Kanchan Prinsloo, KaPri Consulting
A trusted advisor to Women of Color Leaders globally.
Words of wisdom: Lead with your heart. Ask yourself first, what is the right thing to do as a human being?
Industry: Leadership development
Organization size: 5
Interview with Kanchan Prinsloo, Founder, CEO, KaPri Consulting, Canada
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- Transforming your business into having a social impact
- Collaborating strategies – the challenges and opportunities.
- What you can do to make diverse leaders feel more welcome
- The importance of self-reflection
- The value of a diverse network
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Interview with Kanchan Prinsloo, Founder, CEO, KaPri Consulting; CanadaKanchan’s skills draw on over 25 years of senior organizational experience including operations, strategic planning, team development, and relationship building to support her coaching and facilitation. Kanchan coaches and supports C-Suite executives, Senior Management and High Potentials. Her coaching strength is using her innate curiosity and building trust to ask bold questions of clients. She works in various industries such as Healthcare, Financial Institutions, Retail, Insurance, Media, Telecommunications, Government and Not-For-Profit. Kanchan holds a Master of Arts in Leadership, Certificate of Executive Coaching along with accreditation with International Coaching Federation (ICF) PCC. She volunteers with the Humanitarian Coaching Network supporting international leaders in United Nations posts.
United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal(s) addressed:
#5. Gender Equality, #10. Reduced Inequalities
Kanchan is a trusted advisor to Women of Color Leaders, around the globe. Supporting women of colour (WOC) leaders to lead from personal power, is empowering for them AND their organizations. WOC hold a unique lived experience as their leadership is underestimated while earning the greatest number of post-secondary degrees. Along with their corporate values of inclusive leadership are desired while simultaneously dismissed as weak when in action. Leading from one's personal power shape-shifts self, other leaders within and outside their teams, organizations, communities and globally.
Interview with Kanchan Prinsloo, Founder, KaPri Consulting ; Canada
Note: This interview is transcribed using AI software, which means, the transcription is not perfect. Watch the video or listen to the podcast to hear our guest’s wisdom in her own words. If you want to see more interviews like this, please comment below!
[00:00:00] Mike Gingerich: Welcome to the YouMeWe Amplified podcast interviews with women, leading social events, hosted by Suzanne F Stevens, international speaker, author, and multi award-winning social entrepreneur and founder of the Umi. We social impact. Enjoy the wisdom. That will be a compass on how to make your contribution count.
Or you. Your organization and your community.
[00:00:21] Suzanne F. Stevens: Oh, it is great to be here with our guests today. Welcome everybody to you YouMewe amplified, and we are live. I believe on LinkedIn. And I say believe because we’re going to cross our fingers for that one on YouTube. On my profile, Suzanne F Stevens and on Facebook at you, me, we movement.
I am so excited to have our guests today for a couple of reasons because this is not the first time, I’ve interviewed her. The last time I interviewed her was on a panel for intersectional. Feminist. And she did a bang-up job and contributed a ton of insights. So Kanchan I’m so happy to have you here today.
And Kanchan Prinsloo is a CEO and founder of KaPri consulting, Kanchan coaches and supports C suite executives, senior managers, and high potentials with an emphasis on supporting women of color as leaders. She has recently launched the belong bravely leadership circle to empower executives in particular women of color.
Welcome to the show. And I’m so excited to spend some 45 minutes with you today.
[00:01:35] Kanchan Prinsloo: Thank you so much, Suzanne. Thank you.
[00:01:38] Suzanne F. Stevens: Now you’ve been contributing for a while under diversity equity inclusion, and now particularly with women of color. Was the catalyst for you to start an organization that focuses on empowering women of color?
[00:01:54] Kanchan Prinsloo: One of the biggest things for me was as I did my post-graduate and executive coaching, seven years ago, I was going to be an executive coach. That was my focus and that’s what I wanted to do. And it wasn’t until I turned around and said, What I am seeing is predominantly a lot of white men. And I have done a lot of work and board work supporting women and children in India and hospitals and care and such.
And I really realized the biggest impact. And I keep doing this because that is the pointy end of the pencil for me, the women of color women that are in senior leadership positions that have impact. I have been one. I know what it feels like to really wonder what am I doing? I get, how come there’s a disconnect?
Why do I feel othered so much? Am I doing that myself either way? There’s enough doubt that I haven’t been going into positions or putting myself out or putting myself out too much and then not needing how to go back. So, I continued to look at the women that I was working with and where my passion has really just caught up to me is what it was, is when I went and went. Yeah, this is exactly my sweet spot. It is my commitment to changing what I see as a global shift, which is when I help women. And I call senior women very specifically because their ripple effect in corporate spaces is huge. Whether we want to believe it or not positional power, matters.
And so, they have that ripple effect. And so that ripple effect shifts not only them, but it also shifts their teams, it shifts their families, et cetera, et cetera. And you can see where the ripple effect goes.
[00:03:50] Suzanne F. Stevens: It’s interesting. I often to go to events that focus on people that are leading social enterprises and having a social impact for obvious reasons being that’s where I focus.
And there’s often this conception that people of our elk, not a millennial or gen Zed, can’t start a social enterprise or they can’t shift their business to all of a sudden have a social impact for instance, that if you’re going forward, And you’re doing your work you can’t all of a sudden have a social impact.
And I’ve always disagreed with that. I have always felt that you can shift your business. And it sounds exactly what you did, although you were having an impact. Like you, I was training leaders and doing all kinds of interesting stuff, but it wasn’t until I connected to what I really cared about. And in your case, women of color, that impact or became exponential.
Do you remember that time when it hits you like a ton of bricks that you needed to lean into women with color and why you need to lean in there?
[00:05:11] Kanchan Prinsloo: As an example, yes. And there was something that happened recently in the last sort of two years. I connect with a lot of other women of color coaches.
We know you’re collegial, you’re doing all this. And then I remember going, you know what? I need to get these women together. I need to get these women together because when I say something around shifting my career after 26 years in healthcare, shifting my career to go, I am committed to helping women of color leaders shifting that, guess what I’m in my fifties.
And my mother still calls me and says, okay, first, I couldn’t understand why I was changing careers, but. Are you earning money? As a woman of color and all these other women of color coaches went, oh my gosh.
Yes. I get that. I understand that there is that resonance question that comes from someone that is culturally diverse. I look at my parents, so risk-averse. They spent all their risks moving to Canada 55 years ago, but they now come forward and they’ve turned around and do that. And then that’s when I start to go, yes, these conversations that I hold, absolutely bring forward a lot of connection. Community is key. How do we build community, how do we build a sense of belonging and not just fitting in? And that was an example for me, was like, I would’ve never thought that this was something I was going to do is bring coaches together, but it made sense. And it has landed in a way that’s been really impactful for these coaches
[00:06:59] Suzanne F. Stevens: I will refer to women of color is a beneficiary of your, it could be the stakeholder, but in, when I talk about contribution it’s you created this opportunity for the benefit of those women. How were you finding that they are they seeking out enhancement in their leadership positions? And if they are, what, why are they seeking it out?
And what is the benefit? The receiving.
[00:07:27] Kanchan Prinsloo: So, are they seeking it out? In spades. They’re desperately wanting to learn, I want to, and I would say you’re so committed to advancing their knowledge, their ability, their impact in such a way that they are hungry for it. So yes, I would say for sure, they are seeking it out as for what they’re seeking out?
What I find is interesting. I don’t hear the what’s the position I can get as opposed to; how can I have impact in a way that’s going to help other people. And it is just phenomenal. It resonates so much with me. So that is, I would say the biggest piece. That’s the difference. They’re not looking for positional power as much as it is influence. And how do I have impact on others?
[00:08:23] Suzanne F. Stevens: I spent a ton of time in Africa interviewing African women pioneers and in every single case now there were mostly black women, I would say about 5% were white women and 5% Indian. That being said, no matter the color or where they came from, all these women were living in Africa and every single one, one to contribute back to the community.
That was the mission was their number one. And I was curious about that in the Canadian context, if you were finding the same thing?
[00:08:57] Kanchan Prinsloo: It absolutely is. What’s interesting is that I’ve coached many women as an example, one of them. was saying, I’ve been in these roles, like she’s in a corporate position, I can’t seem to get past director level, even to senior director level. I have gone and at the time she was talking about gone down to Bay Street to buy all the right clothes. I have flat irons, my, hair I’ve spent hours in flat ironing, my hair I’ve done. I’ve done everything to try and get so I can be seen, and I can be…
It’s fascinating. And it’s so what is it that you want to be seen? And what is that you want? She goes, because I want to be able to help other people, but I’m finding I can’t even help myself. One woman that I’m speaking to comes from Africa from a small village and where electricity was an issue. So, growing up, she had electricity and I was studying by candlelight excelled in everything she did. Did everything come here to do a master’s. This is her second master’s, worked for KPMG came here, brought on board right away.
Like just a story that is powerful. And she’s sitting here going, but I want to help other people. And I can’t even help myself. And I’m listening to her and I’m trying to go, okay let’s see where this is. And part of it is it’s like they contorted themselves into such a pretzel to feel like they can fit in that they can’t see themselves.
So, what do we do? We don’t end up really representing ourselves in a way that is true to who we are. We’re doing it in a way we think we need to be. After we spent some time together, something as simple as her hair went, I’m going to stop doing that too many hours I’ve put into my hair. I’m not going to do that. And when it starting to bring yourself back in, because her desire is to have impact for other people. And she said, that’s my own lessons that I can share with others, which is so great. It’s so excellent to hear her take her own lived experience and n ow share that for.
[00:11:03] Suzanne F. Stevens: Yeah. I believe we’re on a precipice of that happening more and more be it black women leaving their hair, indigenous women claiming their real names, Asian women going back to the real names and just embracing our authentic selves. So, I am very excited to hear that you’re seeing that as well.
Before you went down the path of women in color, of course you were coaching several different people, what due diligence did you do to say, Hey, I want to focus even more so on women of color and is there interest there? What can I do? Did you do any sort of due diligence prior to committing to that step?
[00:11:48] Kanchan Prinsloo: So, I did the due diligence internally and not externally. My own lived experience is that I grew up in a small town in Saskatchewan where I didn’t even realize I was the diversity in the, our family was the diversity in the town. We blended in. We did all these things. So, I had to come to a point of what is my story in this, because I don’t have a trauma. I also didn’t have a full awareness. So, what does that mean? And how does that? So, I came into a reconciliation with myself to go. So, when I say I’m going to be supporting women of color, when I speak, there are people that don’t really know. Outside of my name. They don’t know where I’m at.
Cause if my hair is flat ironed, they may not even know that I am up like what the story is going a question it’s not even relevant at that point, which is interesting. So, my hair is not flat ironed. For the last few months I have been playing with it as well. But it’s my own sort of, how do I do my own work is, important.
It takes a lot of people to make me look this natural. I’ve got coaches, I’ve got a showman, I’ve got, communities where I have continued to go because, as we do, we, I teach what I most need to learn myself in some respects. So it’s that whole thing around what is the journey that I’m on?
So that reconciliation came from within and not really external. I had other coaches caution me because I was going down a really narrow path. And I went to exactly. That’s exactly what I need to do. I know that. It made me nervous because I love to coach executives.
The irony of it all, the more niche I got, the more interested white executive became of me even they’re like, hang on here. Can I have a bit of that? Like what are you doing over here? It, it doesn’t make it more, doesn’t isolate anymore. It expands me out a bit more in the end
[00:13:47] Suzanne F. Stevens: Now that’s interesting. And especially now, there is that intrigue with what different cultures do and finally, I can see why a white executive would be curious because also they need to understand the diversity and where other executives are coming from.
Now I believe you are at the beginning stages. One of the reasons I wanted to interview you is because you’re right in the midst of this sort of shift. As well, like you’re, you’ve been coaching women of color and executives, but now you’re, you really are leaning into coaching more women of color, but you’re also creating a platform for them to connect, through belonging, bravely leadership circles.
And I’m curious, why having circles number one and number two, why do you think they are so important now?
[00:14:47] Kanchan Prinsloo: The key piece about importance for me is a sense of belonging. Seeing other leaders looking like you, they don’t have to be in the same organization, but other leaders around you with similar stories, similar to the one that I said.
Sharing with other executive coaches sharing with other coaches of color that my mother is still at the age of 50 call to see if I was making money. And they all started to laugh and go. Yeah, absolutely. There’s that need for connectedness. Key thing around my circles is that I won’t go above eight.
And there is a reason for that beyond it being the infinity number, it is because there is a need for psychological safety. You want to create that environment. We would go into depth as opposed to giving a bigger portion of it, because my goal is that these eight women always connect in some capacity from there on, in, and again, continue to do ripple effects.
I am someone who does circles. I start them. I have other people will take it on from there. I have no desire to do circle number four or five six with the same group. It’s just, I’m a starter in terms of doing that. It’s important because as well, there is a double loop learning when you watch other people sharing and you go, I didn’t even think of that.
Like that’s such an important observation or a comment that person has made. And now what makes me think of this? So that’s where I find that the circle is impactful, that people haven’t other women of color leaders have that same. Understanding connection. And, as we think about it… I love Jennifer Brown’s comment about inclusion, which is there’s four stages of unawareness of awareness, action and then advocacy. So, when we go from unawareness, that circle gives sometimes some of our blind spots, we hear a little bit and we can go from there. And then it brings us to awareness where we can create some level of action. So those are powerful for that for all of those reasons.
[00:16:54] Suzanne F. Stevens: So, what have you experienced, or have you been in it long enough to experience, what are some of the, outcomes that your beneficiaries are actually experiencing, let’s start with through circles.
[00:17:09] Kanchan Prinsloo: Yeah.
The one, that is that I’ve heard over and over again is literally just being in the space, the virtual space with other women. One of the biggest benefits that I keep hearing about these circles is just how. And holding space for women of color, to be around each other, to be in a room, a virtual room that they see other people that look like them. So, I would love to say that the first thing that they get out of it is something I have said or done and then not at all. It has everything to do with having and holding space for them to see each other.
The second layer is there is a depth of psychological safety that happens that has to do with the fact that they are all looking like them. One of the things that we talk about is someone going, I’ve never said this out loud, that will happen at least once or twice in a circle.
And so, it’s I’ve never said this out loud, but this is something that I’ve experienced and, I don’t know how to handle it. And it’s just, it’s fascinating. There’s such wisdom within
[00:18:18] Suzanne F. Stevens: That’s so important is there’s no better gift than when we hear, I can’t believe I’m saying this and there’s that safety that’s there now regarding be at your coaching or the circles, Let’s go there.
Something, if you could share with the audiences, what is the biggest misstep you made in your business to have an impact? And how did you address it so that they can learn perhaps what not and what should they do?
[00:18:51] Kanchan Prinsloo: The one that it comes up for me right away, the biggest misstep has been that I didn’t do this soon enough.
I’m aware that I have thought of this for a long time. And it took me a certain degree of, self-confidence, to really go, yes, this is what I want to do. So, the misstep was, I didn’t trust my intuition. And I would say the second misstep was thinking I needed to do this alone. Especially as a culturally diverse leader, I spent a lot of time, also perpetuating the alumnus I’ve I have felt othered and then I’ve continued to perpetuate that.
Okay. I’ve just got to rely on myself and that is not uncommon to a lot of the leaders that I coach. So that sense of I’ve got to do this alone, was ironic considering my entire business is that of coaching, which is to support others. So, it’s that thing around we teach what I most need to learn myself.
I have since then; I will be honest with you, surrounded myself with some amazing support and resources. And I have a team that also does that as well. Because the, my mission is very clear in supporting women of color leaders to own their personal power. It’s when we own our personal power that we can come from any place, especially one that is true to who we are and have the greatest impact.
So, I say that I continue to dive into my own personal power every single day, I do it with simple things as getting clear on my list of wants just writing every single thing that I possibly want in the world, because what happens is we don’t always even give ourselves permission to get clear on what do I want?
I don’t know. I’m so busy helping you that I want to help you. I said, what do I want? So getting clear on something as simple as. And then taking it the next step, which is what are the conversations I’m not having? Those kinds of things around personal power.
[00:20:51] Suzanne F. Stevens: Collaboration is so important. And I like yourself value collaboration a ton, that being said, I have found it very difficult to collaborate or meet other women that are open to collaboration.
We talk about collaboration. We say we collaborate, but when it comes down to it, getting the commitment to collaborate, I have found resistant. Now I’m curious from your perspective and now your newfound collaboration, what was it for you that made that work for you? And of course, for the other people you’re collaborating with
[00:21:31] Kanchan Prinsloo: One of the biggest shifts for me was moving from expectation to agreements.
So, I don’t sit in the space of what do we expect from each other as we collaborate. I, in fact, will go to the space of what are we agreeing upon and spending a lot of time on the front end, which does feel like, oh my God, it’s so exciting. Let’s just do X, Y, and Z. It’s no, actually really getting clear on what are our agreements as we work together.
What excites us about this? What are the key pieces that are important to us? So really, making sure that we have a solid, the term container comes up because I use it a lot, but have a solid base. So, it’s that sense of what does it measure twice, cut once, spending a lot of time in the planning of how we want to work together. Is, it has always paid off in spades for me. And I also have had the same, challenges that you have. When I was new in the business, I was like, yeah. Okay, let’s go. This is fun it. And why are things happening? What’s going on? And it was only when I started to step back and go, what has not been met in this process. So that’s what helped me a lot. What, what has helped you, Suzanne? I’m just curious now?
[00:22:42] Suzanne F. Stevens: What I have found is a lot of it has come down to ownership and the reality that I want to collaborate, but I don’t want to give anything up. And in doing that, you have two visions that don’t quite align.
And two missions that don’t quite align. They may be complimentary. But for instance, I recently was about to collaborate with somebody and realized that it was going to cannibalize my brand. And that became an interesting dialogue. And I backed away from the collaboration. I also felt there was, it was becoming competitive, not collaborative, which is not the way I wanted to enter into this opportunity.
I haven’t mastered it. I am a believer in collaboration, but admittedly, I have hit a wall with a lot of, people I’d like to collaborate with and found that if they’re on their way, they don’t want to bring you in the loop. You must be coming in at the exact same level as they are, or they do not want to collaborate.
And that’s an interesting thing because for women, we also must pull each other up. And when, if you pull me up here, I’m going to pull you up in a different place, but you must get to that conversation of high trust. And if you’re not going to get the conversation in the first place, how do you know there’s high trust.
So, it’s very nuanced and it’s, it’s very frustrating because I do believe women are good collaborators. I don’t experience it personally. I’ve seen it with many women. I’ve interviewed who say they’ve collaborated. It’s something I’m still not convinced we’re as good at as we think we are.
[00:24:38] Kanchan Prinsloo: So as soon as you were talking about that, it really took me back to the corporate space that I spend a lot of time in. There can be times when there is such a competition for the 10% that it becomes competition versus how I roll down the ladder to bring others up and all of that piece. There is that, and some of it also comes down to, truly a sense of, which is where I come back to, personal power. When I come back to what that means for us, when we are clear it’s the insecurities, it’s the vulnerability that has it step back or us revert to our old behaviors that don’t surface such as control such as, all of those things come into play again.
And then next thing you know, there’s this big rift, which is why I specifically will move from what do we expect to each other from each other to agreements. It’s such that there’s such a difference between the two and even when I coach, senior leaders there’s very few senior leaders of color and what is the expectation that like you have made it in this position? Meanwhile, you’re sitting in this position, SVP, VP that are going, I have got to double down on what I perform because I need to perform that’s the mentality going in here. Meanwhile, all the people looking at you are going, wow, she’s made it.
Meanwhile, there is this thing around. I’ve got to do this. So how do I roll a ladder down to help others up? And the only way to do that is really set that as your, personal mandate, personal, goal, personal power goal that you want to have.
[00:26:21] Suzanne F. Stevens: Yeah. I think also incorporate, I think there’s another issue at play and rather than entrepreneurship. Scarcity is an issue and, be it male, female, or are they, then there’s the cultural scarcity. So, there’s a whole other issue there. But when it comes down to women entrepreneurs, I think we’re still in that patriarchal perspective that early can be one of us. And until we truly change that, and that’s the thing that I found very different with interviewing African women, is there wasn’t that same push back, of they recognized that they needed to help others? And they created groups like your coaching group, which I think is brilliant. And let’s just dive into that for a moment. And then I want to move on because your coaching group technically are all competitors. Correct? So, there you are in a group of coaches and many of you are focusing on, women of color?
[00:27:26] Kanchan Prinsloo: Not necessarily, just coaches in general, but predominantly leadership coaches. Yes.
[00:27:33] Suzanne F. Stevens: Now I’m just curious. Are some coaches focusing on women of color?
[00:27:37] Kanchan Prinsloo: Yeah, absolutely.
So how do you work in that environment and to elevate everyone? Not feeling like we’re taking from each other, but we’re supporting each other.
So I’ll give you an example. One of the women is an internal coach at a fairly large organization. That is a woman of color she’s part of the group. So, she came forward and said, you know what? I want to bring more women of color coaches in, it’s gotta be local because cohorts are global. So they’re from people all over. There’s only two of us that were from Toronto. So she goes, I’d really to bring you in, what do you think? And the first reaction, the very first reaction was, we can come together, and we can bring you a proposal.
That was the first reaction in terms of, so it’s not a competitive thing. How do we help each other to, to move it forward now? It’s like a boy band, one may be plucked out and taken into being, or a girl band or whatever, and plucked out and become and you’re going to be the single star of it all.
That’s fine. But that’s not how we’re starting. The point is right now is that we’re starting to go, yeah, what can we do to support you and as well, we will do it together. To me it’s it has a lot to do with mindset. It really does. And I would say this was close to the end of our one cohort, the amount of connection developed. So, you’ve got trust amongst each other, and you’ve got transparency. So that helped make that decision much quicker. I don’t know what that response would have been if it was day one first hour. I’m not even sure that what he didn’t been posed to us as well. Now that I think of it.
[00:29:17] Suzanne F. Stevens: So, going back to go forward, do you have baked into your business anywhere beyond the circles, where you’re contributing back to the community beyond coaching and the circles.
[00:29:31] Kanchan Prinsloo: So, I have a personal mission to reach out to 1 million, girls, not women, but girls for leadership skills. Where I do that is, in India. That’s a personal driver for me that I do at a, it’s not shared a fair bit. The other piece that I do, and I’ve always done in the seven years that I’ve done executive coaching is I hold two spots for women that cannot afford the expense of an executive coach and you can apply for that. That’s on my website every single time. The other piece that I do, because it’s so important to give back is I will always coach, for what’s called, the humanitarian coaches network. So we support the UN one acre fund in Africa now. So, I coach Leaders and I asked specifically for women leaders, but I coach leaders that are on the ground doing the work. And again, that has a personal impact because it keeps me rooted in what’s happening globally. The challenges, when I say the word women of color to a woman, that’s an Africa, excuse me, what, like I’m saying this to myself.
That’s not something I would use. Yet her experiences are quite different because of the patriarchy that she has faced and that she’s still trying make a movement and advancements in both her, influence, and impact.
[00:31:04] Suzanne F. Stevens: Your business can focus on contributing to help leaders. Then you can create opportunities, but it’s this part that I talk about conscious contributions, where you also, as a solopreneur, you having five employees, but you can be a small business and contribute in a number of different ways to the greater good.
And I just want to dive in a little bit about the, Indian girls, what are you doing there specifically? Like how are you connecting with them to give them leadership skills?
[00:31:39] Kanchan Prinsloo: This is the second time that it’s been canceled. My niece does what she calls confidence. She does a lot of conferences. So, for us to be able to do that through, renting a hall and making sure that we’re able to reach out to these young women, part of what is important to me is being able to give someone the understanding of what is possible.
That’s all it is. They’ve got a lot of knowledge, but here’s something else that is possible. And it’s that possibility of leadership in different capacities that I think is, has been, always been the key piece. But yeah, we’ve not traveled to India in a few years and in two years. So that keeps getting put on hold.
But the beautiful thing is she’s doing a lot of the groundwork as well. Right now,
[00:32:28] Suzanne F. Stevens: So, going sideways a bit. What do you see as the three most important initiatives to make a social impact sustainable?
[00:32:37] Kanchan Prinsloo: Sustainability for me, when I think about women of color has everything to do with the work that they are doing.
For me, and the experience that I’ve had is when I look at when they understand who they are as leaders that becomes sustainable in terms of what they can do in the world. So I spend a lot of time in that space. The other space that I spend time in is within the organizations with their leaders, predominantly white men.
How do I clear paths for these women of color leaders within the organization? So that adds to sustainability. And some of that is, is being able to have conversations with these leaders, the white male leaders as well, that has empathy. It is not a hammer and nail situation, but the piece.
[00:33:37] Suzanne F. Stevens: And you’re getting paid to do that? So that’s where your sustainability is also as an entrepreneur, from a woman entrepreneur to another woman entrepreneurs is getting paid for your coaching. You’re getting paid to help organizations and create that path for women from a consulting standpoint.
So is there anything that if you were to say to a woman entrepreneur, you need to do this one thing or one or two things to make sure that your contribution, although appreciate it is a sustainable contribution?
[00:34:11] Kanchan Prinsloo: That’s a great question, Suzanne. There are so many things that come up for me. I would say the one thing I would say to an entrepreneur to make sure that it is sustainable is to be so clear on what you stand for.
What is it that are your values and how are you living into your values? So, there is no question about it. That’s the one piece that comes at the top of my head. I’m sure I’ll wake up at two in the morning, thinking of all the others that,
[00:34:41] Suzanne F. Stevens: You’ll email me then.
So, being that you focus on, leadership development, what can organizations do to make diverse leaders feel more welcomed around the executive table?
[00:34:53] Kanchan Prinsloo: The biggest thing that an organization can do to have someone feel more welcomed is first of all, recognize what you do have right now, which is that it’s not there. So, what is your bias in that relationship of what’s around the table and what’s not around the table? I would say that the second biggest thing that they can do is stop with the tokenism portion, because that is I need to bring one person on and oh, look at us. We’re all done. It’s like saying, I’ve got a black friend, therefore I’m not racist. All of that is, becomes a challenge when you’re trying to bring someone around the table, because when you are bringing people to the table that are diverse, you want to make sure that one, you can hear them.
And two, they can speak. So, we have to really look at that whole, angle of why are we the way we are? What does it look like that we want to change and getting clear on that and then allowing the being able to speak and hear people come together.
[00:35:56] Suzanne F. Stevens: Thanks for sharing that. What have you done that has made you uncomfortable, but if you didn’t do whatever that it is, you would not have had the impact on the beneficiary that you’ve had?
[00:36:11] Kanchan Prinsloo: Two things.
One is being so brutally blunt about what I see. I’ll give an example. There’s, an executive that I’ve worked with, that when she spoke with just full composure and just kept speaking in a way that was a very clear, direct, very professional, but cardboard, so that’s easy enough.
Like we can bring out all these other, bring out, let’s embody leadership, but that wasn’t the. The point was she never fully showed up in any conversation she showed up in a way that was just, and again, as a racialized human, you’re going to have some protective measures in place, but it was so protective as an executive that it was causing so much harm for her that I could say to her.
And she heard me. That was the other thing. This is why I really encourage a lot of women of color coaches to get into it because you have a different presence with someone. There is a, there’s a different nuance that you can bring to the table. She heard me and I was very blunt with her. Now it made me nervous because of how senior she was. And I thought, oh, I’m going to be fired on the spot.
And if I get fired saying what I know to be true, so be it. And I had to do it. And it was a pivotal point on two fronts, one, she heard me. Two, she allowed me in even further and that allowed the changes that she needed and wanted to make herself.
[00:37:44] Suzanne F. Stevens: That was a really great story because, when you’re true to yourself and true to the other person, If they fire you for it. So what? I’m curious, prior to focusing on women of color, did you have meaning in your life?
[00:38:07] Kanchan Prinsloo: Did I have meaning in my life? In the 26 years that I’ve been leading teams, you would think that was it.
But I would really say my meaning was, when it came down to raising my kids, our kids, who are now 29 and 25, but one of the biggest things, the meaning for me was how do I honor my upbringing? Because I had some really strict parents to the point where, for example, we didn’t drink alcohol in the house up to, and including today where I don’t drink alcohol in the house, like we just don’t have alcohol, but I wanted to really, I had to really process how do I break the patterns that do not serve me, where my kids are being brought up in this culture?
And so how do I honor that and how do I live into that? So, the meaning that I had was how do I bring children into the world that are contributors to society? They knew this from a small age. That was all I wanted. I didn’t need the engineer, doctor, blah, blah, blah, whatever it was. And I had to hold back parents to go, no, I, the meaning that I have in my life is how do I bring contributors into this world?
And I just, and I’m so grateful because today, we have Sunday dinners. They live across Canada, but when we can, we have Sunday dinners. And they’re interesting human beings that I love being around. And so, when I see this, it’s just this point of all the career work and successes I’ve had, this was truly the gift that I was able to bring forward, that I knew I was spending a lot of time and energy on,
[00:39:45] Suzanne F. Stevens: It’s interesting. And I’m just going to pluck this little soundbite where you say, where I’ve got my meaning is by bringing contributors to the world. I’m doing this too. You’re not suggesting this, but that could also be the same with women of color is the same sort of piece that you’re bringing women of color to the world.
And I don’t know about you, but I just got shivers. So, and it’s in that sometimes that’s where we find our meaning and as much as we’re doing good work, it doesn’t mean that good work is giving us meaning that’s giving us purpose. And I see them as very different things.
You have a purpose and yes, it feels good, but not until we’re uplifting another human being are we finding meaning? Thank you for sharing that story. We’re going to wrap up our interview with some really fast. Now these, the answers need to be quick.
[00:40:43] Kanchan Prinsloo: Oh, my gosh. Okay.
[00:40:45] Suzanne F. Stevens: These are like one liners.
These are not stories we’re running at a time. So, this is the fast section. So, what is one thing you wish you knew prior to engaging down this path? Particularly coaching women, executives that are colored?
[00:41:08] Kanchan Prinsloo: I wish I would’ve known how much it brings me joy, or it would bring me.
[00:41:15] Suzanne F. Stevens: What is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
[00:41:20] Kanchan Prinsloo: Don’t change careers in your fifties.
[00:41:26] Suzanne F. Stevens: The best piece of advice you’ve ever received.
[00:41:31] Kanchan Prinsloo: Go narrow.
[00:41:34] Suzanne F. Stevens: Which of your strengths do you rely on most to have the success you have achieved?
[00:41:40] Kanchan Prinsloo: Ability to build relationships
[00:41:44] Suzanne F. Stevens: Besides yours, which beneficiary do you think needs the most investment of time research and money?
[00:41:54] Kanchan Prinsloo: I would say people of color in general, and I, yeah. People in color, but I’m going to trip up and I’m going to say, honestly, right now, being in Canada and where we are and the truth and reconciliation piece coming out and, I would say indigenous people.
So, I’m going to spit that one out now.
[00:42:11] Suzanne F. Stevens: What’s the best leadership advice that you have?
[00:42:14] Kanchan Prinsloo: Lead with your heart. Ask yourself first, what is the right thing to do as a human being?
[00:42:23] Suzanne F. Stevens: What advice that you have two children? Do you have a daughter?
[00:42:27] Kanchan Prinsloo: Yes, I do. Okay.
[00:42:28] Suzanne F. Stevens: Now she’s in her twenties right?
[00:42:30] Kanchan Prinsloo: 29? Yes.
[00:42:32] Suzanne F. Stevens: So, let’s take her back to 10 years old today, knowing what you know today, what advice would you give to your 10 year old daughter?
[00:42:43] Kanchan Prinsloo: Continue to ask questions till you get an answer. You’re like.
[00:42:48] Suzanne F. Stevens: What advice do you wish you received
[00:42:52] Kanchan Prinsloo: You don’t have to make your brother’s bed.
[00:42:59] Suzanne F. Stevens: Yeah. And there’s so much there to unpack.
Who is the greatest female influence in your life?
[00:43:08] Kanchan Prinsloo: My daughter, I would say, okay. My children have been born to me from my learning. I know that.
[00:43:18] Suzanne F. Stevens: That’s why I probably should have had them. What three values do you live by?
[00:43:26] Kanchan Prinsloo: Freedom. Honesty. Trust.
[00:43:30] Suzanne F. Stevens: Please share something that you want other women around the world to hear
[00:43:38] Kanchan Prinsloo: You are necessary as women leaders to make the shifts that we need in this world to become a more human space for everyone.
[00:43:51] Suzanne F. Stevens: Excellent. Thank you. I’m coming back to you with one more question. So, stay tuned, but I just want to thank everyone for joining us for this live event. You can subscribe to YouMeWe amplified to be clear about something
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Now, coming back to you Kanchan do you have any words of wisdom for our audience regarding making a conscious contribution to society?
[00:45:36] Kanchan Prinsloo: Just do it.
[00:45:37] Suzanne F. Stevens: And that’s good enough for me. Until next time. Make your contribution count for you. Me, We.,
[00:45:47] Mike Gingerich: This episode is sponsored by make your contribution count for you. Me. We a book written by Suzanne F. Stevens. It’s time to act. Let this book be your compass to having a sustainable social impact while living your most meaningful life. Visit YouMeWe.ca/book for more information. Thank you for joining us for the YouMeWe amplified women leading social impact in their communities and beyond podcast. For more interviews visit youmewe.ca/podcast.
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