Welcome to Episode #3 of the Sensory Friendly Solutions Podcast with Renée Warren, Founder of We Wild Women and host of the Into The Wild Podcast, where we discover how to “help a million female entrepreneurs launch and grow a wildly successful company!” With her incredible wisdom, Renée helps guide the audience through work from home in a pandemic, and well, daily life.
About our guest
Throughout the course of this podcast, we’ve had the real pleasure of interviewing truly impressive people who have built, and continue to build, organizational excellence. At this point, we’re no stranger to people with audacious goals. The indomitable Renee Warren is no different and the mission statement of her company We Wild Women is proof:
“I have one gigantic mission: To help a million female entrepreneurs launch and grow a wildly successful company!”
Renee is the host of the Into the Wild Podcast and we discussed the power of this unique medium in our current time. Into the Wild does not shy away from the hard, messy conversations that every one of us must face. It’s when not if and the podcast hopes to “teach you the guiding principles in how to start and grow your business while overcoming the voice in your head screaming “it’s not possible!”’
The perfect paradox: Working from home during a pandemic.
It’s created social tension, wide-spread fear, and uncertainty for families and individuals respectively.
How do we live in the unknown?
After only three episodes on the Sensory Friendly Solutions Podcast, it’s clear that we have two choices:
- We hide in the proverbial laundry room until the hurricane passes through town
- We double-down on what makes us capable of handling this moment. We lean in to it.
The former is tantamount to allowing the moment to consume us. The latter is doubling-down on our commitment to allow it to bring out our highest human qualities.
Renee Warren is clearly living in the latter.
We’ve spread our wings in this podcast to deliver sensory-friendly solutions to every diverse corner. Whether it’s families, parents, children, professionals, or, as we’ve seen in this episode, entrepreneurs, we’re all navigating the current moment as best we can and we’re each feeling the push and pull of sensory overload.
Given that fact, it’s become clear that what we’re really craving at this moment is leadership. And Renee’s audacious goal to help 1 million women start their business is infectious. It’s this infectious spirit that Renee honed and crafted into what it is today.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur most of my life, having started a restaurant when I was 17 years old… My mom told me to go get a job and I said, “I’ll start a business,” because I thought at 17 that entrepreneurs didn’t work a lot and they made a lot of money. So why would I get a job working for somebody else?
So my entrepreneur journey started then, and it hasn’t ended.”
It’s not just working from home, what has changed because of the pandemic?
Working with her incredible client-base through We Wild Women, Renee has seen the power of entrepreneurship shine in the pandemic. Consider the idea of having to pivot:
“…with COVID, I will say there’s a lot of things that are going to change. And a perfect example would be the healthcare system.
…a lot of general practitioners and some doctors have chosen to do phone calls for their consultations with their patients, which normally you would have to go to the office, which most things can be discussed over the phone.
…for me, I’ve had a couple of instances where I’ve needed medication for a strep throat or whatever, and I didn’t even go and physically see a doctor. I took pictures or videos of the issue, sent it in over email.”
Is this change or acceleration?
It begs the question, has the pandemic really changed anything. Or has it simply accelerated what was coming already?
Consider the idea of remote work. Not just the new normal of working from home during a pandemic.
“…this remote work really started 10 years ago.
And I know this because I worked with a lot of technology startups out of the valley when I ran my agency, and they were all about remote work, because it allowed them to access the best talent pool anywhere in the world. So you can have the best developer in India because you can connect over Zoom and work together remotely.
You can have the best marketer in Australia, because why not?”
When it comes to the modern work-force, changes that the pandemic accelerated have been particularly challenging for families. So many people are working from home right now. Sure, if we had time to prepare for a distributed and decentralized workforce we could have made incremental changes along the way. But when we’ve been forced into a corner, time is of the essence and we simply did not have enough time to rethink our strategies, habits, and routines.
That’s where Renee Warren comes into her coaching role:
“There’s all of these things that society have created, like anxiety and stress because of being overloaded with noise and sounds, and lights and things. And sometimes stepping out of the house produces this incredible fear or sense of anxiety. You show up to work and you’re not the person you could be. When I lived in Toronto, I would have to physically go downtown to my office and everything I did was on my computer, but I had to be in an office. And, it would take me an hour to get there by subway.
It was always stinky, hot, cramped. I was always hungry and tired. And by the time I got to the office, it’s like man, I just wasted an hour, which agitated me. There was little inspiration in the commute. And now, you’re forcing me to do a job that I could have easily done at home and already been at least an hour in at work. I remember those cold days, and I would call in and say, “Listen, the subway is not working very well. Can I work from home?” And they said, “Sure.” My productivity was through the roof, through the roof. So, I got to be in my pajamas all day.”
Working from home in a pandemic tips.
How do we navigate the day-to-day of our new reality? How do we re-negotiate our habits and routines? With ourselves and our families? All the while working from home during a pandemic?
For Renee, defining why you do what you do is absolutely critical.
“I always joke that after my morning coffee, I’m like, “Hey, bye guys, I’m going to the office, heard the commute wasn’t so bad today,” as a joke. But that for me signals, you’re going to work.
And I’m one wall away from the laundry room. I’m one wall away from the kitchen and the dishes in the sink. But this is where I need to be. And part of what I do in coaching actually, is we really clearly define our target audience. So you wake up in the morning, and you go to work because you know who you’re serving, and why you’re serving them, because these people need you. For me, we help to find the target audience.”
Struggling to work from home?
We may under-estimate the world of work. That is true wen we consider the sensory overload or sensory sensitivity space when trying to work from home. But after talking to Renee, it became clear that it can’t be overlooked. Consider how much of our lives we spend at work. And consider what that could mean for someone experiencing sensory overload.
“I’m a very sensitive person for sounds, and that’s why for me, the subway commute to work was probably the worst thing I should be doing. Some people love it. They get energized by the people, they listen to their podcast episode. I can’t. There’s too much going on.
I can’t process out all the noise and the stuff that’s happening.”
What’s your media diet?
What do you fill your senses with while working from home in a pandemic?
Renee reminded us that this is also true of our current media diet.
“…that’s the thing with media too, is there’s some people that can read something and be like, “Oh, whatever, that’s a thing and opinion I don’t agree with,” and move on with your day. But there’s some people that read this stuff or see it or hear it, and all of a sudden it consumes them. And then they’re not productive.
For me, it’s being okay and feeling those emotions too. It’s okay to be frustrated and angry and curious, but know that there’s a limit to that. The moment you see that your own energy and your own thoughts are shifting more negatively, it’s time to shut that stuff down.”
Introducing the downcycle as part of work from home.
Inevitably, we’re all going to get out of alignment from time to time. What’s important, as Maureen Bennie reminded us in Episode 2, is to be consistent, set achievable goals, and get back on the horse.
For Renee, it’s about knowing when you’re in a ‘down-cycle.’
“But here’s the thing is, I call them down cycles in coaching is you can’t ever always be in alignment. Stuff happens in life. People get sick, things happen, you lose business. You can’t avoid it, and you might become misaligned. But these down cycles are necessary. They’re necessary for you too, because it’s an experience you’re learning. Something is happening, you’re growing. As Tony Robbins says, “Life is either happening to you or for you.”
As a podcast producer, I live for the ‘wow’ moment. The one thing a guest says that really blows my hair back. For me, what you just read was the big home-run of Episode #3. It can be incredibly hard to fathom, especially in the grips of a pandemic, to imagine this could be true, but what if we really internalized Renee’s message?
Understanding your own personal and professional downcycle as you work from home during the pandemic is key.
How do we reduce the “noise” of the current era?
“The first word that came to mind was noise, and there’s just a lot of noise out there. So it’s cutting through that clutter.”
But we don’t just face that as entrepreneurs. In fact, as Renee went on to teach me, there are two fundamental fears that every single person has. It’s the fear of falling and fear of loud noises. When I asked Renee about her family’s experience with sensory overload, she first spoke about her lovely son, Max.
“…my oldest son, Max, is an incredible little boy. The first moment of recognizing his sensitivity came from my sister-in-law who was running a daycare and watched him.
He went to daycare when he was five weeks old because I had to go back to work. And the first little while, it was an adjustment. He’s a newborn so we were like, “Oh, babies cry, they do these things.” Then overtime we realized that he was just “sensitive”, and I hated throwing a label at him. But I’m like, if I had to describe him, this is what he is. I was like, “Okay. Yeah, he’s sensitive.” And she agreed. And what I’ve noticed is he is hyper aware of everything that’s happening.”
Understand your brain. Really understand it.
She introduced the interesting elements of singular gyrate.
“It’s part of the brain. Essentially, in young development for Max, it was under underdeveloped.
So as you and I are talking, there could be things happening outside or a sound in the background, or a smell or something that we’re able to dismiss in order to focus on this conversation. He couldn’t do that.”
Max’s hyper-awareness has had fascinating manifestations, including an internalization of his environment that leads to a great memory.
“He remembers just stuff, people and places and maps. I’ll be driving to a place we visited maybe once or twice, and he’ll go, “Oh, no, in my mind you were supposed to turn back there.” And I’m like, “How do you know this?”
…And he remembers situations and scenarios.”
What are Renee’s strategies for reducing the noise?
“I think now, my answer to this question would be, be curious.
So that has helped me during this very emotional past six months, especially during COVID, during the Black Lives Matter movements, is really being curious has helped me understand people’s perspective. And know that there’s a lot of people that say things and do things because they’re suffering. I think just knowing that allows you to become a healer, whether it’s for yourself, your family or your friends. It allows you to also be more gracious.”
We first reflected on the diversity of perspective on this podcast. Not only what’s been recorded thus far but what’s coming in subsequent episodes.
“And why are we doing that? You and I know who’s coming and what’s coming, and that our conversations were really talking to different people with different lens views on almost all things sensory.
…sometimes when we have a problem, we like to find people who resonate with our problem, and who are just like us, with the same problem and the same circumstances. That feels very comfortable and we think we can learn from people who experience exactly what we experience and the way we experience it.”
Look for different solutions.
Christel offered her own experience of sensory overload in an effort to capture why we’re doing this. Because if we lose a holistic perspective, we lose something fundamental.
“That really is exactly it, and I’ll bring it back to myself. If I only look for solutions offered by and shared by people with hearing loss, I’m missing out. I’m missing out both on understanding the problem of sensory sensitivity and sensory overload, and the possible solutions that are out there. And that really makes me … I actually want to hear from the audience and their thoughts about this, about finding, listening to people where you go, does this relate to me? How does this relate to me?”
The Sensory Friendly Solutions Podcast lets you be curious.
Christel encouraged us all to echo Renee’s call to be curious and authentic at this moment.
“Renee left us with the advice to be curious. And that, I think when we’re looking at problems and trying to find solutions, as I talked about, putting a problem or a solution in a box and finding only what immediately resonates, that lacks that spirit of curiosity. So I think as we continue forth in this series, really putting our mind in a place that makes us want to learn more and makes us be curious.”
Throughout the course of the Sensory Friendly Solutions Podcast, we want to ensure that you take action. Moreover, we hope we have, in some way, improve your quality of life.
“In September, Peggy had the Sensory Friendly Solutions team, Christel Seeberger, our CEO, Dr. Dhilip Kasturi Rengan who is a dentist and current MBA student with the company, to talk about their current research on sensory sensitivities in the dental world, and how dentists can do better to provide for their patients.
We’ve talked about families, we’ve talked about autism awareness, we’ve talked about the social determinants of health, we’ve talked about entrepreneurship. In this innovation segment, we want to point you to a really special video talking about sensory-friendly solutions in the medical field.”
Renée, thank you for your leadership and for your participation in the Sensory Friendly Solutions Podcast. We really appreciate the insights and wisdom you shared to make working from home during a pandemic, and daily life for everyone, in fact, better.
We look forward to seeing you back next week for Episode #4 of the Sensory Friendly Solutions Podcast with Autism-Awareness Influencer, Occupational Therapist, and TedX Speaker Bill Wong.
Thank you for being on this journey with us.