Finding Your Fire And Igniting Change
In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Terri Broussard Williams. Terri is an executive with 20 years of experience specializing in government relations, social impact strategy, corporate social responsibility, public affairs, and innovative business operations to further the organizational mission. She’s also the author of a book: Find Your Fire: Stories and Strategies to Inspire the Changemaker in You.
Terri Broussard Williams defines a ‘fire starter’ as someone that sees things that others ignore and they take the first step to create change. In this episode, Terri and I dive into concepts from her new book Find Your Fire. We talk about what it takes to ignite change within us and turn moments into movements.
Questions I ask Terri Broussard Williams:
- [1:15] What is a firestarter and a change-maker?
- [1:44] Do you try to live your life as a fire starter?
- [2:44] Do you have a Firestarter story that lit this flame for you?
- [4:57] Who are the kinds of people we’re going to meet in Find Your Fire?
- [6:19] Was there any particular story or individual that you got to know through this process that you found the most inspirational?
- [9:06] Was a through-line in a lot of these stories is something dramatic had to happen?
- [11:01] Can you talk a little bit about the framework of the Movement Maker Collective and what you hope to accomplish with it?
- [12:15] Is the goal of your work to help people launch in the social impact space?
- [13:08] Did you see a change in the appetite for people who believe now’s the time because they’ve been forced to change?
- [14:38] Where can people find your book and more about the work that you do?
More About Terri Broussard Williams:
- Her book – Find Your Fire: Stories and Strategies to Inspire the Changemaker in You
- Her website — Terribwilliams.com
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John Jantsch (00:49): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today's Terri Broussard Williams. She's a consultant speaker and author of find your fire stories and strategies to inspire the change maker in you. So Terry, welcome to the show.
Terri Broussard Williams (01:07): Thank you for having me.
John Jantsch (01:09): All right. So let's start with, and maybe you use these terms interchangeably, or maybe they're completely different things. What is a fire starter and a change maker?
Terri Broussard Williams (01:18): Ah, they are pretty much the same, but I believe that a fire starter is someone that sees things that others ignore and they take the first step to create change. Whereas a change maker, you know, they are just a person that wants to do good in the world sometimes with great intention sometimes without, but a fire starter is truly that person that ignites change within us and around us.
John Jantsch (01:44): All right. So I'm guessing that, uh, you at least try to live your life as a fire starter.
Terri Broussard Williams (01:50): I do, but here's the thing, John, um, you know, I say that I am a fire starter and I, you know, like many that are listening, I am a leader that looks to turn moments into movements. And so sometimes you might be a movement maker that will build a movement and that's is a true definition of a fire starter, but then you might be a movement maker that will support a movement. So maybe you are back of the house, cheering someone on, or you are, you know, a, a soldier within a committee struck, or you might amplify a movement by giving to an event giving a donation or posting on social media. So there are different ways that we can be a part of a social movement for good.
John Jantsch (02:39): Well, so I guess where I was headed with that actually was, do you have a moment? Do you have a fire starter story that kind of lit this flame for you?
Terri Broussard Williams (02:50): Yeah, so I, there are a couple of points in my life where there definitely has been a match that is in night. It's something in me and it's been fuel for, for my fire and for my soul. But in regards to, um, my book that you mentioned at the top of your show in 20, um, 2017, my father passed away and I began a blog just as a way, it to really process a lot of the feelings that I had. And that led to this idea of writing down many of the lessons that I learned throughout my life, including some that I learned from my, and some that I learned in the workplace. And I began to also capture stories from friends and it became really clear that I had a structure and framework for a book, but truly what pushed me to accelerate the process was an accident that I had.
Terri Broussard Williams (03:40): And in 2019 I was doing my day job, which is serving as a lobbyist. And I was at a legislative reception. And someone was, you know, got up from a V I P couch. Usually they bring them in for a party they're very light, they're intended to be, you know, portable. And so this individual thought his cell phone was underneath the sofa. And so he proceeded at six, four to pick up the sofa to look for his cell phone. And when it came down, it came down right in the center of, of my head I'm five, two. So there was just enough room, um, for me to be under that sofa. And fast forward, I had a major concussion had to stay home for three months, no phone time, no laptop time. And so I just began to really think about how could I bring that book to life. I was already working on it, but really wanted to double down and accelerate it. And so I think, you know, there was a time when the couch was centered on my head, I became centered on the couch and that was truly the birth of finds your fire.
John Jantsch (04:46): So, so the book is essentially, I'm, I'm gonna not do it. Joseph, it's essentially a group of profiles of people, individuals that you are in your life or that you met and interviewed for the book. So tell me a little bit about who or are the kinds of people we're gonna meet you and find your fire.
Terri Broussard Williams (05:02): Absolutely. I looked for change makers around the world, so they, they are truly around the world doing a number of things. You know, when I looked at my professional career, there's this through line for me, I worked in television that I pivot into working in the nonprofit space and then move into the tech sector. No matter the juncture, no matter my role, I've always been a person that provided data to either a person or community so that they could create change. So the way that I did that work has been the same, no matter the task. So I began to talk to other change makers to find out how did they do their work? What did to get there? What were their biggest failures? So we could celebrate those failures and learn from them. When we, we have what I call a failure festival, we become more innovative, more generative, and we learn from that great themes are traditionally born outta failure. Uh, but I wanted to begin to normalize the idea that anyone could be a leader that would turn a moment into a movement. So you'll see different types of strategies to create change and different types of leadership style so that we can all find something within ourselves in one of these stories about the movement makers in the book.
John Jantsch (06:16): All right. So the, this is a very unfair question, but I'm gonna ask it anyway. Was there any particular story or any particular individual that, that you got to know through this process that, that truly you found inspirational? Maybe the most inspirational?
Terri Broussard Williams (06:31): I, I would,
John Jantsch (06:31): I told you it was an unfair,
Terri Broussard Williams (06:32): Yeah, it is fair. You know, they are equal among equals, but one that took me by surprise resided right. In my family tree, you know, so I profile my cousin, Angela provost, and for about a year, Angie was like, we have to sit down and need to talk to you about what I'm doing. And I'm always running like, you know, a hundred to nothing. And so I was like, yes, we will do that. That, and you know, I was truly writing, find your fire. And she called and she just started, you know, to tell me the story about some things that I didn't know, just because, you know, at some points in your life, you can be close to a cousin or a family member, but you're so focused on one thing that you might talk about the things that matter. And you might, might not get some of your struggles or some of your daily work. Sure.
Terri Broussard Williams (07:22): Angie and her husband had been fighting for their lives for, for the land that he owned through his father and say they are sugar cane farmers in Southwest Louisiana. And their story is so powerful that it literal vibrated something in me. And I began to ask more questions about even my family lineage, but it's such a powerful story that it's featured in the podcast 16, 19 as well as in the book. And that that book was written by a fire starter in order to create change in the last three years. And so I am so honored and lucky, you know, to be a fire starter among fire starters. Um, but was so surprised that Angie's story was one that made me cry when I heard it.
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John Jantsch (08:48): I imagine there are a lot of people out there that have this fire have this idea, have this passion, but sometimes it's a really scary leap. I mean, oh, absolutely. Maybe in, or, or you're just gone a hundred miles an hour and who has time to stop, right. Or you don't get a couch dropped on your head. Right. So, you know, were, was a through line in a lot of these stories is something dramatic had to happen. Like they, they had it or, you know, some they got fired from their J uh, you know, or something like that, that, that allowed them to say, you know what? This must be the time.
Terri Broussard Williams (09:20): Yeah. I think it differs, you know, with each person. I think of, you know, I recently expanded by your fire by a hundred pages, told some stories from the pandemic, some stories that were challenging, you know, during the last like one is the Karen Weaver who led the Flint water crisis, a movement that continues to date even past her term as mayor. But the one that comes to mind is Ashley Chan. So when I first talked to Ashley Chan, I met her because she was learning how to become an advocate. She was, you know, going through some programs to give her the skills needed. When I ran into her a couple of years later, she had started one of the most popular podcasts for advocates and people in politics in the state of Texas. And it was taking off like wildfire. It was insane. But during the pandemic, Ashley was on the front lines of COVID response, figuring out how to get people, well, hot meals. You know, then a couple of months later, Ashley was on the front lines of, you know, ensuring that Asians were not victims of hate crimes. And so I think what is the real takeaway is we will show up as leaders, no matter the challenge, we'll still have that passion. We'll still use this same framework to lead. Um, but we might evolve with each movement and each problem that we're trying to solve. So I think that is the real through line.
John Jantsch (10:48): So you have started something that you call the movement maker collective, which is really a bit of feels that like a bit of a community to bring a lot of these folks together and, and obviously support each other, collaborate, you know, give each other ideas, but to talk a little bit about kind of the framework of that and what you hope to accomplish with, uh, that collective.
Terri Broussard Williams (11:08): Yeah. So the movement maker collective is of a platform that began as a blog. And I saw that so many people were talking to each other, I would get on LinkedIn or Facebook. You know, I reach out to this person that was highlighting your blog, and now they're helping me. And so I truly wanted space to where people could just talk directly to each other. Right. And so for a while, that was happening organically, or I was setting them up on, you know, like a first blind date, if you will giving them that warm introduction they could to their work. But what it's evolved to now is I'm allowing those change makers to tell their story in their own words. So we will soon be posting our first contributor article from someone that I met simply through an email by telling their own story, Alexandria, French, her story is up at movement maker, collective.com. You can all about why she decided to quit a PhD program after reading finds your fire and launching a nonprofit. So she will begin in her own words to talk about what it's like to an international nonprofit.
John Jantsch (12:15): So, so is that maybe that's an oversimplification, but in a lot of ways, is that a goal of your work is to help people launch? I, I guess they don't have to be nonprofits, but I guess they, there certainly are gonna be in the social impact space.
Terri Broussard Williams (12:28): Yeah. That's a great question. And I'm happy you asked that because, you know, I am a social impact strategist. I want people to understand there's so many ways to, to create change. And so sometimes it might be a nonprofit. Sometimes it might be a B cor or a social enterprise, no matter what it is. If you look towards it for solving a problem and creating change that is larger than yourself, then you are a fire starter or a movement maker. I simply wanna give them the stories, tips, tools, and strategies. So they are not afraid to take that first step. Or if they're afraid, at least they have a framework on how and what they should do and the why they should do it.
John Jantsch (13:08): So a lot of people have gone through a lot the last couple years, you know, just felt like a decade, right. So do, you've been doing this for a while? Did you see a change in the appetite for people who are like, now's the time, because what the heck, you know, I've been forced to change, you know, why not make another change?
Terri Broussard Williams (13:25): Absolutely. I mean, you know, I was talking about this yesterday, so many nonprofits have popped up, you know, because of the, the racial unrest that we experie it's because of COVID and just the, the impact on the economy. Yeah. And so people are trying to figure out how can they create the change that they wanna see and have more ownership. And so we're at this tipping point where it can become a little dangerous, you know, again, you can be a leader that turns a moment into a movement. You don't always have to drive the movement. You don't always have to build it. And we wanna truly encourage people to find their right seat on the bus and also think about, you know, supporting that movement or amplifying that movement. We don't wanna get in the space where we're duplicating services that already exist. Yeah. And we're creating competing nonprofits or competing galas, or we're unmet mission needs to go unmet because we're not working together. That would be harmful to the work that we do and to our communities. So I'm hoping that, you know, through platforms like movement maker, collectives, or communities build around, find your fire, that people will find, find kindred spirits. They will find people that will help them find a way if they don't already have a way.
John Jantsch (14:38): So Terry tell people where they can find, obviously I know the book's available on Amazon and other book sellers, but, uh, a little bit about maybe before you tell me where they can find you. I mean, how do you, how do you actually go about working with folks that have this idea and this passion?
Terri Broussard Williams (14:53): Yeah. So, you know, people can definitely go to movement maker collective to get information there. I also give keynotes on how to create change, how to create movements that are truly diverse in every dimension or from every dimension of diversity. How can you guys identify the right people to bring to the table if you are a fire starter and how can you create change? Like, what are the first steps that you take also really just spending more time thinking about how we can protect our energy as people that are in the trenches. And I've created a framework called the great reset. And so I'm starting to roll that out. The world has experienced this great reset, but how do we protect our most valuable thing, which is our time and ourselves, and, you know, recover renew and realign with our life's mission. So I'm doing some of that work, but I'm also helping to consult those who are working on launching movements, or just wanna learn how to do this work. But most importantly, all of this can be found @ terribwilliams.com. My website is Terri B williams.com. And you can find me on Twitter and Instagram and you know, all of the social media spaces by using Terry B. Williams.
John Jantsch (16:08): Awesome. Well, Terry, thanks for, so from, by taking time to stop the duct tape marketing podcast, and, uh, hopefully we'll run into you one of these days out there on the road.
Terri Broussard Williams (16:17): Yes. Same to you. Thank you so much, Don, for creating this place for people who are creative and wanna learn more about how to do get in the world.
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