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Inspiring Conversations with Wendy Ryan of Kadabra

Today we’d like to introduce you to Wendy Ryan.

Hi Wendy, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I started my career working in recruiting and human resources. After learning the ropes as a generalist in HR, I moved into leadership and consulting. I found that I really excelled at building and developing teams as well as individuals, so working as an executive coach and learning facilitator seemed like a natural next step. I earned my Master’s in Human Resources and Organizational Development while still consulting and parenting three children. In 2014, I had reached the top of my learning curve with the firm I was working for and struck out on my own to build a new leadership consulting business, Kadabra, from the ground up. My own entrepreneurial journey has only increased my empathy for and enjoyment working with start-up founders who also want to be great leaders. I became an angel investor in 2018 and all of my investments to date have been in companies led by womxn, BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ founders. I am a passionate advocate for increasing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility throughout the business and investor ecosystems. My book, Learn Lead Lift: How to Think, Act and Inspire Your Way to Greatness released in Spring 2021, quickly became a best-seller, which I think reflects our collective hunger for innovative thinking and fresh ideas around what great leadership actually is and can be for others.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I experienced a lot of gender bias and later, caregiver bias throughout my career that frankly, I wasn’t prepared to navigate. Growing up, I was always told I could do anything and be anything that I wanted because the workplace always rewards those with the most talent who work the hardest. When I encountered resistance or wasn’t encouraged or supported the way I saw that my male colleagues were I assumed it must be because I was lacking some skills they weren’t and I just needed to work harder. It never occurred to me that the playing field wasn’t level add to that a number of deaths in the family and of friends I was close to, and it’s no wonder I struggled off and on with depression. Thanks to a combination of medication and therapy, I’ve been able to experience many more good days than bad ones in recent years. My struggles with mental health have made me a more compassionate leader and coach. And I simply don’t take my mental or physical health or that of my team members for granted.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Kadabra?
We are leadership and change experts on a mission to expand what’s possible for individuals, teams and organizations to achieve. Our work is grounded in the Learn Lead Lift Framework(tm), which identifies the mindsets, skill sets and behaviors that produce great leadership. Great leadership today is inclusive, equity-minded, trauma-informed and anchored in authenticity. With Kadabra, you choose your own adventure and how you want to engage with us. We offer a ton of free resources to get you started via our website and self-service platforms. If you want or need more support, then we have a great team of coaches, facilitators, and consultants ready to assist you – whether it’s one hour a month of coaching or you need a dedicated, fractional HR executive, we will work with. You to build a customized solution that suits your needs now and can grow with you as your needs change.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
I had to get comfortable doing all the things I was used to doing my best in person – coaching, facilitating, meeting new people and nurturing a team – to having to them 100% virtually, 100% of the time. That was a steep learning curve for me and for my team. I’m so proud of their commitment and willingness to adapt for the sake of our clients and our team to this “new normal.” And, I learned that some things are better accomplished virtually, particularly when equity, inclusion and belonging are core objectives and outcomes.

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Image Credits:

Wendy Ryan and Heather Levitt Martinez

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