Get your goat: So you want to move to the country and raise goats - A podcast about change

Episode 19: Angie Flynn-McIver: Learn to listen to what your body is telling you

November 11, 2020 Peggie Koenig, Catherine Gryba, Angie Flynn-McIver Season 1 Episode 19
Get your goat: So you want to move to the country and raise goats - A podcast about change
Episode 19: Angie Flynn-McIver: Learn to listen to what your body is telling you
Show Notes Transcript

Quotes about change: “I learned that I really need to listen to what my body is telling me.” 

Before Angie moved into leadership coaching, she spent a lifetime in theatre: acting, directing and producing. 

But her childhood dream brought with it some challenges.  She loved the theatre, but not everything about running a business.  After a very close call with her small son, Angie decided she needed to make some changes. 

Peggie Koenig:

Welcome to so if you want to move to the country, and raise goats. This is a podcast about change. Change is all around us. Sometimes we're ready for it. And sometimes we're not. Change can make us happy, it can make us sad. And for the most part, it does make us anxious when it overwhelms us. We just want to move to the country and raise goats. This podcast features stories from people who have gone through change. We hope that their insights will help you better understand and deal with the changes in your life. I'm Peggie Koenig and along with my co host, Catherine Gryba, we chat with insightful people with interesting change stories. I'm a long time entrepreneur and a consultant who fixes people and organizational problems. And Catherine uses her C- suite experience and entrepreneurial spirit to facilitate organizational strategy. We hope you enjoy our podcast.

Catherine Gryba:

Angie is the founder and president of ignite CSP, coaching, speaking and presenting. She loves coaching leaders who are looking for a path to the next level. Before Angie moved into leadership coaching she spent a lifetime in theater, acting, directing and producing. When she was in grade eight, she dreamt of owning her own Theatre Company. And her dream came true when she and her husband founded North Carolina Stage Company in Asheville, North Carolina. But her childhood dream brought with it some challenges. She loved the theater, but not everything about running a business. After a very close call with her small son, Angie decided she needed to make some changes. That day was just the start. And the changes didn't happen overnight. Angie tells us how there was a lot of work ahead of her to get to where she is today.

Peggie Koenig:

Well, today we welcome Angie Flynn-McKiver to our podcast. Welcome Angie.

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Thank you so much.

Catherine Gryba:

Hi, Angie, really looking forward to this.

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Well, I'm excited to be here.

Peggie Koenig:

So we're talking to you from your home office in Asheville, North Carolina. And I'm really interested in hearing your story because I know you started with a Bachelor of Arts in theater, from Smith College. What did you have in mind about what your career was going to look like when you were taking that degree? And where did it go?

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Um, gosh, you start with the big questions. Well, I'll tell you, without getting into too much background.I was always a theater kid. I knew exactly what I wanted to study. When I got to college, I started out as an actor. And then about halfway through that degree at Smith, I changed my focus to directing. And I knew from the time I was probably 14 or 15, that what I really wanted to do was get all the skills and experience that I needed to start my own Theatre Company. So from the time I was probably, I don't know, eighth or ninth grade, that was really my focus of, you know, what do I need to do? What experiences do I need? Who do I need to meet? How do I need to position myself so that I'm going to know how to do this when the moment comes. And that was what I thought when I started that degree. That was my plan. When I left Smith, I moved immediately to New York City, to to start bringing that that dream to life. I was working as a director when started out. I was very lucky. I worked almost solely in theater the entire time with a couple of couple of breaks where I was temping and doing stuff like that, but got to work in theater really, the whole time I lived in New York directing very small shows. And when I say very small, I mean in storefronts and parking lots. I was directing for free. I was, you know, taking anything that came my way just again, to get that experience. I knew what I was doing. And then I was hired by the National Shakespeare Company to be their education director. And despite the fact that I had no background in education, or Shakespeare in particular, but I had a vision of what this program could be because they really wanted to expand into the school system in New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut. And so I built that program, basically out of nothing. I did that for about four years. And we were, by the time I left, we were serving thousands and thousands of students in that tri- state area. But again, that was a very strategic move for me because I thought, Okay, this is my chance to learn how to build something, how to do the budgeting, how to hire people, how to manage a team, all of this stuff that I knew I was going to need when I finally set out to start my own company. I'd been at national Shakespeare Company, I guess three years when I met the person who's going to become my husband. And on our first date, so you mentioned, I'm from North Carolina, on our first date, I learned that not only is he also from North Carolina, a different city, but same state. But he also had a dream to someday leave New York and go back to North Carolina and start a professional theater. And not only did he want to do that, but he wanted to move to the same city I wanted to. Oh, my gosh, sounds like is where we are now. Sounds like fate. Well, we have been together ever since that first date, which was January 1 1999, my husband, Charlie and me. And we've been talking about our theater company, since that first date. So we got married the following year, in 2000. And in 2001, Labor Day of 2001, we moved from our apartment in Brooklyn, to Asheville, North Carolina, where that dream that you asked about Peggie, like, what did you think your career was gonna be like? Like, that's when we started the company,North Carolina Stage Company. We opened the theater that our first production in April of 2002, had our daughter, Nora two months later, and have been in constant operation since then.

Catherine Gryba:

You know, it just sounds like the kind of typical approach to a path is that you need to get to New York City to advance your career in the arts and directing. Do you feel that you would have had the experience without going to the big city?

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Oh, that's a great question. Um, it would have been very hard to come by if I had either stayed in Massachusetts where I'd gone to college, or if I'd come back to North Carolina earlier. There's just not the number of opportunities, there's not the number of people who are kind of trying to do the same thing that you're doing. I think it would have been very difficult.

Catherine Gryba:

And was your experience in New York about the struggling actor, and just trying to make a go of it with such passion in making it that you just keep plugging away. Was that your story?

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Yeah, yes, it was, I think about my first job in theater. When I moved to New York, I was a production resident, which is a glorified name for an intern at an off Broadway theatre company. And it was remarkable. I loved it. It was a wonderful experience. I made $100 a week.

Catherine Gryba:

Oh, my gosh.

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Right. So I was very much, you know, obviously, living on a shoestring budget, but also really figuring out like, how can I hustle, what else can I do to make a little money here, a little money there? What can I How can I make this work? And I think that has been just a crucial resource for me, in theater in general.

Catherine Gryba:

It's interesting how you really have to build your craft, isn't it and it sounds like New York is the place to do that for for the theatre industry, the theater business.

Angie Flynn-McIver:

And I'll also say just in terms of building skills that I have, have really relied on even as my as my career has moved away from being solely in theater. One of the things that I did when I was at the National Shakespeare Company, I mean, we just had such a small budget, and we were touring the Shakespeare plays with six actors, and a stage manager and, and just hardly any money for costumes and sets and all that. But there was just this. I'm walking into a museum to do a show in a place I've never been before. How are we gonna make it work and 80% of the time, something that we had said we absolutely needed, wasn't there. I mean, there was just this this get it done mentality that I know has really just served me well, because it's, it's really hard. I really don't panic. I really feel like I can rise to the occasion in a lot of different situations. And that's been, that's been really crucial.

Peggie Koenig:

So Angie, you had this dream, if I heard you correctly, grade eight or nine or eight or nine years old - grade eight?

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Yeah, yep, exactly.

Peggie Koenig:

Okay, well, that's a lot of focus from grade eight. And you achieved your goal. You still have the theatre company.

Angie Flynn-McIver:

We do. So my husband and I started the company together. We ran it in tandem for about 10 years. During part of that, the latter part of that 10 years, I had started doing some coaching. And eventually I made the decision that I was going to pull back from being full time at the theater and he stepped into running it full time with our staff. So the theater still exists, but I am not on the staff of it anymore.

Peggie Koenig:

So what how was that decision for you? I mean, this is something that you had a dream to do since grade eight, and you really had focused on it. And then made that decision to, to cut back. What was underlying that?

Angie Flynn-McIver:

I had two small children at the time. So I mentioned that our daughter, Nora was born in 2002, our son Cameron came along in 2005. So this was about 2010, I'd say, when I started to really feel the difficulty of running a nonprofit Theatre Company. And being a parent of small children was getting to be more than I could handle. I was really burned out. I just felt like I was constantly running on empty, right. And there was just this moment where I remember, my son Cameron was, I don't know, four, I guess. And he did something. And I got so angry that I just felt my whole being just overtaken by this fury at him. And I was afraid I was going to hit him. I mean, that's the honest truth. I was afraid that I was going to lash out at my child. And I literally, I walked away from him. I called a good friend of mine. I said, I need you to refer me to a therapist. I had known for a long time that I needed some distance from the theater. The theater, part of it, right, the art part of it, was still very, very fulfilling for me. The business part of it was harder. So anyway, so I would say that was the critical moment. For me, that was the moment where I was like, I'm going to have to get some space from this, I'm going to need to figure out a different answer.

Peggie Koenig:

So it sounds Angie, that you weren't even really aware of the impact that running that theater was having on you until that critical moment, and then it made you do a bit of a self analysis and a change.

Angie Flynn-McIver:

It did. And I think I mean, I think I had known, I was certainly aware that there were parts of the job that were becoming harder and harder for me and that I was more and more on edge. But I do think it took the clarity of that moment for me to realize I don't have to be stuck in that. I can actually take steps to make a change happen as well.

Catherine Gryba:

And it's really interesting that it was the business part of the theater that was causing some anger for you. Where as your first love, which was the theater, it sounds like still continued and continues to give you joy. And it's a funny how we expand some of the areas that we're working in and kind of add on to what was our original passion? And that's kind of what drags us down is those add on.

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Yes. Yeah, I have to say I look somewhat critically at the advice that is out there around you know, do what you love, and you know, have your work, be what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life. And like you be very careful with that, right? There's a there's always more to it than you think when your turn your hobby, not that theater ever really felt like a hobby to me, but when you turn your passion into your work, boundary issues come up. You know, you never get away from this thing that even if you love it so much, it's hard to to figure out where where it ends, and you begin.

Peggie Koenig:

But as you really leveraged what you learned in theater and in the arts to develop the direction that you're going in now. So was that a smooth process moving into the whole coaching and communications field?

Angie Flynn-McIver:

It really was I was very fortunate I was approached probably three years before the story that I just told you by a leadership development firm. And they knew that I had a background in education as well as experience in theater and they said can you create for us a standalone workshop on presentation skills. We need to teach people how to be better presenters. That's not a skill set we have in our company. Can you fill that gap? And I said, Sure. And I figured out how to do that. And so for about two or three years, that was just a thing that I did on the side. I hired a couple of coaches who did it with me. We would travel, oh, I don't know 12 or 15 times a year to go do this one workshop. And then about this time that I started realizing I needed to take a step back from the theater, be involved really only as an artist and not on the administrative side, I thought well, Alright, let me see if I can move this coaching piece into something more central in my work. And that's really what I've been doing since then. To answer your question about what the process was like, I would say the other big epiphany around that was that when I realized, there's so much more to teaching people to be great communicators than, you know, stand here, get rid of your filler words, all of that stuff, that really there's a component of it, which is helping the client develop self awareness and self knowledge about their communication habits and patterns that are getting in their way. And so that was when I went back to coaching school.

Catherine Gryba:

So Angie, when you talk about those skills, is it the non verbal skills? Or is it the verbal skills, also?

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Um, I would say that everything about communication, communication is holistic.The thing that you need is what drives your communication, which is what selects the words you use, which is what tells your body what gestures to use, which is what informs how close or how far away you are from other people, which is what I mean. The list is endless.

Catherine Gryba:

And the reason I asked that question is, you know, I think there are so many zoom calls now, during COVID. There's a whole language and way of communicating around body language that if you can't see the people, because there's so many people in the room, I found that's a really challenging way to, you know, kind of conduct conversations without seeing, as you described, the holistic approach to communication.

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Yes, yes. And I could talk your ear off for six hours about this. My team and I have been thinking so much and working so much on this, particularly since COVID started, there is just a huge communication deficit when we go from three dimensions into two dimensions. And I'll give you an example that I experienced last week. I was facilitating a workshop. And I've done, I can't even I can't begin to start to count how many workshops I've facilitated in person, and this, of course, was on Zoom. And there was a moment in the workshop where one of the participants wanted to challenge something that we were teaching, which is totally fine. What I realized afterwards was, if we had all been in the same room, I would have known either consciously or subconsciously, from the outset of our workshop together, that he was resistant to what we were teaching. I would have been able to see it to your point, Catherine, in the in his body language and the way he sat at the table, how much he looked at me, how much he looked away, how much he made comments under his breath to people at the table with him. And, when he started to challenge our material, I could have opened it up to a bigger discussion. There are just so many things that we can't do in this format. We don't have that sense of cross talk or, or really open group discussion that we can have in an in-person conversation. So yes, I mean that the that's the long answer. The short answer to what you're asking is yes, there's so many things that we are missing.

Peggie Koenig:

So Angie, the whole process of becoming a coach, you actually went, this is where you and I first met, we met at coaching school at Fielding Graduate University. So you didn't just say, Okay, I'm going to be a coach. There was a process of getting there. Do you want to talk a little bit about what that all included to make that change?

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Yes. Well, the first thing I realized was when I was coaching people, and this at this time was really mostly just in presentation skills, not in the things that we the company has subsequently started doing. I would realize that there was a hesitation or a worry that a client had and I didn't feel equipped to coach them through that. Right? Because I wasn't a certified coach at that time. So I was talking to a mentor of mine and she said, Oh, well, you should go get a coaching certificate. That would help you build and her point was, you actually already have good instincts about this, but this would tell you why those instincts work. And it will give you more tools. So yes to your point, that was when I started going to Fielding and now Gosh, it's been such a while since that, that I don't remember the whole process, but the things that I remember being really formative about that were some of the readings that we did. But certainly the coaching, you know, we coached each other a lot as we were learning. There's this peer to peer coaching. And I remember just really having this epiphany. And I think I've already used that word once but this was really such this moment of having a conversation with somebody who is just there to listen to you. They have no agenda. They are just there to support you, and get you to talk more> You know, that unconditional positive regard of that a coach has for their client is just an incredible gift that is at the foundation of all coaching. d, and that's one of my favorite, that was one of my favorite things, certainly about that program. And one of the things that I've really carried forward in my own coaching practice.

Peggie Koenig:

But you also went on from that didn't you and went to study a Master's degree.

Angie Flynn-McIver:

I did, I did, I stayed.Well, once I realized that I was a third of the way to a Master's, when I got the coaching credential, I decided I would stay. I like being in school, I am one of those people. Yeah, I stayed and got a Master's degree in Organizational Development and Leadership, which I really love. That was a lot of fun.

Catherine Gryba:

So Angie, it sounds like, you know, your passion was theater, kind of not the business side of it, but the acting and the theater part of it. And it sounds like that passion is really stayed with you, in your coaching, because when you describe it, your voice told us, your face showed just the passion you had of having that very positive interaction of coaching. And so it sounds like you really stuck to what motivates you throughout your the changes in your career.

Angie Flynn-McIver:

I have. That's definitely true. I think, you know, one thing that occurred to me as you were saying that, Catherine, is that it's interesting, because now in my coaching business, the business part of it is one of the things I like best.

Catherine Gryba:

Oh, interesting.

Angie Flynn-McIver:

I very much enjoy my coaching clients as well. But I am probably, I don't know, two to one, more likely to send an introvert individual client to one of my colleagues, somebody who works for me as to take them on myself. And I'm not exactly sure what that means. I'm not sure I'm just kind of having this realization as, as we were talking that the business part of the coaching business is actually a lot of fun for me.

Catherine Gryba:

Very interesting. And that was the stressor for you when you were the business part of the theater, right?

Peggie Koenig:

So do you see future changes for you, in your career? Are or have you just nicely settled into your groove, and this is where you want to stay?

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Oh, I so one of my recent enthusiasms is positive intelligence, which is a system that shirzad shiming has propagated. And one of the things that he talks about is he gets you to take your saboteurs assessment. And so this this idea of you know, what are what are your habits? What are the things that are getting in your way, your mindsets that aren't serving you very well, right? I bring this up because my top saboteur is restlessness. Hmm. And so when you ask, like, is this it for you like something really comes up? And it was like, ah, I don't know, like, I don't want to say I'm going to do the same thing forever. But I really love the umbrella that this type of coaching gives me because when we think about communication, when we think about what we rely on communication for, it's all of the things that we think are important in our lives, right? We, if we want to have relationships with other people, we need to be able to communicate, if we want to be introspective, we need to be able to communicate with ourselves, if we want to build our businesses, if we want to get our message out, right. This is all based on this, I think of communication is this, you know, this river that carries all of the things that are important to us. So what that means is that I can think about communication coaching as my specialty. And I can see where those tributaries of those rivers take me. So I guess my answer to your question Peggie is that I see myself being here for a while because I do think that even though I'm restless, this focus gives me long enough different things to do and to try out that'll it'll keep me pretty busy.

Catherine Gryba:

So you've really transitioned a couple of times in your life. And I've landed in a spot right now at least for a little while where you seem very happy. Are there any, although it wasn't without some challenges along the way? Do you have any insights that you could share with the folks that are listening about? What to pay attention to when going through change in your life? Yeah,

Angie Flynn-McIver:

I think for me, and I would assume this would be the same for some of your listeners, I really have to listen to my body. I can talk myself into or out of a lot of different things in my brain. Right, I can rationalize, I can justify. But if my body is telling me that something is off, then that's not going to resolve itself until I can get those brain messages in the body intuition in alignment. So like, when I think back to the time when I was when I was really getting burned out on working at the theater, and it was really just difficult to, to keep all the balls in the air in terms of the finances, and the insurance and the union contracts and all this stuff. I felt I had a pit in my stomach all the time, my throat was tight, I had physical manifestations of that anxiety and that stress. And part of my rationalization was, well, if I don't do this, no one will do this. There was a whole story, I was telling myself about why I needed to stay in that place. And that not physical place, but that stuck place. And as soon as that moment happened with my son, it was like I was able to bust out of that and go, Oh, well, this isn't the way this is going to go. This is not the path forward for me. So something is going to change. And I would just add to that, that it's not like I mean, I definitely felt relief in that I knew I was going to be doing something different. But the moment I think I think stories and you know, movies and TV tell us that we have this, we have this aha moment. And then all of a sudden, everything's better. And everything's unicorns and rainbows. And that was not my experience. My experience was now I have to do this long slog of transitioning out of this job that I've been doing for a long time. And even though my husband had been there the whole time and been doing his stuff like he wasn't doing the stuff I was doing. So there was the technical aspect of handing that over to him. There was the emotional aspect of disentangling that part of our relationship, which was a whole other thing, which was fine. We're all fine. But it was not nothing. But I'm just saying that having the aha moment isn't like, oh, and now everything's homefree.

Catherine Gryba:

Yeah, it's sometimes just the start of it, isn't that?

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Yes. At least it was for me.

Peggie Koenig:

You know, that is such a key insight, Angie, because I think a lot of us think that change is all coming from the intellectual inside of our head, in our brain. But listening to the physical side is a big piece, a huge, big piece of it. And we're just not really aware of that. I think that's a great insight that you really have to tie those two things together.

Angie Flynn-McIver:

And your body will tell you what's going on, if you can listen to it.

Catherine Gryba:

Yeah. So do you find yourself paying attention now more to your body, those triggers that you might have known they were there, but you were just forged ahead anyway, before? Are you paying closer attention to it now?

Angie Flynn-McIver:

I definitely am. And if there's something bothering me, whether it's about a conversation I had with someone or a decision, I feel like I'm about to make but if I keep coming back to it, and I keep having a bad, like, you know, if I if my stomach feels like it's a knot, I just won't. I won't make a decision about it until I get that resolved.

Catherine Gryba:

Right. Right.

Peggie Koenig:

This has been a great conversation Angie. I want to thank you so much for joining us. If people want to find you, where are they going to find you?

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Well, probably there are a few places. My website is a great place. My company is called ignite CSP. CSP stands for coaching, speaking presenting. So we're at Ignite CSP.com and I'm on all the social medias. I post a lot of content related to the things that we talked about, on LinkedIn in particular.

Peggie Koenig:

Great, excellent. Thank you so much, Angie,

Angie Flynn-McIver:

Thank you so much for having me.

Catherine Gryba:

Thanks, Angie. So Peggy, you've known Angie for a little while. She's a very impressive woman.

Peggie Koenig:

Yes, she is. And when I studied coaching, with her at Fielding I had an inkling that she was from the arts and from theater, but I didn't really have a grasp of just how, you know, she was very entrenched in that whole industry. So hearing about her change is pretty interesting. And what I'm particularly taken with, is the notion that we wear the need for change in our physical reaction to where you are in your life. I personally don't do enough of that. I believe I should, and I think most people should. If you've learned just one thing about change while listening to this podcast, please subscribe on Apple or Spotify, and share with a friend. This episode recorded via Zoom audio producers Peggie Koenig and Catherine Gryba. Executive Producer Koenig Leadership Advisory, audio editing and production Big Bang studios, sound engineer Hal Schrenk, theme music La Pompe written by Chris Harrington, music publisher Envato market. For information on this podcast and to purchase some fabulous goat merchandise, please visit www.getyourgoat.ca