Today's Guest: Gail Kraft

Today, I interview Gail Kraft, who fought for her life from the very beginning after her mother made an attempt to abort her. Although Gail lived, she never got to form a strong relationship with her mother, because her mom died when Gail was just three years old. From that point, her father treated her like she was a burden, an inconvenient barrier keeping him from winning women over on dates.

And so from a very early age, Gail learned to be a people pleaser, hoping to keep the peace and make people like her. She was desperate for love and connection. At age 13, Gail had a confrontation with her father, after which she joined a gang. She and her peers hung out together in various groups and areas throughout downtown Boston where she lived. They lived a lifestyle of risk and danger, but those things made them very protective of each other. At one point, Gail was assaulted by a fellow member who was walking her home, and she just barely avoided being raped. She let the others know what happened, and mysteriously this person was never seen again.

At 16, she completely moved out of her father’s house and went to live with her brother and his family in the suburbs. The rule was that she was not to stir up any trouble with his wife, and that she was no longer to have any gang affiliations. Gail says that’s what saved her. She was living in a safe area and her brother was helping her to set some standards for her life.

Fast forwarding to the development of Gail’s career, her people-pleasing skills really benefited her. She was a high performer who aimed to impress, and so she did impress people and gain recognition and success. Eventually ending up in a management role, she one day had no choice but to lead in a presentation, and although she was scared, she later realized what a turning point this was for her. She realized that even though it was a job, her words were having an effect on people’s lives. That’s when everything changed.

After many years of hard work and personal development, today Gail helps to empower others to tap into their full potential. She shows them their true uniqueness, guides them to freedom, and teaches them that the life they are seeking is within arm’s reach.

Gail Kraft is a keynote speaker, podcaster, Empowerment Master, author of The Empowering Process, and thought leader. She works with clients and runs programs offering various approaches for accessing self-awareness, focus, and emotional balance in order to tap into your natural flow for success. Krafting The Flow Formula is how you gain higher self-awareness, create smarter goals, and lower stress, allowing you to make conscious choices and take control of your life today.

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Transcript of Interview

Transcript of Interview


Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast


Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing


Free Guide to Fearless Speaking:


Episode # 90 Gail Kraft


“Raw and Real”


(00:35) Dr. Doreen Downing

Hi, this is Dr. Doreen Downing and I’m the host of the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast. What I do here is I get to delight in meeting new people who have stories. Today’s guest, Gail, is a new friend of mine, and I’ve been on her podcast. I just know that our conversation is so in the moment. What I think you could look forward to today is just being on the journey now as we dance in the moment with the topic of finding your voice. Hi, Gail.


(01:11) Gail Kraft

Hey, Doreen. I love that you just said the word “dance”. I just recently started contemplating and posting about dancing with your demon.


(01:25) Dr. Doreen Downing

Yes, well, you and I always seem to have these deeper synchronistic moments. I didn’t know how I was going to introduce you, but I do have a bio so I think it would be good if I did read that.


(01:39) Gail Kraft

That would be awesome.


(01:41) Dr. Doreen Downing

Yes, then people will really get a more concrete sense of how wonderful you are. Gail Kraft, keynote speaker, podcaster, empowerment master, and author of The Empowering Process. Isn’t that the name of your podcast that I was on?


(02:00) Gail Kraft



(02:02) Dr. Doreen Downing

We’ll make sure and get that episode out to listeners. You’re a thought leader that works with clients and runs programs offering various approaches for accessing self-awareness, focus, and emotional balance in order to tap into the natural flow for success. I have to take a big breath. I like that phrase, “the natural flow”. I think people work so hard to find success, but if we think about it as a natural flow for success—thank you, Gail, for writing that—crafting the flow formula, that’s how you do it. Crafting the formula is how you gain higher self-awareness, create smarter goals, and lower stress in making conscious choices and taking control of your life today. Why not today?


(02:57) Gail Kraft

Why not today? Why not? That word, “control”, is like an oxymoron if you will because it’s not control. It’s allowing more so than control, allowing yourself to show up, allowing yourself to listen to that inner child. So, we’re going to talk about voices. Who knows what voices we’re going to talk about but we can start with my voice. As a child, we talked about this a little bit beforehand, I was definitely one of those children who did not speak up. I actually went through a series of abandonment in my life. My mom tried to abort me in vitro. She died before I was three. I heard stories from my father while he was trying to woo and date someone about what a burden I was. Repeatedly, through my life, I heard that I wasn’t worthy to be here, so I started to become such a people pleaser. I would do whatever it took and zip this mouth to make someone happy. That meant that I had choices in my life: bad marriages. Then I found my voice completely by accident.


(04:21) Dr. Doreen Downing

I’m going to pause right there. That’s going to have people say, “Huh, by accident.” So, until we get to that point, I’d like to go back and fan out more of what you’ve already presented so that people can relate to a little girl who is ready to pop out in the world that feels already unwelcome. If we think that in people, our little babies inside of our bellies can feel and sense and think, which of course I think you and I do believe you’re picking up already, this is not a welcoming universe I’m about to enter.


(05:03) Gail Kraft

In vitro, I’m like, “What’s going on?”


(05:06) Dr. Doreen Downing

But for me listening to you and knowing some of the details, if you could give just a little bit more to pan out what people might call the pain of it so that there’s a sense that they can relate to it. If you could just share where you go with that.


(05:31) Gail Kraft

Oh, there’s so many. I think I’ll share the nightmares that I had until I shut them down. My mom passed when I was three. I am from the inner city of Boston and when you’re from the inner city, you take the public transportation. I had a dream of going to the local train station with my mom, and the train came and I went on the train, and turned around, and my mom was still on the platform, and the doors closed. Now, I only knew how to get to downtown Boston, and turn around and come back, so I couldn’t get off the train until I got to a station I knew. Imagine each station that I come to, and the stress that I was feeling that I can’t get off yet. I can’t get off yet. Then the train going back and being in the tunnel in the darkness of being in a train tunnel with the lights going. All of that was in my dream. When the doors opened, my mom was gone. That was my experience when she passed. She went to work and died there. I saw her leave the house and never come back. I had this nightmare and never shared it with my family by the way, because “No, don’t cause any waves in the family. Let’s keep the peace.” That was my job: to keep the peace. At the age of 13, I had a confrontation with my father. That’s a whole other story. In that confrontation, I made a decision to shut down the dream, and I joined a gang. I found my family in a gang.


(07:20) Gail Kraft

A gang. Tell us more.


(07:25) Dr. Doreen Downing

Well, in those days, what the boys did, the ladies paid no attention to. All we knew is that we would go we had certain places where we would hang out. when the police came, we took off. then when the police left, we came back. That was family. That was protection. I’ll give you another example. The boys would walk you home. One night, Junior was walking me home. We bumped into his brother John. I remember them so clearly. John was with someone else. John says we got to get home Junior. Mom’s going to kill us. It’s getting too late right now. He’ll make sure she gets home.” Well, he didn’t. He dragged me in an alley and he tried to rape me, choke me. There’s a whole story again there. How I got saved was ridiculous. God saved me. That’s a whole other story of how that happened. But the very next day, the gang found out. I never saw that boy again. The gang’s job was to protect us. I’m sure that John and Junior got an earful about not making sure that I was safe. So as much as a lot happened within the gang, that was home, that was safety. I needed that because I didn’t have it growing up.


(09:04) Dr. Doreen Downing

What you just said about not having it but then discovering it in an environment that may not have been the healthiest one for you to grow, the need that we have inside to be loved, protected, part of, belonging is another word I would say that you belong right there.


(09:27) Gail Kraft

At the age of 16, I left my father and moved in with my brother and his family who lived in the suburbs. When I moved in, there were two rules. “See that woman there. You upset her you’re out.” Okay. “That gang that you belong to? That’s done.” That saved me. That really did save me because I now was in the suburbs. I was in a single family home where people had cars very rarely. They take public transportation. I learned about family from my brother and my sister-in-law in a different way.


(10:19) Dr. Doreen Downing

Oh, that sounds actually beautiful.


(10:21) Gail Kraft

It was healing. It was my first step towards healing. But it also made me curious and hungry for what they had and I had no idea how unhealthy their relationship really was. Because understand that he came from the same unhealthy environment I came from. He had a gang that he hung around with as well. So again, it didn’t help me make good choices at the time.


(10:50) Dr. Doreen Downing

Well, I’m looking forward to hearing more about this accident. But before we do, I’m going to take a quick break to help listeners figure out how they can find more resources, if they are still struggling to find their voice. Be with you just a moment.




(11:17) Dr. Doreen Downing

Oh, we’re now back with Gail Kraft. hi, I’m so excited. Earlier in the episode, Gail, you mentioned about finding your voice and you did it by accident. I am so curious. I’m opening up the floor here now to learn what that was.


(11:38) Gail Kraft

One of the things that the abandoned child wants is to please, so in corporate or in business, when you please, when you succeed, you get rewarded, you get a raise, you get recognition, you get awards. I was flourishing in corporate. I became a leader very quickly. Even without a college degree, I was leading a team. I have so many stories. I ended up working for a large organization. I was managing the internal training department and my boss manage the external. The point was that we were always in sync. What we’re saying inside, we were also saying outside. She had all of the big guys from around the country in and one of her trainers didn’t show up. She came up to me and said, “You’re getting on stage and presenting.” I said, “No, no, no, no, I’m a manager. You hired me because I’m a manager and not a speaker. I can’t do this.” She said, “You have to.” So, there’s a phrase I use called, “Put your big girl panties on and go do it. Just go do it.” So, I did, and what I found, after the first five minutes of the sweat pouring off my face, and my armpits, and God knows whatever else, I got into a flow. I got into a rhythm and I had a blast. My first public speaking was in that moment, and I realized that what I had to say it happened in corporate purely by accident, made a difference in the people’s lives that I was speaking to. That became a very powerful for me going forward.


(13:53) Dr. Doreen Downing

I get that life had something in mind for you, and it feels like a knock-knock on the door saying, “whether you’re ready or not, my dear, you’ve got to step forward.” It’s your choice: move or not. I think that this lesson that you’re talking about, and hopefully listeners are getting it, is that when opportunity knocks like that, as scary as it is and as much sweat as you’re going to have, you need to move and take that step. Because in your story, my goodness, you realized and found your voice. The flow of a natural sense of where you could express yourself and not only I’m getting not only express, but it had impact.


(14:47) Gail Kraft

It had impact. Exactly. I was a natural. I was moving and walking back and forth. I was handing out prizes when someone answered a question. Who knows this stuff? The good thing is, shortly after that, I’ll give another story, I had someone who worked for me not show up. There was a snowstorm and she just couldn’t make it in. The subject that she was teaching, I had no idea about, but we have this thing called the trainer’s manual that I had my team create. So, I grabbed the trainer’s manual, went in to the classroom, sat on the desk in front of everybody, didn’t even get up to the board, opened the book, and said, “Okay, we’re going to learn this together. Are you ready?” When you’re in a situation, how bad can it be when you’re presenting something you know nothing about? Be honest. That’s the flow of it all. Just be raw and real, and everyone was like, “Yes, let’s do this thing.” It was awesome.


(16:01) Dr. Doreen Downing

Raw and real. Those are inspirational words. I know that people who are listening are going to go, “Oh, that sounds scary.” Say something a little bit more that can propel people to be raw and honest and take that step.


(16:19) Gail Kraft

Well, it is scary because our ego doesn’t want us to be in an unexposed situation. It’s trying to protect us, while our soul is like, that would be so much fun. That would be so exciting. If you look at it, it’s like a little girl that’s coming out to play. I think that is one of the cornerstones I look at even when I was in corporate. Guys, lighten up, this is a game. You think it matters that you gave me a deadline of December 29 and I don’t make it. Will the world come to an end? Will someone die? It matters because you said it matters and you are not that important. It’ll get done when we’re able to. Corporate doesn’t like to hear that but it’s true. You do what you can and have fun at it. I’m telling you because— I have another story for you. I was leading this major project. We had to bring systems down. There was lots of risk. I was really riding the technical team to keep that in order for risk management plans, at which nothing will go wrong. Well, yes, it did. We had the plans and it was an awesome implementation because of that. Now I have a team of folks who are not very happy with me that I’m going to have to work with again. What did I do in order to maintain flow? Took them out to dinner, gave them their bonuses. then I took them to laser tag so they could kill me, and they did, but it released that tension. We played. Do you see the theme here? How do you get into flow? You play, have fun, lighten up the load. If something scary is in front of you, think of it like, if you’re one who rides the roller coaster, it’s a roller coaster ride. The first time you went on that thing, how frightened were you and how exciting was it when you finally went down that first hill? It’s just a game, and it’s fun.


(18:45) Dr. Doreen Downing

Yes, that reminds me of an experience I had in San Francisco at the Exploratorium. There was something called the pleasure tunnel. It was very narrow and it was dark. You would have, I guess, tactile experiences as you move through the tunnel. I have claustrophobia. I was terrified, but I did what you’re talking about, enter to explore. When I came out the other end, I went, “Wow, that was so much fun. I want to do that again.” It’s that first stepping into the scary that we have to remember to do. We’re getting near the end, but you said something and I just want to open it up because there’s two things that I think you offer that are so enriching for people. You mentioned something about soul and you mentioned something about flow. Before we end, just see what comes up about how those two— What you want to say about that to us?


(19:59) Gail Kraft

Flow is the state that you allow yourself to get into by releasing ego. That’s what I said that play absolutely does. When a team, especially the leader, gets into flow, that is their absolute most creative. Things just come. I had a team. We would go to lunch once a month and play a game. Hello, see a theme there? Then we would problem-solve. I would have to record the session, because the ideas came so quickly, we couldn’t journal them down because they were in flow. When you’re in flow, “Yes, yes. We could take that. We could do that. Yes, yes. Then we could do this.” How exciting. I can feel the energy. Flow is either very calm, and time either goes very quickly, or slows down. The Navy seals pay millions of dollars to find one person to join the team who can get into flow because when they are on maneuvers, there is no leader, there is a team, one entity, and they move as one.


(21:39) Dr. Doreen Downing

I get that idea. One more question. Let’s see what comes up when I give you the topic. The voice of the soul.


(21:50) Gail Kraft

That’s the child. Recently, I’ve been putting out there that your inner child is not injured. The pain and the suffering and the anguish that we carry like this abandonment issue, that child wasn’t injured, that pain is on top of the child. That child is hidden underneath it. When you release all of that, you get to play and communicate. Listen to the wisdom of a child, the wisdom of a five year old, the questions that they ask, their perspective, the things that they come up with. Why would you bury that? Let it out.



Well, that sounds like a really beautiful way to end today. Let it out. The way that you said it is such an invitation to a new way of being that we don’t usually think because we’re working hard to be successful. What you talk about is the natural flow to success. Thank you. How do people find you, Gail?


(23:09) Gail Kraft

Well, I’m on LinkedIn and I’m on Facebook. That really is the best way to find me. It’s Gail Kraft, G-A-I-L K-R-A-F-T. On Facebook, it’s Gail.Kraft.77 and on LinkedIn, it’s Gail Kraft. When connect with me there, tell me this is where you heard me because otherwise, if I don’t know you, I’m not accepting a friendship, but if you’ve heard me on this podcast with Doreen, absolutely, I will accept your friendship.


(23:39) Dr. Doreen Downing

That’s a good way to also teach people that we need to discriminate and not just on social media be doing relationships that aren’t really deep and meaningful and have some significance in our own life. Thank you for being significant in my life.


(24:03) Gail Kraft

Doreen, this has been amazing. Meeting you has been such a gift. Thank you for having me.



Also listen on…

7 STEP GUIDE TO FEARLESS SPEAKINGPodcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.

Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless

7 STEP GUIDE TO FEARLESS SPEAKINGPodcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.

Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless