Dorothy’s vision “elevate and respect so that any woman can own a space, command respect and live free from fear”. She graduated in Physics and Maths. Started a career in military systems, then Telecom, Financial systems and more. As a rare woman, she led and manage the people who made it happen. Along the way she worked with many good men, learned their ways on how to build standards while respecting others. And there were those who did not distinguished themselves in the good man category.
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Interview with Dorothy Kuhn
Welcome to this podcast of Life by Design, a proven system to live fully and finally achieve your best year ever. I will really help you to get more productive, and set some awesome goals and achieve the life of your dreams. Hi, I’m Dr. Sundardas D. Annamalay, CEO of the NTC alliance group of companies, author of Life by Design, founder of Freedom Formula, mastering energy, money, and leverage in 9 steps. I’m a naturopathic physician, and professor of natural medicine practicing in Singapore. I also mentor, coaches, trainers, and experts building their expert businesses. I’m delighted to have a guest on my show tonight and I really welcome Dorothy, Dorothy Kuhn, welcome to the Life by Design show.
Dorothy: It’s a pleasure to be here, thank you!
Great Dorothy! And let me just introduce Dorothy. Dorothy’s vision “elevate and respect so that any woman can own a space, command respect and live free from fear”. She graduated in Physics and Maths. Started a career in military systems, then Telecom, Financial systems and more. As a rare woman, she led and manage the people who made it happen. Along the way she worked with many good men, learned their ways on how to build standards while respecting others. And there were those who did not distinguished themselves in the good man category. In thirteen seconds, you found a super power. With humor, Dorothy shares her stories, strategies and more on how women and men can understand one another, do productive things and have fun doing it. She’s here to share how you can stand up with those, who out of lyle, show you, you’re not a bystander, who wishes you had said something.
Well, Dorothy I heard a little bit about your story and all of that, and I guess my first question is: “What did you struggle with that made you find a better way?”
I struggled with being seen and being respected and you know people would presume that they could call me, little you know, in a professional environment, that they could call me “sweetheart” or “honey” or something like that.
(laughter from both)
And you know, it was in-appropriate, but you know it fit into this, kind of big cultural narrative that is present certainly here in the United States but in many countries throughout the world that women are less than men in some way. And so for us as women who have, you know, that honorable ambition and the future that we see for ourselves, it’s really important to be able to stand up in the moment and kind of bend that story. That cultural story in a way, that doesn’t have any blame or shame and it makes the person that you have just de-statused with thirteen seconds maneuver…make them like it! And that is the magic, when you bring a bit of fun to it, it makes all the difference.
Dr. Sundardas: So fascinating! Tell me about your 13 seconds, why did you come up with 13 seconds?
I came up with that, because I was trying to think of some way to describe what, I was being too wordy about and one of the things that I noticed. You know, how the divine will put in your way something that will trigger, you know when you’re asking a question that you don’t know the answer to. Somehow the divine will bring forth a resource that will help you get to your answer, and you’ll notice it because you want it. And that intention is so keys. So I noticed the wonderful Mel Robins, who has what is called the 5-second rule and I thought, “You know what, everything.” Everytime that I have done this and turned the tables on status and elevated my status leading the other person with respect and dignity that has taken how long? So, I just counted up the longest time and the shortest time that’s where that name came from, so kudos to Mel Robins for giving me that general pattern.
Dr. Sundardas: Right, back to your Maths and Physics background to find the best possible average.
Dorothy: Yes, (laughter) Indeed.
Dr. Sundardas: Yes, and how did that change, how others saw you?
Dorothy: Oh, it changes tremendously, would you like an example?
Dr. Sundardas: Yes, of course!
Oh, gosh! So, one of the first time’s I did it in a professional setting and I failed at these many times before. And I was just tired of failing at it you know. It’s no fun to be de-statused and it’s frustrating to not know what to do at the moment. You know what you’d do when you don’t know what to do in that moment of challenge? Is…”You know later, I will think of something, I should have said this rushed or will complain about it to our family members, will lose sleep over it they will tell our friends (rarara) for days!” (laughter).
Dr. Sundardas: They will go on and on and on and will make a story out of a story.
Yes, yes and you know, it’s just a colossal waste of time, it drains your energy and zaps your power, so it’s just… you want to be able, in that moment, you know, wind the interaction. So, the situation, one of my early ones, was, I’m at work in my first professional position. And I’m walking down, there is a long hall way with offices on each side. And I’m walking down the hall and my boss, who is this little short man, gives me a call down the hallway as I’m walking away – “Hey, Honey! (laughter)”
Dr. Sundardas: That’s not a loud mouth in your head…
…so, I just kept walking and stood up just a little taller, “Hey, Sweetheart!” He’s a man from New Jersey, and they have a particular accent from New Jersey, I’m not very good at that accent but you get the idea.…
Dr. Sundardas: Yes
And (laughter) you know I just stood up into my more queenly stance yet, and walk slowly and purposefully another step or two. He called for me at a time or two, with this other name, “Hey Doll!” you know, these things that play into what in the US are big meta stories, so…
Dr. Sundardas: Right!
…social stories and I just keep walking and I was willing to turn around and he finally called my name, “Hey Dorothy!” And so, I slowly came into a halt turned about half way around and at a 45 to him looked over my shoulder and said, “Yes, oh, Romeo!” that was actually his name.
Dr. Sundardas: Right…!
Dorothy: (laughter) (both laughs)
Dorothy: Now by this time, Sundardas, you know, people were popping their heads out of, you know those offices on each side of the hallway.
Dr. Sundardas: I bet, everyone got the message.
Dorothy: Everyone got the message.
Dr. Sundardas: And he got the message.
Dorothy: And he got the message, he did. You know, it took less than thirteen seconds? And it raised my status and it made him realized that I was a force to be reckon with and when people know you are a force to be reckoned with, with honor and respect and you leave them with their dignity, that’s when your status of respect goes up, up up!
Dr. Sundardas: Yes, that sounds great! Now, what really drew you to this work?
Dorothy: Well I, we have here in the US and world wide this tremendous resurgence of women, who are getting more involved in politics and wanted to be respected more. And it’s one thing to want to be respected more, but it’s another thing to show up in a way where that respect is automatic because that decision is not made in our cognitive mind, in our nil cortex. That decision, for whether somebody is on status with us or higher or lower status, is made in those very primitive parts of our brain, like that.
Dr. Sundardas: Yes.
Dorothy: So, you have to show up in a way that triggers that in the primitive part of the brain. And most of us, particularly those of us who are well educated, we tend to think that information is power. Well it’s potential power.
Dr. Sundardas: Yes. Yes, potential power…
Dorothy: Yes, how you use it is powerful. And those simple parts of the brain, don’t even do language.
Dr. Sundardas: Yes, they don’t. They’re non-verbal, pre-verbal.
Dorothy: Yes, pre-verbal. Very much.
Dr. Sundardas: Yes. And what was some of the first things that you did?
Dorothy: Oh, well some of those first things that I did is that stories I said. But then, the next steps, and I teach these as well, is what to do to capitalize on your elevated status. This is one thing to develop it at the moment, it’s another thing to make it pay for you over time. So, that you can get the promotion that you want, if you’re working at a company. So that you can close the deal that you want, if you own your own business and you’re looking for another…a wonderful customer or client. You know, it’s…nobody does business with somebody else no matter what the business, if they don’t think that that person is on status or a little higher.
Dr. Sundardas: Okay, so no matter what if you got a new business, you want a new business, with some value or onsite status with you or higher status.
Dorothy: Yes, you need to have higher status to be believed.
Dr. Sundardas: Yes, and what happens after you started doing this? How did your boss’ family or friends react or notice what happened?
Dorothy: Oh! Gosh, they loved it! Because you know, you’re bringing that bit of playfulness to it and being powerful, that is always attractive to people. That’s the kind of thing, that people will associate, with charm, with savoir faire, as the French say.
Dr. Sundardas: Yes.
Dr. Sundardas: Charisma, yes.
Dorothy: Yes, exactly. And people love, that interactions with people that can embody that…and I…you know, as you said, I grew up a really geeky gal. If somebody as geeky as me can learn these stuff you can too. (laughter)
Dr. Sundardas: Yes. I knew all about the geeky stuff.
Dr. Sundardas: I think I would have competed with you for being geeky.
Dorothy: And you know, there comes a time when we often choose to be that better version of ourselves. It’s wonderful.
Dr. Sundardas: Yup. Yup. I’m just curious. What questions do you ask yourself along the way that set you moving from this particular direction?
Oh, that’s a great question! The questions that I ask myself, you know in the earliest days…was, you know, who are some people that I can learn from? And I started by reading biographies of people here in the U.S., who had amazing stories and came form very humble backgrounds. Backgrounds that you would think, would not make them a notable person. You know, I’m here in Texas, so I read biographies of Representative Barbara Jordan. She was the first African-American member of the United States House of Representatives from the state of Texas. And she came from very humble background and she, you know, made a really huge difference in the U.S. Congress. So, I’ve read biographies of people like that. Which was great, it gave me a feel for what could be accomplished but it didn’t break down, you know, what are the steps that I needed to learn in order to achieve that in my own life.
Dr. Sundardas: Right. So, you have a direction, but it wasn’t specific enough in terms of a pathway, or a specific loop way, or a map…or what exactly you needed to do in order to be able to achieve that. Right?
Dorothy: Mmm…and the 13th second rule, is just the beginning of that. it’s that people love learning it, it gives them a great foundation for what are those next steps to do, to be able to achieve that raise or to close that deal. Without status, neither of those things really is possible.
Dr. Sundardas: Yes, yes, ofcourse. The basic point for negotiation, is two people must have equal status or one person has higher status, than the other and they can then ask for what they want, because if they were lower status, they don’t mainly have a basis to negotiate. So, yeah…
Dorothy: That’s exactly, exactly right.
Dr. Sundardas: Yes, absolutely! Now, will you briefly explain the pain, hope and solution as you see it.
Dorothy: So, the pain really is – that you are tired of being disrespected, and you’re tired of being not listened to, you’re tired of your ideas not being well-received by other people. You’re tired of complaining to yourself about these symptoms and wasting time and being stressed out over not being able to solve this or what…like put your finger on what to do. And you ask kind of a 2-part question, what was the second part?
Dr. Sundardas: Yeah, and yes, when you talked about feeling helpless and hopeless and all of that, and then you have to do something about it. And you spoke earlier on about how you watched, and you read biographies to workout how other people handled it… So did you come up with a solution for your self?
Dorothy: I well I did over time! I did. And when I came up with that solution, it was because I didn’t want to say things…you know, when people, ah, cross the boundary with me. Like, you know, Romeo in the hallway. (laughs)
Dr. Sundardas: Yes.
Dorothy: I didn’t want to come across as, you know, saying “You just didn’t yah, dah, dah, dah, dah…how dare you! You’re a terri…
Dr. Sundardas: …you’re a terrible friend, like when you say it to his face…
Dorothy: It’s not useful…
Dr. Sundardas: No.
Dorothy: …at all.
Dr. Sundardas: Absolutely.
Dorothy: …so what it triggers in peoples’ minds is the good bad binary…
Dr. Sundardas: Yes
Dorothy: And when all of these…we’re all a mix of good and bad. You know….
Dr. Sundardas: Yes
Dorothy: …most people, are generally good, but I guarantee you, you know I’m a generally nice person, but if somebody were to come and do something that was threatening to my kids, even so they’re grown now, “Mama Bear” would come out and roar!
Dr. Sundardas: Absolutely! Absolutely! Territorial imperative.
Dorothy: That’s right! And so, you know we’re all capable of great good and great evil.
Dr. Sundardas: Yeah.
Dorothy: And so, nobody likes to be identified with that evil part, except for, you know, silly characters in the movies.
Dorothy: But, am…
Dr. Sundardas: So…
Dorothy: So, if you make somebody else bad, they will fight back.
Dr. Sundardas: Yes.
Dorothy: You honor them, draw that clear bounding with a bit of thought. And honor them while you’re doing it, they will love you for it.
Dr. Sundardas: Absolutely! Yeah, when you make somebody look bad, they will have to defend themselves, because we all have to feel that we’re good.
Dorothy: Yes, yes, it’s very true. Very true, you are so wise. So, and… you know, I had been guilty of making the other person bad, and I noticed it just didn’t work.
Dr. Sundardas: Yes.
Dorothy: So, I needed to find another way. And you know what, I used my geek research skills to find a way to get there. And it made me a better human being.
Dr. Sundardas: Yes, that’s a powerful idea of overcoming a challenge. Now, did you experience any setbacks on your journey throughout finding the solution?
Dorothy: Oh! Gosh, yes. I experienced that mostly in my personal life, because being able to do a skill like this is contextual. You know it’s…the context of work has a whole set of stories. Social stories around that, that the context in family has a whole other dynamic.
Dr. Sundardas: Absolutely. Absolutely.
And when you believe it, that the person, that in my case you believe that the person that you married, should love you, and cherish you and treat you well and they’re not doing it. There’s that part of your brain that recognizes that and the part of your brain that won’t…doesn’t want to believe it. And it won’t. And that – that held me back from doing these things in the personal context. So, one of the things that I helped, mostly women, though I do have some men clients. But mostly women, and, am…one of the things that I helped them do, is to be able to wave that context skill in one context. To bring it over into another context, because I was very invested in having my marriage last for a long time, for us to get along well. And the children will be happy and not see any, you know, meaningful bickering or fighting. And I had come into a conclusion of after a while, that that was not possible. And the most honorable things to do was to release that husband, from the marriage, and it turned out to be true.
He was in a position where he couldn’t take action on that. He had some, some kind of family and family history constraints that really prevented him from taking action. But we are…we did what was possible here in the U.S. A collaborative divorce where you know, you work off with some professionals to make sure that both parties and any children are whole in the other side. And so, we worked through that collaborative divorce and now, you know, we can be pleasant in public how the important events, of our now grown children. And so, we have a family in a different configuration now. It works for all of us.
Dr. Sundardas: Yes, and that’s a youthful resolution, because it’s a…mutual beliefs and action.
Dorothy: Yes, it is…and you know everybody is happier. The children are much happier. And after a while, they really got it. That it was just a really curious match, my former husband and me. But he’s a good man overall, it just wasn’t a match.
Dr. Sundardas: Yeah, sometimes there would be get together…and they still invite you up and the last thing you can do is recognize, that it doesn’t work and move on.
Yes, and move on as honorably as you can. And so, bringing those skills from one context into another, is truly wonderful. Because almost every listener we thought, hearing this now, has these skills in some area of their lives. And being able to expand it, so that you can be a more fully empowered person, really does just change the trajectory of your life from the things you can achieve.
Dr. Sundardas: Where can people get more, Dorothy?
Dorothy: Well, my website http://dorothykuhn.com/gift because I have a wonderful gift to give people to get them started for free right away. So, that’s http://dorothykuhn.com. You’ll probably put the spelling of that in the show notes.
Dr. Sundardas: Yes, I would. I would. I will be doing that. Well, thank you very much Dorothy, that’s all we have today. So one lucky listener…
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