Hi Haze, it’s lovely to have you join us for this interview. Let’s start by a quick introduction, tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Haze Schepmyer. I am an author, facilitator and speaker always navigating obstacles from my GRIT. I run a consulting company called Gritty Guru Company and my business is based on having conversations with people about how we all navigate obstacles or how we do hard things.
That is incredible, and what problem are you solving with your business now? How did you leap into this?
I started the business in 2019 because I was one of 300 staff working at Ontario's largest Centre for treatment and development who were laid off due to government funding cuts. My role was the Learning and Development Consultant, and, to me, it was the best job ever. The way my brain works, it kind of went, “Okay, if you're losing the best job ever, why don't you make the best job ever?” I decided to start a company based on the best job ever and doing what I love to do!
I began this journey by thinking back to my experience as a mentor at U of T to senior students and recent alumni because those conversations always ended up being about how people could navigate obstacles and do hard things. At the time of the layoffs, people around me were using different variations of the word “grit” to describe me. So, I thought I'll start by asking people to define their own GRIT by choose a G, R, I and T word that describes their default setting in the face of obstacles and captures the strengths that they reliably bring to difficult situations. The rest is history (in the making)!
This is amazing - your story reminds me of the quote “If there is no door, I will make one!”. Okay, and what does being a leader mean to you?
Leadership means listening more than being in the front. It is ultimately a form of connection and guidance.
In my experience, it's easiest to lead when I know who I am because I'm not as influenced by other people or other agenda items or other influences. If I am leading from me, I'm not second guessing or third guessing my decisions. I'm able to understand where we're going, what skills I bring to that opportunity and how I can get someone there. If I'm trying to lead like someone else would lead, I'm not actually being authentic; I'm just trying to think of what that person would do. So, I feel like the more you're aware of your strengths, the more of yourself you have to offer when you’re in a leadership position. Sometimes it isn't the case where the loudest most obnoxious person is the one you want to follow.
Wow. I love how you put that. What would you say has propelled you to acquire this mindset?
For me, the willingness to try is what has propelled me. I've had amazing teachers my whole life, I can name every teacher from my childhood, because they were all just fantastic and always encouraging me to try things. In that regard, I feel like the only time I fail is when I don't try something.
I often say I'm just carrying this big basket around and blessings just keep falling into it. For instance, I'm starting a company and I don't know anything about running a business. But I have friends who do! I had a friend who said – “Oh you're talking about grit; you must have heard of Angela Duckworth’s book”. And I said, I have not. But I'm going to read that.
Overall, what has supported me is the environment in which I find myself and my willingness to try hard things.
Amazing. And what is one piece of advice you'd give your younger self?
Keep doing what you're doing! For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved asking questions and I cannot get enough of learning. If I were looking back, I'd say Hey, little Haze, keep it up! I was that well-rounded student; I did a lot of academics and a lot of citizenship and a lot of sports. And so again, I'm just a lot of different people in one. I would literally say “Keep doing what you do, it will all continue working out for you”.
Now last, but not the least. What is a mantra you live by?
Oh, my mantra is “The best exercise for the heart is lifting up others”. Anyone from Toronto who used to drive on the QEW and Gardiner knows there used to be a huge sign with quotes. In November 1995, I remember reading that quote on the sign and thinking, that's amazing. It is what I live by and now it’s part of my daily life! I feel like it just captures my values and my favorite things to do. And “lifting up” can be taken literally like, “I'm going to pick you up off the floor”. Or it could be taken figuratively like “I'm going to hang out with you and listen to your dreams and give guidance wherever I can”. Either way, living by these words allows me to practice what I enjoy doing.
Absolutely love what you’re all about Haze! Where can others find you and connect with you?
You can find me @growmygrit on Instagram and Facebook or you can check out my website www.growmygrit.com. My website includes helpful resources that I use with my clients and I recently published in my book, “Know, Grow and Show Your GRIT! Self-Discovery Made Simple. You can learn more here: https://growmygrit.com/book/
Thank you Haze and wishing you best of luck as you continue to lift up others!
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