Spirit Driving Institute Leila Johnson – Transformation Teacher


What’s Going On – My Response to Charlottesville


Last week, Brett and I attended a great business marketing class. The instructor mentioned a long standing rule for businesses - don't share your views on politics or religion through your business. He stated that people assume their customers share the same views as them. And that posting your political or religious leanings can alienate your customers. All the participants nodded in agreement.

Then, this week happened and I can't be silent any longer. I'm not going to apologize if this alienates anyone.

The Charlottesville white nationalists rally and the responses from the president had me speechless for awhile. I shook my head knowing that white supremacy is still such a force. Even worse, I can't believe that we have a president who isn't bothered enough by it for my liking.

You see, Data-Scribe is owned by me and my husband, Brett - two black entrepreneurs who check the "Independent" box on our voter cards. Some of you might wonder what's the big deal in sharing that.

For more than half of the 14 years we've been in business, most of our clients were outside of New Mexico and we never met them in person. Also, we haven't posted pictures of ourselves in too many places. All of that was on purpose.

We noticed that staying largely anonymous online gave us a level playing field. Sometimes when people meet us first instead of seeing our website and portfolio first, they just treat us "differently". It's something that I'm sure other black business owners encounter, but don't like to admit.

This didn't stop us. We feel honored and humbled by all the times we've had a "seat at the table". The number of high profile projects we've worked on, client relationships we've built, and business experiences we've lived through are mind boggling anytime we take a minute to reminisce.

Our parents lived through the Civil Rights Movement. We feel so blessed to have had the opportunities we've had just one generation later. Also, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wonder what my grandmother would think about the life I lead. I'm sure she would have a sense of pride. And we want to pass down that sense of pride in our heritage and gratitude for today to both of our daughters so that they can strive to do even better than we have.

We often play the "What would life have been like for you in the 1950s?" game with our older daughter. It's a way to show her how much she has to be grateful for and not to have a sense of entitlement. (Don't know if it's working, but, hey, we're trying!)

We ask her things like "Would we have lived in this neighborhood?" No. "Would you have gone to this school?" No. "Would you have had the white friends you have?" No.

Then we ask her "Why?". And she says "Because we're black and black people didn't get to have those things back then." Simplistic, but hopefully gets the point across.

So, now I think about that game in today's context and can't help but feel like we're going backwards. Could the white supremacy movement gain enough momentum that the 1950s picture I painted could once again become a reality? How do we deal with having a president who continues to reveal his true colors in increasingly disturbing ways? How do you encourage your young black children with the usual rhetoric of growing up to be whatever they dream about? How do you say, "You could even be president!" with a straight face...

Let me return to where I started with this post. As far as I can remember, this is the first post where I've mentioned anything related to politics and race. I was inspired by the CEOs of public companies sharing their views and disassociating from the president. It feels good to share how I've been feeling for so long in this way.

So, where do we go from here? My knee jerk reaction is to donate money to an advocacy or human rights group. That seems like an easy way out to make me feel like I'm doing something. But, how do you know which one and whether your donation is really making a difference?

I don't have the answers right now, but will continue to seek ways to make a difference. I'd love to hear what other small business owners do when they feel moved to take a social stand.

In the meantime, I'll continue to play the "1950s game" with our daughter and hope that those conditions remain a thing of the past.


The Universe answers “quiet prayers”

At the beginning of this year, I was battling the flu, colds, and laryngitis off and on forĀ 6 weeks. It was the strangest thing. I don't get sick very often, but when I do, it's much milder. I think that part of it was stress-related. And the other part was the Universe telling me something.

You see, at the end of last year, we shut down for 2 weeks for Winter Break. I remember saying to myself how wonderful it was to have this time off. Then, I remember also saying that I wasn't looking forward to getting back to our typical routine--waking up early, getting our daughter ready for school, making and packing her lunch, getting into office mode, and getting down to work.

It was such a fleeting thought. I only said it to myself, once. But, boy, did the Universe ever turn it into a prayer to be answered. My "quiet prayer" seemed to result in the Universe saying, "Oh, you don't like your routine. Well, let's shake it up a bit."


Authenticity in Your Journey

I just looked back on my last post and can't believe that it has been almost a year since I felt inspired enough to write something on my blog. Instead of beating myself up about it, I realize that it is indicative of who I am and what I am all about.

Yes, there were many times when I had an idea that I wanted to write about, but didn't feel a strong reason to do so. This past year has allowed me to experience so much growth on a personal and professional level. If I had written something, I think I felt that it would have been forced. After all, how could I comfortably sit here giving advice about travelling an authentic journey when I wasn't feeling that I was doing the same.


Being Thankful or Showing Off?

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. As a foodie, I love the fact that it has no pretense. It's all about food and fun. Then, comes the shopping and December holiday madness. :)

Thanksgiving is also about giving thanks (duh!). So, I thought it would be good to discuss the fine line between being thankful for what you have versus being boastful. This season is an ideal time to show thanks for what you have (and even what you don't have). It's basically about being happy with where you are in your life and understanding that the present serves a purpose.

At what point does being thankful turn into being boastful? When do people feel like you're just showing off? Do you feel uncomfortable talking about your success because you fear that it will be taken away? Do you worry that others will be jealous and not want to associate with you?

I find myself in an interesting position with this topic. As you know, I believe that success is about more than just money. So when I speak of being successful, I'm not saying that I'm rolling in the dough. At the same time as an author focused on success, are others expecting me to be "winning" in all aspects of my life and business 100% of the time?

I would love to hear how other authors, coaches, self-improvement gurus, etc. handle this same topic. Also for the entrepreneurs and professionals who are on their own success journey, how do you handle walking this fine line?


A Dedication

To my grandmother,
who inspired me spiritually;

This is part of the dedication from my book, Driving to Success: Let Your Spirit Take the Wheel. Today would have been my grandmother's 100th birthday. She was a big part of my life since she lived with us from a little bit after I was born until I was 16.

Also, she had a strong influence on me spiritually. Here's a short passage from my book to give you a window into her Personality:

...I grew up attending African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church services. My grandmother was devout and a regular church-goer. She also taught me a lot about the Bible and how to lead my life in a spiritual way. Even though she was was dedicated to the AME church, I can remember her opening the door for Jehovah's Witnesses and purchasing their kid's books for me. They were colorful, fun, and quite accessible for a young child. Her simple act taught me to be open and accepting of all spiritual beliefs.

It would have been wonderful to have her live to see this day when her "little baby" published a book. I know that she continues to watch over me.

I just wanted to take a minute to acknowledge my grandmother. It's also a great time to give yourself a chance to reflect on those who have had a positive influence on your life.

Love & Light,

Leila Johnson


Back in the Driver’s Seat

I'm back from a nice, long 10-day vacation with family in Denver. It was somewhat of a working vacation, but not as much as in past years. For those of you that have read my book, you'll know about Success Drivers and how important they are to establishing goals (also known as Rest Stops). My Success Drivers happen to be Money and Time. I've managed to take my own advice with my profession and found ways to have more time while making some money.

Also, since we "roadtripped it", I had a lot of wonderful insights related to Spirit Driving. I'll be sharing those in upcoming posts.

Lastly, since I am planning for my paperback book launch of Driving to Success: Let Your Spirit Take the Wheel on October 21st, I will be sharing excerpts from the book as video blogs. I'll read a passage and provide more details on what it means to you and how you can use it to improve your professional life. The videos will be posted here and on my Spirit Driving YouTube channel (pretty sparse now, but that will change). The first video will be posted by Monday Friday whenever I can get to it. I'm having too much fun with other things in life and business!

Onward & Upward and Love & Light!



What I Learned about Life from P. Diddy

Tonight I watched Sean "P. Diddy" Combs on Nightline. I was a big fan of his music in the 90's. It's always fun to see celebrities grow older and hear what they think about themselves and their place in the world. I was reading some tweets about him after the interview and came across words like rude, cheesy, self-important, no shame, and full-of-it. I can see how he comes across that way. The funny thing is that these opinions don't seem to bother him.

Even through all of that, I found 3 takeaways after listening to Martin Bashir's interview with him.

Your Spirit is different as you grow older.

Martin asked P. Diddy (paraphrasing), How do you enter your 40's as a hardcore gansta rapper?. He responded by saying that you don't do the same things because your Spirit is different. You can't do the same things when you are 40 that you did when you were 20. He gave an example from his music by saying that he now sings more about love. I agree with that with one caveat. It's not that you can't do the same things, it's just that sometimes it doesn't make sense to do the same things. You mature and your life changes, so you decide to let your Spirit drive you in a different way.

Even the most successful people feel like failures sometimes.

When asked about his 6 kids, P. Diddy admitted that he hasn't been the most successful at being a father. We often hold celebrities up to higher standards and expect them to be perfect at everything. They are obviously human too and run into some of the same challenges as non-celebrities. It was refreshing to hear that P. Diddy didn't think he was a perfect father. He has such a confident demeanor as an entrepreneur that it's easy to forget that he might have a vulnerable side when it comes to his personal life. I think we all have to be honest with ourselves and realistic about our ability to be a success in all areas of our lives.

Offer your brand to the world.

Martin Bashir closed the interview by saying that P. Diddy would now be going back to what he does best by offering his brand to the world. This isn't limited to celebrities. It's just that branding is more prominent when it comes to famous people and businesses. We all have a brand, a specific demeanor that is unique to us. Another name for it is our Personality. We shouldn't hide who we are to fit into someone else's mold. For example, P. Diddy doesn't worry about people thinking he's a megalomaniac. You don't have to go to that extreme, but just stay true to yourself.

What did you think of the interview? Any other redeeming takeaways?


Happy New Year

Happy New Year! I hope your holiday season was great. Mine was relaxing and productive. I spent time with family. It was a blast seeing our 14-month old start to understand Christmas, enjoy her presents, and play with wrapping paper!

I had several power sessions putting the finishing touches on my book manuscript. Only a little bit more to go! I'm also finishing up interviews with cover and book interior designers this week. In the process, I've connected with others in the book industry who have complimented my work thus far. That's always encouraging.

Now with resolution season upon us, I thought we could all use a spiritually focused mantra that ties into my forthcoming book, of course. How about "Let Your Spirit Take a Spin in 2010!".

If you haven't already, 2010 is a perfect time to start letting your Spirit drive in your professional life. Listen to the signs you're receiving from the Universe or your Higher Power. You'll begin to get a better idea of your mission and resulting goals.

Here's to much success in the New Year!