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Today I have the pleasure to Interview Trystan Reese
Trystan Reese sprang into the public consciousness in 2017 when he and his partner Biff told their transgender pregnancy story in the mainstream media. He and Biff are also the adoptive parents of Biff’s biological niece and nephew. They are proud to have expanded the public conversation about trans reproductive justice, queer families, and what it means to be a father. He regularly tells the unique story of his family’s creation to audiences across the country. He is also the Director of Family Formation at Family Equality, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ families and those who wish to form them.
In this episode, we talk about:
- A basic understanding of what it means to be transgender
- A better understanding of LGBTQ parenting
- concrete tools for increasing your own competency around transgender inclusion in the business world
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– Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another episode of “Explode Your Expert Biz Show” and today I’m here with the one and only Trystan Reese. How are you doing Trystan?
– I’m doing great, how are you?
– I am incredibly well, really excited about this interview, ’cause we’re going to be talking about inclusivity and as well, how did you build your business. But before we get started, tell us a bit more about you. Tell us about your fascinating journey so far.
– Sure, sure, I mean well, professionally my background is in the LGBTQ movement, so I spent almost eight years travelling the country with a national organisation and I actually became part of a very small elite team of people whose job it was to figure out how to change people’s minds on LGBTQ issues. And so, it was literally my job to sort of parachute into an area where they were gonna vote on something related to the community, find people who were against gay people or transgender people and then change their mind. Which is as easy as it sounds. That’s a joke, it’s not easy.
– Yeah no, I can imagine, okay, definitely can imagine.
– But it is also a science. You know there’s a lot, there’s a lot of research on the science of bias, the psychology of bias. And so it was my job to sorta take all that research, work with my team, then figure out what’s the formula? You know, A plus B equals C. What are the inputs that get someone to change their mind or move forward on LGBTQ issues? So I did that for eight years, and my background is in theatre. And then slowly coming out of that with my theatrical background, I just kind of accidentally stumbled into doing that type of work, taking the science of how to change people’s minds, taking sort of my story telling and speaking ability that I was not born with, but was trained in, and then kind of leveraging those things into my own side hustle, my own side business, being able to do story telling and then building curriculum to help people understand practically how to be more LGBTQ inclusive, but also how to cultivate an attitude of humility and openness and curiosity and not defence when it comes to approaching these issues from a business perspective, from a personal perspective. And then I just, I’m just really good at that. And it took me a long time, but now I’m really good at that, and so you know, when you do what you love, and it’s something that the world really needs, then it ends up being a pretty good calling, so yeah.
– When was the moment that you realised that you wanted to be a voice for the LGBTQ community?
– To be honest, I think in my hubris of youth I always thought, I’m gonna be a voice, you know? But luckily I had smart people around me who were like, “Okay, well why don’t you learn “some things first?” And then sorta as is natural, I think, through your early 20s, when you’re like, “I’m gonna change the world!” And then the world is like, “Ha ha!” You know? And after having done so much work in the LGBTQ movement, I realised I just have so much more to learn, and so much more to work on, so that if and when the moment comes, I’ll be ready. And so that’s when I really focused on professional development. I really focused on learning curriculum development. I really focused on learning how to manage my own, my own sort of emotional traumas. You know as an LGBTQ person, it is not an easy place to be. Anywhere in the world there’s gonna be hardship, there’s gonna be difficulty, there’s gonna be trauma. And so I really worked to heal all of those things so that I could be the kind of person where, when I’m standing in front of a thousand people and someone stands up and asks me a really difficult question that is gonna hit some part of me that, another person might say they were offended, but I don’t like to use that language. But, I’ve had, for example, I’ve had a high school student stand up in front of a thousand of their classmates and ask me if I’ve had the operation. Just as an example. And so, I just did a lot of work so that, if and when I got to that point where I’m in front of a lot of people being asked a question that’s really hard, I’m not gonna react, I’m gonna respond. I’m gonna be able to maintain my integrity and that person’s integrity. So I just worked really hard to get good at all the things. And then like sort of, I started doing training and that was fine. And then I ended up actually getting pregnant and having a baby and telling my story publicly. So, that really catapulted me into the spotlight in a way that I didn’t expect, but that I was 100% ready for. Because I had done all this research. I had spent all this time learning about story telling, about how to tell, how to explain who you are in an accessible way, in a relevant way that people would understand, that wasn’t confusing or belittling. And then I’ve been able to leverage that sort of small media blip into a sustainable income stream for my family.
– So tell me a bit more about your journey at the very beginning. Because there are some people from the LGBTQ community that sometimes they might have an easier journey, where the people that have more understanding around them, with environment that are more understanding and others that are complete rejecting, really having the hard. How was that for you? Was it really hard for you, or did you have a nurturing environment around you?
– Yeah, I mean it’s, for me it’s somewhere in between, I guess. It’s pretty complicated. You know my parents, I’m from a Canadian family, so I would say that they’re pretty liberal, they’re pretty accepting, but I think when a child throws something at you like I’m getting a sex change basically, I think that even the most accepting family is gonna have a struggle with that. And I think my parents, especially my mom had a really hard struggle with that. And I think some extremely hurtful things were said that I have had to spend many years unlearning. And undoing sort of the damage that that did to my psyche. And when I started transitioning I had a lot of people in my life who told me you’re not actually transgender. You’ll never look like a man, you’ll never sound like a man, no one will every believe you’re a man. You’re gonna regret this, I mean all of those kinds of things. And so, and that did a lot of damage as well. You know, and so, I think I didn’t experience necessarily kicking me out of the house, I didn’t experience necessarily bullying in school ’cause I actually transitioned when I was out of school. But I still know what it is like to be told day in and day out by the world, and also people close to you that you’re worthless, you’ll never amount to anything, no one will ever love you. I mean I’ve heard all of those things over and over and over again, in really overt and in subtle ways, yeah.
– If you have to pinpoint the most useful thing for you that helped you unlearn or go through those toxic things that were in your head, ’cause it doesn’t matter, like anyone can relate in a moment being told that they were worthless or that they didn’t amount to anything, whether it’s transgender or not. So that can be relevant for any person here that is listening. What was the one thing that was really really useful for you in that moment?
– I mean, I don’t know if it’s one thing, other than, I mean I think putting myself in the situation where I was going to be excellent over and over again. And so I think saying yes to professional and personal development opportunities. If someone is like, “Will you be part of this leadership development programme “because we really need someone who’s transgender?” I think other people may have been offended by that, I wasn’t. I was like, I don’t care why I’m there, I wanna learn. And I said yes to those kinds of things over and over and over again. And when I worked at a nonprofit and they didn’t give me a professional development stipend, I fought for that. I said, “Okay, if you can’t give me a raise, “I want $1200 a year so I can go to a conference, “so I can get a mentor, so I can go to this training, “so I can go to this workshop, “so I can go to this retreat.” You know, I think I just, I don’t know, I just worked really really over and over and over again to be excellent. And then, I think when you reach that point, and you are, all of the sudden it feels like standing in front of 5,000 people and there’s three balconies watching you and you tell your story. And then there’s this moment of silence at the end and then all of the sudden everyone is on their feet. And they didn’t give anyone else a standing ovation, just you, and it’s like, oh my god. Like the world was wrong, I’m good! I’m smart, I’m open, vulnerable, I have a unique story to tell and I can tell it with both excellence and humility. Always wanting to get better. Eventually that kind of crowds out the other stuff and then over time it’s like, oh those voices which seemed so loud are now so small. And they’ve just sort of been woven into that larger fabric of who I am and what I’ve survived. Yeah, and so I think for me also just letting, letting the bigger voices in, letting myself appreciate and accept that there are some that I’m very good at. There’re lots of things I’m not good at and there’re lots of things I have to work hard to be good at, but there are some things that after working and clawing and failing, that I’m like, “Okay, no no, I can do this.” Ya know?
– And so I think–
– It makes perfect sense. And so what I’m hearing you saying is that actually putting yourself first and your personal development first, that helped you as well like really have the confidence in yourself. And I think there are some times that confidence can come from, sometimes you just have this innate sense of confidence, we don’t know where it’s coming from, but sometimes the confidence can come from the outside as a validation. And that builds the inside. So there is an outer and inner world in part of confidence. There is a question before we looked at now how you built your business, which is going to be the main part of the interview. But there’s another question I want to ask you. ‘Cause, one of the main reasons why I left Italy, and I love living in London is diversity. Now unfortunately Italy is a very closed country, is very racist, is incredibly close minded. And that’s why I couldn’t fit there. And as soon as I got the opportunity to move to the UK, I was like, yes, finally I can find a place where, like it really doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, green, man, woman, like in particular London is just, I can feel this is way more accepted. And there is now, in terms of corporate responsibility, now there is like this tick box exercise, okay, we need to have the transgender person, we need to have the black person, and we need to have the black woman. We need to have an Asian woman, we need to have an Asian man.
– And can we get a Muslim?
– Can we get a, right right.
– I know it’s like there’s this whole, like united colours of Benetton goal that they have.
– Exactly. So do you see this as a check exercise that corporations are doing, or businesses are doing, or do you see this at least as movement in the right direction, because before I wasn’t even like that? Where is your mind at?
– Yeah, I mean for me, I’m just like, I think because I worked in such a practical field for so long working on political campaigns, for me like any movement forward is movement forward. And I’m just very practical and so honestly I don’t really care how I get to be in a room. If it’s because one of the partners in this corporate law firm wants to put it out in the blog and make them look good and so they’re gonna have some trans trainer come in and do some perfunctory training, I don’t care why I’m in the room. I believe that transformational change can happen no matter what. And some people are gonna show up because they’re required and some people are gonna show up because they know and believe it’s the right thing to do, and some people are gonna show up because they hope that the people in power are gonna be shamed. You know, they hope that I’m gonna get out there and say, “You’ve been doing a bad job.” Or “You’ve been messing up.” They want that vindication, you know? And I’m like, I’m here for all those people. And the way that I construct my training is I really, it’s science, it’s the science of bias, of the psychology of bias. There are developmental stages that people go through as they let go of how they thought the world was and how it should be and embrace the way that the world is and should be. You know and so, for me, I construct my whole training around making sure that no matter where someone is, if they’re super resistant, if they’re open but cautious, if they’re really open and if they’re open and defensive. Wherever someone is in their process, I’m gonna hit every single stage, and every person is going to move forward. And it may mean that some things go over the heads of people who are in the really beginner stages. It may seem that some parts are boring to people who are in the really advanced stages, but everyone’s gonna move forward. So, for me, I would, I’m just not one of those people who’s interested in examining why the change is happening or where it comes from. Like I don’t care. It’s a chance to do good work. It’s a chance for someone to move forward, and that’s great, you know? That’s change, and I’m here for that.
– We’re definitely on the same page on this. Because I’m like, well at least we’re moving forward, at least the conversation is happening. And then it’s gonna take an whole new level, the more the conversation is happening and the more we move forward. But I think that even just the fact that there is a conversation, compared to just like 20 years ago, or 15 years ago. These are a huge step forward. So now–
– Yeah. I will say the second part of that is, that damage absolutely can be done. So in fact this happened recently, I was asked by a big corporate law firm, “Will you come in and do a trans training for us?” I said, “Sure, but I’m not available when you need me.” They’re like, “No problem, we’ll hire someone else.” They called me three weeks afterwards and they were like, “Oh, can you come and fix it? “Because the person we hired made things worse.” So I think it is absolutely possible, if people are doing something because they wanna check a box, they’re not being intentional about who they’re hiring. They’re not hiring someone who really has the expertise to lead the conversation well. So that everyone comes out better than they went in.
– That sounds like a good point.
– It can absolutely backfire, but it has the chance to get, to move everyone forward.
– Yeah, because at the end of the day, it is a sensitive conversation, it is a sensitive topic and it needs to be handled with people that know how to handle the topic.
– And people don’t know that. They literally think, and this happens to in the LGBTQ community, people think just because I’m a member of the community in somehow that equips me with the skills I need to help undo centuries of homophobia and transphobia and to help unearth whatever might be triggered in the room by someone how is transphobic or has a trans kid and is conflicted about it. Or is transgender and has trauma around that in the room. Like that is an advanced skill that took me 15 years to learn.
– Need to be able to–
– Not everyone can do it.
– handle the situations, I agree with you.
– I totally agree with you. So now, let’s talk about the, Trystan let’s talk about, a bit more about your business and the way you built your business. Because now in every situation, when you’re running a business there is always the self-doubt of am I going to be good enough? And in particular now in the work that you’re doing, then there is, I’ve talked to a lot of clients that they said, “I don’t want to get out there “because I’m gay, just because I’m worried “about if I’m in a live event, for example, “what’s gonna be the reaction of people in the room? “Am I going to be safe?” And you know, that makes you first of all think about how fucked up things are, but also it is something to address. So how was that for you? We had a brief chat at the beginning of the interview about this.
– Yeah. I mean for me I feel like, I can’t be different than what I am. I can’t pretend not to be transgender. I can’t pretend not to be, the word we would use in most parts of the U.S. is queer. I’m very visibly different in that way. And so for me, I just learned really early on in my life, and then in my professional life, that I can’t, it’s much more, it’s much better for me if I just front load those things about me that make me different. And so even if I’m not applying to a job or a role that is specifically about transgender things, I’m gonna talk about how being transgender makes me the best person to do this job. And when I think about doing equity and inclusion and diversity work, and coaching and consulting, it’s like, I will automatically say, in my proposal, in the first paragraph even, this is what’s going on for transgender people in the world, this is why it’s so critical that your business specifically needs to make sure that you are welcoming them in an intentional way. And the best person to teach you how to do that is someone who’s been there, who has personal experience who is transgender. And so I put that like right there. I think that serves two purposes. One, it puts me sort of head and shoulders above the rest because I think that’s gonna make them feel better, let’s hire someone who really actually knows, ’cause they’ve been there. But then number two, it’s gonna show them that I’m not embarrassed about who I am. I’m not someone that they have to tiptoe around, that they have to worry am I gonna do or say the wrong thing. And I think a lot of people, they’re worried about that. And rightfully so. We are in a culture of critique. We’re in that cancel culture. You know, people are used to if I do or say the wrong thing I’m gonna be shamed, I’m gonna be belittled. There’s lots of reasons why that happens that I won’t get into, but I want them to know that that’s not me. I’m proud of who I am. Nothing that they do or say is gonna shake my sense of self-confidence and security in who I am. And that’s why they should work with me, ’cause I’m gonna bring that attitude to every room, to every space. You know I’m gonna be super honest with them, I’m gonna hold them accountable to a high standard, and I’m never gonna do it in a way that feels bad. When I look at their website and I say, “Here are the 287 instances where you talk “about men and women, and here’s my suggestion “for using more inclusive language.” It’s never gonna feel bad. You know, I’m never gonna be like, “How dare you do this?” So I think by really front loading who I am, what makes me unique, what makes me different, number one I’m showing them that I’m unique compared to other people that they might work with, and number two, I’m showing them that I’m gonna bring that sense of security and confidence into the relationship and that that is going to sort of buoy us through even the hardest parts of what can be a difficult process. Does that make sense.
– It makes perfect sense Trystan, absolutely 100%. I would love to dive a bit deeper into your business in terms of what to help, because you decided literally I’m going to use what is my strength which is talking, performing, I’m just gonna be there and show them how it’s done, right? So when, in terms, no? Am I wrong saying that?
– I mean in some ways. I don’t think about it like showing them how it’s done, I guess because for me I’m like, okay there’re some things I’m good at, and so I’m looking for opportunities where I can get better. So just an example, do you know the podcast “The Moth”?
– No, I don’t, not familiar with that.
– Okay, so it’s the number one story telling podcast in the world.
– They do live events and then they showcase them on their podcast, “The Moth Radio Hour” is what it’s called and it goes out through public radio station in America. So I got an email from them. And they’re like, “We heard an interview with you, “we’d love to work on you to tell your story.” And for me, I’m like, “Great.” Why? Because professional story tellers, producers, directors are gonna work with me on my story. You know, so I’m gonna learn and get better. So it wasn’t like I’m gonna go in and show them how it’s done, it is like, I’m gonna say yes not to an opportunity where someone’s like here’s a microphone, before I know how to do it. Instead, I’m gonna look for that opportunity where someone’s like, “Hey, can we work with you? “Can we coach you? “Can we help you craft your story?” Yes, that I’ll say yes to. So sorry, sorry to interrupt you.
– No it makes sense, thank you for clarifying that.
– Always asking for help, always trying to learn.
– You decided to get out there and you decided to build your business mainly based on your personal brand. So what were some of the challenges that you faced while building a business which is so heavily reliant on your image and on your face, like I’m doing? So what were some of the challenges that you faced while growing the business.
– Oh, so many, so many. I mean so I think about it in a couple of ways, one is in that building the brand part, and then one is in the sort of backend business part. So I think the building the brand thing, I think for me it’s just like always being humble. Always being humble. So, for example a bit part of my brand, it sounds strange, but a big part of my brand is Instagram, and I actually get a lot of work through Instagram. So I will post anecdotes about being a parent, I’ll post about what it means to be transgender in the world today, I’ll tell little stories. I’ll do trans education on Instagram. I just have a funny thing that happened to me, and I’ll sit with it for a while and I’ll think, okay, can I use this to tell a larger story that will be a lesson for people? And in a lot of ways, that’s what I do in my training, and so people will read that and say, “Oh, this is a new or different way “about thinking about inclusion or trans issues. “I wanna hire him to come and do this “in a more formal way with my business.” And so a big part of that is just iteration. And so I’ll post something and I’ll know, I look at it, I look at engagement maybe like five or six times a day. So how many likes did this get, how many comments did this get? I work with a couple of free platforms where you can plug it in to the backend and it’ll tell you, here’s your best performing post. And then sometimes people will come to me and they’ll volunteer. They’ll be like, “I’m a huge fan of your work, “how can I help you?” And I’ll say, “Oh I see that you’re a social media “professional, will you give me an analysis? “Will you look back through my year of Instagram “or Facebook posts, tell me what are the common themes “that people love? “What are the most common words “and phrases people are using? “What do they respond to? “What don’t they respond to?” And I let people help me. And then I iterate. You know if I post something and two days later there’s not a lot of engagement, I’ll archive it. I just get rid of it. Okay, people don’t like it, I want everything that they see to be quality. And so if I try something new, it doesn’t work, okay, archive it, get rid of it. If I post something and I get even like three or four critical comments, not people being like “You’re dumb.” but people saying, “Yeah, I would encourage you “to look at this analysis a different way.” Or, “The way you worded this doesn’t work for me, “and here’s why.” Like that hurts, because you know ego. But I do my best to engage with my ego and think, okay, but are they right?
– Are they arbitrarily right? Or is there a part of this that is right that I can learn from? And then the next time, I post about that comment, I’m gonna use a more nuanced way of talking about it. Or I’m gonna do a post about what it means to be called out, what it means to learn. And then I’m gonna get more engagement on that. You know what I mean? It’s just, it’s constant. And I would say the final thing about that for me is like figuring out both what people wanna see, but also what serves my brand. So for a while I was posting about hateful messages that I would get. Like if someone sent me something transphobic, I would post that and be like, “Look at this.” But the more I continued down that path I just thought that’s not who I wanna be, that’s not what I want my brand to be. So occasionally I’ll say like, here’s a really hard thing that I heard this week, but that’s gonna be woven in to a larger story about resilience or pride or power or fighting your demons or something. Like that’s what people want from me. That’s who I am. I am a hopeful, optimistic positive person. I’m not someone who’s gonna call out a 16 year old in Germany who sent me a message calling me a monster. That’s not who I am. That’s not part of my larger message. So really figuring out who am I? And in some ways I’m kind of embarrassed about that. Like I wanna be more hardcore, you know? Like I wanna be more hard hitting and righteous, that’s not who I am. I’m a super positive person who can take really really hard things and frame them through a lens of lightness and beauty and hope and power and that’s, that’s just me.
– Yeah, and thank you for sharing. In fact, what I wanted to ask you is, when you are out on social media, one of the biggest thing that people don’t want to build their brand or put their face out there, because they’re afraid of what people are going to say about them. Now, let’s get alone on the organic content, but let’s start using Facebook ads, I mean we do a lot of stuff on Facebook ads. The thing that are not said, and that are said, it’s like, don’t you have better things to do with your life, really? Just that these are the things that come in my mind. So what I wanted to ask you is that, so before you started using that and showing that person, show that post and interacting with it, but do you address it with a comment or do you let it go? Do you delete it? Everyone has different strategies in terms of pure social media management. What did you find that works for you?
– I mean honestly, what’s really really works in my favour is how much experience I have with issues of bias. It’s the same thing, it’s understanding the science. So when I look at a comment or a message, it’s easy for me, ’cause I have the skill, where is this person on that scale?
– And so, if someone is just in a really defensive, rooted in homophobia, transphobia place, delete that person, block that person. There is nothing I can do to reach them. There is no good the they’re gonna do. And occasionally, if I’m doing a live story telling event or a post or whatever, I can bring those stories up, mostly to tell people who are not transgender, hey, by the way, this is what my life is. By the way, this is what people think of us. I use it as a tool, as a teaching technique. In a way that’s also really psychically satisfying because in a way you’re taking the stones that people are throwing at you and you’re building an empire. That is quite literally what I’m doing.
– Oh thank you, yeah, thank you.
– Yep, thank you,
– Thank you,
– Thank you, thank you. This is gonna shock some well meaning liberal person in London. They’re gonna, I’m gonna be able to take this comment that some lady told me that she hoped that I gave birth to a dead baby. Like what a horrible thing to say to someone. I’m gonna take that, I’m gonna tell that in a story, live on stage in London, and 50 people in the audience are gonna hire me, to come and tell that story at their conference. I mean, what bigger FU is that?
– Yeah yeah yeah.
– Like I bet from that lady’s comment, I bet I’ve made $100,000 on that lady’s comment. It was a horrific thing for her to say, and from that, like that is a truly shocking thing to people who are not transphobic to hear.
– It is.
– That’s gonna change someone. That’s gonna inspire them to take action. Oh my god, who would say that? I would never, would my boss say that? Would my mom, would my grandma say that? I have some work to do. That has motivated hundreds of thousands of people to live their lives in a different way, to stand in solidarity with trans people. It has made me a lot of money and it has inspired people to make a difference. So with those comments, I take what I can use and then I just delete and block. But I think there’s that whole middle that I think a lot of people, especially LGBTQ people who’ve experienced trauma and have not had access to healing, they see a perfectly reasonable, open, curious question worded awkwardly, that’s gonna feel like an attack to them, because they’ve experienced harm in their lives and they haven’t healed from it. So if someone says, “Well, what’s a gender neutral pronoun anyway?” Right, I have this ability, ’cause I have that–
– To explain, to explain it, yeah, mm-hmm.
– But to first see like that’s not a malicious question. That’s a person who wants to learn and grow and know more and maybe they ask it in a weird way. Maybe it’s awkward, uncomfortable. And so usually that’s, I don’t answer those questions, because that’s not my job to answer every curious question that someone has, but I leave it up there. Nine times out of 10 the people, like my other followers will weigh in, they’ll say, “You know actually, “a non-binary person is this.” And “Actually a gender neutral pronoun is this.” And it’s not that hard once you start practising .
– And that gives you ideas also for other content, because actually there can be genuine questions and I say, “Okay, so I look someone commenting on this post, “and this is my take on it.”
– Yep, those are ideas for content for me. And so it’s that constant machine of doing it. It’s also self-awareness. It’s also for me, and it’s taken me now years, but when I start to see things, and I start to feel, I start to feel the anxiety in my body, then I’m just like okay, I have to stop. I have to put this away, this isn’t healthy for me to go down this road. And you know, it’s a trap. There’s something that’s just really disgustingly satisfying about going down that Reddit thread, you know about going on 4chan, about reading what the white supremacists, like neo-Nazi movements came after me a lot when I was pregnant. And that, you know there is something that’s like, I wonder what people had to say about me, and then you’re like, oh my god look what people are saying about me. You have to have the awareness to do what you can to assert power and then disengage and find other ways to deal with that. I use an online tool called Respondology, and it basically, it is a 24/7, it uses artificial intelligence to look for trolls and filter them out on all of my social media channels.
– That’s called Respondology.
– Respondology, yeah. I use it, it plugs into the API of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and it searches for the words and phrases it your trolls are gonna use and then it filters all those people out. It just plugs right in and it filters them out. And then once a week I can go through and look for any mistakes, and then tell it to just block anyone who is truly hateful.
– That’s so cool, that’s super useful. Super useful.
– Yeah tech for good.
– Tech for good.
– I shouldn’t have to do that, I really shouldn’t have to do that, you know? And we cannot, we can no longer count on those corporations, Facebook, Instagram et cetera. We can’t count on them to keep us safe, and so using something like that is really helpful I think.
– I have one more question before we wrap up the interview. Now there are, your business is to raise awareness about the LGBTQ community and how to deal with people in the work space, in businesses and so on. So your story naturally relates to the work that you’re doing. Now, there are some people that want to start a business that they is not necessarily, maybe they’re just doing normal business consulting or, which is not related to their background. So what piece of advice would you give them if they are in the, shall I use my story, because it’s relevant, it’s not relevant, What’s your take on that? What piece of advice would you give them?
– I mean, I would still look for what in your story is relevant to the situation. And so I think about it a little bit like okay, I actually have done a lot of work in the anti-racism space with other white people. And so, am I impacted by racism as a person of colour is? No. But, what I do have is number one I have been trained in how to do anti-racism work, but the other thing I have, is I have an experience of otherness. I am an LGBTQ person, I’m transgender and I’m gay. And so when I talk about why someone should hire me in partnership with a person of colour to so anti-racism work, is because I have enough of an experience with otherness that I am going to be able to work with white people to help them understand where is their otherness? How does that bump up against racism and white supremacy and internalised dominance and all those things. And so I think no matter what it is, whether it’s, if you do website design, are you someone who is colour blind? You see the world in a unique and special way, and you’re gonna help someone also create a website that is completely unique, that is completely outside the box. Whatever the thing happens to be, like what’s your magic?
– Good, good.
– And how are you able to use it? Did you drop out of college? As a college dropout, you’re someone who isn’t gonna view business in the same way that someone who went to Stanford or Harvard or Columbia, you could hire hundreds of those people, but are you gonna hire someone who’s going to be able to think about something in a totally unique and different way? The way that you have because you weren’t indoctrinated into the way, the MBA way of thinking.
– Like, whatever the thing is that you’re embarrassed about, that you’re ashamed of, it’s like, no. That’s your super power. You know, I used to get made fun of because I’m super emotional, I’m very theatrical, I’m very performative, you know what? Look at me now.
– Yeah, that’s right.
– I literally tell stories and I make people cry for a living, that’s my job. You know, and I can get up there and I can be super vulnerable, I can be super authentic. I can speak from the scar and not the wound. And I can make people really feel something, and I can really change their mind, because of all those things that everyone made fun of me about when I was a kid.
– So what I’m hearing you saying is, the things that you feel the most awkward about or you feel the uncomfort about, that actually can be your super power and differentiation point, but be aware to speak from the scar, because don’t choose it if it’s still open, because otherwise that’s gonna bleed.
– It is.
– That’s what you’re saying.
– Yeah, absolutely. And I think we have some really good examples. I’m trying to think about global examples, but here in the U.S., I think Andrew Yang, who’s running for president. He calls himself an Asian nerd who’s good at math. That could be something that was used to harm him, but he’s running for president. He’s made it to the third debate. And he says like, “I’m an Asian nerd who’s good at math.” You know, he takes that thing, and he just makes it like, yeah dude, I’m super smart. I have a really good plan for how to save our economy, because I’m an Asian nerd who’s good at math.
– Yeah, yeah.
– It makes sense so–
– Heal about that thing, and use that as your super power.
– Exactly, and if you’re not healed yet, then don’t use it yet. To go through the process of healing first, and then use it as your super power.
– That’s right, yeah.
– All right, perfect. It’s been interesting, it’s been an incredible interview. Absolutely loved every single second of this interview. Wonderful, I’m speechless. I got goosebumps. And I’m sure that this is gonna be life transforming for all the thousands of listeners that are going to listen to this show. So, how can people reach out to you? How can people get in touch with you? Take it. Go for it.
– Yeah, I mean, the biggest way to reach me right now, I’m actually in the middle of a website redesign right now, but my business is called Biff and I. My partner’s name is Biff and so that’s sort of what our family was, Biff and I, B-I-F-F-A-N-D-I .com. They can find me on Instagram @biffandI, Twitter the same, Facebook the same, we’re Biff and I. And my website is where people can go if they wanna hire me to come and do a keynote, do a training, any of those things. I think I may actually be coming to London in the next six months. I’m really excited, I submitted a proposal for a contract to do that, so that would be amazing. Yeah, so I’m happy to travel, love travelling. Love training, all of those things, and if you just wanna see more cute pictures of my family, then that’s where it all lives, on Instagram, so yeah.
– All right, so Biff and I, the links are going to be down there, are actually right now in the show notes, so you can scroll down and make sure you connect with Trystan right now. And let him know as well, what was one thing about his interview that impacted you? And let me know as well, because we do this show, and we do this for you. And we want to know and I’m sure Trystan would love to know what is the impact that this interview made in your life. I would really appreciate that. Trystan, one last word, before we wrap up the interview? One last message?
– Oh my goodness, that’s a lot of pressure to put on me. One last–
– That’s what we are about. Putting pressure on people.
– Yeah, I mean that’s, yeah, I mean I, Man, I’m just not someone who is very succinct, am I? Yeah, I mean I think it’s you know the actress Lena Waithe said it, that the thing that makes you different makes you powerful. And that it can really be hard to understand and embrace that, but I think once you’ve gotten there, everything else will fall into place.
– All right, thank you very much Trystan Reese everyone. Make sure you follow him and contact him. Thank you very much Trystan, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on “Explode Your Expert Business Show”.
– Thanks for having me.