Respect Circles - The Podcast

Stephanie Colegrove, Alpheaus Johnson

In a world that can feel divided, we want to bring people together – to learn, to listen with our hearts, and to begin to see each other again. Our vision is to foster and elevate respect and learning while we talk about the real issues of the day. Join hosts Stephanie Colegrove and Alpheaus Johnson as we invite people in to share their stories and their vision. Together we’ll get inspired to take action as we create a movement of change…one conversation at a time. read less

42: Moving Away From the Fringes: Who Voted For Herschel Walker and Why it Matters
1w ago
42: Moving Away From the Fringes: Who Voted For Herschel Walker and Why it Matters
Here in the United States, we just held midterm elections that broke all kinds of expectations and historical trends. Although the house will have a Republican majority by a very slim margin, the “red wave” of wins that was projected across the country did not happen, even though typically the party of the sitting President does poorly in the midterms. In this episode, we’re going to dive deeper into what these results mean, and again talk about the divisions that exist in this country and the communication challenges that come as a result of this divide.  Now more than ever, it feels like the voices at the extreme, or the “fringes”, are getting louder and louder, and we want to explore this and do our part to see how we can all listen and move away from these extremes.   And as we’ve been doing the last few weeks, we’re excited to share our latest nominees for our new Models of Respect segment, highlighting people in the world that are living and demonstrating our Respect Circles values. If you have someone in mind that you’d like to nominate and have featured on a future episode, please let us know!  Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook, and we’d really appreciate you leaving a review on your favorite podcast platform to let us know what you’re enjoying about this show. You can also go to to leave us a message and you can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com to give us your thoughts.  In this episode you’ll hear: What we are observing on the fringes of both sides of the political spectrum, and where AJ feels we are right now as a society and how we can do things differently [3:01] A closer look at the concept of “naive realism” and how this applies to political views in our country at this moment [5:13] A life-altering experience that AJ had and how it made him realize he was moving towards the fringes himself [7:18] Why the candidate race in Georgia has been garnering so much attention and the many surprises that came out of this race [13:40]  A discussion around the question of why certain demographics support each of the candidates [15:49] What people can or should do, and how we can start the journey back from the fringes [24:50] The role that conversational receptiveness plays in listening today [26:50]  Announcing our Models of Respect for this week [33:00]
41: Respect in America: Where Do We Go From Here?
Nov 23 2022
41: Respect in America: Where Do We Go From Here?
Today we want to take some time to dive into the topic of respect in America, or the lack thereof, that we might be seeing and feeling these days. As we’ve shared, we started Respect Circles because we recognized a growing divide in this country, partially due to people not listening to each other or communicating effectively. We’ve seen the behavior and harm this has caused, and believe our podcast is one way to open up broader conversations, have respectful debates, and move things forward together.  And we’re excited to share our latest nominees for our new Models of Respect segment, highlighting people in the world that are living and demonstrating our Respect Circles values. If you have someone in mind that you’d like to nominate and have featured on a future episode, please let us know!  Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook, and we’d really appreciate you leaving a review on your favorite podcast platform to let us know what you’re enjoying about this show. You can also go to to leave us a message and you can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com to give us your thoughts.  In this episode you’ll hear: A discussion around the question of what it truly means to be an American [3:09] AJ’s family history and how that influences the ways that he feels about being American [5:50]  The shifts that we are seeing online and on the various social media platforms, and what we think can be done to help people have more respect for one another [9:05] One of the main reasons why we may be seeing and hearing more individuals act out at this point in time [10:28] What each of us will be committing to this week and an opportunity that exists for you as well [15:52] A celebration for our latest Models of Respect [26:32] An invitation for you to appear on Respect Circles, have a conversation and perhaps challenge us, respectfully  [32:22]  Links & Resources:  World Central Kitchen (Chef José Andrés):
40: Leadership Today: Creating a Post-Pandemic Workplace
Nov 9 2022
40: Leadership Today: Creating a Post-Pandemic Workplace
It’s been an interesting and challenging time for business, companies, and organizations post-pandemic. The work environment changed, both throughout the pandemic and since, and both leaders and employees are trying to navigate this new world.  How do companies re-engage their people, and how do workers gain the new skills that are necessary to operate in a changed workplace where remote and/or hybrid work is the new norm in many situations?  Creating new ways of operating together presents both challenges and new opportunities.  Today we share our thoughts about what we’ve learned throughout our own leadership journeys and open a conversation about what might be possible moving forward.   We hope to provoke new thinking and inspire you, as a manager or employee, to be a part of creating a workplace that looks much different than it did just a few years ago.   We also talk about “quiet quitting” and “quiet firing” and what it really means in the business arena.   And we’re excited to share our latest nominees for our new Models of Respect segment, highlighting people in the world that are living and demonstrating our Respect Circles values.   Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook, and we’d really appreciate you leaving a review on your favorite podcast platform to let us know what you’re enjoying about this show. You can also go to to leave us a message and you can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com to give us your thoughts.  In this episode you’ll hear: What is “quiet quitting” and how to approach it from a discretionary standpoint as a manager, and the way that co-workers can make a positive impact in these situations [2:24] The “3 C’s” that AJ looks for with employee engagement, plus how leaders can use this framework to notice when an employee is disengaged [8:00] What can be done to help leaders get the skills needed, change their mindsets and to learn how to communicate differently [12:15] A look at “quiet firing” and the impact that it can have on company culture and objectives [15:43] Why support at work is also a responsibility of the team as a whole, and not just on the manager [19:37] Action steps to create the work environment of the future both from a business owner and an employee perspective [22:57]  A challenge AJ has for older generations of leaders who experienced relationship-building in a different format that what typically exists today [26:53] Our Models of Respect for this week and why we are so inspired by these individuals [28:37]  Links & Resources:       The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees) by Patrick Lencioni
39: We’re back! So now what?
Oct 26 2022
39: We’re back! So now what?
We’re back, and thank you for joining us once again! We took a break over the summer to recharge, regroup, and spend a little time with our families, and we’re so excited that we’ll again be bringing you thought-provoking and meaningful conversations, as we dive into some new topics on the podcast.  We’ve both really missed having these conversations and we feel, more than ever, that helping people know how they can approach these topics with others is really needed, and we’ll be doing our own work as we continue on this path with you as well.  In this episode, you’ll hear how there is an opportunity right now, and especially over the next few weeks leading up to the midterm elections in the U.S., to get curious about the information being presented and think about where you are getting it from. Look for some different resources and perspectives, and see if you can come away with a balanced approach to deciding who is best for your local community, your state, and the nation as we move forward. So, get involved, because now is not the time to sit on the sidelines!  We have an exciting new segment debuting today where we highlight people who we refer to as “Models of Respect”, and who demonstrate the values of Respect Circles that we promote here and that inspire both of us each and every day. If you have someone you’d like to suggest for this segment and we can feature in an upcoming episode, go to our website, and let us know who that person is and why you feel they are such a good role model for others. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook, and we’d really appreciate you leaving a review on your favorite podcast platform to let us know what you’re enjoying about this show. You can also go to to leave us a message and you can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com to give us your thoughts.  Again, we’re so happy to be back having these conversations, and we’re looking forward to bringing you another topic and episode very soon. In this episode you’ll hear: A look at what’s happened since we took a break for the podcast, and how we’re seeing the divide in our country growing larger [2:44] Why the upcoming United States midterms may just be the more important elections we’ve ever had in this country [4:59] Questions you can ask to start determining if character, and voting, still matters [6:19] How Stephanie is getting informed through international media [8:07] Our thoughts on the recent Dobb’s decision on abortion in the United States and why it’s something that we need to pay attention to [11:19] A personal experience that Stephanie had, and how the laws of today could have impacted her if they were in effect at the time [18:29] The ways that AJ is trying to find a more moderation position, and how he’s keeping the messages talked about on this podcast in mind [20:59] The challenge we have for you, and the opportunity that exists for all of us at this point in time [26:11] A look at our first “Models of Respect” that we are now featuring as a segment of the podcast [30:07]  Links & Resources:   31: The CROWN Act: I Am More Than My Hair BBC News & Al Jazeera  The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime (2001 Study)  Texas Woman Nearly Loses Her Life After Doctors Can't Legally Perform an Abortion: 'Their Hands Were Tied'  MacKenzie Scott’s latest $84.5 million donation could transform Girl Scouts as you know them Tracee Ellis Ross’s Docuseries with Oprah Winfrey, The Hair Tales  John Legend’s Powerful Op-Ed on Supporting Criminal Justice Reforms: ‘The Future and Freedoms of Our Country Depend on Them’
38: Respect Circles: Lessons Learned and Looking Forward
Jun 1 2022
38: Respect Circles: Lessons Learned and Looking Forward
It was late last summer when we decided to expand our Respect Circles conversations to the airways by starting this podcast. Since that time, we’ve had some incredible guests and have covered topics that are so meaningful. Today we thought it would be fun to reflect back on some of our most memorable episodes, the ones that really stood out to us, and share what we’ve learned from them and the actions we’ve taken as a result.   We want to share that we’ll be taking a pause after this episode with the podcast, for at least the summer, as we consider what our future offerings may look like. We’ve gotten a lot of ideas based on your feedback for what’s needed in the world today, and we want to make sure that we’re taking time to really consider how to make the most meaningful impact that we possibly can.  We can’t wait for the next chapter as we continue to move forward stepping into the space of making human connections on a different scale. We’re sure that this will give us the opportunity to do this work in a way that will continue to resonate with the audience, but also feed our souls.  Stay tuned to our social media, Instagram and Facebook, and we’ll keep you posted on future developments. We’d love to get your input on what you’d like to see us offer next, whether it’s in the community or corporate space, and how you think we can make the biggest difference. You can go to to leave us a message and you can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com to give us your thoughts.  Thanks so much for your support and being a part of this amazing journey (so far!) and we can’t wait to see what’s next!
37: Hope Loves Company: A Powerful Journey of Grief, Healing, and Helping Families Facing ALS
May 26 2022
37: Hope Loves Company: A Powerful Journey of Grief, Healing, and Helping Families Facing ALS
Today we are joined by a very special guest, Jodi O’Donnell-Ames, as we learn about her journey and the amazing work she is doing to make a difference in the world and the lives of others. Jodi is a speaker, coach, author, and founder of Hope Loves Company - a non-profit organization with the mission of supporting children and young adults who love someone with ALS. Jodi’s story of caring for her husband as he lived with, and eventually passed away from, ALS is a powerful one. In this episode, she helps us open up a dialogue on ALS, the experiences she had in caring for her husband, her own process of grief and healing, and the ways she now helps others who are dealing with difficult loss.  We also explore some of the challenges that people who have limited mobility face daily, and how we can all be more aware and advocate for increased accessibility for all. It’s a big issue that most of us may not think about if it doesn’t impact us directly, but we can all be part of the solution in minimizing and eliminating these barriers.  We truly appreciate Jodi for stepping into the circle and trusting us by sharing her story on the podcast. She is a beautiful human being on a powerful mission.  We encourage you to check out Jodi’s resources to learn more and to then take action to help (you can donate to Hope Loves Company by clicking here, or at the link in the show notes.)  The beautiful thing about Respect Circles is we always learn something and can take action to make a difference.    You can also invite Jodi to speak to your group or organization through her website.   As always, we love to hear your feedback.  If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to to leave us a message.  You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com, on social media at and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too.  We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast,  leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends!  In this episode you’ll hear: What ALS is and how Jodi came to learn about it in a very personal way [5:49] The first steps Jodi and her husband took after receiving the devastating diagnosis and the ways in which they got busy advocating [9:26] Where she got the tremendous will to fight and how she knew that she was born for the role of caregiving and helping others [13:29] What she did to use grief to propel her forward on her mission, and how a certain event shifted her entire perspective on her family’s situation [18:26] Jodi’s philosophy on caregiving and showing up to help someone in needed, even when you may not know the right way to do it [21:51] How she used love and memories to move forward and create Hope Loves Company [28:45] What we need to be aware of about accessibility issues and becoming an advocate for change in this area [32:36] The actions steps we can take to become a better ally for these causes today [39:35] Links & Resources:  Jodi’s Website, Instagram, Facebook & Twitter Her Books, Someone I Love Has ALS: A Family Caregiver Guide & The Stars That Shine    Share the Care: How to Organize a Group to Care for Someone Who Is Seriously Ill by Cappy Capossela & Sheila Warnock Hope Loves Company’s Website, Instagram & Facebook Hope Loves Company Documentary Donate to Hope Loves Company Register for Camp HLC 2022 & Apply for a Hug of Hope Care Package ​​CBC News Article, Here are the N.B. beaches that have accessibility features ​​36: Climbing Your Second Mountain: Creating Joy and Leaving a Legacy In the Second Half of Your Life
36: Climbing Your Second Mountain:  Creating Joy and Leaving a Legacy In the Second Half of Your Life
May 18 2022
36: Climbing Your Second Mountain: Creating Joy and Leaving a Legacy In the Second Half of Your Life
Does success breed happiness?  And how do we live for a cause larger than ourselves, as we’re often encouraged to do? Today we are diving into answering these questions and exploring the concept of preparing to find true joy in the second half of your life, or as has been referred to as your “second mountain”. In this conversation, we talk about how natural it is to be longing for more at this point of our lives, and the importance of investing in relationships instead of accumulating more possessions and higher social status.  In today’s episode, we explore what we can do to show up right now to live our values and experience life in a more meaningful way, for ourselves and others. Longing for more out of life is not uncommon and you’re definitely not alone in that longing. Through our conversation, we hope to provoke your thinking about the life you want to create and the joy that is possible, and remind you that you can’t leave it up to chance.   As always, we love to hear your feedback.  If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to to leave us a message.  You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com, on social media at and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too.  We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast,  leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends!  In this episode you’ll hear: A look at what the “First Mountain” and “Second Mountain” of life is, and the critical lie that people are telling themselves about success and happiness [4:54] How we can begin to fix what has happened over the last few decades to the cultural and moral structure of our society [7:26] The unhealthy habits that AJ is shedding and the person that he is becoming as he approaches his second mountain [10:27] What Stephanie sees in the clients that she coaches who are in the second act of their lives [13:29] What surprises most people as they reach the peak of their first mountain and being the descent towards the next one [28:37]  How Stephanie navigated the phase of her career when she recognized she had reached the summit of her first mountain [29:40] Some of the common pitfalls of always chasing “more” [37:10] What you can do to prepare to ascend your second mountain and how to develop a plan versus just letting it happen [38:45]  Links & Resources:  The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life by David Brooks  From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life by Arthur C. Brooks Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
35: How A Horse Can Improve Your Mental Health (Part 2)
May 11 2022
35: How A Horse Can Improve Your Mental Health (Part 2)
If you joined us last week, you’ll know we started a great conversation with two experts in the field of equine therapy and training, Alia Shahi and Becky Nibecker. This week we continue the conversation, learn more about their experiences, and explore how working with horses can be a gift to students, teachers, leaders, and to all of us who embrace this experience.  Alia works for a non-profit organization called Reins of H.O.P.E. as an EAGALA certified Equine Specialist, assisting in providing equine assisted psychotherapy to at-risk youth and military personnel. She is currently pursuing licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and recently graduated with a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Horses have been Alia’s passion since she was a child. They have taught her some of the greatest life lessons she has learned thus far: how to show up as a partner, that leadership has nothing to do with dominance, and the importance of present-centered connection. Today, the wisdom and knowledge they pass on to her continues to inform her as a single parent, an equine specialist, a mental health clinician, and as a human. Becky was first introduced to Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) upon starting her 25th year as an educator. She was fascinated to learn that horses are motivated by pressure and learn by the release of that pressure. That year, as a middle school principal, her opening faculty meeting included a video of a horse at liberty with a human. She encouraged the faculty to dance with their students in this same manner; to see their presentation of the subject matter as the pressure, and to allow time at the end of each class period for reflection, the release that teaches. In a world that is full of information, deadlines and the need to prove and produce, this dance is often interrupted and we lose the ability to self-regulate and set healthy boundaries. Becky believes we need to create margins in our life to pause, reflect and release tension. If you missed Part 1 last week, you can find it on your favorite podcast app, or at   This conversation really was an invitation for us to get out of our heads and comfort zones in order to try something new, and who would have imagined that we could discover so much about ourselves through horses? We’ve learned that horses have the intuition to teach us what we may not be able to see. If you are willing to step into the arena with these fascinating animals, you’ll experience incredible growth. As always, we love to hear your feedback.  If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to to leave us a message.  You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com, on social media at and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too.  We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast,  leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends!  In this episode you’ll hear: The big realizations that Alia made about bringing equine therapy into the parenting arena [1:42] Becky’s thoughts on the how work with horses could be applied as an educator of children [6:03] How she allowed the horse to be a powerful partner in overcoming internal chatter that she was having [8:02] Ways to provide safety and security of the horse, and why this is so important to do [10:13] What horses can teach us about all of our relationships [13:01] The feedback that these animals can provide us, and how the horses were able to help Becky share more about her own faith with others [15:26] A story that demonstrates how horse work can be applied to leadership development [17:55] What their organization is doing to give everyone greater access to their horses [23:49] The similarities that Becky sees between the work they do with horses and what we do here at Respect Circles [26:50] Our biggest takeaways from this conversation with Alia and Becky, and what we plan to do with this knew knowledge [31:02] Links & Resources:   Reins of Hope Website, Instagram & Facebook  Alia’s Thesis, Parenting Through Horsemanship: A Relationship-Based Approach to Children   NBC News Article, Black horse trainers offer horseback riding as therapy BBC News Article, The black cowboys of Chicago's South Side Time Magazine, The True Story of the Black Cowboys of Philadelphia Depicted in Concrete Cowboy 34: How A Horse Can Improve Your Mental Health (Part 1) 33: The Path to Stronger Relationships - Getting Clear on Your Emotions 32: Wholeheartedness - Living Life From a Place of Courage 20: How to Become an Emotionally Intelligent Leader 7: Becoming A Deliberate Listener
34: How A Horse Can Improve Your Mental Health (Part 1)
May 4 2022
34: How A Horse Can Improve Your Mental Health (Part 1)
If you’ve ever felt the need to improve your physical or mental health, or you’re looking for a personal or professional development opportunity, we bet you’ve never thought of looking for help in a horse barn! Yet, the growing field of equine therapy is showing us that spending time with animals can be extremely beneficial to our well-being. In the first part of this special 2-part series, we welcome our expert guests, Alia Shahi and Becky Nibecker, as they each share the experiences and wisdom that they’ve gained from their fascinating work with horses.  Alia works for a non-profit organization called Reins of H.O.P.E. as an EAGALA certified Equine Specialist, assisting in providing equine assisted psychotherapy to at-risk youth and military personnel. She is currently pursuing licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and recently graduated with a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Horses have been Alia’s passion since she was a child. They have taught her some of the greatest life lessons she has learned thus far: how to show up as a partner, that leadership has nothing to do with dominance, and the importance of present-centered connection. Today, the wisdom and knowledge they pass on to her continues to inform her as a single parent, an equine specialist, a mental health clinician, and as a human. Becky Nibecker was first introduced to Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) upon starting her 25th year as an educator. She was fascinated to learn that horses are motivated by pressure and learn by the release of that pressure. That year, as a middle school principal, her opening faculty meeting included a video of a horse at liberty with a human. She encouraged the faculty to dance with their students in this same manner; to see their presentation of the subject matter as the pressure, and to allow time at the end of each class period for reflection, the release that teaches. In a world that is full of information, deadlines and the need to prove and produce, this dance is often interrupted and we lose the ability to self-regulate and set healthy boundaries. Becky believes we need to create margins in our life to pause, reflect and release tension. There is such a richness in the messages that both Alia and Becky share in this conversation about their work, and we appreciate their openness to be vulnerable and transparent as they each speak their truth. We hope that you will return next week for Part 2, as they reveal more about the incredible powers that horses possess and the transformations that they have experienced themselves and witnessed in the clients that they serve.  As always, we love to hear your feedback.  If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to to leave us a message.  You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com, on social media at and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too.  We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast,  leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends!  In this episode you’ll hear: What equine-assisted psychotherapy and learning is all about, and what led them to this field of work [7:15] The biggest impact that the horses have had on Becky [8:20] Why there is power in pausing to reflect, both for children and adults [9:30]  Why the work that she does means so much to Alia [12:12] The story of the horse, Tank, that changed everything for her [17:02] What Becky thinks makes the connection between horses and humans so special [21:13] How horses have the ability to help anyone who is willing to step into that world find their authentic self [24:00] Links & Resources:  Reins of Hope Website, Instagram & Facebook Alia’s Thesis, Parenting Through Horsemanship: A Relationship-Based Approach to Children NBC News Article, Black horse trainers offer horseback riding as therapy BBC News Article, The black cowboys of Chicago's South Side Time Magazine, The True Story of the Black Cowboys of Philadelphia Depicted in Concrete Cowboy 33: The Path to Stronger Relationships - Getting Clear on Your Emotions 32: Wholeheartedness - Living Life From a Place of Courage
33: The Path to Stronger Relationships - Getting Clear on Your Emotions
Apr 27 2022
33: The Path to Stronger Relationships - Getting Clear on Your Emotions
This week on the podcast we’re continuing our discussion around what it takes to live a wholehearted life, based on the teachings of Brené Brown (if you haven’t yet listened to last week’s episode, we encourage you to check that out)!  Today we’re going deeper around emotions and discuss the importance (in every relationship) of clearly naming and communicating what you’re feeling.  It’s especially important when things feel uncertain or like they’re “too much”, as can often be the case in the times we find ourselves in right now.  We’re excited to practice more of Brené’s teachings, and we want to hear how you use them as well to reach a better version of yourself!  As always, we love to hear your feedback.  If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to to leave us a message.  You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com, on social media at and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too.  We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast,  leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends!  In this episode you’ll hear: How we are emotional beings that have never been trained how to name, manage, or label our emotions [3:56] Why our connections with others are only as deep as the connections we have with ourselves [8:01] Understanding the concept that above all, we are emotional beings that think [15:03] Why we feel that overall our communications are falling flat [16:23] What the emotion of anguish is about, and why it’s so powerful [20:11] How talking about Brene’s series is a great way to start expressing your emotions and strengthening your connections with others [24:58] The distinctions between worry and anxiety and being stressed and overwhelmed [27:32] The dangers in mislabeling our emotions and forcing ourselves into an emotion by doing this [30:59] A few healthy things you can do now to manage your emotions when things become uncertain [32:39]
32:  Wholeheartedness - Living Life From a Place of Courage
Apr 20 2022
32: Wholeheartedness - Living Life From a Place of Courage
In a recent episode, we spent time exploring what it means to live a quality life and how our choices, sacrifices, and perspective influence our own meaning of life. Today we’d like to go deeper with this conversation and look at what it means to live wholeheartedly, and share some steps we can take to move towards being more courageous in this pursuit.  During this conversation, we often refer to the amazing teachings and philosophies of Brené Brown, including her “guideposts.” We both love Brené’s work and have spoken about it in past episodes of Respect Circles, and we encourage you to refer to Brené’s work and the resources listed below so that you can take just one step to show up in a more authentic way. See what happens as you challenge yourself to lean into love and to be more courageous, and let us know how it impacts your life, and the life of your loved ones as well!  As always, we love to hear your feedback.  If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to to leave us a message.  You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com, on social media at and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too.  We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast,  leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends! In this episode you’ll hear: What one of our favorite authors, Brené Brown, says about living wholeheartedly [1:31] AJ’s constant pursuit of living this way, and the acronym he attempts to live by [3:31] What vulnerability and courage look like to us, and why people are so often hesitant to show up, especially on social media [6:51] Stories that we have told ourselves from an early age that still resonate with us years later [11:18] Why shame is such a powerful emotion, plus a quote that has helped lift the shame for Stephanie [14:10] A conscious decision that AJ had to make to stop playing small [18:48] What Stephanie noticed early on about how other women leaders were showing up in the workplace [19:13] Why perfectionism really equals fear [22:33] Tips for cultivating a resilient spirit [28:00] How Brené Brown’s TED Talk literally changed AJ’s life [35:03] Why you need to start getting selfish and strategic about the people you surround yourself with [37:03] The reasons we are both such big fans of Brené Brown, and our biggest takeaways from her work [38:18] Actions steps you can take this week to step into living more courageously [43:29]  Links & Resources:  Brené Brown’s Website, Books & Podcast  Brené Brown: The Call to Courage on Netflix  HBO Max Presents Brené Brown: Atlas of the Heart Watch Her 2010 Ted Talk, The Power of Vulnerability 30: Perspective: What Does Quality of Life Really Mean?
31: The CROWN Act: I Am More Than My Hair
Apr 13 2022
31: The CROWN Act: I Am More Than My Hair
Earlier this March the U.S. House of Representatives passed The CROWN Act, which bans any form of discrimination based on hairstyle or texture. We also recently witnessed one of the most qualified Supreme Court candidates, Ketanji Brown Jackson, complete her senate confirmation hearing. Though we heard a lot about her qualifications and her appointment was well-deserved, there was just as much chatter about her “sister locks.” This has been an ongoing issue for decades, if not centuries, and we just knew that we had to dive deeper into the topic of Black women in America, and the role that hair has played in their journey.  If you think this is just about hair though, stay tuned, because we have two very special guests joining us to share their experiences, not only in corporate America, but in academia and in society as a whole.  Joy Morton is the Assistant Deputy Insurance Commissioner with The Virginia State Corporation Commission, and Ayo Morton is a preacher, poet, doctoral candidate, and adjunct professor at The University of Memphis. Both happen to be AJ’s relatives, his sister and his niece respectively, and they offer a wealth of insight into this topic.  It was so much fun to have Joy and Ayo as our guests on the podcast.  As always, we learned and gained a broader perspective and we’ll continue to have these conversations so that we can educate ourselves and raise awareness.  That’s what Respect Circles is all about.  As always, we love to hear your feedback.  If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to to leave us a message.  You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com, on social media at and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too.  We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast,  leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends!  In this episode you’ll hear: A look back at the history of the Black hair care industry [4:09] AJ’s experience growing up around this topic [5:06] Why hair is such a significant conversation in the Black community, especially amongst the women [8:03] Hair as a way for Black women to reclaim their agency [11:38] How Both Joy and Ayo were introduced to the importance of hair, and the role it has played in both of their lives [13:00] What their initial thoughts on The CROWN Act were, and whether they think this law will make a difference [21:18] A fascinating study that shows the majority of people, regardless of race or gender, hold some biases around hair [27:49] The pressures faced by Black women in relation to their hair, particularly from others in the Black community [32:10] The differences that Joy is seeing with hair in Corporate America [36:38]  What magic can happen when someone is comfortable with who he or she is [41:11]   What both Joy and Ayo’s preferred hair style of texture would be if no social pressures existed [43:06] Ways to become an ally and to show up and support others [48:20] Their advice to parents of young people on navigating this important issue [51:33]  Links & Resources:  India.Arie ft. Akon - I Am Not My Hair (Official Video)  Chris Rock’s Documentary, Good Hair Madame C.J. Walker 28: Microaggressions: What They Are and Why They Are So Damaging 14: Spotlight On Generosity: How Greta Randolph’s Outreach is Impacting Lives 12: The Cost of Code-Switching 2: Have We Lost Our Humanity? with Rev. Dr. Lisa Johnson The Characteristics of Negro Expression by Zora Neale Hurston    The “Good Hair” Study by Perception Institute:     Take the Perception Institute’s Hair Bias test here.   Duke University Study, Black women with natural hairstyles are less likely to get job interviews:   The Chastity Jones Case  The Jenesis Jones Case  A wrestler was forced to cut his dreadlocks before a match. His town is still looking for answers (Andrew Johnson):   2019 Joy Collective Study Six Things Everyone Should Know About Black Hair History
30: Perspective: What Does Quality of Life Really Mean?
Apr 6 2022
30: Perspective: What Does Quality of Life Really Mean?
What is the meaning of life? We have all heard this unanswerable question, but we often don’t take the time to reflect on what a good quality of life really is. In today’s episode, we thought we’d venture into a conversation on life and help give some perspective on this question that is so very important to everyone, particularly at this point of time.  We want to share how we view quality of life, and to let you know how you absolutely are in control of how you look at life and the choices you make. The perspective that you choose to hold will help determine your quality of life and the life you want, and we hope this conversation helps you in some way. As always, we love to hear your feedback.  If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to to leave us a message.  You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com, on social media at and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too.  We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast,  leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends!  In this episode you’ll hear: How the World Health Organization defines “Quality of LIfe” [1:31] What the meaning of life is all about for AJ [7:31] How life really is a series of choices [11:18] A look at choices, rewards, and consequences [15:37] The magic that gaining perspective will bring to your quality of life [17:44] How forgiving others will improve your well-being, and allow you to move on [23:44] Best Practices for developing a positive mindset, and as a result, a better quality of life [26:19] Links & Resources:    Quality of Life Study by US News & World Report  Oprah’s Super Soul Conversation podcast with Frank Bruni: Frank Bruni’s book, The Beauty of Dusk.
29: The Evolution of the American Dream:  How Has It Changed and Is It Still Attainable?
Mar 30 2022
29: The Evolution of the American Dream: How Has It Changed and Is It Still Attainable?
Current statistics show that there are approximately 330 million people living in the United States, and according to our national ethos, we each live by the ideals that our freedom as American citizens includes the opportunity for prosperity and success. As well, it includes an upward social mobility for our family and our children achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. However, what if all of this is out of reach for a large part of our population? In this episode, we want to explore the concept of The American Dream, and talk about if it is truly something that is offered to all of our citizens.  How could you be getting a little more involved in helping people? Today we’ll be providing examples of what we could, and should, be doing to help as many of those around us in need achieve The American Dream as possible. Start with one small step, and see the magic that happens for those who need a lift and a little bit of help, because it could be any of us, at any time, in that same situation.  As always, we love to hear your feedback.  If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to to leave us a message.  You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com, on social media at and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too.  We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast,  leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends!  In this episode you’ll hear:  Where the term “The American Dream” came from originally [1:46] What the restaurant industry is doing to help its workers get closer to realizing this dream [6:41] How the poverty measure for the United States is calculated, and what’s been happening to average salaries in this country [9:00]  What living in poverty really means [10:16] Important things that have been overlooked about poverty for too long [11:49] Why the topic of poverty can be so controversial [13:28] The impact that Stephanie has seen from pandemic stimulus given to Americans the last few years [15:02] What changes need to be done at the political, and business level, to lift Amercians out of poverty [15:36] Actions steps that each of us can take as individuals to help those in need [22:43]  Links & Resources:  Current Population Survey (CPS)  An Experiment to Inform Universal Basic Income (McKinsey & Company Study)
28: Microaggressions: What They Are and Why They Are So Damaging
Mar 23 2022
28: Microaggressions: What They Are and Why They Are So Damaging
One of the many things we love about doing this podcast is that there is always more to learn and explore. Our mission is to share thought-provoking topics that help us all be better humans. One conversation at a time. Join us this week as we start a dialogue about microaggressions - words and actions directed at members of a marginalized group that are often offensive or unconsciously reinforce a stereotype. We’ll share examples and talk about ways to respond to these types of aggressions. As always, we love to hear your feedback. If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to  to leave us a message. You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com, on social media at  and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too. We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast, leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends! In this episode you’ll hear: How a “microaggression” is defined [2:54] What is a “macroaggression” and one recent example of it [4:10] Both of our experiences with both micro and macroaggressions [4:43] What the appropriate response to others after getting stung by a microaggression should look like [11:30] Examples of different types of microaggressions in action [14:52] How when it comes to microaggressions we all have a responsibility to do better [23:00] Tips for minimizing the possibility of offending others [28:09]
27: Fair and Inclusive Athletic Competition: Competing As a Trans Athlete
Mar 16 2022
27: Fair and Inclusive Athletic Competition: Competing As a Trans Athlete
While many of you have heard of Title IX, most people haven’t paid close attention to what it is and who is protected underneath it. In this episode, we’re looking at interpretations of this comprehensive law that removed many of the barriers that once prevented people, on the basis of sex, from participating in educational opportunities and the careers of their choice. During the past two administrations, the responsibility for applying this law shifted from the federal level to the states, especially as it relates to gender identity for transgender athletes. There is much to learn about this evolving topic, and we want to look at it from multiple perspectives. How can we all learn, and have empathy for all involved? While we definitely don’t have all the answers, we hope to shine a light on it today and to encourage respectful conversation and debate around it. As always, we love to hear your feedback. If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to  to leave us a message. You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com, on social media at  and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too. We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast, leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends! In this episode you’ll hear: What Title IX is, what it meant in 1972, and what is means now [1:18] Who Lia Thomas is, and how AJ’s view of her story has evolved [3:26] A look at the debate of who is allowed to compete in women’s sports [6:48] The role that a lack of data in comparing performances in transgender and cisgender people is having in this discussion [8:57] Both sides of the debate around allowing people to compete or not to compete [11:27] What’s really needed right now that would make this issues surrounding Title IX clearer [16:08] Whether or not we think this is just the beginning of human advancement [18:36] What happens when a level of religious beliefs and values are added to the discussion [21:12] The different levels of barriers that exist for trans athletes in 2022 [22:43]
26: Permission to Live Again - How to Move Forward and Live Your Life On Purpose
Mar 9 2022
26: Permission to Live Again - How to Move Forward and Live Your Life On Purpose
Today on the podcast we thought we’d have a candid conversation about where we find ourselves, both mentally and emotionally, after two+ years of a pandemic, political and social unrest in our country, and watching the horrific events unfold in Ukraine. We felt it might be therapeutic for listeners (and for us!) if we had a conversation about how we’re doing right now, and to share some ways that we minimize and manage the impact of the pressures we’ve all been facing. There may be a lot happening in the world right now that we can’t control, so listen in as we talk about ways to focus on the things we can do something about. We acknowledge that we’re all going to have challenges, but the more we get out and start living our lives, the more alive we are going to feel. As always, we love to hear your feedback. If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to  to leave us a message. You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com , on social media at  and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too. We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast, leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends! In this episode you’ll hear: How we each feel about things opening up post-pandemic, and what we’re looking forward to the most [6:07] The ways that we managed our worries throughout the pandemic [12:40] What is the one thing that we can take control of, regardless of what is happening around us or globally [13:31] Why finding and focusing on the positives of each day is such a powerful practice [15:12] What we’re doing to manage the information overload and stresses on our schedules [19:48] Our thoughts and feelings about the current conflict in Ukraine [27:12] Why a return to decency is needed from everyone at this point in time [33:05]
25: The Jewish Experience: Why is Anti-Semitism On the Rise?
Mar 2 2022
25: The Jewish Experience: Why is Anti-Semitism On the Rise?
On today’s show, we welcome a special guest who helps us explore an area which we can all be more knowledgeable about. Listen in as we have a great dialogue about the Jewish experience, the rise in anti-Semitism around the world, and what is happening today. Tanya Schecter is a highly experienced leadership coach and consultant who focuses on relationship-based leadership and the author of Lead from Your Heart: The Art of Relationship-based Leadership among other writings. She’s been doing this work for over two decades and believes that all relationships are important, starting with the one we hold with ourselves. One of the areas that she is passionate about is exploring differences and fostering conversations to facilitate growth. This was a fascinating conversation that will help us all play a more supportive role when confronted with anti-Semitism and the rise in violence against Jewish people. We hope that it will help you, too, in learning and becoming more aware. As always, we love to hear your feedback. If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to  to leave us a message. You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com, on social media at  and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too. We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast, leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends! In this episode you’ll hear: Tanya’s background and what led her to offer leadership coaching [4:14] What her own experience looks like being Jewish, and what she feels is causing the rise of anti-Semitism that exists today [7:57] A look at Judaism and the stigmatization of the jobs that Jewish people were forced into [16:41] What the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement is about and what the real impact of it is [21:41] How you can fight anti-Semitism and create more tolerace and inclusion [25:55] The benefit of studying and understanding the history of anti-Semitism [28:08] Tanya’s thoughts on the recent incident involving Whoopi Goldberg and the comments she made [34:19] Links & Resources: Contact Tanya by Phone: (778) 859-0703 or Email: tanya@htiinstitute.com Get Tanya’s Book: Lead From Your Heart: The Art of Relationship Based Leadership ​​ CNN poll reveals anti-Semitism is alive and well in Europe: List of Attacks on Jewish Institutions in the U.S.: Whoopi Goldberg Clarifies Comments About the Holocaust on The Late Show (Vanity Fair Article and Video Clip):
24: Freedom of Speech - How Much is Too Much?
Feb 23 2022
24: Freedom of Speech - How Much is Too Much?
If you’ve turned on a television or looked at social media over the past decade, it’s hard to miss the discourse that’s taking place in our country. We as Americans pride ourselves in our rights in free speech, as spelled out in the First Amendment to the U.S, Constitution. However, lately there seems to be a lot of discussion around what should and shouldn’t fall under our rights to protected speech, which is why we wanted to dedicate an episode to this topic. In this episode, we look at how far we’ve gone to protect ourselves from offensive remarks, and look at whether it is time to take a stand against what many consider hateful, and even harmful, rhetoric. Is there a balance that can be achieved here, and is there a line that should not be stepped over? We don’t have all the answers, but, as always, hope to provoke and expand your thinking. It’s a timely conversation, particularly keeping in mind the college and university students of today will become our decision makers and leaders of tomorrow. As always, we love to hear your feedback. If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to  to leave us a message. You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com, on social media at and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too. We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast, leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends! In this episode you’ll hear: A discussion of free speech and the dangers of creating “safe spaces” [4:54] A look at the different parts of the first amendment, and why they need to be understood [8:47] Our thoughts on the need for respectful discourse and debates at this time [11:33] The freedom of information that exists today, and who is controlling the narrative [14:59]What role healthy dialogue with our neighbors will play as we navigate the subject of free speech [17:13] How right now we are all living in a world of receiving information via media sound bites [19:10] The hypocrisy of cancel culture and first amendment offences [21:44] The ways that oppression still exists, and the systemic components that will reinforce those oppressions even further [28:10] What is our responsibility as society and individuals, and how you get involved in this discussion and issue [33:19] Links & Resources: 22: Choosing Courage Over Comfort: Time to Speak Up Mike Rowe’s Podcast, The Way I Heard It: No Safe Spaces (YouTube):
23: Spotlight on Learning: The importance of HBCUs with Alice Coleman and Dr. Rick Mason
Feb 16 2022
23: Spotlight on Learning: The importance of HBCUs with Alice Coleman and Dr. Rick Mason
Throughout the month of February we are honoring Black History Month on Respect Circles, with featured episodes focused on the contributions made by Black Americans in our country. Today we’re excited to share information and insights about Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the important role that they continue to play in our society. Many of today’s and yesterday’s notable figures have walked the campuses of HBCUs, including our very special guests, whom AJ is proud to call his friends. Dr. Richard Mason, who also goes by Rick, is a Professor and Department Chair of Conselling at Hampton University, based in Hampton, Virginia, and Miss Alice Coleman is Magnet Resource Coordinator at Engineering & Science University Magnet School (ESUMS) located in West Haven, Connecticut. This was an engaging conversation on the importance of HBCUs and the impact that they have played in the lives of Black Americans, and the country as a whole. We hope you will find our guests’ personal experiences and the insights they’ve gained from HBCUs as informative and inspiring as we did. As always, we love to hear your feedback. If you have a question or topic that you’d like us to discuss in a future episode, please go to  to leave us a message. You can also reach us by email, respectcircles@gmail.com, on social media at  and or by visiting our website at www.respectcircles.com too. We look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much for listening. We’d love to have you subscribe to the podcast, leave us a rating and review, and share with your friends! In this episode you’ll hear: What HBCUs are and the importance they have had in the past, and the future, of Black Americans [1:51] How both Rick and Alice were introduced to HBCUs while growing up [3:42] The way that HBCUs were historically formed in this country, and why they exist today [5:27] The reasons that it is so important to expose our children to HBCUs and what they stand for [8:52] What role HBCUs play in relieving the bias pressure for their students [11:05]A few common misconceptions about HBCUs [19:05] The life-changing experiences and values Alice and Rick carried forward by attending HBCUs [20:13] AJ, Alice and Rick’s take on the powerful bonds and sense of community and family formed at HBCUs [26:55] What needs to be done differently in order to keep HBCUs viable in the future for years to come [29:28] A look at HBCU Homecoming, what it stands for and what makes it so special [34:33] What corporations need to do to support HBCUs and the future leaders [38:25] Links & Resources: Alice’s LinkedIn: Email Rick: richard.mason@hamptonu.edu CT HBCU Alumni Network: Hampton University: