Permission to Kick Ass

62: Sonja Pemberton

Episode Summary

“Othering” kinda sounds like something straight out of a Stephen King novel. But when my guest today, Sonja Pemberton, explained what othering is, I realized it’s something more sinister than anything King might dream up. It’s something that happens every day. Everyone is impacted by it, and everyone does it (yes, even you!). Lucky for us, Sonja’s on a mission to dispel this “myth of the other”. Listen now to open up your mind.

Episode Notes

It wasn’t by chance that Sonja has found her work educating the world about othering. As a young child, her curiosity and observant nature made her look at life differently. And differences were exactly what she saw. More importantly, she saw the misbeliefs and fear that drive people to see someone different as borderline not-human. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve been judged by your cover this one’s for you (psst… it’s for all of us). 

Can’t-Miss Moments From This Episode:

This one is jam-packed full of advice. Don’t miss out - listen now!

Sonja’s Bio:

Sonja Pemberton is a professional speaker and transformational catalyst. With a career spanning more than 25 years, she has been privileged to lead, mentor, and coach across all career levels and generations, sharing her knowledge and expertise in culture and inclusion, and leadership development. The movement she has founded,  “Dispelling the Myth of the Other,” has been spoken on and taught worldwide.

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Episode Transcription

Angie Colee (00:01):

Welcome to Permission to Kick Ass. A podcast about leaving self-doubt in the dust, punching fear in the face and taking bold action toward your biggest dreams. I'm Angie Colee, and let's get to it. Hey and welcome back to Permission to Kick Ass. With me today is Sonja Pemberton. Nice to meet you, Sonja.

Sonja Pemberton (00:25):

Thank you very much for having me, Angie,

Angie Colee (00:27):

I'm so excited for this one. So tell us a little bit about your business and your background.

Sonja Pemberton (00:32):

Sure. Well, my business is in the space of inclusion and belonging. That's a new thing now. Uh, you know, we started many, many years ago with diversity, and it's had many iterations and now we're into more of the inclusion and belonging piece. And the work that I do is pretty unique in that I approach that conversation from a place of what I call othering.

Angie Colee (00:57):


Sonja Pemberton (00:57):

And what is othering? Othering is a conscious or unconscious choice to focus on a broad range of human differences, perpetuating exclusionary practices and behaviors, and it crosses all realms. So it, in my opinion, every human has been othered in, in some way because of the intersectionality of our identities. So you may have been othered if in fact, you have your, because of your ethnicity, because of your gender, because of your sexual orientation, your gender, of course, gender identification, your political affiliations, your socioeconomic status, your religious affiliations, your ethnicity, your mental capacity, your physical challenges, whether you're a parent, whether you're whatever your marital status is, think about it. I mean.

Angie Colee (01:57):


Sonja Pemberton (01:58):

Who haven't we included? and then we didn't say race, but we could say race as well, right?

Angie Colee (02:04):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that's actually the one that comes to mind most when you talk othering. But I really also like, because I hadn't thought about it that way that everybody has been othered at some point in their life or not. Cuz when you were describing that to me, I was immediately thinking about when I was in the corporate office and my ideas were like crazy, a little bit unhinged, a little bit risky, not very well thought out, but if it was restated a week later by someone else, it was forward thinking and a breath of fresh air. And I was like, what is that was the same? What happened?

Sonja Pemberton (02:39):

Mm-hmm yeah. So that's a perfect example of being othered and specifically you're talking about in a professional environment, we're othered in so many different places and I'd like to say that it affects everyone because it happens in all in the systems and institutions that we require for our protection and also for our livelihood. So that would be education, right? It would be healthcare, banking, real estate, the courts, policing, the organizations that we work with within and for some even the right to vote. So just think about every system that's in place for our livelihood and protection. There is a component of othering happening across the board with all humans.

Angie Colee (03:29):

Yeah. Oh wow.

Sonja Pemberton (03:30):

Humans. That's the key word as well.

Angie Colee (03:33):

I, I like that focus. Humans. I think I've been really in at least the last decade of my life, about on, on trying to find a bond with people versus finding the difference, finding the difference, I think is really, really easy. Cause I mean, you can look at other people and tell that you're immediately different, but the way you think about things and the, the solutions that you think are obvious might never occur to the other. So it's very obvious to us what the differences are, but it's a little bit harder to look at somebody that seems so different and think, oh, we have a lot in common.

Sonja Pemberton (04:11):

Yeah. And so how do we bridge that gap? And so I, I love, uh, what you just mentioned about focusing on the differences. And if we, the work that I do is all about finding, first of all, unpacking our stuff. So I like to use an analogy of baby humans being born being unable at birth and throughout their younger years to pack their luggage for journey of life.

Angie Colee (04:41):

I like that.

Sonja Pemberton (04:42):

So someone else packs their luggage with their beliefs, their assumptions, their values, their hopes and their fears. And for most of our lives, we go from parents, ideas, assumptions, and beliefs and familial beliefs and, and whatever to our social groups and what do they believe? And we continue to keep putting these things. Cuz now we're old enough to put these things in our own luggage. And we're still on the journey of life until we take our last breath. So we continue to put these things in our luggage and they become like our favorite t-shirt our fluffy slippers, the best robe we've ever had and we've wrapped ourselves in. Right. But we never unpack,

Angie Colee (05:28):

Uh, yeah, just keep craming more stuff in there.

Sonja Pemberton (05:31):

Just keep, but sometimes the things we cram in there are not really ours. Well, my work with individuals in particular, we work with organizations as well is around dispelling the myth of the other and the process involves unpacking the luggage. Is this your truth? What is the origin of this belief? Why are you afraid of this group of people with whom most of you, most you've of the people have never even met. But yet you're for whatever reason, afraid you feel threatened by these people. And so in some, in some level it's, the threat is so deep that we are willing to deny certain people the right to life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Angie Colee (06:23):

It's interesting. Cuz there was one thing that you said about, you know, when we're, when we're babies, when we're small, we don't have the ability to pack our luggage. And so other people are packing it for us and a friend of mine, Dr. Julie, uh, I'm a big advocate for therapy. So if you're listening to this and you think therapy is dumb, well you're in the wrong place cuz we all need help unpacking our crap. I'm gonna tell you that right now. But Julie had something similar that she said that was like, if you just look at other people, especially people that have hurt you or people that are like strange and intimidating to you as big babies who are bumping around into things, they don't really know how to do anything and they're doing the best with what they've got, but they don't understand that they have broken something or that they have experienced a broken something. And that really kind of changed my whole perspective on, I used to hold a lot of anger and resentment within me because I felt like somebody had done me wrong. You know, Southern Texan upbringing, very prideful, very, uh, very vengence driven. It's the old west spirit in us, I guess. Um, which is ridiculous. Cuz I have always grown up in big cities. I rode a horse for the first time when I was 30. So I'm not very old west at all. But um, when she explained this concept to me of, and it was right in the wake of a breakup for me, so it was like babies don't know how to treat anything with tenderness and they don't understand that something is broken or what role they might have played in it. So if you would treat a baby with compassion and be like, it's okay, we can fix this. Let's focus on how to, to fix it or work through the fact that it can't be fixed. I, what if we all taught or taught ourselves, learned ourselves to treat each other, like babies that just need a little compassion and patience

Sonja Pemberton (08:11):

So that yes. So what, what you're talking about is being able to see another human being right and, and finding some common ground around the imperfections that we all have and and instead of what, going back to what you said before about the differences, instead of seeing it as someone else is different from you. And when we talk about social drivers, a lot of my work is based in neuroscience. And if we begin to talk about social drivers, which make us feel threatened, which make us feel better or less than someone is having, getting more than we're getting we're feeling like, you know, it's not equitable um, or, or it's not fair to us or, you know, I'm unable to be friends with that person cuz I, I don't really see how we could possibly have a relationship because there's, we don't have anything in common are doing that by seeing some, just by looking at someone, someone you are meeting for the first time, you begin to make assumptions about them in, in a matter of seconds. And what you're seeing, if we use the analogy of an iceberg is just the tip. The complexity of who that person is, is beneath the surface and you don't know who that is. And so for me, it's not only seeing another human being and being curious about their story, about what they have, what, what they've been through, what are their gifts? What do they like to do? Maybe it's a similar thing. Maybe you have something in common, but I know what we do have in common as humans - my favorite word - is we all want to be happy. We want to feel safe. We want to be loved and appreciated. And for those of us that have children, we want our children to also be safe, have happiness. And for, or most of us do better than we have done. And have a great life. I mean, I don't know what else people, I mean, we could want a whole lot of other things, you know, I wanna travel to every country in the, in the world, you know, whatever, but there's many things that people wanna do. But at the core of our being we wanna be heard and respected, cared about safe and happy.

Angie Colee (10:40):


Sonja Pemberton (10:41):

I don't know another human being, regardless of all that long list of things of othering that want something different. Did you ever meet anyone that says, look, I wanna be hated. I wanna be treated badly, I don't wanna be safe.

Angie Colee (10:59):

I wanna be miserable.

Sonja Pemberton (11:00):

I want my kids to have the same miserable life that I'm talking about right now. No, no.

Angie Colee (11:07):

Although that is interesting because I've heard that phrase and it really resonated with me the first time I heard it, which was hurt people hurt people.

Sonja Pemberton (11:17):

And that that's a part of the unpacking. A lot of the work is who are you? If we'd opened up this luggage that you've been dragging around like a ball and chain for years and start unpacking who you are, what your beliefs are, who you were receive as the other. Why, what is the origin of that belief? Is it still relevant to you? Have you ever even had an experience with these people?

Angie Colee (11:49):

Most of the time? No.

Sonja Pemberton (11:51):

No. So where did that come from? So we begin to unpack that those pieces, the fluffy slippers and the t-shirt and really get to the core of what the beliefs are, because I believe it is my biggest hope. It is my living legacy that the, the work that I'm doing now, the movement of dispelling, the myth of the other is global because we have our issues here in the US and other countries have this, their issues and they might all look differently, but we all have issues of othering. My greatest hope is that we someday, maybe the, my lifetime, cuz I'm getting up there have a time where people are literally attempting to break down those walls, stop living from what I call at place of fear. and on my word for fear is finding extraordinary alternative realities. So whatever it is you think oh yeah. In a negative way of fearful, whether it's about you and then the other pieces, other people, people other, themselves.

Angie Colee (13:08):

Interesting. Can you go into that a little bit more?

Sonja Pemberton (13:11):

Yes, girl. I had a, had a, I did a conversation for a, um, for a group, a friend of mine who, who, uh, works with a group out of, uh, out of Canada in his church. And one of the, one of the women admitted when we, I took them through a process and she admitted that she as a absolutely othered herself, because she felt that she was overweight and didn't deserve to buy clothing in a department store. She always bought her clothing used. Now I have nothing wrong with finding a great buy and a thrift shop, but not because I don't feel worthy of shopping in a department store and buying something new. So for her, she didn't feel worthy of the new clothes that she needed to buy used clothes because she was othering herself based on her weight.

Angie Colee (14:17):

That's interesting. I was like frantically scribbling when you were describing that, because two instances came up to me where I can recognize that, uh, one instance where I was othering myself and another instance where someone was coaching was othering herself. So in my instance, it's been the same looks because most of the female coaches that I know are out there having their stylish photo shoots and I got my hair and my makeup done, and I'm like smiling while eating a bowl of salad. For some reason, I've never really understood that picture, but everybody loves it. Um, it's the best salad ever. And every once in a while I feel weird or strange that I haven't ever invested in a photo shoot or gone out there like the most professional photo shoot I have right now, or either selfies from my phone right after I've gotten my hair done. Or there's a picture of me, uh, dressed as the evil queen singing with a rock ban. And that actually was a work event. So I was like professional that's me. Um, and I had a lot of head trash. I'd been working with my life coach and with Dr. Julian about like, do I need to be the person that goes out and gets the photo shoot done? Is that me? It's nothing wrong with somebody else. If that's what, what they feel like they need to do, is that holding me back or am I holding myself back? And I realized, all right, well, if they see the picture of the evil queen on stage, then that's me, at least they'll know what they're in for. We're not hiding anything.

Sonja Pemberton (15:45):

It's a choice. And for the people that do the professional shots, get their photos done for their webpages or for their promos or media. What have you fine. If that's what they wanna do. If you want, if you feel that the evil witch or whatever picture it is really depicts who you are and your personality, and you feel more aligned with that. Do that. That's the whole thing. I can't tell you what to do. You can't tell me what to do. Each one of us decides what feels and that's the other thing. The work that I do is awareness based work. What feels aligned for me. And the other thing you said very early on when we first started talking, um, is about, you may see something one way and think that that's the way everyone in the room has interpreted what's happened, but someone else think it was a work deal, but someone else never would ever think of it that way. And that's because no two brains are alike. Every single one of them is different. We all are different. We're wired different. Our experiences are different. Our assumptions and beliefs are different. Our habits are different. We just think differently because of how we've been socialized and cause of our social groups that we adhere to and what we personally think of ourselves, how we interact in the world. So no, no one's gonna see it all the same. Some people might, but you can't assume that.

Angie Colee (17:11):

Oh yeah. And it's interesting too, because I think there are some, some knowledge gaps that play a part in that too. Cuz the other thing that I was gonna mention, you know, when I, after I noticed myself othering, the instance with my student was I've worked with a couple of people, actually a number of people who have had an entire professional career in one area we're talking 10, 20, sometimes even 30 years. And they switched over to something more, creative like writing. And they would coach with me. And they would immediately discount 30 years of experience like, like I've jumped off this mountain and I'm down at the bottom and now I've gotta pay my dues and start all over again. And I was like, is there any reason that you can't just like walk across the bridge from the top of that mountain to the top of this because I can teach you the writing skills, but I can't teach you the 30 years of experience that you bring to the table in this industry. Do you not know how valuable that is? I've actually yelled at somebody. I mean, in a loving way, but at one conference about like you could be the writer for accountants, your accounting experience is, is not invalid just because you decided to become a writer. Um, I love her. Liz is amazing.

Sonja Pemberton (18:13):

That's a, I mean, but that's a great analogy. I love the fact that cause when, when you're saying it, I'm seeing, you said, can you just walk across the bridge? And what I see it underneath the bridge is what's happened. All that past knowledge, all that understanding and life is experience professional or personal that's underneath the iceberg. Right. You don't, you're not going for cuz you're gonna start up here on the surface and start over. Trying to get new knowledge, right. Instead of going underneath and seeing what's there, that's worth utilizing in this new work.

Angie Colee (18:52):

Yes. Oh my gosh. That's and that's such a great point too. That there's a lot that has happened in your life that you've already done already achieved. Um, even the hard experiences that have happened that have helped you develop the set of problem solving skills and the knowledge that you have. And that is not something that applies to only that one specific situation odds are. You can still use that.

Sonja Pemberton (19:16):

And that's a big, that's a really great, uh, coaching question is specifically when you're looking at patterns, where else have you seen this pattern? And when you've noticed something and you have an insight, how else can you apply that in your life? So something that you've gotten an insight about that has nothing to do with these other areas, I guarantee you that there is a way to apply that knowledge and to look at something in a, from a broader sense or from a different perspective, based on what you've just learned about X, you could also apply to Y and Z, right?

Angie Colee (19:54):

Wow. This is amazing. How did you get into this? Like as a field and a wow. What brought you to this?

Sonja Pemberton (20:03):

Well, the coaching piece has always been a part of my life for, for many, many years now. I, I train coaches through, um, I pro I brain base methodology program. We mainly work with a lot of leaders in, in corporate America in particular. But uh, some people take the course, just are individuals. So the coaching piece has been around for a while. The othering piece, I, I like to say I was born into the work by nature of who I am. I was born a female. Like you, I was want a person of color, not so much like you, but, but because I at the age of eight and I'll tell you this quick story, and maybe your audience will find this helpful in understanding my work and why I do the work when I was about eight years old, I heard two words being used to describe a person, being a curious child. I looked up the meanings. Illegitimate a person who is illegitimate by birth, born out of wedlock. Bastard aned illegitimate child. I realized that those two words described me from a very early age. I began to live life through the lens of the other. So I've been in an observation mode since I was child. And I understood as a child, certain things that I could understand at that point. And as I got older, I began to see other things that were happening as I was being othered. And as I became an adult and got into, into the working world as a woman and as a woman of color, as a parent who birth children of color and lived in a community that was not specifically of color all the time, we were very diverse. We had very diverse group of friends. You get to see and hear stories of others and how they were able to navigate life and how you have navigated life. What your barriers were that weren't there for others, what your bar, some of the, the barriers they had were not there for you. And you just began to understand on a very deep level. And I, I learned this pretty young. We are different or we see difference because people literally socialize us to see different cause babies they just play.

Angie Colee (22:45):


Sonja Pemberton (22:45):

Right. They don't really care about differences. Little children don't really care about differences until someone points it out to them. So we have to teach them, we socialize people into focusing on these differences. So as a child, I came up knowing I was the other and being a, as they used to call me an old soul, like, I've been here before.

Angie Colee (23:10):

I've been called that before, too.

Sonja Pemberton (23:12):

Yeah. Um, I just looked at life completely different. And for me, I look at you. I look at any other human being and I see another human being. I come to the world with curiosity. Tell me about yourself. What is it that you enjoy? I don't care what you do. Cause see, that's another, we can have another conversation about the question tell me what you do.

Angie Colee (23:37):

Oh, I hear, I hear a rant. I wanna dig into that. What do you do? Tell me this is a rant. This is totally a rant appropriate place. Go for it.

Sonja Pemberton (23:46):

Yeah. I'm like, yeah. So I don't really care what it is you do. I wanna know who is Angie? Who are you? What do you enjoy? What makes your heart go pitter, patter? What are you most excited about in life? Who do you love to spend time with? What do you do in your free time? What would you do if money was no object?

Angie Colee (24:10):


Sonja Pemberton (24:12):

That tells me who you are. What do you value? What's most important to you? Who's your best friend? Why?

Angie Colee (24:20):

Oh gosh, everybody. If you were listening to this, please back up, rewind, pull out your notebook and write down all those questions. Especially if you consider yourself somebody that's not good at socializing or not good at small talk or I don't know what to say to start conversations, pick any one of those questions and go genuinely ask another per, I mean, don't just like, who are you as a person? I mean, you have to go into it with some, some genuine enthusiasm, but if you go up to someone and you're like, okay, it's gonna sound like a weird question, but who are you, Sonja? Who are you as a person? What do you love doing? What lights you up? They're gonna feel that energy and lean in and then you've actually got a conversation.

Sonja Pemberton (25:02):

Yeah. And if that, I mean, and how, what is the conversation starters? I mean, it's a whole new. You can just see someone. I I'm one of those people that talk to people in the line at the grocery store. Um, so, you know, I might see some, I, oh my gosh. I love your guitar. That color looks great on you. Absolutely is one of my favorite colors. So I'm a little partial, but I'll just start having a conversation with people about anything. And I don't sit there and go, okay. So they're different than me. And I don't know if they're gonna answer me or I don't know if that's, I don't think about that. Because I, I have literally handed out the olive branch to this person to have a human connection for five minutes while we're in line. Right. We don't have to go past that. They don't want to. Right. Just to open up the conversation with another human being, I'll walk up to someone and say, oh my gosh, girl, you looks that outfit or that top, or your hair is on point today. And just keep walking.

Angie Colee (26:04):

Yes. Right. With nothing to gain. I love that.

Sonja Pemberton (26:08):

Yeah. You just keep and keep it moving.

Angie Colee (26:11):

I love that. I hope that everybody listening will practice that a little more. Cause I know there was an experience a couple years ago that still stands out to me, this, to this very day. And I, I think it was just so different from what I expected, that it short circuited something in my brain. But basically I pulled up gas station and I started filling up my car and someone from the other side of the pump, like leaned around and started talking to me. And of course in a gas station environment, you tend to be like, what do you want? Why are you talking to me at a gas station? This is kind of weird. But we just wound up like chit chatting. It had like one of those TV stations, we were kind of poking fun at whatever it was being advertised. We talked a little bit, it took about five minutes to fill up the respective cars. And we just got in our car and drove away. Like he didn't want anything from me. I didn't want anything from him. We were just two people filling up our cars, having a chat. And it's still stands out to me this day. How unexpected and how beautiful and pleasant it was that he gave me that gift didn't want anything except to talk to another person.

Sonja Pemberton (27:09):

To talk to another person. And I love the fact that you saw it as a gift. They, they, he gave you a piece of him for that few minutes that you were, were together. He had a choice. He could keep his head down or, or whatever. Put the gas in his tank got back in his car and left right. But he extended a human courtesy of conversation and acknowledgement of another human being on the other side.

Angie Colee (27:36):

And it just so happened to be, it was that thing that I needed that day that I didn't even know I needed.

Sonja Pemberton (27:41):

Did you leave with a smile?

Angie Colee (27:42):

Yes, absolutely. I I'm still smiling about it several years later. I don't even remember his name

Sonja Pemberton (27:49):

And it doesn't matter. It was the feeling he left you with right. And that's the whole thing. When you are interacting with another human being. I see, I see it literally as a gift, being curious about who they are, what makes them tick? What makes them happy? What are their dreams? What do they want to do that they're not doing? And that's the other piece. We, the othering ourselves holding ourselves back from things that we wanna do because in our head we have these assumptions and beliefs that may not even be true. Or our beliefs remember the luggage.

Angie Colee (28:30):

Oh yeah. Okay. One of the big ones that I'm always working on unpacking, especially with creative entrepreneurs, is this idea of I'm creative. I don't understand business. I can't understand business. I'm not good at the financials and stuff like that. And they're like, I, I suspect here's a, here's a theory that if you were learning about financials from books in school, that you were just not interested, but that you would be weirdly interested if it was your money and your finances, and you got to dig in there and see how you were gonna make your money work even further, because that happened to me. And I'm not saying that my experience is universal, but I would considered myself not good at math. Not good at finances, never was gonna pick up on that business thing. I learned it when it was my business and it was very fascinating

Sonja Pemberton (29:14):

And it just depends what your interest level. And if I can tell you this, as long as you continue, your person continues to tell themselves that they're not good at whatever you believe to be true about yourself is going to be true about yourself. So change that thought. If you continue to say, I'm not good at this, I'm that good at this, then you will bring that into reality. If you change to another more positive thought, you can bring that into reality too. Cause you're in charge at any given given moment, you can change your thinking pattern.

Angie Colee (29:49):

I love that. I've been hearing a lot and working with a lot of people recently that focus on narrative and especially a lot of what I think you're talking about, which is the cultural narrative that's around us. The stories that other people tell us that are true. The, the stuff that they put into our luggage for us and then having to realize this isn't my story. I don't actually believe that's true. How did I wind up over here in DC land? I'm a Disney fan. Like put me over here with Cinderella. That's where I wanna be.

Sonja Pemberton (30:18):

Well, your, and then your experiences don't play out to those beliefs and assumptions about whomever they're about . Cause if you ever had an experience with someone else, it may not equal what you were told to believe. Mm. That just, I, I don't know. I just that's the stuff I want to unpack. I mean, it is my living legacy to dispel the myth of the other and we start one human being at a time and when you change, it becomes a ripple effect.

Angie Colee (30:50):

It really does.

Sonja Pemberton (30:51):

Yes, we have. This is what I like to say. We, the people have the power to dispel the myth of the other. Why? Cause we started it so we can end it.

Angie Colee (31:01):

Oh yeah.

Sonja Pemberton (31:02):

We just need a new mindset and a will to do so.

Angie Colee (31:05):

Oh, for sure. I I've told people before I've been complimented on empathy and being able to put myself in another person's shoes. And that's, that's a skill that I think every copywriter and marketer needs to have, especially a lot of creative think that's a skill that everybody needs. But yes, I wouldn't say that I was naturally gifted at empathy was a very judgey person, very angry person, as we talked about growing up. So this, these are all skills that I had to practice until it became something that comes naturally to me. And now I don't even think about it so that when I'm kind to someone who's upset me or, you know, I had an instance, uh, a while back, probably like six months ago where there was somebody on a team I was working for that was convinced I was gonna fire them. And so I just came to this meeting being like, I know that you probably think this that is not accurate. So like, let's just get that out of the way. Here's what I wanna focus on so that we can like, how do I support you? How do you feel your best? Because feeling like you're feeling right now can see it all over your face is not actually gonna help you get past this rough part. So let's get you back into a better head space. Let tell me about what's going on. Let's let's figure this out together. And that was so different. I could tell from what this person was expecting from me, when we got on that call, that there was like this visible release of, they had their shoulders up around their ears and they were just kinda like, oh, I'm safe.

Sonja Pemberton (32:27):

Well that's a lot. That's a lot of it. That people that we are so used to being judged and we're so used to being, being accountable and there being, you know, repercussions and, you know, punishment and you know, losing your job or, you know, again, we're back to that fear. Living from a place of fear that we are on a, some level denied the innovative creative pieces of ourselves to really step into what we can be. Because we're so busy trying to conform to whatever culture at work or whatever the friend group or the in group's culture is for fear of getting kicked out the group. Do you see what I'm saying?

Angie Colee (33:17):

Oh yeah.

Sonja Pemberton (33:19):

So we, until you're able to stand on who you are and not be afraid to not necessarily be in the, in group anymore, cuz you maybe don't align with them anymore. Once you figure out who you are or maybe they're your people and you're right in there but you have to be in there able to voice who you are with own beliefs and your own values and disagree with them when it's necessary. When it doesn't meet who you are. And still, and that's where we've come to. We can't even disagree with each other without wanting to kill somebody or never speak to 'em again.

Angie Colee (33:58):

Oh yeah. I don't, I don't agree with you. I'm gonna cut you out of my life. Like

Sonja Pemberton (34:02):

Yeah. I don't families don't even talk. I mean, it's like what is happening here? Get away from that.

Angie Colee (34:10):

Oh for sure.

Sonja Pemberton (34:13):

We gotta humanize humanity. We have to rehumanize humanity.

Angie Colee (34:18):

I I always tell my mom like, Hey, I get that the politics are important, but I care about the people more. So like yeah. If this is something that's gonna cause us to fight and we can't see eye to eye on it, I'd rather love you than be right. So let's just not talk about this right now.

Sonja Pemberton (34:33):

What is right? Let's talk about right. Right. What's right for you is right for Angie. It may not be right for Sonja. Okay. So what is right? Right is what's right for the other person. I can't judge your right. Your life's different than mine. What's right for you may not be right for me or maybe it might, but if it's not my right, it's your right to be right about whatever it is you think you're right about.

Angie Colee (35:01):

Yeah. And I look that goes back to exactly what you were saying earlier that I can't tell you how to be. You can't tell me how to be.

Sonja Pemberton (35:08):

People are individuals and we don't have to have group think.

Angie Colee (35:14):

Yes. It's beautiful. When someone stands out, even if it's difficult, like yes. Just seeing,

Sonja Pemberton (35:20):

Being able to listen to someone and agree to disagree.

Angie Colee (35:26):

Oh yeah.

Sonja Pemberton (35:27):

I've had conversations with people where I definitely, we did not agree, but we agreed to disagree in the conversation cuz we knew we weren't gonna come to an agreement. And then I could say to them girl, I'm starved. Let's go grab something to eat.

Angie Colee (35:41):


Sonja Pemberton (35:42):

And we could still get something to eat, we're done with that conversation. Cause we agree to disagree and that was the end of it.

Angie Colee (35:48):

I will get anyone on the planet to bond with me over food. And like, I'm gonna find this cool foodie place. I mean that's half of what I do while I'm traveling. Now it's just share pictures of my food in the weird places that I try.

Sonja Pemberton (36:02):

I love food. I'm a big foodie.

Angie Colee (36:04):

Yes. All right. If we're in the same town, let's go find some foody things. I will try.

Sonja Pemberton (36:07):

That's how we do it. I'm in outside of uh, Charleston.

Angie Colee (36:10):

Oh. I went to Charleston for three days, like a couple months ago, man. I wish I had known like I will try weird stuff. I got my friend got me to try uh, grasshopper tacos. Not too long ago when I was in Miami.

Sonja Pemberton (36:23):

Oh you're a little more daring than me.

Angie Colee (36:27):

You don't have to try grasshopper tacos. We could still hang. Ooh alligator is good

Sonja Pemberton (36:38):

Yeah, I've had that. That was, that was daring for me. Grasshoppers kinda out there for me.

Angie Colee (36:44):

Daring is different. See, that's the same thing too. Daring is different for everyone,

Sonja Pemberton (36:47):

But you know, I'm not hating on you. You can eat the grasshoppers if you want to.

Angie Colee (36:53):

I, I had it once and I think that's good.

Sonja Pemberton (36:57):

One time experience.

Angie Colee (36:58):

It was tasty, but I don't think it would be my, my go-to experience. Yeah. Uh, and it's kind of nice to be able to say I did that and have other people have the reaction.

Sonja Pemberton (37:07):

Now it's over.

Angie Colee (37:08):

Yep. Oh man. This has been fantastic. Well, first of all, we're definitely meeting up and doing food. Second. Tell us more about you where people can find you and help you with this mission because it's so important.

Sonja Pemberton (37:20):

Yes. So dispelling the myth of the other is my mission in life. Um, you can find me on my website at and that spelling will be in the, in the, uh, show notes. I am active on LinkedIn again, Sonja Pemberton and um, also on Instagram, not quite as much on Instagram, but you can find me there as well. And all of this information will be in the show notes.

Angie Colee (37:45):

Oh yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for taking the time to help me unpack this. I know we just got started with like maybe pulling one pair of doors off the top there, but I think if, if we all dig in, we can get this thing a little bit more and probably even have a hell of a lot more fun with our lives now that we're not fighting each other, I dare to dream. Right.

Sonja Pemberton (38:07):

Absolutely excited for that moment to happen and begin to happen and become a ripple effect across the world.

Angie Colee (38:13):

Me too. I'm there with you. Let's fight that fight. Thank you so much for being on the show again. And we're gonna have to do this again soon,

Sonja Pemberton (38:20):

All right.

Angie Colee (38:23):

So that is it. Another awesome episode of Permission to Kick Ass on the books. If you want to know more about the show or if you want to know more about me, Angie Colee and the mission I'm on to help entrepreneurs punch fear in the face and do big bold things, then head on over to That is all one word together, Make sure to sign up for my email list so that you know whenever there's a hot, fresh and ready podcast episode out for you. And also on Mondays, I like to send out a little newsletter called Kick Monday's Ass. I'm sure you're totally, totally surprised by that. So thank you for being here with me today. I'm Angie Colee. Make sure that you share this with a friend that needs to hear this message today. Like it, share it. Comment wherever you're listening to this today and let's go kick some ass.