Are you looking for inspiration to create positive change in your community? Look no further than The Elements of Community podcast. Host Lucas Root speaks with community leader Pamela Thompson about the importance of collective effort in making a difference. Pamela shares her experiences working in Afghanistan and how collaboration among multiple stakeholders can yield creative solutions to complex issues. She also reveals her passion for writing a historical fiction novel that challenges myths surrounding Muslim culture. Don’t miss Pamela’s insightful programs, including monthly meetings and a Women Leading In Change program, designed to help you become a better leader and make a meaningful impact in your community. Listen now and discover the power of community in your own life.
Lucas Root: Pamela, I'm, I'm delighted to have you here. You and I have been emailing back and forth and hopping on Zooms and, and chatting a lot actually over the past year as we've gotten to know each other better. And and you are perfect absolutely perfect for this show, and I'm so glad that you were able to make some time.
So would you introduce yourself.
Pamela Thompson: Well first of all, Lucas, thanks so much for inviting [00:01:00] me to be a guest on your show. I'm excited to be here. And I'd like to also say I love your five elements of community. They're so right. And people need to know about these things so that we can strengthen and grow really powerful communities of change around the world.
So thank you for so clearly articulating those five elements.
Lucas Root: My pleasure.
Pamela Thompson: So me, you know, when you get him a certain age, there's a lot of stuff you could say about yourself, particularly if someone, you're someone like me who averaged about three years in a job before I started my own business in the early nineties.
So I am someone who, from a very young age, Lucas was fascinated by different people, countries, and cultures.
Lucas Root: Mm-hmm.
Pamela Thompson: I remember being at a really dear friend of my parents, who never married. She was a university professor and I must have been about four. And she was someone who enjoyed traveling and she didn't have any kids.
And she would send me postcards and gifts often from different places. And then I remember being at her place and I [00:02:00] remember we, we watched a slideshow of her most recent trip and I thought, oh my goodness, when I, I can't even remember where she traveled. It's such a long time ago. I don't remember where she had gone, but she basically, I said to myself, I thought, oh, when I get older, I am gonna travel around the world.
And I knew in my bones from that moment that I would travel around the world and be of be of service. I didn't know how, but I really, I knew that. Flash forward many years, and I'm honored to say that I've had the opportunity to live and work on five continents. I've managed.
Lucas Root: Wow.
Pamela Thompson: Yeah. Places. Yeah. In countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Colombia, and, you know, I've managed teams, I've managed big international development projects and I feel so blessed to had that opportunity learn so much because I, I really believe when you do this [00:03:00] work that learning is a two-way street and it's all about learning and growing and I guess really, connecting with people at the heart level.
Lucas Root: Mm-hmm.
Pamela Thompson: Yeah. So what else can I say? Yeah. I also love change. That said, I'm not, you know, we all have moments where when it's comes out of the blue and it's imposed on us, not so fun.
Lucas Root: Mm-hmm.
Pamela Thompson: That said, I, a number of years ago, after I got certified as a life and business coach and then a Body-Centered coach, I created an Art of Change framework that I can speak more about later.
And because I looked at how much fear change brings up at people, and if you're in an organizational environment, even in a personal environment, you know, with your partner, with your kids, with your family, If you fear change, it brings up so many negative behaviors and you, because you resist. So I created this Art of Change framework to teach people to embrace change [00:04:00] and move through it, through it, ideally with ease, grace, and playfulness.
Lucas Root: Hmm.
Fun. Yes. Let's talk about that too. In addition to the amazing work that you've done, you also have had kids.
Pamela Thompson: I do. I did. I have a son and a daughter, and they're, they're both married and I'm, I'm very blessed to have four grandchildren. Two or five, one and six, and one is seven.
Lucas Root: Oh, yeah.
Pamela Thompson: So I'm very, very blessed.
They don't live in the same city, but I FaceTime them often and I see them used to be every three months now, maybe more like every six months in person, but they're very dear to me. The other thing that I do is I founded and I run a national nonprofit called Female Wave of Change Canada. And that's really, I guess, the community that I am nurturing and currently probably that would be more the focus of our questions [00:05:00] related to community because that's, Female wave of change.
Canada is part of a global social movement and we're, which is called Female wave of change, and we're now in more than 40 countries around the world and I'm an ambassador for Canada of that particular movement. So my role is to build the community in Canada and there is no models because the laws around the world are so different.
So I incorporated female Wave of Change Canada as a national nonprofit in December of 2020, and I've been growing it since then.
Lucas Root: I love it. Yes. Yes, we are gonna talk about that. Mm-hmm. . And before we do why don't you tell me a little bit about this lovely book of yours that I read recently?
Pamela Thompson: Oh, well thank you, Lucas.
Thank you for taking the time to read it. Yes, I love writing. That's one of my things, and I'm trying this year to create more space. As you know, we need space for creativity to write more. My most recent book is called The [00:06:00] Exploits of Minerva, reflections of a 60 something Woman. , and it's all about six women who have been part of a women's circle for more than 20 years, supporting each other through a variety of life transitions, burnout, separation, and divorce.
Losing the love of your life, finding the love of your life, aging, dealing with aging parents, bunch of stuff, right?
Lucas Root: Mm-hmm.
Pamela Thompson: and it's told through the eyes of the playful and sensitive Minerva. What I did is I interviewed friends and friends of friends who had gone through a variety of transitions and then, then I created composite characters.
So the stories are real and raw, however, you really can't tell who they're from, and Minerva is partly autobiographical, but not totally. And curiously, her essence came to me over 25 years ago when I was riding on a bike path in Ottawa when I just lived there, and I stuffed her down at the time cuz I, my kids were young and I was starting my first consulting business and I'm like, I don't have time to write about you.
Then she came back a couple years ago and said, yeah, you need to write about me [00:07:00] now. So it was really fun to write this book. It was like it just flowed outta me, and then I had to think a little bit more when I created the composite characters. But it was my intention and my why, I guess I would say Lucas, from writing it was what I believe.
I believe my mission in the world is to promote peace and understanding, and what I know to be true. If people understand one another and they're curious about one another and wanna learn, then it promotes peace because then they don't push up against and react negatively. They're curious and they say, wow.
Wow. So my why in writing this book was, I'll just tell you a quick story if I may. A couple of years ago through the , the new newcomers groups, cuz I'm fairly new to Victoria where I live. I was chatting with a woman and she had moved here from the east coast of Canada and within six months of moving and retiring.
Retiring, her husband of like 40 years died of cancer. Oh wow. And so here [00:08:00] she is. She's been living with this man since about 22, and there's this incredible void in her life, and she said to me, Pam, no one asked me about it since I've been a widow. They don't ask me about it. It's like, I'm over here. I'm almost invisible.
Nobody writes about this stuff. We don't talk about it. And I thought, oh my goodness. And so that sort of sparked me to think about other transitions that women and men don't talk about either. They sort of keep them to themselves. And so my intention is to bring some of these topics out into the open so that groups of women and also their partners can, can talk about these things and their feelings associated with them, and also feel like they're not alone in the world and their aunties, their kids, their you know.
They can understand better their Nanas and other people. And so yeah, that was my intention to really promote understanding and curiosity and discussion. And so there are actually book club questions on my website [00:09:00] if, because in my intention, I'm a member of a book club and I think it would be great if women talk about this book in the context of different life transitions they've been through and what those transitions were like for them.
Lucas Root: Mm-hmm. I love it. I went through a transition that I didn't talk about with almost anyone. So I totally understand my, it, it actually is the seeds for the, for the podcast. It's the seeds for why I decided that people need to have community very much in the same way as you. So I, and I've, I've talked about it already on the podcast, so this isn't the first time I'm telling the story, but you know, I, I bought a house.
I moved in my wife and started getting sick. We didn't know why. It took us months to discover that the house was moldy.
Pamela Thompson: Oh my.
Lucas Root: And it, it nearly killed us. We lost the house. We lost our life savings. We also lost our jobs. We, we lived off credit cards and, and borrowed money for almost a year.
Went deep into debt. And I, it's, part of it is that I didn't talk about it with anybody. But part of it is that [00:10:00] I had no one to talk about it with. I had no, and, and that shouldn't be. And I looked around the world at, with, with these new opened eyes, realizing that that, so there's a difference between common and normal.
I realized that my experience was quite common, that people go through transition. Some of them are, are terribly up heaving. And, and leave them in, in some respects, devastated. And this experience left me and my wife devastated. And they have no one with whom they can talk you know, process that, that experience except maybe their, their therapist.
And that's transactional. It's not personal. And they have no one that lifts them up when they've fallen. They have no one that helps them stand to move through to the other side. And to me it's not even about saving money. I'm not sure that being in community would've resulted in a cheaper experience, but it would've been a very different experience.
The doctors that I'm working with would be doctors who know and love me. My banker would know [00:11:00] and love me and, and would support me in instead of me losing the house, maybe the banker would've helped me. A again, not cheaper , but a very different experience. You know, spending, all of my money might have been spent on contractors instead of on on, you know, renting houses that I needed to live in as a renter.
It a, a totally different experience could have been happened or could have been had if I was in community. And when I looked around the world and saw that this was a very common experience and realized that it's common, but it's not normal, right? Common and normal are not the same thing. This was a common experience.
People are going through devastating transitions and have no one with whom they can discuss it. It's common, but it's not normal. Humans are not supposed to be that way.
Pamela Thompson: That's a very touching story. And wow, my heart goes out to you and your wife, Lucas, what a horrendous thing to happen to you. Just,
Lucas Root: well, maybe it'll turn out to be great because
Pamela Thompson: There you go. [00:12:00]
Lucas Root: It started this podcast and encouraging this very conversation.
Pamela Thompson: There you go. ****
Lucas Root: Yeah. Cool. Well thank you for writing that book.
Thank you for letting me be one of the early reviewers. I, I actually thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I, I think that I think that women who are women who have been through or are going through transitions should read that. And how many women out there are, are going through or have been through transitions?
All of them.
Pamela Thompson: All of us. Right?
Lucas Root: Yes.
Pamela Thompson: Some people would say we're sent challenges so that we can learn lessons. Right. And part of those challenges are also often transitions that come out of the blue or unposed. They're not ones we choose.
Lucas Root: Yeah. I I, you can be sure that I did not choose to be infested by mold.
Pamela Thompson: Totally. I get that.
Lucas Root: Yep. And it, it took a while before I was ready to see that that [00:13:00] was for me, not at me.
Pamela Thompson: I can imagine it did.
Lucas Root: So tell me about Female Wave of Change.
Pamela Thompson: Well, thanks for asking. I'm always excited to share this. As I mentioned at the outset, we're part of a global social movement that's in more than 40 countries, and I was named Ambassador based on meeting, if you would, the founder Ingun Bol, she founded in the Netherlands now about six years ago, and we met on LinkedIn in 2018 and she ended up being on this radio show that I had called The Art of Change, where I interviewed inspiring women leaders and change makers from around the world. Anyway, we kept on each other's radar and supported each other in different ways.
And then she invited me. So we believe at Female Wave of Change that feminine leadership holds the key to creating a better world, a more conscious, equitable, just sustainable and peaceful one. And when I speak about feminine leadership, Lucas, I mean qualities such as [00:14:00] creativity, collaboration, compassion, inclusiveness, emotional intelligence, qualities typically associated with the feminine.
That said, men as well. Men can learn them and also exhibit. And in fact we do have men in our movement around the world. The focus is on women, women, however, you know, that's, that's what we, we that's, you know, we, we also have men and we're totally inclusive in that way. What else can I tell you?
We have five pillars. I helped co-author a document the first nine months I was part of Female Wave of Change. I I primarily did work at the global level cuz I'm part of the global strategy team and I helped co-author a document called Reshaping the Future, accelerating Change Toward a Better World.
And in that document we have five pillars, education, environment, economy, health and humanity. And around the world, different teams do different projects, initiatives, events around those five pillars. And one of my vision is for [00:15:00] female Wave of Change, Canada, which is a national member based organization.
We receive no funding at all from the parent. It's all through the membership and through the donations and sponsors that we get that we're able to support our, our work anyway. True. My vision based on those five pillars was to create five pods in Canada and have women who were with interest and also subject matter expertise co-facilitate them and create events and projects and initiatives.
But rather than spend a lot of time on these infrastructure, I decided it'll be two years ago, this coming June to put it up to the membership and say, we'd like to co-create a project on the environment. Who's in, who's who'd like to be part of this? Do you feel passionate? If you're a subject matter expertise expert, that's awesome, but if you're not, that's fine too.
As long as you're having interest and are passionate about doing something. And I think for myself, I can [00:16:00] say that Covid the pandemic, and really cemented for me how nature can heal herself. Like when I saw the, the news coming out of China, of the air quality markedly improving above China in, in six weeks after the pandemic had started because people weren't pumping pollution, so much pollution into the environment.
And when dolphins were reported to be coming back to Venice. Swimming and the scene, I'm like, oh my goodness. Like we need, we need to do something about this and help facilitate that change so that we, cuz you know, and, and I read stuff about the, the environment and climate change. And anyway, so we got together and within less than six months, the small group, it ended up myself in five members, co-created what we call a mother, the mother Earth Ambassador program.
And it's an experiential out, largely outdoor education program for girls ages nine to 12 to teach them how to [00:17:00] become mother earth ambassadors in their home schools and communities. And yeah, I mean, and they're, the topics are things like, you know, benefits of being in nature. What happens if you don't spend time in nature?
Richard Luv's work on, you know, nature deficit syndrome, eco grief, how do you process it? How, what is an ambassador? Why is it a mother, ambassador? Ambassador? And all the girls are intended to create personalized action plan so that they can do specific things to enhance the environment, and we focused on the forest cuz you know, environment is huge.
And one of the reasons we focused on, on environment and I didn't know, or the forest, excuse me, and I didn't know about this, but the, our team, we did greeting, we got, you know, we read books, we read articles on this, and I don't know whether you know this, you maybe do, but there's, there are hub trees in forests called mother trees and they're, they're like feminine leaders.
They exhibit many of the qualities if one tree, and it may even be of a [00:18:00] different species in the forest is suffering, it's not getting enough nutrients. They send through the mycelium, the fungus underneath in the soil messages out to the different trees to say, look after this person, this tree, send them nutrients.
You know? And so our program actually, we, after we did the high level pieces of, you know, the high level goals and impact statements and the content areas, We were able to raise a bit of money and we contracted a curriculum development consultant and she did an amazing job working with us. So we signed off that in mid-December and we have this amazing curriculum and she found a poem all about trees and how they bend before they break and how they have roots.
And so that's what the curriculum hangs on. It's, it's amazing and it has an incredible, it's a, has a facilitator's guide, a detailed program outline. So now we're in a process. We've contracted a woman who's an outdoor education person on Vancouver Island in [00:19:00] Machos outside of Victoria. But also takes in Greater Victoria, and she is a te, not only a certified elementary and middle school teacher, she also has worked with indigenous people in Nunavet and she's an outdoor educator.
She has a forest school. You may have heard of forest schools. Anyway, she, so. She has five acres, so she, she's going to hopefully do the initial programming starting in April till middle of June, and then we'll evaluate that and then hope, we're hoping to partner with other organization across Canada and beyond so that that program can happen in different communities.
We are not implementers at Female Wave of Change Canada, but we wanna co-create things that then we can enable others to take and replicate in different parts of the world. So that's an example. We're a very action oriented group. Do you want me to share a little bit more about us and what we do or do you wanna ask something like that?
Lucas Root: I love it.
Pamela Thompson: Okay. We have monthly meetings with featured guests. I started them, we [00:20:00] dovetailed with the International Women's Day, March 8th, 2021. So we've been doing in business for about two years, really. And these are one and a half hour virtual meeting. and the guests are from Canada, north the states and beyond.
And we co-create, either myself or one of my board members, co-create the events with the future guests. Get on a Zoom call saying, okay, based on who you are and what you do, okay, what are some questions I can ask you so that our members learn about? It could be inclusiveness. Like we had a woman, Anne-Marie Schroder outta Toronto.
She's written a book called Being Brown in a Black and White world. And what it was like to grow up Austrian mother, very blonde, black, Jamaican father, never fit into both cultures, right?
Lucas Root: Yeah.
Pamela Thompson: And what it was like. And yeah, so talking about inclusiveness. So through these monthly meetings, we not only share and hopefully deepen the wisdom about these feminine leadership qualities, but we also provide opportunities for [00:21:00] members and also non-members cuz they're, right now they're open to, they're free and they're open to anyone who wants to come to them.
And we have a couple of breakouts. We have something called Ripple Impact. We just started, it used to be the Ripple report, but now we've broken, we just started to break women very early on in, in the events into small groups to introduce themselves and share some sort of change making endeavor they're involved in, and then what happens is then people say, oh, I know somebody who could help you with that, blah, blah, blah. And this is like just right off the mark. And then we also, after the conversation, which is also interactive with whoever shows up, we break into breakouts to deepen the conversation and also to network and meet other people.
So yeah, that's, that's some of what we do. And we also have collective wisdom circles. And these are for members. It's a member only benefit. The intention is for women to share their wisdom. And we meet. They meet, I didn't do this round eight to 10 women max virtually once a month for an hour and a half and do a deep [00:22:00] dive, sharing their wisdom on a topic, one topic over like a six month period, for example, dealing with change in uncertainty.
So that is a few things that we do. And at the global level, there's opportunities like I we also have a leadership development program called Women Leading In Change three months, once a week, real time with faculty and students from around the world. And I'm honored to be on faculty and I teach the module on authentic feminine leadership.
So just yeah, a bunch of things we're into .
Lucas Root: Wow. I love it.
Pamela Thompson: Thank you.
Lucas Root: That's... What a what an amazing group of activities that, that you've lined up and, and I'm sure that it's an amazing group of people.
Pamela Thompson: It is. It is amazing women from different sectors. We, in our movement, we believe that leaders come in all shape sizes.
You don't have to be a CEO or have your own company to be a leader. You can be a leader in your family, in your community, or in your workplace or your business. But yeah, so we draw [00:23:00] people from coaches, healers, governments, you know, own solo printers who just a variety of people, right, who come from a heart-centered place and wanna make a positive difference in the world.
Lucas Root: Beautiful.
Yeah, I, I think that we should not overlook community leaders and, and leaders and families. I think, I think those should be noticed and celebrated.
Pamela Thompson: Yes. I, I'm with you on. and we don't do enough of that, I think. *****
Lucas Root: Yeah. So with, with the elements of community in mind, how do you how do you make sure that female wave of change, Canada is a community?
How do you, how do you bring these, these people together in a way that that builds and fosters.
Pamela Thompson: Well, one of the things is we do, well, I told you about the collective wisdom circles because what we realize,
Lucas Root: I love that. I think that's a great one
Pamela Thompson: about the pandemic, [00:24:00] is that people really wanna connect, right?
And we haven't been able to do it in person, right? So if we can do it virtually and create, we create a safe space. So, you know, the things that you do to create, to build a container, you, putting out the group expectations or how we're gonna show up, total confidentiality, you know valuing, literally listening, only one person speaking at a time.
All these things where you create a safe container so that people can show up and know that what is said in the room stays in the room. So, can you repeat your question again, Lucas? My brain is going off in different directions.
Lucas Root: Let, let it run. I'll come back to it if we need to. Where's, where's your brain going?
Let's, let's chase that.
Pamela Thompson: Yeah. Okay. So, so yeah. What do we do to make people, you know, to build community, for example? Well, we offer benefits and create benefits and opportunities for women to connect or whoever shows up to connect. So the way we structure
Lucas Root: incentivized connection.
Pamela Thompson: That's right. That's right.
Lucas Root: [00:25:00] How?
Pamela Thompson: Well the way we structure. Are, as I mentioned a few minutes ago, how we co-create events with the featured guests. So we're, we're creating connection. We're also modeling different leadership qualities that we value, like collaboration on nearly all the, the, the virtual monthly, we're calling them monthly gatherings now that we have my whole board, my team voices are heard and they're seen. For example, this one that we did on Wednesday, I didn't interview and co-create the event with future guests. My secretary did. Okay. I did the welcome intro. Somebody else, my treasurer is really good. She's the, she creates the breakout.
Sometimes she facilitates the debrief on the breakouts. Somebody else. You get the idea, right? Somebody else shares the benefits of membership and like, so we're modeling. So part of it is we're modeling elements of community and elements of leadership, you know, feminine [00:26:00] leadership. The other ways we, you know, enable people to be part of community and feel like they're part of a community is we also provide people with the opportunity to come forward and say, I would like to be a future guest on the show, and these are my, my this is my areas of wisdom that I'd like to share.
So we enable people to showcase. We also have the opportunity at our global conferences, which have been obviously the last three years, totally virtual, we had 30 minutes last year, so we invited our members to submit small proposals to say, we have 30 minutes. Do you wanna do something with us? To, to, to, so that we have, we're part of this global conference.
And one of our members was executive director of this amazing documentary based on the Fort McMurray fires which happened a bunch, a bunch years ago in Northern Canada. And what happened is, anyway, it's an amazing, it's that animated short. It's about all these animals that came together.
They had [00:27:00] to, they had to, their experience of living through the fires and having to run away and losing their homes and then coming back and rebuilding community. And the voices are largely Canadian actors like Michael J. Fox, people who volunteered their time to be the voices in the San Detroit. So that's just an example, right?
We invite people, our members, who are doing amazing. In the world to be part of these international conferences. Now we're having a hybrid one in the Netherlands in middle of September. So I'm hoping to go because I really, I'd like to meet these women that I've only met through conference calls, right, for the last few years.
And yeah, so that connection to the global group is also very fulfilling. And I invite, largely invite my board members to come with me on those from time to time so that they can meet these leaders internationally from Namibia, south African, different parts of Europe, which is very it's very thrilling, right?
Lucas Root: Yeah.
Pamela Thompson: And I guess one of the thread that I [00:28:00] found working internationally, but also with female wave of change connecting with these women globally, is that we might come from different ethnic ethnicities, background and cultures and religions, right? But you know, our challenges are often the same.
Lucas Root: Yeah.
Pamela Thompson: You know, women in Namibia could be facing very similar, even though culturally it looks different, really at the heart of it. Their challenges are very similar. So I think that's, you know, knowing, connecting women and making them feel that they're not alone in the world, making them feel that wow, they can reach out to sisters in different parts of the world and have the opportunity to connect and also to grow.
And when I talked about the Mother Earth Ambassador Pro program, you know, that could spin out through different networks as well through female wave of change. We're also looking at other partnerships with like-minded groups that serve those, those girls, ages nine to twelve, that already have an expanded reach, right?
Lucas Root: Mm.
Pamela Thompson: So, so I guess opportunity to do something locally, [00:29:00] nationally, and internationally and globally. It's another way for people to feel like, wow, yes, I can do something in my little corner of the world and I can also do something that potentially could impact girls all around the world.
Lucas Root: I love it. Yes.
That's amazing. Especially modeling. I, I think, I think people probably don't spend enough time thinking about how modeling is valuable. But you know, what is a parent, if not a model, right? We, we, we utilize that aspect of, of, of coaching and that, that pathway for learning in only a very small piece of the way that we exist in the world.
Even though modeling is such a powerful tool, you know, you use it with your kids maybe if they go if they go join a martial art or something, they'll, they'll get training through modeling in the martial art, but largely, you know, we, we spend our time thinking about learning in a totally different pathway.
Memorization, which is just sort [00:30:00] of information ingestion and modeling is so powerful. You, you, you know, you can, you can show people who you want to be and show them who they maybe want to be by modeling for them what's possible.
Pamela Thompson: Well, thank you. I totally concur with you there. May I add another story from my life related to modeling
Lucas Root: Please do.
Pamela Thompson: Well, when I was in Afghanistan and I lived and worked there in Kabul for 13 months, from October, 2010 to November, 2011, and then I went back again for a short time in 2015. My role was a senior tech technical advisor, and I worked with the Ministry of Public Health to help them develop their first strategic plan and build the capacity of internal teams to do strategic and operational planning.
The second day I was on the ground at the ministry I met with my strategic planning team and I realized that none of them spoke English and the team lead understood about 80% [00:31:00] of what I was saying, and I did not have money for interpreter translator. But fortunately as sometimes these things happen, this physician, French physician, who was head of a big EU funded project, said to me, Pam, don't worry about it.
On a handshake, she basically said I could have, an Afghan man who was really good at translation, interpretation, be part of my team for 15% of his time on a handshake. So we moved forward and a lot of what I did was modeling cuz I was building their capacity.
Lucas Root: Mm-hmm.
Pamela Thompson: So part of it was teaching them. But at the get-go, what I noticed, and, and I, I used to be an academic and I've seen this, you may have seen this in academia.
When somebody presents something, the first thing is people go for the jugular and tear it all a part. Right? What's wrong with this? And so I gave them a behavioral tool to say, okay, I was teaching them small group facilitation. Okay? So I'm saying, so. They'd, somebody would [00:32:00] facilitate something on, on the team that I'd given them to facilitate.
And instead of having them rip the person apart, I'd say, okay, what did they do really well on this checklist? So, and I'd force them if they , if they went to the negative stuff first. So they always had to say something negative and then they then, What concerns do you have or what could they approve on?
And anything they suggested as a concern, then they had to follow up with a suggestion, at least one suggestion to improve it. So it's not about criticizing for criticize sake. Right. So anyway, through this, my intention was to, for them to model and learn how to always come at assessing a situation from a positive angle.
Right? And also the minister, when I met with her the second day, she was lovely and she be, and she was only acting Za. Zay hadn't named her at the time. She basically, I was talking to her and she said, well, Pam, in addition to, you know, doing this planning work for us, we've decided not to hire a policy person cuz you have some [00:33:00] policy experience.
So I'd like you to give me a report at the end of the month, you know, in a month's time, telling me what's working and what it isn't, and what suggestions you'd offer to improve our policy development planning processes for the country and this ministry. I'm like, okay, you're Excellency . So I guess one of the fir, this is another form of modeling.
I'm a qualitative researcher. I'm all into words and concepts, although I've studied quantitative. So the first thing I did is I'm like, oh my goodness. I mean, I'm totally new this country. I don't even know about the whole system. So I'm like, okay, what do I do? So there's a physician who's sitting beside me in the, in the planning office, and I'm like, I said to him, I said, do you have an org chart in English? An English org org chart? He said, no, Pam, I have one in local language, DAR or tu. I'm like, okay. Then, so we printed it out and I said, so I looked at the 15 people or the, you know, basically 15 [00:34:00] positions underneath the ministers and deputies in that ministry, and I said, I'll just say, Dr.
Brown, I won't say his name. It was obviously an Afghan name. And I'll, I said, so who's what? What department is this? And they'd say, oh, the reproductive health department. I'd say, who's the director? And he'd tell me, and I'd say, could you take me around and introduce me to them? So he'd trot me around, introduce me, and I'd say a little bit about what I was up to.
And then I'd say, can I have about an hour of your time tomorrow or the next day? I wanna ask you some questions about current policy development and planning processes. And I will send you, I'll send you those questions, you know, on in within the next couple hours. So I did that. I went along and within a month I had interviewed the top 15 people in these departments underneath the ministers and deputies.
I'd asked them, how do they currently do policy and planning? What, what, what was working, what wasn't? And there are suggestions for improvement. The reason I'm going on about this is to illustrate, so then I wrote it up, I [00:35:00] wrote the report up, and then I added my recommendations. So whenever and I shared the people's share, it was shared.
And so in the future, whenever anybody asks me questions and part of my team could be there as well, they would see that I didn't just tell 'em what to do. I in fact built and they'd say, well, why are we doing that? I'd say, remember that interview we did last fall? You told me that was a need. You told me that need to be worked on, so this is what we've done, right?
So it was modeling and also, I invited my strat planning team, not all of them, but there were the, the senior team that I would meet with in addition to the strat planning team. And I would invite them so they could see how I input it into the meeting and how I facilitated and, and so again, modeling, right?
And how do you collaborate? How do you pull up positive things? How do you build on what's already known? Rather than come in and say, we're from North America. We know the best way. So our model works best, never works. You go away and it falls apart. You know, you [00:36:00] gotta build ownership. So one of the things that I think that's one of my gifts, I can not only connect with people from different countries and cultures because I see them from the heart.
I don't, I forget, you know, all that other stuff goes away. But I also wanna learn from them. And I believe that I don't have all the answers. I can share with them some ideas, but I wanna really build on what works and what doesn't for them and understand their contexts before I barge in and share my things as a, an expert.
Right. Anyway, sort of went on about modeling, but I think it is really important on so many levels.
Lucas Root: Yeah. I agree. How do you, if you don't mind me asking, how do you use that now? I mean, you, you mentioned that you are modeling. How do you use that now inside of female wave of change Canada?
Pamela Thompson: Well, the way we plan our meetings, the way we carry them out I believe the, on my board as well, one of the things I do is I try [00:37:00] to, okay.
It's partly the board, but I'll go to our featured guests. I follow up with a thank you card and a gift.
Lucas Root: Mm-hmm.
Pamela Thompson: because I think that's really important to share. Gratitude.
Lucas Root: Mm-hmm.
Pamela Thompson: And often what I'm finding when, because these people are all volunteers, I'm a volunteer. I don't get paid for doing this work.
They wanna really do it right and do it well because I attract high achieving people. Right? And so it's really important to, after the meetings, to send them an email and said, you did a great job, right? and it has to come for the heart. I'll also share, you know, well maybe next time you could do this, but you know, you did a great job.
And that's really important because what I find is, and maybe it's because of Covid as well, but people are, tend to be really kind of hard on themselves and, and just really, and, and maybe the people that I attract and they wanna make sure they're doing a good job. Right. So it's really important to support them and be compassionate.
I think that's one of the, one of the qualities. Be compassionate, be compassionate with yourself as well , [00:38:00] you know, every now and again, you know, I think we always have that head stuff going on. Well, I could have done that better, whatever. Well, at the end of the day, you did your best job, so get over it and let it go.
Right. So, yeah. I those, yeah, just, and really when I present as a leader I try to be authentic. I don't, I don't try to put on airs and more and more when I write in my blog for my, for my own business, I really try to share experiences so that people understand like the exper, I applied my Art of Change framework to my Surgery, my hip replacement surgery I had in October, and to show people that I, what I went through and to share some vulnerabilities.
So I think also model modeling that vulnerability and the fact that I don't have all the answers, because I used to be that person. I used to be the academic, I used to be the person who about people hire me for my expertise. Right. As a, as a management consultant, for [00:39:00] example, I'm supposed to have all the answers.
Right? Well, the reality is no one has all the answers. and now, and, and if you present my experience anyway, Lucas is, if you present, like you have it all together, you push people away. They feel like, oh my goodness, I, I could never really measure up to that person. So they don't wanna get real close. They kind of keep you at a distance.
But if you really, truly wanna connect with people, you have to show your flaws. You have to share your vulnerabilities, right? And let them know that you don't have all the answers. And sometimes you don't do it great either. You know, stuff happens.
Lucas Root: Yep, absolutely. And even if I did do it great, I did it great, only because I recovered from whatever missteps I had while I was in the process.
Pamela Thompson: totally.
Lucas Root: It, it wasn't great from the onset It was, it was only great in the finish.
Pamela Thompson: Yes. Well said.
Lucas Root: Yeah. And additionally, and I, you know, I think people ignore this like a, as a leader, it would be silly [00:40:00] for any one of us to assume that we ourselves are great. We're only great in community. We're only great because of the people that we're doing the work that we're doing with we're only great because they're standing there at our shoulders and we're standing at theirs.
Pamela Thompson: So true.
And what comes to mind when you say that, if I may is. A seasoned negotiator, an organizational person, Barbara Gray. And years ago when I went, worked for the federal government in Canada, we did this multi-stakeholder initiative. And anyway, so in the background research, someone, the person who was doing the background research found this person, Barbara Gray, and I read her and one of the things she said is in complex, you need a variety of stakeholders.
So she, she likened a multi-stakeholder collaboration to a kaleidoscope, you know, a kaleidoscope with all those [00:41:00] colors. And when you turn the and, and the colored pieces of the various stakeholders, within that collaboration. And when it works effectively, it's like when you turn that kaleidoscope and it changes because of the collaboration and it changes because of the creativity that happens amongst those people when it works well.
And I love that metaphor. I love that image because really, You know, when you talk about community, that's what it's, it is about like, if you're having a big project, you, you're building community within that project really, if you wanna take it to that level. Right. If you're, I've done a lot of multi stakeholder work and really, I, I co-chaired the, a national strategy for Health Canada years ago.
and we had, we facilitated the process and we had national, the Canadian Medical Association, a lot of major health professional organizations across Canada, and they were part of the process, right? So through that we developed our language, common language. We worked together on something that we could all own, and then all [00:42:00] the respective boards stamped it, right?
So again Yes, that working together and learning and growing together, and one of the phases in this work was called Collaborating for Change because these complex issues, the other thing she said is the complex Barbara Gray said is when we have complex issues, one discipline or one group of people cannot solve it alone.
We require multiple heads around the table and diverse perspectives, whether it be culturally disciplinary. because things like climate change, sing things like systemic ra, racism. I don't have all the answers. Somebody who's a psychologist has not. Do you know what I mean? We need everybody's heads around the table to solve these complex issues.
So again, this idea of coming together in community to solve these complex issues and realizing we all have a piece to the puzzle or a part of the kaleidoscope, right, to share.
Lucas Root: What a great metaphor. And I agree. Obviously
Thank you as [00:43:00] I welcome. As I, as I wrap up interviews, I like to ask three questions. The first one, of course, the, the simple one. The obvious one is for people who are as inspired by you as I am, where can they find you?
Pamela Thompson: Well, I'll, I'll cite a couple. You can find me personally at my website, pamela-thompson.com, and there is an Art of Change framework there that you can download.
You can also find me and Female Wave of Change Canada at F O fwoccanada.com, just like it sounds. Fwoccanada.com and learn more about our Mother Earth Ambassador Program and the other work that we do. I'm obviously, I'm also on LinkedIn Twitter and Facebook, so.
Lucas Root: Awesome. Thank you. Second question.
This is a bit of a curve ball and this is what gets people excited. You ready? Yeah. You sat
Pamela Thompson: I'm ready. I'm ready.
if there was one question that you wish I had asked you, but I have not, what would it [00:44:00] be?
What's next for you, Pam?
Lucas Root: Mm-hmm. That's a great question because you've done so much and, and all of it. Amazing. I agree. Well, that's the third question. What's next for you?
Pamela Thompson: Well, I'm consciously trying to create space to write more Lucas.
Lucas Root: Mm-hmm.
Pamela Thompson: That's what I'm trying, that, that's what I'm do wanting to do. And it's challenging sometimes because.
I have a lot of balls in the air. That said, my next writing project, as you may know, can tell my work in Afghanistan was life changing and I feel called to bus, I would say de displace or Challenge some myths about Islam, about Muslim culture, about Muslim men, and give people a better understanding of Afghanistan, how it is, how it got to be, who it is, and the [00:45:00] people.
So right now I am poet poised to write an historical fiction novel with Afghanistan as the backdrop. And also part of my process will be interviewing Afghan women and men who I know and creating characters based on their experience, pre Taliban, pre Russian invasion, you know? And because I know, like just one of the women that's a dear friend of mine and she's resettled. There's a number of refugees who have resettled in in Canada, and, and some of them I helped. But anyway she said to me, Pam, when I was 12, Kabul was like a giant garden, and now it's like war zone bombed out buildings, just like you used to see on Mash, right.
Concrete walls, barbed wire. It's a, it's a war zone. That's, that's what it's like. Right. So, so sad and it wasn't always that way.
Lucas Root: Mm-hmm.
Pamela Thompson: So anyway, so as you can see, I'm very passionate and one of my Afghan sisters, I will say, has shared with me a number of resources so that [00:46:00] I can understand the history from an economic or political different perspective so I can also really do some research on the history and then use that in writing this novel.
Lucas Root: Love it. Wow. That's gonna be powerful.
Pamela Thompson: I hope so.
I hope so.
Lucas Root: Wow. Good for you. Thank you, Pamela.
Pamela Thompson: Well, thank you so much. I really enjoyed the opportunity to be here, Lucas.
Lucas Root: Yeah, you were great. Do you have any closing words?
Pamela Thompson: Yes. Listen to your heart.
Lucas Root: Mm-hmm.
Pamela Thompson: and go where it tells you to go.
Lucas Root: Hmm. Listen to your heart and go where it tells you to go.
Narrator: Thanks for joining us this week on Elements of Community.
Make sure to visit our website, ElementsOfCommunity.us, where you can subscribe to the show in iTunes, [00:47:00] Stitcher, Spotify, or via rss, so you'll never miss a show. While you're at it, if you found value in this show, we'd appreciate a rating on iTunes, or if you'd simply tell a friend about the show, that would help us out too.
Be sure to tune in next week for our next episode.