Scroll down to read Behind the Bio.
Short bio folks read at events...
Lisa Dennen-Young, MA has generated millions in revenue while representing clients like Philips Healthcare, Intel and Samsung at their highest profile events. Having lived in six countries on four continents, she has traveled the world training C-level executives, corporate and nonprofit professionals, educators, students and entrepreneurs about cross-cultural connection and relationship dynamics across professional, social and intimate relationships.
Currently, Lisa empowers women through expressive leadership mentoring and energizes audiences as an event emcee and entertainer. Her unique blend of fun and light-hearted depth includes dancing, singing, songwriting, sound healing, rhythmic play, poetry, transformational coaching and multilingual presenting. She recently emceed a 14,000+ attendee music festival in both English and Spanish.
Lisa was also the first woman of color (WOC) to graduate as a forensic linguist in the United States, training with the FBI linguist who broke the Unabomber case of the 1990s. She speaks fluent Spanish and Portuguese, with working knowledge of French, Turkish and Italian. She and her husband live in California and perform as the musical duo Loveangelists.
Behind the Bio...
Why this matters:
These short bios that get read at events and pump us up to an audience don’t tell the whole story.
Bios completely skip the journey.
I believe it is time we normalized the journey, because it is in the journey where we spend most of our time. Not what makes us sound good in a couple paragraphs.
Time to paint the whole picture.
Docile obedient girl
I actually do remember a time I wasn’t so docile and obedient. In my earliest days I had no filter. I’d state my candid opinion at every turn and share anything I ever heard someone else say if it was relevant to the person in front of me (unless of course it was a secret. I’ve always kept secrets well).
The proverbial filter was successfully punished onto me between ages 6-8. No fault of my parents … they were simply raising me in the ways of society. Even still, being told not to say something because of what others may think led me to internalize the idea that what others thought was more important than what I had to say…
…unless I told them everything (I assumed) they wanted to hear.
Shutdown explorer without voice
Thus, the people pleaser was born! (Just said that in my Powerpuff Girls voice. Did you ever see that show? Just me? Okay. Anyway)
Remember the proverbial “box” individuals talk about feeling stuck in?
As an adolescent and young adult, not only did I actively decorate the little box I’d given myself, but I labored --very successfully-- to fit into every other box around me. I fit myself into every group in school...was in almost every club they offered (running some part of most of them), being an athlete, musician, graduating at the top of my classes, winning awards trophies and popularity crowns that still grace the shelves of what was once my childhood bedroom.
Yes, I made the box look good.
But who was I?
In university I decided to study linguistics when I realized the connection between language and the culture of those who use it.
I silently declared this was my key.
If I could speak the languages of others, then I could become them, eh ehm ...I mean connect, connect with them.
I spent a large part of my 20s as a nomad. Between representing these fortune 500 clients at their largest international events, I would take myself to new countries to completely immerse and learn the language. After about a month on average people would think that not only was I a local but a native.
I’d become a true expert at imitation.
I thought this expertise was the greatest gift...
I even wrote three chapters of a book on how to fit in anywhere with anyone.
I had to learn it the hard way (more on that later) … but it turns out that knowing everyone else’s voice would never get me where I wanted to be if I didn’t know my own.
Path to full expression
In 2014, I made a commitment to conquering all my fears...because if I had no fears I couldn’t be stopped.
At first I thought my only fears were around singing and that karaoke would cure me.
Turns out that was only the first level down the elevator inside the skyscraper of fears I’d built my life around. Each time I moved through a fear, I’d find another. Deeper down.
I was afraid of being vulnerable. Being seen for who I truly am (I was really comfortable with being seen for the boxes). Afraid of being heard. Of not being right. Someone not liking me. Someone disagreeing with me. Shining too brightly because then my safety would be at risk. Afraid of failure and afraid of success. Afraid of not being loved. Not being “perfect” (the unattainable kind of perfect that was never real but always was held on a pedestal anyway).
Can you relate?
At the bottom of all the fears of not feeling good enough, underneath the skyscraper I’d created was my greatest fear. I was most afraid of my immense power.
It only took countless people telling me that they could perceive this power despite my valiant efforts of covering it up with my skyscraper of boxes to finally realize it was safe to be exactly who I truly am. To reconnect with all the parts of myself I’d tried to throw away. To express them.
Today: leadership with integrity
As I shared at the beginning, behind every bio is a journey. The journey is ongoing. Today I have many facets of expression that I could not engage more than a few years ago: singing my own songs and dancing as performance, freestyle (dancing & rapping), emceeing, sound healing, and sharing my opinion on topics I care about (almost as candidly as in my youth, with the refinement of relevance).
I advocate for myself in every relationship I have --personal, professional, social and romantic-- with a strong understanding of my values and boundaries and willingness to stand in both no matter the situation. I enjoy navigating difficult conversations with others because it gives everyone an opportunity to grow. And I am most excited about what it means to be me out in the world, with or without the opinions of others.
The choice to be in integrity with who we really are is a declaration of liberty. To stand as yourself in front of others and meet them where they are is one of the greatest acts of leadership you could model. To be able to express in a way that elevates you and others is the kind of empowerment that will change this world.
I’m calling in women who know it’s their time to take their own journey to the next level.
Is your time now?
What will you do with it?