Why Did An Assault Survivor Choose To Forgive?
Thought Leader & Advisor on Corp Purpose
Growing up in Kenya in a multi-racial home, Karen was always sensitive to inequality and injustice around her.
Impacted by childhood rape, Karen decided, at the young age of 13, that she was not going to be trapped in life as a victim, living in shame and being angry at the world.
Coaching helped her find healing and freedom. She transformed her pain into an even deeper love, compassion and commitment to elevate humanity.
Karen is now a global Coach and Advisor, working with leaders in governments, corporations and NGOs to learn how to recognize and effectively address unconscious bias and discrimination within their organizations and in the communities they serve. Working with clients like the UN, Government of Canada, Adidas and Reebok, the MasterCard Foundation, Karen has shaped more than half a billion dollars worth of international programs and social justice initiatives, bringing hope, healing and a better life for millions of women, men, children and marginalized groups all over the world.
Mindful Content Warning – This episode includes some discussion about Karen’s experience of sexual violence that may be distressing or triggering.
Please take care of yourself and feel free to reach out to Karen directly or seek local resources, if you need support.
Take home these learnings:
1. Karen’s story of being assaulted at the age of 13
2. How society shames victims
3. The impact of trauma on young Karen
4. Voicing the pain and breaking the silence
5. Heal men to heal women
6. Imbibing self-love as a survivor
7. Breaking generational and corporate bias
2. How society shames victims
3. The impact of trauma on young Karen
4. Voicing the pain and breaking the silence
5. Heal men to heal women
6. Imbibing self-love as a survivor
7. Breaking generational and corporate bias
00:02 Gaurav: Hey, Karen, thank you so much for accepting our invitation and to be here on this podcast. It's such a pleasure having you here. 00:10 Karen: Thank you so much. I'm so happy to be with you today. 00:13 Gaurav: So it took me what, almost like a year to get you on the show? 00:18 Karen: That is true. 00:22 Gaurav: And I don't think that there could be a better day than the Women's Day to have you here. So thank you and shukran for accepting this invitation. 00:30 Karen: I am so grateful Gaurav, I feel like I made you work really hard to get a yes from me, but really honoured that International Women's Day is the day that you wanted to release a conversation with me, it means a lot to me. 00:45 Gaurav: Thank you. You know Karen, I personally feel that when a girl is born, like a princess in our own house, I have a daughter who's three. I have a sister who is married, has got two sons, well-settled she’s in Australia and you know my relationship with my mother. So I personally feel that women play a very vital role in anybody's life. In all the houses that we get to see the growth. I would love to hear from you, how was your childhood? You may share one of those memories that brings a smile on your face today as well. 01:34 Karen: Oh, that's such a beautiful question. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about the past. So it's an amazing invitation for everyone, I think to think about that. For me. I grew up in Kenya and I grew up very close to my mother's side of the family. She is Gujarati, there’s a huge Gujarati community in Kenya. And I had some really amazing times with my family and when I say family, I mean extended family. I had my nani and my nana, my mother's side. All my cousins, all my uncles, we spent so much time together, the house was always full, people were running around, the moms were cooking, the dads were hanging out with the kids or at work like, I think my favourite memories would be of birthdays. Because everybody they would close the store down, they would come home early, we would create a really beautiful party with home-cooked food, whatever, you know, if it was my birthday, what was my favourite meal that I wanted them to make? And there was just so much love and laughter and joy. And my world was so complete. I remember just feeling like wow, you know, there's so much love in this house. It really, it was really special. 02:51 Gaurav: Yeah, yeah. I mean, at least whatever little I know of the way my sister has grown up. And I was like, really young. We've always treated her like a princess. And now if I look at my niece, she's a princess, for sure, her name is Sophie. And now when I look at my own daughter, Neer she is like a princess. And the world revolves around them. So the daughter of the house is always always always always special. 03:29 Karen: Always yeah. 03:30 Gaurav: Just curious, Karen. When was that moment in your childhood, when you realised that the world, the life that your parents have designed for you, painted for you? Life is not as easy as that. I'm sure you would have encountered a couple of situations in your life that broke the impression that you had of the world. 03:58 Karen: I mean just the way you ask that question makes me want to cry. Like, because going from being a very trusting, loving, open child who was so loved and was treated like a princess. I also grew up hearing stories about my grandmother and my mother and my aunts and people in the, women in the neighbourhood, who had this contradictory experience on the one hand, you know, we, in our culture, we give so much value to women. If you think about Saraswati and Lakshmi and Kali and Mother Mary and you know, women are so special and on the other hand, we treat women so badly. And I saw my aunts and my grandmother and my neighbours and people in our community, women being treated so badly and you know, I can't, I can't even tell you the first time that I saw that happening to people I loved and thinking this is not right. It's not right that we sing songs and prayers to female Gods, and then we turn around and we slap our wife or we, you know, kick out the mother of our children, or we whatever it is we do, there's a lot of violence, I think, in many communities, and we accept it like it's normal, it's not normal. So I grew up seeing that contradiction. And I don't, I never thought that I would be in the line of fire. But I remember, I remember a defining moment in my life when I realised, wow, this is… 05:45 Gaurav: So when you said that I have grown up witnessing all these episodes. How close quarters were you there when you saw all that? 05:58 Karen: It was happening all around me. It happened to my mother, it happened to my grandmother, I was watching, those watching them go through it. In fact, like, we had a cousin, a distant cousin in the family who was in a marriage, and she was not happy in that marriage and she kept asking the family, the broader family for help to intervene. And they didn't intervene. And she tried to kill herself, she tried to burn herself alive, because she couldn't take the abuse anymore. And there was such a, you know, I've learned this over time, like we, as women were taught to, to be silent and to endure so much in the name of respect, in the name of tradition, in the name of, you know, protecting your family, that you reached a point where it just broke her. And that was one, you know, that was one of the harder moments but this was every day all the time, everywhere we went. 06:55 Gaurav: And how old were you if I may ask, Karen? 06:59 Karen: Oh, with my cousin I, with that cousin I was about eight or nine years old and I remember my, my heart breaking for her. 07:07 Gaurav: What meaning did you create for yourself, about men, about relationships, about life? 07:23 Karen: I think I was still quite young at around that age and so I saw it happening to somebody I loved. But I didn't think it would happen to me. I just felt sorry for her, and I wished that her circumstances could have been different. And I asked why weren't people trying harder to help her. But it felt like it was over there, not over here. 07:48 Gaurav: Yeah, yeah. You know, fortunately, in the family that I'm born into, I've never encountered any kind of domestic violence, never. 08:04 Gaurav: And then what happened? For you as an individual, who was growing up witnessing all this domestic violence happening and for because you need to protect the name of your family. Because you have to protect the respect of your family and that is the reason you stayed silent. 08:22 Karen: Oh, yes. yes. I mean, that was hard to watch her suffer because, in the end, she went back to the same husband, in the same family and it was so hard to watch that happen to her. So, you know, I was about eight at the time, and I continued being a child and growing up and then I remember being 13. And what was happening over there suddenly started happening with me. And so I was visiting friends. And I was not prepared for it, wasn't expecting it. But I was raped in the, in on that trip when I was visiting friends. 09:00 Gaurav: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. So what you're saying is at an age of 13, you visited your friends, and something happened to you. And you are calling it rape? 09:13 Karen: It is rape. It was rape. 09:16 Gaurav: Tell me more about that. What happened? I do understand that we live in a world where women are considered as sexual objects. Men, so-called the privileged ones. We consider ourselves that we are entitled to treat women the way we would want to. But you were 13 right, that's what you said. 09:43 Karen: Yes. 09: 44 Gaurav: Okay. 09:46 Karen: I was 13 and I was visiting friends out of town and my mother had warned me to be very careful. You can't be alone with men. You can't trust people. Things will happen. She really didn't want me to go and I had a very different view of human beings and of life and I wanted to, I wanted to have friends and adventure and I really didn't, didn't expect that to happen. And you know, it started with alcohol. Sometimes it does, you know, they, whoever's doing this, tries to affect your ability to say no or to fight back. And so it started with alcohol. And the next thing I knew it had happened. And here's the thing about that whole situation Gaurav. Like, I remember being on the floor, at the end of that experience, shaking in my body and thinking, I need to be very careful about what I do next because I'm in a place where I don't know where I am and I depend on this person to get me home. 10:45 Gaurav: The same person who raped you? Karen: Yes. Gaurav: And he was your friend? 10:50 Karen: No, he was not my friend. He was somebody that my friend knew. But like, I couldn't, I couldn't scream, I couldn't ask for help. I couldn't, I depended on this person. So I had to be nice to them after it happened so that I could get home alive. And that was just the beginning. Like, you know, we think that the experience is in the moment. But what happens to a person right after that, and for the rest of their lives after that is, is something we don't talk about often. And so in that situation, you know, I was like, okay, I need to be really smart about this, I need to be nice to him, not make him angry and get home. And I decided in that moment because I've known so many people who have been hurt by these kinds of situations, that I wasn't going to be a victim. That was a decision I could control. 11:39 Gaurav: Karen my mind is not been able to process that. You went to a party with a friend of yours. And there was another guy who was with him. And he took advantage of your presence that, what was your friend doing? And how did this all happen? 11:55 Karen: We were separated and that was done on purpose. So this was all planned, this was all organised, this was all about this person and to them, it was just fun. It was just like, oh, I'm just going to go have fun with this person. And they just picked me out of a crowd. And they decided that they were going to get what they wanted. 12:29 Gaurav: And then how did you manage to take charge of the situation, because you said that you could not scream, you could not ask for help, you have to go back to the same guy who attempted this. And then what happened? 12:45 Karen: So I, you know, I was quiet and kind and very nice to this person and asked them to take me back to my friend. And they did and I was holding, holding myself together. I was thinking I just need to be in a safe place before I can let go. And so I got back to my friend, and they were really upset with me, where did you go? I was gonna, you know, we were gonna get in trouble if anyone found out. And, of course, they were also young and naive. And so they weren't thinking about what happened to me. And, you know, and I finally said, this is what happened to me, like, you know, I was, I was really waiting for the moment where I could, you know, be held and told I was safe, and let's go get help. And let's, you know, make sure you're okay. And none of that happened. None of that happened. And the worst part was the following day, because we were all in a community together the following day when we went out. I started hearing from other people, oh, we, you know, this person, the same person had sent messages to our mutual friends to say hello. To say, you know, tell her I said hi. Tell her, it was fun. It was torment, I was tormented for years afterwards by that person. And here's the thing, I could have gone to my parents, I could have told my brother and my father about it, but I didn't because I love them and I wanted to protect them. And I knew if I had gone to them, their lives would have been destroyed because of what they would have done to this person. 14:20 Gaurav: But why wouldn't you tell you a brother, why wouldn't you tell your family? 14:24 Karen: Because they would have killed him and then that would have been the end of their lives. And I was not going to do that to my family. So for three years, I suffered in silence, while people around me heard a different version of what happened and decided that it was consensual. It was you know about my character that I was the person that you know, invited it and initiated it, etc. And so like, you can’t imagine Gaurav, the pain that it takes to, to hold all of that inside like you eat yourself up on the inside. trying to protect people you love. And not asking for help. Because you know, asking for help will mean damaging their reputation will mean, you know, more consequences for them that you don't want. It was not fun. <> So I went from having 15:16 just one second. 15:18 Can you please go downstairs? Go downstairs, please. I'm in a very important meeting and I need you to go down. 15:28 I can Yes, yeah, please. <> 15:38 Karen: You start somewhere. Ask me a question. 15:41 Gaurav: So Karen I'm just wondering, what I'm listening is, that in order to protect your parents and your family so that they should not get involved in any kind of situation in order to protect them, you kept this within yourself, and you had to bear the pain, for three years? 16:01 Karen: Yes, yeah. And here's the thing, it wasn't my, it wasn't just my secret, because all the people that were around us, all the friends that knew us, knew about it, and reminded me every day for three years, it was the worst three years of my life. And I just decided I was going to do whatever I needed to do to bear it. Because whatever happened to me was no longer about me, was about the family reputation and keeping other people safe and avoiding gossiping in the community and all of that. So, yeah. 16:43 Gaurav: And I'm just wondering, the question that I'm asking right now is, the role that we are playing as family members, the role that we are playing as a society, in not allowing the girls to have their voice, because they will be ridiculed, rather than looking at the way boys are treated. Now, you know, today, if you look back, what do you think, was that the right decision that you took at that point in time? Or you shouldn't have told your parents or was there any other way to handle that situation? 17:23 Karen: I think that's a hard question to answer. Because whether or not you go to your parents depends on the cultural context, depends on your relationship with your parents, depends on what you've seen and heard over the years that have happened to other people who, you know, who have shared their secrets in that community. And I mean, the South Asian community in particular is very judgmental, is very moral. It can be very hard on women, it's like, they don't just say, Oh, we're so sorry, that happened to you. They judge you, they tell you, you're broken. You look at all the Bollywood movies, and the script that we're sharing with men and women about this kind of thing. It's like men are allowed to do that and get away with it. And women are destroyed and damaged forever. And so when that's the context, how do you go and say anything to anybody? 18:13 Gaurav: So help me understand today if you, if you were to take a pause and look at what does it mean to be a woman, in the world today? 18:23 Karen: Here's the thing Gaurav, I shared my story. I was 13, It was a long time ago. Being a woman today is not much different. What happened to me, happens to one in three women in India. One in three, every three women in your life, it’s happened to at least one of them in some form or other. 18:50 Gaurav: They go through some kind of molestation and domestic violence or any kind of violence. 18:56 Gaurav: Some kind of sexual violence. One in three Gaurav. You listed your daughter, your wife, your sister, one in three, in India, one in five in Canada. And like right now we're talking about physical violence. We experience it in the office, we experience it on the way to work, we experience it by uncles and friends of a family, we experience it by classmates, we experience it all over, like you cannot be a woman and walk in this world and not experience it multiple times a day. Especially when you start going from being a young child to becoming a woman. When you're physically developing, that experience amplifies and intensifies significantly until you're in your 40s or 50s and then you're not seen as a sexual object, you're not seen as attractive or something to conquer. And so that experience becomes less. But it's not just, it's not just sexual objectification. I mean, you look at every metric in the world, It will take us 300 years to achieve equality at the rate we're going. You know, when you look at the presidents in the world, we have very few female leaders. When you look at the top Fortune 500 companies, we have very few women in the top Fortune 500 companies leading them. When you look at the amount of money we make, we make 70 cents to every dollar that men make. If you're a black woman over a white woman, you make even less. So in every metric and measure that you can think of, women are not equal. Women are suffering, women are behind, women are dying. And violence is only one thing. It's just one measure of the way in which being a woman is not easy in this world. 20:38 Gaurav: So Karen, I would love to hear from you the different experiences that you've gathered for yourself. Today, you are a successful professional working in Canada, having travelled the world. But I would love to go back to the same episode of your life. Just curious, how did you manage to heal yourself? How did you manage to heal that part of your own self that was wounded? How did you manage to redefine relationship? How did you manage to reorient yourself towards men? How did you do that? 21:28 Gaurav: I chose, I chose… okay so I would say it started in the moment when I said I'm not going to be a victim. Because I was so tired of seeing women around me destroy themselves. By deciding that they were going to fit inside the box that society has created for women who experienced. You can't be married, you can't have love, you can't you know all of those things, I decided I'm not playing that game. And so the second I decided I was a survivor and I was going to survive this. It allowed me to say what does that look like? How do I build my resiliency? If I can't go and talk to my family about it? How will I survive this and move forward because I've decided I'm moving forward. But it took me many, many years I was in my late 20s, when I experienced a transformation like true freedom and it wasn't a coaching situation where I learned what you talked about earlier, which was that, we are as human beings, we are meaning making machines. So we go around and we experience things, whether it's, you got hit by a bicycle, or you got raped or you whatever it is, you had a divorce, we experience life and then we make meaning out of that experience. And so if I got hit by a bike, what would I say that I'll never, I'll never cross the road again? Or I will never ride a bike again? No, we say it's a bike. It happens, move on. But then when something like this happens, we say oh my gosh, my life is over. So who decides that my life is over? How do I take the story back and make a different story out of what happened? The factors are the same, the circumstances haven't changed. But I get to choose what that means for me. And I remember I was in my late 20s and I decided, I get to choose that this is not who I am. This moment when I was 13, this thing that happened to me is not what my life is about. My life is not about being, being that girl, because that girl is long gone, what happened to her happen years ago. But every time I think about it, every time I bring it up, every time I define and lead with the story of that is who I am. I robbed myself of the opportunity to be all the things I was meant to be before that even happened. And so from a coaching perspective, you know, one of the things that I really helped other people with is a framework. And it's a three-part framework. It's like, you can be a victim of what happens to you in your life. Or you can be a survivor. But even when you're being a survivor, you're still being impacted by that thing that happened in the past. Or you can be free. So when you possibly can, how did you become the woman you are today? I chose to be free. I chose to put what happened in the past. And to say, I you know, for one man that hurt me, there are hundreds of men that have loved me. There are hundreds of men that have protected me, there are hundreds of men that would stand beside me and say that wasn't right. So why would I let this one person take that away? 24:29 Gaurav: So help me understand Karen. Going back to this memory lane, when did your family get to know this and how did they respond to the entire episode? 24:45 Karen: So, I said I had to keep this to myself for three years and in the three years, I while I was quiet about it. I had stopped eating I had stopped sleeping. I had started to withdraw inside of myself. I was very angry, and suppressing the anger. I wasn't the person, the happy child that my mother knew I was. And she couldn't quite understand what was wrong with me. She knew something had happened. She knew something was different. But she couldn't get it out of me because I was so committed to protecting them. And then eventually, we had an argument about something and she said something to me. And I just said, you really want to know, you really want to know what's behind all of this. And I had enough. And so I told her, this is what happened. And this is, this is why I didn't say anything. Of course, you know, mothers are, mothers take on a lot of your pain. And so it was like, why didn't you come to me? And why didn't you say anything? And I was right. Remember, I told you, you can't go alone. And I, my response to her was, you can't protect me from living. I have to live in this world, I have to find my way. And it's part of getting, getting to be alive, is that I get hurt once in a while, I have to find my feet. You can't protect me all the time. But it was hard to watch my family as they discovered what happened to watch them, years after I'd, I had made peace with it. To watch them experience it for the first time. The shame, the, you know, the guilt, the self-blaming, it's my mother's fault that she couldn't protect me, it wasn't her fault. It was not anybody's fault, other than the person who did that, you know. And so I went from being the person dealing with it to the person coaching my own families through it, and trying to love them through it and trying to say, you know, there's forgiveness here, there's forgiveness, for me, there's forgiveness for you, there's forgiveness. 26:43 Gaurav: You know, it's easier said than done, Karen. You spoke about either you could be a victim, you could be a survivor, or you could be free. And now you're talking about forgiveness? How did you manage to choose forgiveness, not only towards that particular man, or a boy, if I may use, towards the rest of the humanity? How did you manage to do that? 27:16 Karen: That's a good question. I think at the end of the day, and it took me into, well into my 40s, for me to accept this, is that the truest form of a child is that they love open-heartedly. They love with no condition, they're joyful, they see the best in everybody, they love life. And this moment, robbed me, of all of that. And so and so, you know, all I wanted was to go back to having faith in humanity, feeling joy, in every experience, helping people be free of things that were in their past, remove the shame and the guilt around the things that happen in life and I think I just, I am loved. 28:07 Gaurav: You know, that's really interesting, because in the society where we are a part of, women are considered weak, and men are considered bold and courageous and here you are talking about forgiveness and choosing to be free over the wound that you have experienced in your life. And, in my mind, I'm just asking myself if this is not courage, if this is not what boldness is, what is instead? Help understand. In all these years, more than two and a half decades later, three decades later, Karen, where you are right now, what does it mean for you to stand in your truth, when you are saying that I am loved, when you are saying I am free, what does it mean to stand in your truth today? 29:02 Karen: Standing in my truth means that I can serve others. That is really important to me, my life has meaning, right? I can use that moment and experience and because I lived through it, because I walked through the fire as you like to say, you know, I can show other people that they can do too. There is so much more to who you are, your worth as a human being than the things that happen to you along the way, that is just part of life. But it doesn't have to define your value and your worth. And so I just, I just wish you, can you imagine how many women in India are suffering in silence? How many women around the world, how many children, how many girls, how many boys have experienced awful things? And they have no safety? No support, no ability to heal, no skills. How many adults are living wounded in this world that don't have the skills to be free? We're meant to be free, because we're meant to create a world that's beautiful, a world that's full of joy and love. I just want to help people do that. 30:24 Gaurav: You know, you work in the corporate now, today Karen. Do you find some difference, the way the way, women are treated in the corporate vis a vis, women are treated at home, in their personal lives? What's the difference and what's the similarities? 30:42 Karen: Oh, that's a good question. I think, women in the corporate world experience different versions of the same thing. So if the thing is that women are not treated with the same dignity and respect as men are, then they experience it in different ways in the workplace. So maybe I'm paid less than a man, maybe I'm, you know, not given opportunities to be promoted. Maybe I get stepped over every time there's a great opportunity to build my career and myself. Maybe when I become pregnant people see me as you know, a problem and a burden on the system, because now I'm not as productive because I'm taking time off to raise my children. So we experience challenges in the workplace, just like we do out in the world. They just have a different flavour to them. But I think one of the common threads that became very clear to me in my work is, if I want to heal women in the world, or if I want to heal women's experience in corporations, I need to help heal men. I need to work with men. 31:49 Gaurav: Tell me more about that. When you're saying that, you know, in order to see a change in the corporate world, in order to heal women, we need to heal men. What does that mean? 32:03 Karen: Yeah so, I will give you two examples of that. I worked with the government of Yellowknife where the rates of violence against women is very, very high. Yellowknife is in Canada and it's an indigenous community. And when they came to me and said, we've spent so many millions of dollars trying to reduce the number of women that are hurt by their partners, but we are stuck, what are we getting wrong? And I said, who's doing the hurting? It's Indigenous men. What is the story of Indigenous men and what it means to be a man for them and what they grew up with? And many Indigenous men went to residential schools, they were raped by Catholic priests and nuns, they were tortured, they had to experience unimaginable, awful things to themselves. So they are carrying wounds and anger themselves. Because in a society where the man cannot have feelings, the man cannot cry, the man cannot talk about his own pain, how is he going to be a better person to anybody else? So in that, in that example, I worked with them to say, you want to help the women, we need to help the men and we need to heal their wounds, we need to acknowledge what they went through. We need to make it okay for them to talk about it. So that they can stop drinking alcohol, stop abusing drugs, and then stop hurting people they truly love. And so that's, that's in a community context but it also applies in corporations. You know, I'll give you the example of an executive in a law firm. He had been very abusive to women in that law firm, and he had helped build it. And everybody was really scared of him because he had so much power. And so he would treat people terribly and the HR office called me and said, we need your help, but he won't go to a sensitivity training. And I said, okay, what will he go to? And they said, well, maybe executive coaching, and I said great, call it whatever you want as long as he shows up, I don't care what you call it. And so when I walked in the room, he was annoyed, because my name said Karen Craggs but I was a brown woman, in his mind, I should have been white because my name was white. So we had all these assumptions about me, I looked younger than his own children. He was so annoyed that somebody younger than his own children would think they have anything to teach him, anything for him to learn from me. And right off the bat he was, he was expressing the same abusive, demeaning behaviour towards me that he was showing his own staff. And we worked together for a few weeks, but the only way I got him to work with me was when he said to me, I'm too busy for someone like you, I don't think you can help me with anything. I said to him, hold on a second. I'm too busy for you. I am here trying to change the world and make it a better place and you have a decision to make. Are you going to open your mind and be a little humble and possibly entertain the idea that this person who's travelled around world have been through things that has something to teach me or not because if you're not interested, I have other people to help. And so I asked him to make a decision and be responsible for that decision himself. And when we work together, it was incredible, the transformation that he went through. Just incredible. 35:19 Gaurav: Yeah. Help me understand, Karen. I'm sure you would have worked with a lot of men in the corporate world, as we call it, help me understand what are the different unconscious biases men operate from, that don't allow them to treat women, at the same level? 35:38 Karen: So that's a great question. And there are so many unconscious biases, but let me tell you how it worked out for him. What it looked like for him, so he said to me, I'm not sexist. Now in law firms, whether it's in Canada or anywhere in the world, you have a lot of women coming in, in the first year, and very few make it to senior partner, over the years. So he said, I'm not sexist. And I said, okay. And he said, if there's 100 new students coming in every year, I can tell you, I can point at the people and tell you which ones are going to succeed and which ones are going to fail. But I'm not sexist. So I said, fine. So I said, let me ask you a question. If John, is somebody you think is going to succeed? And he says to you, sir, I have an important question. Can I ask you the question, but you're going to a meeting, what will you say to John? And he said, I'll tell John get in the car with me and ask me the question on the way. So I said, okay, now, if Jane, who you think is a failure, and is not going to make it says, sir, I have an important question, can you please give me two minutes, I need your guidance. What would you tell Jane? He said, I'm too busy, I'm going to a client meeting go ask someone else. So I said, okay, so you're telling me you're not sexist, but you've decided that Jane is not worth your time, so how is it that Jane is going to succeed when you won't give her the same time or the same effort that you give John, no wonder he succeeds. And it was an eye-opening moment for him when he said, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. 37:07 Gaurav: So these are the all biases that we all tend to carry within ourselves. 37:16 Karen: And that's the thing is a bias is unconscious. So it's not about what you know, it's about what you don't know, you don't know about yourself. And that's where coaching is so powerful, because it reveals in conversations like this, I work with leaders to be able to help them see things about their behaviour and their values, that is unconscious to them, so that they can make better choices. 37:42 Gaurav: So are there particular differences that you have found having worked with men from Western countries, and men from the Asian countries? 37:54 Karen: I think at the end of the day, you know, yes, there are cultural differences. There's, you know, educational differences. But at the end of the day, what I'm looking to do is, to connect with you as a human being. And whenever I asked a father or a brother or a man, doesn't matter which part of the world you come from, when I ask you, what is the legacy you want to leave in the world? When I'm not blaming you for being a bad, bad man, but when I'm asking you, what matters to you, and what legacy do you want to leave and how do you want your children to think of you? And we look at that, every man wants the same thing. Every man wants to be respected. Every man wants their daughter and their wife to do well. Every man wants to be a good example for their son or their brother or their male colleagues at work. They all want to be a better human being and so, what I love about the work that I do is yes, I'm a woman. I understand the pain that women experience. But when I partner with men, I help them, I help them understand that they are part of the solution. I'm not interested in making men, men the problem. I'm interested in helping men be a part of the solution to create a better good for all of us. 39:09 Gaurav: Yeah. You know, since we are talking about making a better world, what do you think, what are the gifts that men have to offer? And what are the gifts that women have to offer? And once we can bring all these gifts together, we can make our world a beautiful place. 39:28 Karen: I'm really conscious that we're having a very binary conversation about women and men when there are so many people who identify differently right, across the gender spectrum. Yeah, so I just want to acknowledge that, that that this conversation has been binary and how we answer, ask and answer the question. 39:44 Gaurav: And Karen let me just revisit my question and thank you for bringing that. When I'm talking about men and women I am talking about the masculine energy and the feminine energy. So if you look at from that perspective, what are the gifts that we can get from masculine energies? What are the gifts that we can bring in from feminine energies, and if we can bring it together, what kind of world can we create? 40:09 Karen: Yeah, and this would be why I created a company called Conscious Equality Incorporated. The whole idea of Conscious Equality is that each human being has value and dignity each, each of us. And if I focus less on whether you're a man or a woman, and I focus more on harmony and balance internally, where my male energy and my female energy are in harmony with each other, then it's not about the fact that I'm a woman and you're a man. It's about when do I need to lead with the feminine with love and care? And when do I need to lead with the masculine with being assertive and being able to challenge what's not right and being able to show up with courage? And when, when do I lead with love above everything else? You know, and that is a very unusual conversation to have when we talk about women's rights and gender equality and toxic masculinity. The idea that perhaps we have both in us, and that the work needs to be done with us, it resides with us, you want to transform the world, you transform yourself, you heal your own wounds, you find your own power, so that nothing, nothing can take that away from you. 41:26 Gaurav: Help understand the world where you were growing in and the way you are nurturing your children. What difference do you find, which is going to create better human beings? 41:42 Karen: Well, I have three children. I have a 16-year-old daughter, a 14-year-old son, a 9-year-old daughter. And I'm very grateful that we live in a country where unlike other countries in the world where they have rights, they have all the opportunities they could imagine, they can be anything they want to be. And one of the things that I learned as a parent was, is a coaching tip called scripting. And scripting is when we repeat a certain value over and over again, like a mantra, but you do it as the child is growing up. So I repeated certain things to my children, and I've watched them really become and grow into it. I've repeated that differences, difference is good. I've repeated that love is what matters most. I repeated that they can be and do anything they want to be and do in the world, I will not pull them back. I've repeated that when something goes wrong, I am the person they come to. It doesn't matter how bad it is, it doesn't matter how scared they are, I have their back. And so you know, when I think about that, like the world is different for them not only because of the context that they live in, but because of the values that I'm sharing with them as they grow up. So that they can be who they want to be. 43:03 Gaurav: I think that's, that's a wonderful tip for all the parents out there as well. Because we learn how to connect with ourselves, we learn how to relate with others, we know how to connect with the world, and life is, the way we have learned it during our childhood days. And you use the word context. So the context that one is born into, plays a very vital role. So thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful tip to all the parents out there. So thank you so much, Karen, anything that you may want to share with our audience and here we have our audience who are leading executives and few of the best corporates in the world and I'm sure, like you have faced your respective challenges, they are facing their challenges on a day to day basis. And I'm not going to bucket them into men and women as you said it, you know, we all go through our different difficulties and any message that you may want to share with them. 44:05 Karen: I think at the end of the day, you know, if we put our titles down, if we put our job descriptions aside and we say as a human being, am I fundamentally happy? Am I fundamentally healed? Am I fundamentally free from the things that have hurt me in the past that, that have diminished? What I think is possible for myself? When we, when we ask those questions, what are the answers that we're hearing? Is there work we need to do with ourselves because the more you learn to love yourself and forgive yourself and, and really be free, the more you can serve others. And truly like leadership is about serving others. Whether I'm being a mother or a wife, or the VP of an important technology company. The thing I'm trying to do is serve others. Are you serving others and are you doing it in the best way you possibly can and take the judgement out of this work? A lot of people are limited because they feel like there's a moral conversation here, that if I make a mistake, whether it's racism or gender inequality, if I'm called out for anything, it's a moral problem. I'm a bad human being. I don't think you're a bad human being. The question is, are you humble and open enough, enough to say, maybe I made a mistake. I can learn from it and I can move forward and be even better. That's the work we need to do together. 45:27 Gaurav: Thank you. Thank you so much, Karen. It was an absolute pleasure having you here. And I look forward to our conversations as we walk this path together. Thank you. 45:38 Karen: Thank you for having me. Happy International Women's Day to everyone.
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