11) Dr. Pelè
(09:14) Dr. Doreen Downing
Go on. I think that’s what your message is, is wherever you are, business you got to be having happy show up.
(09:25) Dr. Pelè
You know, sometimes we find flowers out of the mud, we grow beauty from difficulty. You got to put the mud together and then get the seed and then the flowers show up. Right? You could look back and go wait a second, how do we get this beauty from this much pain? But that to me, is the journey we all have to take. I can tell you literal horror stories of my corporate experience in my early days. It was not happiness. It was not happy at all, and I had no voice and I had to break away from that mud from that difficulty. I had to go find somewhere that I could embrace something that made me happy. It was only when I was finally embracing the things that may make me happy, if you will, that I was able to help make other people happy. That sort of my journey has been the search for really happiness at work.
(10:28) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, that’s such a message to people. Early on, though you’re talking about being in the mud with corporate environments where it feels like you were shut down and you don’t have a voice? Well, what compelled you to move out of that situation?
(10:46) Dr. Pelè
Well, I remember a conversation with a manager of mine at the time. He came to me and said, and I hope I can say this on your show. But he came to me and he said one day, Pelè– I didn’t have my PhD at the time, he said Pelè, why is it that whenever you’re in meetings, you have to speak up so loud, and be heard and make your points so well known? Because you think you know something? Don’t you realize that you’re black? That’s why I asked your permission to share that. Because I believe that what he said, not to be politically correct or incorrect, is on the minds of some people, they look at black people like myself or women like you and they ask, why are you being so loud? So here I am a natural person who wants to communicate and say something, and I’ve been shut down. I’ve been told to stop talking. So, that was my motivation to leave that job and it was actually after that job that I went to get my PhD and I just left the world of work, I was lucky that my wife was able to support me while I went back to school, but I just didn’t want to see a job again, where someone would tell me do you realize you’re black. So, that was what shut me down and got me out of that for a while and I had to go rediscover my happiness from there.
(12:23) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, good for you. What a lot of courage to say no to that kind of environment and to say, “okay, there’s something else out there.” I love that idea of just dropping yourself out of that environment and going to pick up of all things. Education. A whole learning journey. I know, I’ve said this several times, I know you and I know that that’s what you’d love to do is help educate us also so you have so much wisdom and so much to offer when it comes to even my own business, my psychology business, the way you started the show today, you know about, “hey, folks, you need to find your voice and figure out who you are.” So, let’s go back to your journey you did, your education, and what…
(13:23) Dr. Pelè
Well, I’m going to give a plug to Toastmasters. Because, you and I have discussed this, it has a place in us getting out there and later on, of course, Dale Carnegie, but going back to when I left the corporate world and again, I am with humility saying that, because not everyone has a chance to walk away from a difficult job the way I did. If it weren’t for my family support, I wouldn’t have done that or been able to, but it was so healthy for me, or it was important for me at an emotional and big psychological level, to get out of that environment. Then during getting my PhD that took three or four years, I went back into Toastmasters because I felt that I needed to learn how to communicate better now. I don’t know how I connect that to someone telling me, “Hey, stop talking too much” to go to toastmasters to go learn how to talk. But that’s what I did. I went to Toastmasters. I spent a few years there actually competing. Toastmasters is about using peer environments and competition to get better. So, I really enjoyed that. It began to occur to me that music and speaking are really just the same thing. I mean, you’re just trying to find a way to say something that gives value to an audience. So, along the way, I decided to connect my Toastmasters to my music and so people would be shocked. I would show at a presentation with my guitar. So, I’ve been always trying to find ways of bringing all these things that make me happy into one place so that they can energize me. So, here I was doing Toastmasters with a guitar and it really helped. It was wonderful. I then went and after several other jobs, human resources, different things, I ended up at Dale Carnegie, which, as you know, is all about training and speaking and things like that. So, at Dale Carnegie, I think I learned some of the best lessons ever about speaking, especially, “remember your audience, it’s not all about you.” So, I really enjoyed learning from all those different sources. So, that’s basically been my journey to today, is going through the sort of the difficult breakup with corporate, getting some education, bringing my music back into the picture, and being back in corporate in a more holistic way.
(16:01) Dr. Doreen Downing
What a beautiful journey, and it inspires people, I’m sure. I have watched some of those early Toastmaster videos that you shared. Yeah, you show up with your guitar. Right, it just shows that to me, again, watching you even in that learning stage at Toastmasters, you were still in your heart, expressing yourself with love. That’s what I feel when I watch you sing, when I watch you speak, when I watch you on podcast, when I’m in your podcast, I just feel the love is– I’m embraced by your love all the time. So, thank you. I get that the next step was then moving back into corporate with a strong sense of more of a purpose and greater, I don’t know, capacity. I know my Toastmasters story, I was also award winner and even started teaching at Toastmaster conferences but there was still a part of me– because I’m a little more I don’t know, shy– there was just a part of me that felt like I didn’t reach quite where my truth is. So, I had to take– that’s why I took that inner journey and went deeper inside of myself. But I love having to know, I love learning how to be out there in a way that was effective and then all I needed to do is find more of myself. There you go. So, tell us about moving back into the business world.
(16:13) Dr. Pelè
Right? Well, not without my guitar, right, because what happened was outside of the business or the corporate world, I was actually in business, creating my own entrepreneurial journey. So, I was founder, I’m still the founder of a product called Velocity Jam and I had created different software products, some of them still in use today. But through that process, I discovered I’ve got to find who I am, and come in truth and vulnerability. So, one way or the other, I’m going to bring a guitar into this corporate experience, or else, I’m not going to do it. So, I wrote a book actually. I don’t know if people can see this. But this is the book, you can see that in the front cover it’s me with a guitar. The book is called The Seven Songs of a Successful Team. I wrote this book because I really, really went inside of myself as you did Dr. Doreen, and said, If I’m going to be authentic to the world, if I’m going to have a voice, if I’m going to speak to anyone, it’s got to be with the one way I speak that is real for me. Everyone’s different. But for me, it has to involve music, because that’s what I’ve, from childhood, understood as truth. So, I put together a way of building teams, using music as a metaphor. It was my first entry back into the corporate with this offer. So, the reason why I think I finally found my voice, back to your initial question is that I’m speaking with every aspect of my voice. I’m not hiding my music. I’m not afraid to speak because someone says, hey, you’re different. I’m fully allowed to be here and I think that’s when we find our voice, is we go inside, we bring who we truly are, and the world is able to let us do that. Then I think we’ve arrived at our voice.
(21:25) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, you’ve just spoken to what it’s like to find in an environment that welcomes you and applaud you and not only welcomes and applauds but I’d say go for it, man. More of you. You are a blessing. Well, that’s interesting. I just really felt like what you just said around doing the Toastmaster route and Dale Carnegie. Yes, I did lots and lots and lots of trainings about public speaking, but the heart of me and really come through the speaking yet. So, I’m thinking that that’s a– this idea of the journey that sounds like both of us took is that we got some skills. You know, we know how to do a beginning, middle and end and we have vocal variety and we know how to make– we know how to communicate in an effective way.
(22:20) Dr. Pelè
Table Topics. We know that too.
(22:22) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, yes. Well, kind of what this is. Back and forth there’s no real structure or plan here where yeah and spontaneous speaking, I could throw you anything and you would just take a breath and then it would be like what you talk about with music, but they call it a riff or a jam is that right.
(22:45) Dr. Pelè
A jam, exactly. A Jam, just an impromptu jam.
(22:50) Dr. Doreen Downing
That’s what I feel like we’re doing. Anyway, so the idea of both of us having gotten skillful, and then did a deeper dive into the truth of who we are, and then marrying the two or melding the two so that what comes out is the truth of who we are in an effective way that you go to environments, and they go, “oh, I want you.” Good. Well, we’re nearing somewhere at the end, I hate to leave. What else do you have to say about voice and finding one’s voice?
(23:25) Dr. Pelè
Well, I almost wonder if you helped people with an assessment of where they are today and what you’ve discovered as you do that, because I wish someone had done that for me. I wish someone had said, “let’s sit down and let’s not just talk about whether you can speak or play the guitar. Let’s talk about your childhood” the way you did with me here. Let’s go way back to what started all this. Why don’t you feel you have a voice? Maybe give us some of that thought process Doctor Doreen, because I know that’s really the heart of what you do, which I never got. I never received that.
(24:08) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yeah. It’s my skill. It’s my whole what I– well, actually, this is going to come out way after I do my three-month coaching program, group coaching program that I’m about to do. But the Individual Program is still there for people, and the first several weeks is that assessment, and I listened first, this is how I do it. I listened first to what people say about their current experience speaking so then I will just give you an example, one woman said, I feel like the audience is going to pounce on me and don’t you start getting curious about what pounce means? Maybe somewhere along the line somebody pounced on her or something, you know, so that I wait, in my whole tuning system is going into that kind of curiosity. But I don’t push, I just have to have her talk deeper about what went on in her life and pretty soon she’s remembering she actually grew up, and she had to go by some dangerous territory to get to school every single day. There was this, what kind of vicious dogs are, can be roped up, she had to pass one. One day the dog got loose, chased her and pounced on her. When she said, “oh, you know, I even have a little chills now, remembering that moment” when she went, oh, my gosh, you know, it’s kind of like you and your happy moment. For her it was the trauma of having been attacked by a dog at a very like at six years old or something like that. Lodged in a certain part of her brain and really wasn’t a memory. I mean, people think, way back when that doesn’t matter, but it does. So, the right assessment is my first– my tool that I use first to help people discover deeper roots of anxiety. Thank you.
(26:11) Dr. Pelè
It’s so important, I think, as you said, to go back and find out where the rain began to fall, so that we can fully understand how to get our bodies dried, and get back into the world. I feel that today, I’ve had one– I still have a struggle that I’m working on, and regarding voice and things, and that is the connection of what one does, that is from source from real happiness, the connection of that thing with financial outcomes. I haven’t figured that one out, I have to tell you that the more I tried to earn financial outcomes directly from the thing that made me happy, the more unhappiness I discovered. So, for me, I came up with a way around it and I call it profitable happiness, which is to go find profit somewhere else, and stop trying to connect your voice directly to financial outcomes. Find your profit somewhere else, but bring the thing that makes you happy into that process of profit, without requiring it to make you money. I think that’s a topic that it’s an ongoing discovery for me right now is the idea of, I love what I do. But I’m not waiting for the music, for example, to make me, any money just using it, because I love it and I can’t help but do it. Does that make sense?
(26:11) Dr. Doreen Downing 27:47
Yes. It feels like we could go on and on and have a whole another conversation. I love what you just opened up about that whole idea of follow your beliefs and no money will follow. It’s just a whole huge topic. But I want to go back to something that you said about the assessment and that’s about what we do. What I do is find where the wounds are, the traumas are the early, but guess what, our essence was there when we were born. Dr. Pelè, your bright spirit was there, and that’s what I help people go back to is, even underneath all of the trauma or the challenges to the core of who they are and what their gift is when they were, well, I don’t know how far back you want to go before in the stars. But you know what’s interesting about what you’ve just said, that answers my question right now, because back when I started or we started, there was no financial outcome as part of that equation. It was just truth. Maybe that’s all we need. Oh, my goodness, this is such a joy to be speaking to you. We’re at the end and I just hope people can find you– where do they do that?
(29:21) Dr. Pelè
Best place to find me is on LinkedIn. I think my handle is linkedin.com/in/ Dr. Pelè.
(29:32) Dr. Doreen Downing
Probably they just Google Dr. Pelè and find lots about you, your book, your Velocity Jam, your work, just your history, maybe even some video music. Okay. Dr. Pelè, thank you so much.
(29:49) Dr. Pelè
Thank you so much. It’s been a blessing to share some time with you. I appreciate it.
(30:04) Dr. Doreen Downing
Also listen on…
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.