How Your Leadership Style Helps You Serve Your Community and Overcome Gender Bias

with special guest Joni Wickham

Joni Wickham quote from Patti Dobrowolski's podcast
Up Your Creative Genius
How Your Leadership Style Helps You Serve Your Community and Overcome Gender Bias

A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Joni Wickham and her indisputable southern accent arrived in Kansas City almost 10 years ago after leading initiatives within state and federal government as well as advocacy organizations. In her eight years with the mayor’s office—the majority of them spent as Chief of Staff—Joni has proven herself as an accomplished political strategist, communications expert, and organizational leader. She directed public policy initiatives, communications tactics, and administrative decision-making during her tenure, all while promoting women’s leadership and empowerment issues. An artful negotiator, Joni helped steer Sly’s major development projects in Kansas City while raising the city’s profile at the national and international levels. Her front-row seat at city hall shed light on how local government is still very much a man’s world, and this motivated her to create a first-of-its-kind women’s empowerment initiative, which has been implemented in several major cities.Prior to her time at city hall, Joni worked with the American Federation of Teachers, the Missouri Department of Transportation, and in the office of Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. While a student at Meredith College, where Joni received her Bachelor of Arts in political studies, she studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia. An accomplished alumnus of University of Missouri where she earned her Masters of Arts in political science, Joni was the recipient of the 2019 University of Missouri Truman School of Public Affairs Mel Carnahan Public Service Award.Joni is the author of the best-selling book titled, “The Thin Line Between Cupcake and Bitch: Taking Action, Driving Change and Getting Results.”


2:12 How Joni started her life and her journey into education

7:26 Writing a speech, feeling like an imposter and receiving life changing advice

10:36 Working with Secretary Carnahan and mayor elect Sly James

12:16 Leadership styles and becoming Chief of Staff

14:28 Importance of emotional intelligence

17:38 Using his power and voice to let other know it was unacceptable behavior

20:31 Wickham James Strategies and Solutions

22:57 What inspires Joni

23:51 Joni’s StrengthsFinder qualities

27:36 Being results oriented

39:15 Joni’s fun and personal future

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Books – The Thin Line Between Cupcake and Bitch

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Up Your Creative Genius


Patti Dobrowolski 00:03

Hello superstars, welcome to the Up Your Creative Genius podcast, where you will gain insight and tips to stomp on the accelerator and blast off to transform your business and your life. I’m your host, Patti Dobrowolski. And if this is your first time tuning in, then strap in because this is serious rocket fuel. Each week, I interview fellow creative geniuses to help you learn how easy it is to Up Your Creative Genius in any part of your life.

Patti Dobrowolski 00:39

I am so excited today because I have Joni Wickham here. She is originally a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, where she spent 10 years leading state and federal government initiatives. And then she moved to Kansas City where she spent eight years in the Kansas City Mayor’s office with Sly James, who is amazing. She’s a political strategist and organisational leader, a communications expert, and she’s been a recipient of the 2019 University of Missouri Truman School of Public Affairs, Mel Carnahan, Public Service Award, that is incredible, but not just that one more thing. She’s a best selling author of the book, The Thin Line Between Cupcake And Bitch. And let me just say this book is killer. You have to get it right away. Joni, welcome. I’m so happy you’re here.

Joni Wickham 01:33

Hey, Patti, I’m so happy to be with you today. Thanks a bunch for having me. Can’t wait for the conversation.

Patti Dobrowolski 01:38

Oh, me too. And so for those of you that are listening, you know, she’s getting over strep throat, she didn’t have COVID. So if she starts coughing, then just know that I’ll do filler in there. But thank you for being here, especially on the tail end of that. So I hope we make it through. I know that we will. So first, okay, number one, you got to tell me your story. Tell the listeners who you are and how you got to Kansas City and into Sly James office doing that work with him, which I’m sure is a story unto itself. So tell us where you came from.

Joni Wickham 02:12

Okay, happy to do that. So you may detect a little bit of southern accent. Yeah, yes, I am originally from North Carolina. And I grew up in rural eastern North Carolina, in the middle of a tobacco field as they do. Yes, yes. My mother found out that I was coming along when she was only 14 years old. Wow. Yeah. Wow. Yeah, for sure. And her parents who helped raise me, never learned to read and write? To this day, still struggled with literacy. And so when she brought me home to the hospital, she brought me home to this tiny trailer in the middle of a tobacco field. And that’s where I lived with her little brother, and my grandparents. And I always open up kind of my journey by going way back there. I’m all the way back there.

Patti Dobrowolski 03:03

I’m older than you are. So don’t even start.

Joni Wickham 03:07

But I go way back there. Because that origin story, if you will, really informed my professional life and all the reasons why I wrote the book. So grew up very poor, and was very much raised by my grandparents. Not because my mother was an absent mother. But because she made the decision not to drop out of high school when she became pregnant with me at 14 in high school. Yep, he worked two jobs, in addition to going to high school to make sure that I had access to things that she and honestly, a lot of people around us never had access to, including high quality pre K, which we’ll get to in a minute. And so my grandparents had a lot to do with my formative years.

Patti Dobrowolski 03:50

Raising you.

Joni Wickham 03:51

Yeah, raising me. Yeah. And I include my biological father’s parents in that too. I have never had much of a relationship with him. He’s been in and out of my life quite a bit. But his parents were very front and centre in my life as well. And so you got this baby, being raised by grandparents. Yeah. And it really informed the way that I looked at the world. Neither of my grandparents, neither my mom’s parents or my dad’s parents had high literacy skills. And so I often found myself reading the newspaper to them or reading whatever. I mean, sometimes literally, the menu at a restaurant or something. Yeah. And definitely helped them navigate through life. For instance, I remember having to fill out a lot of paperwork when they went to the doctor’s office because they couldn’t do it. I remember helping them look through the paperwork when my grandparents finally had saved enough money for a down payment for the trailer that they still live in. And so having that relationship with them, and having that experience of helping these older grandparents navigate life as folks who were functionally illiterate, but very hardworking. My grandparents worked every day. My maternal grandma got up at four o’clock in the morning and went work the breakfast shift at Hardee’s for like 35 years. So we’re not talking about late oh, no, no. And I credit my work ethic a lot to them.

Patti Dobrowolski 05:15

Yeah, I bet I bet me too. I do. I came from my grandmother was an immigrant from Poland, and so worked as a seamstress. So, you know, my father, he was really hard working. And that was instilled in all of us. And so I think that really, it is part of the DNA when you come from that background, no matter how educated they are, right? Yeah,

Joni Wickham 05:36

There’s no doubt. I mean, you don’t have to have a PhD to have strong work ethic. Yeah. And so anyway, to make a long story a little bit shorter, at least, I was able to have access to a lot of things like a high quality education that the majority of my family never did, I was able to go to a teeny tiny all Women’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina called Meredith College. Fantastic. Where Yeah, where I was largely for the first time surrounded by women who had professional aspirations. And I was surrounded by a network of strong women who wanted to do something with their life. The environment was perfect for me, because the professors and staff really wrap their arms around the women there to help make sure they had all the support that they needed to figure out how to lead the world. And so I was able to get an internship within US Senator John Edwards. Oh, wow. Very cool. Wow. Quite the fellow I learned a lot during those years, a lot.

Patti Dobrowolski 06:37

I bet.

Joni Wickham 06:37

And one of the most profound experiences when I was working in that office, was in the very early days, I was asked to write a speech, we were very, very busy, the staff didn’t have time to write the speech on tobacco regulation, which was a big deal for where I came from. So they asked me to write this speech. And I really kind of leaned on my personal experience and my grandpa’s experience as a tobacco farmer when I was writing it. And I submitted it, and I had so many feelings of imposter syndrome. One of the things I write a lot about the book and submitted it thinking, Oh, my gosh, this is going to be I’m gonna bomb this. Within a couple of hours, the senators chief of staff came out and said, hey, the senator wants to talk to you, you got a second I thought, Oh, no.

Joni Wickham 07:23

I’m getting fired! Oh, yeah.

Patti Dobrowolski 07:25

Oh, my gosh.

Joni Wickham 07:26

So I go into his office, and he sits me down on the couch. And he looked at me and he goes, you and I don’t know each other very well. But I need to give you a piece of advice. And I thought, okay, here we go. Get fired. Yeah. He said, this speech that you wrote is one of the best speeches that anyone in this office has ever produced for me. And he did it under a lot of stress with not a lot of time. And he said, I could tell that you didn’t expect your product to be that good. The people around you didn’t expect your product to be that good. And so I just want you to know that you’re probably going to be underestimated a lot throughout your life, his words, because you are a petite, cute, female with a southern accent. And so you can either use that to your advantage, or you can, frankly, be bitter and pissed at the world. It’s your choice. Figure out how you want to deal with this. Wow. And while that was a really uncomfortable conversation, I’m not kidding. It was life changing. Because throughout my career, those words have been so true. So true. I have underestimated my own abilities, which leads other people I think it gives them agency to underestimate.

Patti Dobrowolski 08:35

Of course, of course it does, right. Yeah, you project that and then it shows up, right, for sure.

Joni Wickham 08:41

And so fast forward a few years, I have gotten a master’s degree at University of Missouri, Columbia and started working at the state capitol in Jefferson City for then Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, and really had a lot of sometimes frightening, but really impactful experiences with a lot of men in Missouri State Government. And I learned a lot watching Secretary Carnahan about what it means to be a strong woman who’s committed to their leadership style and to getting things done. And I write a lot about those.

Patti Dobrowolski 09:13

Yeah, you do. You talk a lot about leadership and how important it is for you to identify what your leadership style is. And why do you think that’s so important to know your leadership style, you talk about it in the book, but I want you to say a little bit about it here, because it really informed who you’ve become.

Joni Wickham 09:31

Right? Well, when we are really clear on our own leadership style, it helps us lead other people because you have to figure out how your leadership style impacts the outputs of others, how it either helps or hinders their own personal growth. Because organisations don’t achieve things based on one people or one person. Organisations achieve things based on teamwork. And so you really have to know how you can best lead everybody in the team. And oftentimes that starts with understanding your leadership attributes. And frankly, sometimes your leadership deficits because we all have, right? We’re all people.

Patti Dobrowolski 10:09

Yeah, I can’t imagine being in that environment because it can be scary. And you know, I know for myself in working at the C level, sometimes I’ll be in situations while I think, ooh, this is not going well here. So what can I do to step up and make sure that I’m in integrity with what I believe in this room, and then help the conversation go further. So you work there. And then how did you come in contact with Mayor Sly James.

Joni Wickham 10:36

So networking is everything in politics, it’s everything in a lot of sectors, but it’s particularly everything in politics. And so some of the folks who are working on Secretary Carnahan campaign were also connected with then mayor elect Sly James campaign. And so I got a phone call. And the individual asked me if I’d be interested in going to Kansas City, to interview with this guy named Sly James, who had just won the election for mayor. And my first question was, who is Sly James? I had never, I had no connection to him. I basically observed the, election only because I worked in state government. And so a lot of the State Representative state senators were talking about it. So I had only vaguely observe the election. So I had to do a little bit of research to figure out who this guy was and what he was now. Yeah. And I was blown away, you’ve met him. So you’ll appreciate this. I was blown away at his leadership style, and his very bold visions for the city, and for his kind of no nonsense approach to getting things done. So here I was, I had worked in federal government and state government, both of which are often bogged down with partisan BS. Yeah,

Patti Dobrowolski 11:47

I was gonna say, just as round around and round the mulberry bush, really in a way. You know, you just sometimes never get anywhere with that. Yeah, yeah. And Sly James is not that way at all. You know, let’s get in there and get it done.

Joni Wickham 12:01

Right. Yeah, yeah, I told him more than once. Like, if there’s a brick wall in front of him getting something that he thinks is going to benefit the city, he will run through it multiple times. He is like all getting things done, which is in great alignment with my view.

Patti Dobrowolski 12:16

Now. Yeah, I was gonna say, that’s how you are to there’s just no BS about you, you’re gonna get something done. And that’s what has, I think, created your reputation in Kansas City, which is really high. It’s amazing. People really have a lot of great things to say about you.

Joni Wickham 12:32

Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Yeah, so we really hit it off in our first meeting. And it ended up being the start of a very long partnership. I worked in his communications shop for a couple years before he appointed me as second Chief of Staff, and I was Chief of Staff for almost six years, which is way too long to have.

Patti Dobrowolski 12:55

I’m sure I’m sure. When you think about that. And you think about there’s a place that you start to write about this idea of banishing self doubt and overcoming fear. You know, how did you step into that role of Chief of Staff? You hadn’t done that before? You’d been writing before? But what did that entail that you had to learn?

Joni Wickham 13:14

Yeah, great question. I had not served in the role as Chief of Staff before, I had served under several different chiefs of staff in the different political organisations that I had worked for. And so I had observed different leadership styles and different ways to get the job done. Several different things I had to quickly learn, one of which was managing people who I previously had had a lateral relationship with people who were my colleagues, my friends, yeah, dynamic shift. When you become someone’s boss, no matter how good friends you think you are. And I also was fairly young at the time and found myself having to manage folks who are older than me. Often men having to manage issues and projects with men who were older than me in they had to take direction from me, which was new for them.Patti Dobrowolski 14:06Yeah, that’s our dynamic right there.

Joni Wickham 14:08

Yeah, right. Right. Right. Right. Yeah.

Patti Dobrowolski 14:11

Yeah. So that was part of it. So you have to be pretty strong in yourself in order to do that, but what we’re talking about really is understanding how to win other people over so that you can get your agenda through right. So you must have a high woo strength.

Joni Wickham 14:28

I hope so. Yeah, it what you’re talking about is emotional intelligence. Something that I wrote about in the book, and emotional intelligence is when you can manage your own emotions and the emotions of others to inform thinking and action. It’s really important for strong leaders. Yeah.

Patti Dobrowolski 14:45

And so when you took that role on you didn’t expect to be there for six years, but what did you find to be the most challenging? So one of it is that you know, you’ve got these people that need to take direction from you, but what else did you find in dealing with the community and trying to move policy through what kinds of things were difficult.

Joni Wickham 15:05

It is always difficult, I think, to be strategic. When everyone wants a piece of your time, everyone thinks their priority should be your priority. And when you have daily, I mean daily, multiple crises coming at you. And so I had to learn and had to help the folks around me make sure that we always kept our eye on the prize, that was something that we always said, to make sure that even though we were dealing with 30, hot potatoes at once, the mayor had a very specific agenda. And we needed to figure out how to get that agenda implemented, while dealing with all the noise around us. The other thing that I had to learn to navigate, frankly, was gender bias. There aren’t a lot of female Chiefs of Staff for big city mayors across the country. And I happen to become Chief of Staff shortly after giving birth to my daughter. And I’ll never forget, I was making calls to different stakeholder groups to let them know that I was going to be taking over as Chief of Staff and I was coming back from maternity leave. And one of the reporters that I worked with very often said to me, Well, how are you going to do your job as a young mom? And I thought, well, that is an interesting, wow. You know, it’s not like my brain dies when I don’t get a function, you know. And so that was something that I had to learn how to navigate, in a way with emotional intelligence. Because it’s so hard to just as the senator said, be bitt er and mad at the world when we face

Patti Dobrowolski 16:32

Yeah, bitter or better, right? You want to be bitter or better?Joni Wickham 16:36Yeah, but that doesn’t sit well with my personality. I don’t like negativity, it takes a lot of energy out of me. And so I just decided not to deal with it in that way, and to use my role to try and effectively advocate for women in other leadership positions, and to show other women that it’s possible. I also was very lucky to have a very strong ally, mentor and supporter in the mayor, who used his power and his voice, every opportunity, he had to make sure people knew that I deserved the role that I had. And that opinion matters.

Patti Dobrowolski 17:14

Yeah. And you write about this story of you going into a meeting, and that there wasn’t a chair for you say a little bit about that. What happened in that experience, because this is a typical experience that we hear about. I was just in a meeting last week with Dina Perot and she was describing a very similar thing when she came into working with the City Council in Oregon. So tell the story about what happened.

Joni Wickham 17:38

Sure. So I waddled literally waddled about eight months pregnant into this economic development symposium that I had coordinated for the mayor, I have been working on this is extensive coordination.

Patti Dobrowolski 17:50

This isn’t just like, you know, week’s worth of work. You’ve been working on this for a long time. Everybody knew who you were right?

Joni Wickham 17:57

Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I had spent probably a couple months working on this symposium, making sure all the stakeholders were briefed on what the mayor wanted to get out of the symposium, making sure the mayor knew who the stakeholders were that were going to take part in this discussion, what their perspectives were, so he could properly navigate those dynamics. I had to work with the media, like I was pulling this thing together for like, two months, definitely. And so I walk into this symposium with the mayor. And there were probably if I remember correctly, 15 to 20, older white gentleman there who were participating in this, and not a single one of them thought to save me a seat at the table, literally, at this big conference table where the symposium magic was gonna happen. Exactly. And I just remember thinking, lots of words that I won’t say on your podcast. But, but it was very clear that none of them had ever considered that I actually belonged at the table in that conversation. But the mayor did. And he noticed this very quickly when we walked into the room, and I write my book that he was known for making a strategic spectacle when he needed to in order to .

Patti Dobrowolski 19:09

That’s right, make a point.

Joni Wickham 19:11

And he did, and he did and none of those older white gentleman who were part of that debacle treated me that way ever again. Yeah. And it’s because the mayor was willing to use his power and his voice to let them know that was unacceptable behaviour, and that they were going to respect me.

Patti Dobrowolski 19:31

Yeah, and I love this because you talk about the difference. In your book, you talk about a sponsor, right versus a mentor and sly being a sponsor and Gabriela Schuster talked about in an earlier podcast, she talked about being an ally, you know that men in the environment need to be an ally and they need to demonstrate in such a way that it’s memorable so that everyone else in the room like it, they wake up, boom, it’s like the water challenge, right? water bucket challenge. So that wakes them up. so that they know, you know what the next step is now for you. So this is what you did. And you did this with Sly, but then you went out on your own now and you wrote a book and and so I want to know what what’s happening now what are you doing now? And what excites you now?

Joni Wickham 20:16

Yeah, thanks for asking. So about a year before Mayor James was term limited, he was term limited in August 2019. So we got to miss all the crazy pandemic.

Patti Dobrowolski 20:25

Thankfully, that would have been you managing all those details. You know, it’s true. Oh, yeah.

Joni Wickham 20:31

So about a year after he was term limited, we started thinking how we might be able to continue working together outside the mayor’s office, as we’ve talked about, our values are very much aligned. Our personalities are very compatible. We kind of see the world, not in an identical way, because we were very different people, but in a very compatible way. And our skill sets our expertise are also very compatible. And we felt like as a team, we had already accomplished so much in the mayor’s office, but that there may be something else that we can accomplish together. So we launched our consulting firm, Wickham James Strategies and Solutions. I’m the Wickham.

Patti Dobrowolski 21:14

Real quick, meaning your you’re gonna get everything going right at the start.

Joni Wickham 21:18

It really kind of throws some people for a loop that my name is first because he has always been so front and centre for all of our efforts for so long. That was his idea, by the way, not mine. Yeah, credit where credit’s due. Exactly. Yeah. And so we’ve launched our firm that does government relations, strategic communications, public policy, consulting, a little bit of political consulting. And then Sly is also a very accomplished mediator. So he gets called by clients to help mediate tricky circumstances. And we have some books out.

Patti Dobrowolski 21:48

His book came out to right at the same. Yeah, because I have a copy of that as well. So yeah,

Joni Wickham 21:53

Yeah, The Opportunity Agenda is one of his books that he wrote with our friend, Winston Fisher. And then the passion for purpose is also another one of his books. And so those books give us a platform for public speaking engagements as well. And so we’ve really found that we have been able to use our skill sets and collaborate on mission driven work. We love working with clients who have missions that are near and dear to our heart, and who have problems that we can help solve.

Patti Dobrowolski 22:21

Yeah, so what would be one of those missions that’s dear to your heart.

Joni Wickham 22:26

So we do a lot of work in women’s leadership, racial equity work, we have several clients in the climate change and sustainability space. We also do a lot of work in economic development, those sorts of issues.

Patti Dobrowolski 22:39

Yeah. And so of those things, what are you excited about, like, what gets you up and you think, Oh, this is going to be amazing. I’m going to learn a bunch of things. This is, you know, going to launch whatever X, Y and Z in the community or beyond. So what do you see as something that’s really inspiring you?

Joni Wickham 22:57

That’s a great question. I am really inspired by clients who want to take an innovative view at how to either do things differently or solve their problems. I love working with people who aren’t afraid to try different approaches, and who are brave, and have you ever heard the expression that it’s best to fail fast.

Patti Dobrowolski 23:21

Of course.

Joni Wickham 23:23

I love that. I love that mindset. And so that’s kind of a glimpse into projects and client work that really excites me.

Patti Dobrowolski 23:30

Yeah. And I think well, and it’s a good place for you to be because your whole way of thinking is really innovative. In my opinion, you’re looking at what’s coming next. So you’re strategically thinking about it. So what’s your strengths finder profile? What are your buckingham you talk about the strengths finder in the book, so I want to know what are your top strengths?

Joni Wickham 23:51

Yeah, I love Strengths Finder. Learner is one of mine. Okay, so she’s been researching. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. And pulling facts and figures together. Of course.

Patti Dobrowolski 24:01

Perfect for a strategist, I might say yes. And people behind the scenes, you’re gonna want to know everything about them.

Joni Wickham 24:09

Yeah, that’s, yep. So learner and then responsibility.

Patti Dobrowolski 24:13

Okay, good. That means you got great follow through and you’re gonna have a checklist.

Joni Wickham 24:17

Yes. Achiever.

Patti Dobrowolski 24:19

Achiever. Oh, my God. That’s a double checklist, right? Their responsibility means you’re always going to follow through achiever. Like if you’re married to an achiever, you know what achiever the best thing you can ask them is, what did you do today? Then they feel like yes, I did this and this and this. Fantastic.

Joni Wickham 24:39

Yeah, I gotta tell you, my husband probably hates the fact that those are my top two. achiever responsibility. He probably hates it. Learner, achiever, responsibility, communication.

Patti Dobrowolski 24:51


Joni Wickham 24:52

Yep, and individualization.

Patti Dobrowolski 24:54

Okay, that’s fantastic. So if you don’t know what individualization that’s where you actually look And what’s great about that is that in the realm of where you were, you could make everybody feel like that their issues were the most important. That’s incredible. What a beautiful combination for you in the roles that you played so far. So I can imagine that your clients feel that way about working with you, that you really get them and you’re trying to meet their specific needs with whatever the bigger picture is.

Joni Wickham 25:29

Yeah, I certainly hope so. I think it’s really important, whether you’re doing client work, or whether you’re pushing a public policy agenda, whether you’re trying to talk to voters or customers, it’s important to meet people where they are, which is sometimes easier said than done. So I try to keep that in the back of my mind through emotional intelligence when I’m interacting with folks for sure.

Patti Dobrowolski 25:50

And where do you think that you’re growing right now? Where is the spot? You know, yeah, I always consider everybody’s like a piece of coal. They go out in the world, and then people rub on them to get them to the diamond to shine through. So, when you think about yourself, right, I’m sure that there are places where you were rubbed through and you shine beautifully. But where are the spots where you feel like, oh, this is a spot in me that I can grow more here that you’re interested in changing and growing.

Joni Wickham 26:20

Patience. I have no patience, but I am working on it. I am trying, I have no patience, which is very interesting. Back to my husband, he’s one of the most patient human beings on earth. And so I’m very grateful that he is the Yin to my Yang, in that respect. And I can learn from him on how to have greater patience for people.

Patti Dobrowolski 26:45

Yeah, I think patience is really, it’s hard to come by when we live in a world where everything is instantaneous. That’s what’s true. But if you grew up that way, I don’t know about you. But when I grew up, I was impatient to be older. That was one thing because I knew that once I was older, I would have more control of the environment. And then I was impatient that when I was an actor that I would get on stage, you know, in a big way. And even now, I feel myself being impatient, sometimes with people’s opinions. And the fact that we’re going backwards in time around some policy instead of forwards where we should go, especially for women, and gender equality. It’s unbelievable. I live in Texas, so let’s be clear of where I am. Right. So you know, some of the policy here is like, wow, okay, here we are one more time around. Yeah.

Joni Wickham 27:36

No doubt. Yeah, Texas and Missouri, where I am. Yeah, they’re kind of fighting each other for backwards policies, that’s for sure. But back to your point about patience, it’s particularly important, I think, for I think you’re this way to Patti, I would consider us results oriented individuals. So typically I write about this in my book, typically, organisations are made up of results oriented individuals or process oriented individuals, one is not better than the other, and both are needed. But what I have found is because I am so results oriented and impatient, that can be a dangerous combo. So I’m working on that.

Patti Dobrowolski 28:12

Yeah, I think, you know, sitting in meetings where people and this is the thing I’ve been learning, you know, listen more, talk less. That’s where I say to myself, listen more, be curious about that person, and why they’re talking about that, because they’re telling you something about them. And the fact that the rest of the room has the capacity to listen, I can’t move them too soon, I need to move them soon enough so that we don’t lose the attention of everyone in the room. But I want to make sure that I really get the point. And so I’ve been looking at and I don’t know if this is true for you. But I have some preconceived ideas going into a room sometimes about the people there. And if I take time to kind of calm myself down before I go in the room, I’m a better listener there. And then I put a card in front of me, which I learned from some CEO somewhere. It said they could be right. It says in front of me and I put it on the table in front of me so I can see that. And I go yep, they could be right.

Joni Wickham 29:12

Yeah, I need to do that, too. That’s a great point.

Patti Dobrowolski 29:15

Yeah, I love that now. Okay. So when you envision the future now, I’m all about future casting, right? I draw pictures to the future for people. So because I want them to get the picture in their mind and then act on it and draw a literal picture. Because when you draw one, right, that increases your chance of success by 42%. So I want to know, when you future cast your future, what do you see, like five years from now, you know, what would be the ideal state for you? And I’ll write a few things down if you want, but we’re recording it so then you can go back and listen to it five years from now.

Joni Wickham 29:52

Well, that would be a fun exercise. So if I look five years into the future, what I hope to see is control over my life and my schedule and how I spend my time.

Patti Dobrowolski 30:03

Okay, so you can have, you know, complete control over your schedule.

Joni Wickham 30:06

Yeah. When you’re the mayor’s Chief of Staff, your schedule is not your own. And often you’re not the one dictating your life. So for the past two years, I have really appreciated having greater control over my life.

Patti Dobrowolski 30:16Y

es. So you’re still working with Sly. So I’m just there’s still some, you know, he likes to get things done. So yeah.

Patti Dobrowolski 30:26

Okay. Good. All right, so that you’ll have complete control over your schedule and the type of work you’re doing. Okay, good. Yeah. And what else? For fun, I like to throw some mysterious things out. And I do this every day, I’ll throw out some things like, surprise me, or like, if you could organically see something happened that was like, that would be the most amazing thing. Is there anyone you’d like to meet? Or have a conversation with? I mean, you put Michelle Obama in the front of your book. Yeah. So you know, is that part of your agenda?

Joni Wickham 30:26

For sure, for sure. So that would certainly be one thing. The other is to continue to grow our consulting firm in a manner where we have the ability to say no to projects that aren’t in alignment with our worldview. Yeah. With your values. Yeah. Yeah. And to projects that are going to relinquish that control over my schedule.

Joni Wickham 31:21

That is a great question, huh? Okay, I’m gonna go fun in personal.

Patti Dobrowolski 31:26

Okay, I love it. I’m ready.

Joni Wickham 31:27

Hey, we are currently building a pool in my backyard. And my theory behind building this pool I have an eight year old daughter is that when she is older, our house is going to be the place that all of her friends want to come to, so I can keep my eyeballs on them. But also, I have amazing step children who are a huge part of my life in my orbit, and I want to be able to like have them and their kids, my grandkids, I want my house and my backyard to be full of those people.

Patti Dobrowolski 31:58

Alright, so we’re gonna see that just filled with life, all kinds of experiences and life and adventure for you. Because that’s what kids bring and grandkids bring. They bring adventure and change. That’s fantastic. I love it. All right. So I’m just throwing that out there. And I would encourage you to draw a picture of that. I’m just saying, This is really good and helpful. Joni. So next time I see you in Kansas City, which I have never met you face to face, I can be really fun. It’ll be really fun. And there, we’re gonna draw a little picture. So we have that for you to put out. And, you know, so for anybody that’s listening, like you’ve had this amazing career, really, and you know, you’ve had a huge amount of experiences, you’ve made a huge impact in the communities you’ve worked in. And with the people that you’ve served, I would just say that right off the bat. But what would you say, you know, for people that are listening, like how can they begin to step into this without fear? So they banish their self doubt and their fear to step in? What tips would you give them?

Joni Wickham 33:02

I think it’s important when we’re thinking through all of that, to get really clear on your values, what is important to you? What are the things that make you tick, then you can get clear on the very first thing, we talked about your leadership style, what is your leadership style, what are ways that you can tweak it to make it more effective? And then the last part of that, I think, is to really think through the proper ways, according to your values, your expertise, in a way that feels authentic? Where are those entry points where you can become a leader in your community? You know, a lot of people initially think when you think about leadership, I think running for office, I will never well, I won’t say that.

Patti Dobrowolski 33:46

I was gonna say take that back. Yeah, right away. Right away. Time.

Joni Wickham 33:51

Yeah. I think elected office is an absolute great step for a lot of people, but it’s not for everybody. And it’s also not the only outlet for leadership.

Patti Dobrowolski 33:59

Yeah, it’s not the only way to serve your community. Exactly. Yeah. And so find a way to serve right, understand your values, get your leadership style, and then find a place to serve. And to make your mark and impact which you certainly have done and continue to do in the community. I can’t wait to see what happens for your next I love that you did this podcast without knowing me much about me and that you took the risk to be here because you’re incredible. And everybody you should pick up a copy of her book, The Thin Line Between Cupcake And Bitch, taking action driving change and getting results because you are totally results driven. Thank you for taking the time today to speak with us.

Joni Wickham 34:40

Well, Patti, I have admired you from afar for a while and it’s just a real treasure to be able to spend this time with you. Thanks for having me.

Patti Dobrowolski 34:47

It’s been awesome. Okay, everybody, you know the drill. If you like this, be sure to share it with your friends. Get everybody to listen to the Up Your Creative Genius podcast and follow Joni Wickham, all of her social media stuff will be in the show notes. And I can’t wait to see what you’re up to next. Joni. Thanks again, and we’ll see you all soon.

Patti Dobrowolski 35:10

Thanks so much for listening today. Be sure to DM me on Instagram your feedback or takeaways from today’s episode on Up Your Creative Genius. Then join me next week for more rocket fuel. Remember, you are the superstar of your universe and the world needs what you have to bring. So get busy. Get out and Up Your Creative Genius. And no matter where you are in the universe, here’s some big love from yours truly Patti Dobrowolski and the Up Your Creative Genius Podcast. That’s a wrap.

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