Posted in Culture, diversity, Professional Development Training

The Change

the-change-reworkedWhat seems like a lifetime ago, I looked around The World, My World, and saw the ugliness of how we hurt one another; causing pain, despair, even death.

And I was devastated.

This was not The World I wanted to leave to My Children, to the Seventh Generation.

But how could it change?

Who could lead that change,              THE Change?

I knew it would require legions of people to impact the billions on the planet;

…legions of Powerful People.

And I was only one.

But I am one with a voice, with my own Power, with the ability to reach out to another in relationship:

And then another…..

And another…

While those I engage in relationship reach out to another….

And another…

Still others I don’t even know are doing the same thing.

The numbers grow…

I become legions.

I becomes we.

And so it is that we create The Change.

It’s the idea of throwing pebbles in the pond and the ripples reaching out and out and out….

While others throw their pebbles, ripples reaching out and out and out….

Eventually, our ripples will meet.  Together they will set the entire pond into motion.

And so With Respect, LLC came to be.

It is how I create ripples; how WE create waves.

Through the tools, the writing, the training; I become The Change.

Touching lives, your life and yours, WE become The Change.

The momentum of rallies and marches, the energy of protests and vigils must move forward – moving into the “now what” –  for The Change to take hold, to grow, to expand; to become.

It is up to us.

Please join me in setting the whole pond – the Whole World – in motion, in being part of The Change.

Check out my work. Share yours with me. Together WE are THE CHANGE.

Are you with me? Leave your comments; tell me what you have, what you need, how we can support and help one another to become (and expand) The Change.

With Respect,

Leah R. Kyaio

Leah is the co-owner of With Respect, LLC where she spends her time creating, writing, training, and speaking. With 25 years of experience among audiences spanning education, law enforcement, business and government, participants agree, her content is full of immediately applicable tools that take a moment to learn and a lifetime to deepen. What she teaches, she lives. Whether it’s personal alignment or racism and oppression, the lessons are constantly expanded and reinforced in her training both with people and horses. Leah believes we are all simultaneously teachers and learners, whether horse or human. Check out With Respect, LLC here.
Posted in Culture, Playing Nice in the Sandbox

It doesn’t matter who won


I have processed the election results for quite some time this morning. In the early hours, I found myself afraid – filled with a fear I have not known in a long time.

I didn’t like it.

Then I applied my tools.

I drilled down, utilizing “The Seven Whys.”

I discovered that my fear was based on belief in the shouts of media, divisionists, and politicians – the same people that I know seldom speak the truth and, if they do, it always comes with a spin.

These are the same people (different faces perhaps, same message, same tactics) that worked to convince us, as Obama won the election, that he was coming for our guns, that he was not who he claimed to be and a threat to the country.

Some people still think that rhetoric is true despite no substantiated facts.

Today they have done the same.

They are filling minds with fears of hatred, bigotry, violence. They are casting blame, judgement, and their own vile.

They are driving wedges, creating divisions, drawing lines in the sand.

I breathe.

What is different, really?

What has changed between yesterday and today? Between this new president elect and the previous?


The rich are still in power. The government is still a cumbersome bureaucracy that moves at the pace of a frozen snail. Fear and money still sit in the focal seat.


I still have control over the ONLY thing I have and will always have control over.


(At least on a really good day.)

But seriously…

If control exists (that’s a different conversation), the only place I can apply it is to me, for me, on me, with me.

I control me.

I choose my thoughts, my behaviors, what I see, who I embrace, how I present myself in the World.

I look around at my friends – on FB and in “real” life.

They represent the full array of the vote.

Some voted for Trump, others for Hillary, some for third partyers and still others for no one.

They are still my people. Nothing has changed.

I choose not to judge based on how people voted.

I choose not to judge.

I choose to take in behavior, listen to words, look at their actions.

Are they respectful, kind, striving for equity?

Are we?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying I do it well all the time. Remember, I own that I only have control over me and only on a good day!

But what are our choices now?

How do we implement change in the World for the good of all? How do we move forward, together, to continue to expand and change this society and culture into the one that embodies a vision of equity and respect?

We have control over only one thing.

One POWERFUL thing.

Ourselves. Our “I”.

I implore you to stand with me today – and tomorrow and the next day and the next – and choose to be the best you you can be; to live your life in Love

  • In what you say
  • In what you do
  • In what you think
  • In how you choose to interact

I promise to do my best to lead in love; to work together in love; to live in love. I invite you to join me.

Remember, Love is kind. Patient. Respectful. Seeks first to understand. Lifts the weak. Recognizes its own short-comings.

Recognizes its own Power.

And stands there;

Love stands in its own Power.

Regardless of who you voted for, of who won…

Embrace your Power.

Embrace your Love.

Posted in Culture

What do Colin Kaepernick and the North Dakota Access Pipeline have in common?

ndap sittingMy Facebook feed is full of the “discussions” regarding Colin Kaepernick and his quiet statement made by sitting for the National Anthem.

There’s even more posts in support of the tribes fighting the big oil companies who are trying to build a 4-state pipeline.

The protest related to Kaepernick turns to whether he is being disrespectful; whether he – and those who sit or take a knee in solidarity with him – should be punished.

The pipeline protest discusses the measures taken to “beat back” the protest with dogs, mace, and judicial action. It begs for a cease action from the legal system (that may or may not have any real jurisdiction). It asks for an opinion of politicians. It asks for concern and respect for and of the People.

There is a common theme within, among, and across these two prominent issues. The problem is….

It’s NOT what is in the forefront of most of the arguments.

The theme in both situations is about oppression.

Kaepernick exercises his first amendment rights for free speech and peaceful protest by sitting to call out the oppression African American people have and still experience. He is highlighting the most recent events and tying them to the historical trauma.

He is expressly positioned for such a protest.

He is well paid and in the public eye. This marks his privilege which he is utilizing responsibly to give voice to those whose voices cannot be heard.

He is a black man who understands oppression (he never stopped being a black man) and he is asking this nation to consider whether all people are really free; whether the anthem lyrics are merely nostalgia or reality.

Yet the focus is on the process and whether Kaepernick has the right to protest in the way he has chosen. The primary reaction is to the protest, not to the message.

The primary reaction is from the oppressor.

“How dare he!”

“Punish him and the sympathizers!”

I seem to recall in history when the Germans were also forced to “be respectful” and salute and were punished when they would not.


The Native American protest of the North Dakota Access Pipeline was initiated by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a sovereign nation. They have since been joined by indigenous tribes from around the nation, around the World.

The US government and private citizens decided to traipse across that sovereign nation, on the soil and sacred grounds of another nation; without regard to what and whom they are desecrating. All with the intent to build a pipeline to move crude oil under and through 219 lakes and waterways; pipelines with a history of rupturing and devastating ecosystems and waterways.

In the process, treaties and respect have been broken.


The Native People could have declared war; their sovereign nation had been invaded!

Instead they began a peaceful protest.

The protest has been identified as THE largest Native American protest in history as daily more and more people – Natives and non-Natives alike – join the ranks.

It is true that it is about water, EVERYONE’S water.

It is also the perfect example of the oppression Native Americans have withstood for centuries. It is validation of how things are said while other things are done; right hand – left hand – under hand.

And the focus is on the process; on the judicial process, on their “right” to stop the pipeline.

Voices have been heard echoing, “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

“They’re over-reacting.”

“They just want money.”

It is, again, the oppressor who seeks to vilify the oppressed; seeks to make clear the supremacy of money and privilege.

In both these situations peaceful protest began to provide the public eye with an inside perspective of an issue that should bring great pain to a united nation, to a nation that claims to value diversity.

Oh, wait…

Are we, the United States of America, a united nation?

Do we value diversity?

THESE are the questions such protests should raise…

Not whether sitting for the anthem is patriotic or disrespectful

Not whether those with the most money are allowed to make and break the rules

Do we value all people?

Do Black Lives Matter?

Do Native Lands and Lives Matter?

Do Treaties Matter?

Do People Matter?

The issue being called out is OPPRESSION. It is loud and clear across the activities, atrocities, and activism throughout our nation right now.

The problem is this ISSUE is being ignored. Again.

OPPRESSION is being used to silence the OPPRESSED.


It’s smoke and mirrors, bait and switch, now you see you it now you don’t.

Take notice, People.

Your future depends on it. Regardless of the color of your skin, what’s going on impacts you.

Do you see the issue?

Do you see the oppression – historic and current?

What’s your stand?

Where’s your cultural competence now?

I look forward to hearing all about it!

With Respect,

With Respect, LLC

Posted in Uncategorized

Five Signs Your Organization is Racist

not racist qqFirst of all, let’s be clear that it doesn’t require intention to act racist. This is obvious throughout our society based on elements within our language and habits; from humor (2 Jews and a Black guy walk into a bar…) to descriptive idioms (being black balled is a bad thing). Racism is a given within our social culture.

It does, in contrast, require intention to act in ways that are non-racist.

It is not reasonable to think that individuals or organizations can go from racist to non-racist in a single leap. Such change requires an investment of planning and time. Awareness is the first step in creating that change; awareness of what racism looks like within an organization, within our organization.

That means it’s important to recognize those objects and events, present or absent, that are actually racist. Some may seem more obvious than others, though they are still quite common. They include:

  1. The absence of an explicit, zero tolerance policy for racism in the workplace. This is more than the non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies required or even the EOE compliance statements. This is an actual policy written for the sole purpose of addressing overt and covert racism in the workplace. The procedures then outline the exact process by which a complaint is filed and investigated with the expectation that, upon completion of the investigation, all complaints will be provided a response. It also provides an element of protection for the individual filing. Without such a policy and procedure, an organization will be riddled with the organic and ingrained racism of history and our society.
  2. Having NO reports of racism from employees. That’s right; short of a system that builds in a resolution/solution component to their zero tolerance policy, racism always shows up (and even then, it’s still there). It’s inevitable because racism is insidious in bureaucratic systems. Not to mention, organizations would do well to welcome reports of racism. Until the problem is identified, it can’t be resolved. There is a level of safety required for those who experience racism to be willing to come forward (that should be addressed in the zero tolerance policy from #1). Without that safety, there’s only crickets. Similarly, without a system or framework for those reports and concerns to be heard, they can’t be aired. That means if your organization doesn’t have someone talking about the racism within, there’s a problem; your organization is racist.
  3. Few to no faces of color in upper management. The United States is made up of 36% non-white residents. If your upper management is 80 – 90% Caucasian or White-passing your hiring and promoting practices are probably racist. Period.
  4. “Diversity” training that is largely based on concepts of “education” and “awareness.” The only thing worse is if your organization doesn’t provide any type of diversity training. When I talk about “diversity” training, I’m talking about professional development related to harassment, cultural competence, respect, workplace bullying, or domestic violence (to name a few). Historically this has been done as drive-by training;  a one-time offering, sometimes legally mandated. At best, the goals and outcomes are to provide information and raise awareness. Reality is these types of trainings are less than effective, potentially harmful, and probably a waste of time. Professional development needs to be meaningful with applicable skills and strategies provided to improve the professional knowledge of individuals and organizations. Without such “diversity” support, organizations remain inherently racist.
  5. Little to no intentional development and support for organizational culture. Organizational culture happens, whether it is intentionally guided or not. Culture is also not the same as climate. The organizational culture is based on the operating norms, beliefs, and values of an organization while the climate is about the environment and/or atmosphere that culture creates. That said,  without intentionality, there is no guarantee of the exact culture of an organization. It is, therefore, difficult if not impossible to have an organizational culture that reflects respect and equity without a fair amount of investment. Such organizations are left to reflect the norm of racism.

As organizational leaders, we have to determine our priorities. If we are looking for high performing employees, respect is imperative. Respected employees have a strong positive impact on the financial indicators of organizations. Racism is not respectful. Racism hurts our organizations from the individual to the bottom line of profit and productivity. It is imperative to find a better way.


Looking for solutions to racism in your organization?


Posted in Professional Development Training

STOP “Drive-Bys”


Many professionals, regardless of the field, go to a conference or a workshop for one day, two days, even three days. GREAT experience, right? There are myriads of sites and sources for online and “home” study programs that are designed to improve what is done by professionals across marketing, teaching, finance, and law.

How much of that professional learning experience makes it back into everyday professional life?

Many professional licenses require a certain amount of professional development.  In the teaching, healthcare, legal, child protective, and mental health professions continued education is tallied based on “butts in the seats” participation via a sign-in documentation. There might even be an event evaluation required that is tied to proving the learning time was experienced.

There is, however, no exploration, documentation, or interest into how the professional development experience becomes translated into practice, how it improved or impacted what professionals do with what they have learned. Most professionals will tell you, they learned a lot but ask them how they have applied it and they come up short pretty quick.

This is what we at With Respect, LLC call “drive-by trainings.”

Showing up to do a single event for 45 minutes to 3 days is easy as the hired professional development trainer.

But it’s not effective.

Consequently, as a professional development trainer, it is unethical and unrealistic for me to market anything differently. That’s why all of our training experiences are in series, over time.

As a professional development trainer, I’ve been advocating for a long time on the importance of HOW we continue to educate ourselves in our practice, how we truly improve our craft and benefit our clients – be they students, customers, patients, or organizations.

We have to consider the learning process and, specifically, the adult learning process. It doesn’t happen overnight nor in a vacuum.

Based on the conscious competence model combined with the research based brain integration model I have developed we know that moving people through the change process of learning (true learning requires a change in the target of what will be done or thought differently) requires multiple steps, over time.

It looks like this:

Adult Learning

The great thing about this model is it makes clear the two things that are required for a learning experience to be meaningful and integrated (the middle of the steps):

Discord and Practice.

Discord is about processing and processing is about figuring out where things fit in the system we already have internally for filing. That means discord is a bit of trial and error to see where things fit, how to store it within the framework that already exists (i.e. Do I file “This Old Man” under “T” for “This” or “O” for Old?)

Discord is also about clarity. Clarity comes through questions and answers. It is good to note that the answers that serve learning best are done through discovery but that’s a different topic. In traditional drive-by training, the session ends with questions and answers. That’s as far as it gets. Reality is, questions are at the beginning of learning, not the end; not if the goal is to reach levels of conscious competence (using the skills or information intentionally, with a mid to high level of expertise).

That means traditional trainings leave the participants well within conscious incompetence: they know enough to know they don’t know how to do/apply it or how to do/apply it very well. I don’t believe that’s what a professional learning experience is all about.

Note from the graphic above that the other critical component for integration is a high level of awkward practice. People don’t learn from words alone. Yes, we might remember words we’ve heard in a certain order, but that doesn’t mean we can DO it, that we can apply what those words mean.

For example, take the left blue hook and weave it into the secondary right yellow cutter. You know what each of those words mean but, particularly out of context without seeing it or a rendition of it, you have no way to form meaning with those words.

We are all kinesthetic at the core of learning. That means we have to do it, whatever “it” is. We have to practice. Not just any, one time fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants practice session, but a series of practice that allows progression through the process. The length of time required is, of course, based on the complexity of the skills or concepts being integrated.

The Role of Clear Objectives

All of that said, the objectives of professional development must be clear. Take education and awareness as objectives, for example. They require a different level of training but truly must be seen as the beginning, not a single opportunity.

For learning to be meaningful it must be relevant. That’s why we ask important questions.

  1. Does the content improve or change what is expected of the individual employee?
  2. After the learning experience, what is the expectation of change in what is done, said, thought, or applied by the employee?
  3. How does the training ensure the change is truly integrated in thought, deed, or word?

Without answers to these questions, the experience is more a waste of time than an actual learning opportunity. (Yes, this applies to those mandatory trainings too. Which, by the way, don’t have to be boring if they’re done well.)

You can see, then, why what I do is so important to me, why it is crucial that we redefine what an effective professional learning experience looks like, what it means to develop our professional knowledge and skills.

As professionals you have a right to expect, demand, and receive quality learning. This is particularly true when you have to stay on top of what is going on in the world and your industry. The only way that will occur is that organizations know what questions to ask and what answers to expect.

That’s how we reduce “drive-bys” in business.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below or email me here.

Until next time,

Leah R. Kyaio
Executive Director
With Respect, LLC