Ellevate San Diego Event: #goDo with Talonya Geary

Ellevate Network’s San Diego chapter hosted Living with Mastery and On Purpose: An evening with Talonya Geary at Hera Hub. Talonya Geary, the author of #goDo: How to Live On Purpose, is a social entrepreneur, consultant, and in-demand speaker with over 20 years of experience in business and professional development. Over the last decade, Talonya has brought her unique gifts to the personal and professional development arena, working with some of the world’s top thought leaders and influencers, including Tony Robbins. Today she serves as the CEO of Spiire, a leading-edge talent development firm in New York City.

“The way to get further, faster is to find learning experiences that you can #goDo with friends, people who will hold you accountable to your true potential.”

– Talonya Geary

In this introduction to her Masterclass (coming to San Diego Jan. 25 … Ellevate members can bring a friend to the class for free), Talonya Geary discussed her career and book. She introduced the audience to an actionable learning experience designed to give them the tools needed to remove all obstacles getting in the way of a #lifeonpurpose.

ellevate san diego godo talonya geary

Q&A With Talonya Geary

Talonya lived in San Diego for 12 years and said she was excited to be in a room filled with her peers, mentors, and friends. San Diego Ellevate Network Chapter Co-President Vanessa Hardy began the event with a Q&A with Talonya.

How did you get here?

“What led me to be sitting here is a combination of tragedy mixed with triumph,” Talonya said. Her book outlines the most horrible day of her life, the day her brother took his own life. That day changed everything for her, and she said it was the purpose that led her to change her life, write the book, and do what she does now.

The book spans ten years where Talonya developed a set of principles that changed her life and answered the big question people were asking along her journey: what are you doing and how are you doing it? She believes in taking tragedy and converting it into triumph, finding a way to wake up every day and truly live a life on purpose.

For the many authors and aspiring authors in the room, can you talk about your writing process? How did you manage the pains and joys of writing this book?

“The hardest part of writing the book was deciding to be an author. It is entirely up to me to decide I can do that now. We have a very short amount of time to go do what we want to do [in life], which is one of the best gifts I learned,” Talonya said. Changing her habits was part of the writing process, such as starting to wake up at 4 am after being someone who usually stayed out until 4 am. “It’s interesting when you make a commitment to do something, it becomes a part of your identity.”

Allowing herself to be seen in that book was another writing struggle. When she first felt finished with the book, “it was BS because it didn’t have the real story. If you would have read it then you would have thought ‘This is a successful person, good for her.’ It was missing the real part of it.” Talonya received honest peer reviews instructing her to go deeper with the book, to be vulnerable, and to show people what she went through. She considers the preface of the book to be her best piece of work, which she said was as raw as she’s ever been in her life. “If you want to read the book in color, with dimension, and find out that other people are going through what you’re going through, read the preface first.”

Convincing yourself that you are an author, similar to going through a career change, takes extra confidence and support. For successful people, the first step is mindset.

“Constantly reinvent yourself, it’s the coolest thing you can do. Reinvent who you are, who you see in the mirror, and how you react to that.”

– Talonya Geary

In Michelle Obama’s book, she talks about how asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up is ridiculous, implying that’s the end and you’re nothing else. She describes her life as constantly in progress of becoming Michelle Obama.

Talonya said she loves that concept and joked about wanting to title her book Becoming, which came out around the same time as #goDo. Writing the #goDo book was about becoming someone different, someone new, becoming who she was meant to be. After setting up for her book release party, Talonya thought, “Here I am, a 42-year-old woman, walking back to the west side [of NYC] after a party … how did you go do this with your life?” Then she thought of her childhood, as a ten-year-old Texan, and remembered a voice telling her, “If you ever want to experience the life you have in your mind, you’re going to have to go do something with it.” Though this was her first recollection of the memory, #goDo was already the theme of the book.

What are you most proud of in the book?

Talonya said the book itself is what she’s most proud of in her life, because of who she became while writing it. “I am so proud of who I am today.”

Anything you want to share tonight that people might miss in the book?

“I really want to invite you to read the book. It’s not a profit center for me, all the royalties are donated. I really truly believe that the work of writing the book was purpose for me. The loss of my brother’s life gave me purpose, so I could do the work I do tonight.” She wants the book to serve as an intervention, or if an intervention is not needed for you or someone you know, it could serve as an inspiration that solidifies what you already know.

How do you define purpose?

Talonya described purpose as the stacking of decisions you make every day, decisions from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed. She said her journey of writing the book was about her purpose, before purpose became a buzzword. “Start making these decisions and go and do these things. There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you need to live life on purpose every day. Bring purpose closer to you, like a picture. Bring it close to you and look at it every single day.”

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Talonya Geary’s #goDo Presentation

Talonya describes herself first and foremost as an entrepreneur. She had her first business at 8 years old, selling lawn mowing services door-to-door with her brother. Being an entrepreneur, she learned you could create something out of nothing. For example, the book was just an idea and now it is something you can hold in your hand.

In 2007, her life changed when she was brought on board to work with Tony Robbins, who took her from someone focused on building businesses and making money to someone focused on serving people. Now she focuses on turning people into authentic leaders, inclusive leaders, and innovative leaders.

Talonya recently read a statistic that the #1 investment organizations are looking to make is in creativity. How do you get people to be more creative? “By bringing your real person to the table, who you are and what you’ve been through. I just told a room full of strangers about the worst day of my life, and because you know that now, the creativity goes through the roof, and the business and team can grow and thrive.”

Statistics in the presentation showed that global trust in business is below 50% and 600 CEOs were fired in the last 24 months. “I think the solution that the problem is in this room. Authentic women leaders. Right now we’re in an ascending time of women, in 2025 we’ll reach the peak,” she said. Attitudes are changing around leadership right now, when 60% of people in higher education are women, and 59% of people want women in leadership. “We need leaders who have a strong sense of self, who own their defining moments, and who lead with purpose.”

How do we lead with purpose?

Talonya instructed the audience to take a break and do a “power pose” for a few minutes, describing Amy Cuddy’s research on the Wonder Woman stance, because engaging the senses promotes 500% more learning. She said she does a power pose before every speaking event, and it works. Then the audience had to find someone they didn’t know well and tell them one of the defining moments of their life. Talonya said Harvard’s Authentic Leadership Development teaches that leaders should know their own defining moments and leverage them. “It’s not enough to know my brother died, it’s what I did with that moment,” she said.

The audience then shared the defining moment a second time with a different audience member. Talonya said the second time we share it, we’re more open. Some people went back further in life after hearing the other person’s story, they went deeper, they learned more about each other. They could use that diversity of thought, experience, words, and emotion and do something new with it, Talonya said. “It’s not just to have better relationships at work, on teams, and in businesses, but it’s also what you can do with a connection. Be willing to go further, let others know defining moments whether they are tragedy or triumph.”

“This is the same group of badass women that walked into the room and wouldn’t talk fifteen minutes ago. I’m not a miracle worker. Never forget tonight. Have the bravery and courage to go deeper. Know the defining moments of yourself and others, and find more.”

– Talonya Geary

Talonya also pointed out that nobody gets a second time around in life. “Live with purpose, lead with purpose, know that you only get the ‘take one,’ whether that’s your book, the job you left, etc. What bums me out most in life is people who stay in the wrong jobs, wrong companies, and wrong relationships.”

One last favor she asked the audience was to “go do” one thing to move closer to a lifelong purpose.

“The purpose of my life was to write this book and share it with you. I hope it inspired you to live your life on purpose.”

– Talonya Geary
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“#goDo” says the audience at the Ellevate San Diego evening with Talonya Geary.

Audience Q&A Part 2

What did you have to shed in order to define purpose?

“I shed the belief that I can’t be vulnerable. It was a physical transformation where I learned to harness the moving energy in my body to heal, how animals heal trauma. Get rid of everything that is blocking you from living your purpose … I was tired of seeing people a fraction as smart as me, a fraction as authentic as I’m willing to be, a fraction as talented, doing what I wanted to do. I was tired of getting upset with them, and tired of any excuse,” she said.

How did you stay motivated to do the day-to-day things that lead to ultimate goal a few years away?

The book describes the five years of a physical practice of writing daily, using the 6 principles in the book to stay motivated and keep going. She was doing something every day to move toward the goal, such as journaling and meditating. Talonya is an avid journaler and described the mind as containing motivations and aspirations in a balloon, and you need to get them out of your head and into a place the resources can find them, to make the aspirations come true (by journaling). “I practice. Like exercise, you practice it, you can’t take a day off or you feel it. When I take a day off of journaling, I feel it. I modeled off of parts of my life I was successful in [such as daily journaling] to motivate me in an area I was not motivated in,” she said.

My purpose at 42 is different than my purpose at 32. Younger women don’t have as many defining moments, so what do you say to them?

One of the 6 principles she writes about in the book is all about character. “I learned that I could define my own character, and if I can’t define it, anyone can.” Talonya described hiring an identity coach when she first moved to New York because she wanted to redefine herself, to no longer be known solely as the co-founder of FlawLes Media. Otherwise, she said, “nobody was going to believe I knew about leadership.” Her coach taught her to define who she was going to be in New York: her name, who do she hang out with, who do she not hang out with, etc. She wrote stories about this character and then became this character. “I pass this advice on about identity and characters, such as in my work with inner-city after-school programming. This principle has come up on every stop [of the book tour]. You get to decide who you are going to be.”

If writing the book was your life’s purpose, and you have a lot of life left, how do you close that chapter and decide what’s next after something big like this is finished?

The book describes living with mastery on purpose. Talonya was of this belief when you have reached a certain level, that you could and should serve others. That is mastery, she said. The second part of the book instructs readers to #goDo and #doGood. “I didn’t want anyone to read the book and not go do. Spend the rest of your life doing good, get to purpose as soon as possible so you can go do. The rest of my life I will spend doing good. I don’t have to work, I get to work, I donate and contribute. It’s a journey, and it’s a ways away for me, it’s the north star for me now.”

If someone’s goal is to journal more, do you have advice to someone who is not a writer?

“If you have a hand to pick up a pen, you are a writer. If you have a thought in your head, you are a writer.”

– Talonya Geary

Talonya said to start with the little things, and compared journaling to a language. The first thing you do is learn the words, put two words together, learn phrases, then become fluent. She said this is the same process as journaling, just start with one word.

Do you reread journals?

Yes, she highlights everything she got done in the journal. She said she revisits who she became in the process, and reflects on what the transformation was. “Writing it increases the chances of it happening by 55-60%. If financial advisors promised 60% ROI…”

What nonprofits do the book royalties support?

The American Civil Liberties Union, The Trevor Project – a 24/7 suicide resource because 40% of LGBT teens are homeless and have the highest rate of suicide, Middle Collegiate Church for their social justice work, and the Spiire Foundation which provides free training and development resources to underprivileged youth and marginalized communities.

Talonya returns to San Diego on January 25 for an all-day masterclass, digging into the 6 principles of the book (Ellevate members can bring a friend for free!). She continues working toward her goal of creating a million #goDoers in the face of fear doubt and uncertainty.

Check out Ellevate San Diego’s upcoming events here.

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