37: Tell Me About Yourself | Holley M. Kholi-Murchison

In this episode, we’ll discuss Holley’s book, Tell Me About Yourself, and why most of us suck at creating accurate and artful responses to this common query. Holley explains the purpose of networking (hint: it’s not transactional), how working through her self-actualization process can pave the way for professional success and more meaningful connections, and how to overcome common stumbling blocks in arriving at your own “what do you do?” response.


Holley M. Kholi-Murchison (she/her) is an entrepreneur committed to shaping the future of work and learning for evolving professionals. She teaches and coaches through her communication studio Oratory Glory, and is a founding partner at HOLI. Brands, a think tank that prepares people from historically-marginalized communities to self-actualize.

In this episode, we’ll discuss Holley’s book, Tell Me About Yourself, and why most of us suck at creating accurate and artful responses to this common query. Holley explains the purpose of networking (hint: it’s not transactional), how working through her self-actualization process can pave the way for professional success and more meaningful connections, and how to overcome common stumbling blocks in arriving at your own “what do you do?” response.

I’ll also share my own experience of working through the TMAY workbook, and some real-time realizations about the true power of Holley’s method.

Holley M. Kholi-Murchison


Holley M. Kholi-Murchison


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Website:  holleymurchison.com

Instagram: @holleymmurchison

Podcast: All Things TMAY

Episode Notes

Oratory Glory Oratory Glory is a global communication studio based in Winston Salem, North Carolina. We create learning experiences, multimedia content, and products that inspire and equip individuals and teams to communicate better for maximized performance and actualization.

HOLI. Brands HOLI. is a think tank enhancing the lives of people in historically marginalized communities by catering to five tiers of human needs.


Tell Me About Yourself, Holley M. Kholi-Murchison

MU (00:03): Hi, this is Melissa Urban and you’re listening to Do the Thing, a podcast where we explore what’s been missing every time you’ve tried to make a change and make it stick.

MU (00:20): You’d think after doing media podcast, interviews and book tours for the last 10 years, I would be really good at answering the question, what do you do? And if I’m on Doctor Oz or some other national media, I’m really good at talking about Whole3030 Melissa. But if I’m in an Uber or meeting someone new at a party or being introduced to someone through a friend, and someone says, what do you do, I suck at this answer. which surprised even me to be honest, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Telling people about yourself is something we are all given thousands of chances to practice at work at parties in job interviews. Anytime we meet someone new, even if it’s just on a 10 minute Uber ride, we have an opportunity to let someone know who we are, what we stand for and what our purpose is.

MU (01:09): Guess what? Most of us suck at it. We rattle off a soulless job title. We include lots of buzz words or tech-speak that other people don’t understand. We let other people define who we are, what we do and the value we bring to the table. And don’t even get me started about what it’s like to be a woman asked this question. When we’ve been conditioned our whole lives to make ourselves small, don’t be too full of ourselves and above all. Don’t make the men we’re talking to feel bad. Of course, I never realized all of this until I read Holley M Kholi Murchison’s book. Tell Me About Yourself, Holley and I are friends. So when we first met, I bought her book just the border, but secretly I wondered how the heck someone could turn tell me about yourself into a whole book.

MU (01:55): Now, having been through Holley’s interactive book three times and counting, I realized the TMAY process isn’t really about answering the question. What do you do? It’s about discovering yourself, reclaiming the space you deserve in the world and developing authentic, meaningful soul filling connections with others. Holley M coli Murchison is an author and entrepreneur committed to shaping the future of work and learning for evolving professionals. She’ll tell you about her 15 year career in multimedia storytelling, experiential learning, and talent development and how she teaches and coaches through her communication studio, oratory glory. She is also a founding partner at Holy brands. I think tank that prepares women. Those from black indigenous and Latinx communities and LGBTQ communities to self actualize. Today, we’ll dive into the TMAY process, the revelations I’ve had in my own tell me about yourself journey and the benefits of following Holley’s simple and accessible TMAY process. Each and every one of you has an inspiring moving, inviting story inside you. The kind of appetizer that leaves people wanting to hear more and connect with you more. Holley is about to help you draw that out just as she did with me, whether you’re an entrepreneur, looking for a job, hoping to land that deal, or just want more meaningful connection with others as with most things, it starts with you now onto the episode, Holley Kholi Murchison. Welcome to do the thing. I am so excited.

HKM (03:39): I wanted to talk to you today. I’m my school girl giddy. So I’m very happy to be here. Thank you for having me.

MU (03:45): I re-read your entire book again for the third time, this week in preparation for this call, because I’ve already gone through it twice. I’ve done the exercises. I can’t wait to get into it. And they’re really interesting topic. But before we do, I ask this question of all of my guests right off the bat, Holley, what’s your thing.

HKM (04:05): My thing is helping people uncover shape and champion their stories and bold ideas.

MU (04:12): I mean, of course you were perfectly suited to answer that question more than any other guest I’ve ever talked to before we jump into tell me about yourself and your book. I want, if you would just indulge me for a minute, we’re going to do a little demonstration of what immediately drew me to your book. So pretend that you and I are at a party and I am meeting you and I am introducing you to myself. So you would say something like, Oh, what, you know, what do you do?

HKM (04:38): I wouldn’t ask that question. So that’s a great starting point. I’d be like, what are you most excited about in this season of your life?

MU (04:46): Oh, okay. Okay. So if someone asked me that question, that would definitely give me pause. And I would probably come back with something way more inspired than what I would answer. If you say, what do you do? You go to a party? And the first thing people generally say is, what do you do? Do you want to know how I answer them? I do health and nutrition stuff. That’s literally what I say to them. I do health and nutrition stuff. That’s it? This is how much I needed. Tell me about yourself because I go in like so soft. And so I’m so weird about talking about what I do.

HKM (05:21): Wow. That’s so shocking to me that, that, well, I guess it’s not a good question. So of course, you’d be like, I do health, nutrition stuff. Cause what do you do?

MU (05:30): I think part of it and we’re going to get into it. Part of it is that I don’t want to sound braggy. Part of it is that I don’t know. I feel like I learned this lesson really early on that like the more successful you are or the more solid you are in your self image, the less you say. So I felt like someone who came right out of the gate and say, I write New York times bestselling books, and I’m a world renowned speaker and dah, dah, dah. That just sounds really pretentious. If I say, Oh, I do health and nutrition stuff. It makes me feel a little bit more humble, even though it doesn’t accurately portray who I am like.

HKM (06:07): Yeah. I felt, I felt that before the book, I felt exactly that I’m like, I can’t be like, here’s the scroll of like excellence. Now your turn.

MU (06:18): Why do we have such a hard time introducing ourselves? Your entire, your book is called. Tell me about yourself. Why do we have such a hard time talking about ourselves?

HKM (06:28): I think one of the core reasons is it’s not a thing that we’re taught in our preliminary education. When you think about K-12, if you reflect back and it’s like, what, at what grade did they teach me? How to make compelling introductions about who I am and how I want to show up in the world and your thought you’re probably like, never, like we had the option of taking public speaking class, but there was always this built up idea that this is something you should fear. So only take it if you actually want to take the plunge. And so, so many of us have gone through our entire lifetimes, never having honed this skill, but always having to show up and articulate this thing. And so it’s like, Hmm, I don’t know how to do this. I’m just going to opt to say nothing at all. Yeah.

MU (07:10): Yeah. Well, I mean, of course, no one ever not until your book, did anyone ever teach me? And I’ve been an entrepreneur and business person for more than, you know, a decade now, what do we get wrong? When people say, tell me about yourself. What do you hear your clients getting wrong more often than not? Or I wouldn’t say getting wrong. Cause that makes it sound like they’re doing something bad, but like, how are they, how are they not serving themselves in their initial answer?

HKM (07:34): They try to give too much, right? They try to give you the whole thing in one, helping, like I’ve got 60 seconds. I got to try and wow them. So I’m going to start from birth to now. And that’s usually how you lose someone. You try and give them too much information. It’s just like a water hose of info. That’s where people go wrong. They oversell. Or they just undersell right with the, like I do some health and nutrition stuff and it’s like, Oh, okay. But there’s a sweet spot in between there where it’s like, you can say something compelling that entices someone to want to engage in more conversation with you, which is really the goal. It’s like, let’s get to know each other and feel each other out. So how can I give you some appetizer to want to engage in a larger meal with me?

MU (08:14): I love that you referred to it in your book as an appetizer. You want to get them interested. You want to get them intrigued. You want to get them to want to ask you follow up questions so that you can continue that connection. What are some other benefits that come from being good at telling people about ourselves?

HKM (08:32): Oh my gosh. On a, on a self development level, right? Personal validation. I think a lot of what makes TMAY challenging too, is it’s this seeking of external validation from someone like, did I get them? Are they hooked? Did they like me? Do they want to stay? But the being able to command language in a way that clearly represents who you are, at least in this moment in time is like that. Oh, I validated that I’m here to fulfill a purpose that has been given by God or whoever you might believe in. So there’s that piece. The second is more aligned connections. And I think often we go into these, tell me about yourself conversations. Like I want to impress him. Wow. But it’s, it’s a relationship it’s like, but this is a filter moment for me to say, do, what am I into Melissa? Like, sure. I want her to perhaps know me when it gets to know me, but like, do I want to get to know her too? So those aligned connections and the third is, you know, more robust opportunities. And oftentimes when we can clearly say, this is who I am, this is what I’m about. This is how I want to lend my gifts to the world. It’s like, Oh, you’re going to attract what you can clearly like fish for.

MU (09:38): I love. And what I’m hearing in this is what I discovered for myself, going through your book and your exercises is that first and foremost, it was a discovery of myself. And you mentioned in one of the stories and one of the testimonials in your book, uh, with Tonya Rapley, you referenced this idea of breaking down. I’m trying to think of exactly how you said that you deconstructed and rebuilt. How she talked about herself is, are our stories. It made me think like maybe my story about myself is so well ingrained. And so well-developed, and I’ve looked for examples in my own life to just like solidify it. Part of what I really had to do was break down these stories. I had about myself to create something almost new, but it’s not really new because it’s me.

HKM (10:29): Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I think, right. The thing that we forget about story is like, we tell it once and it’s this ingrained thing over time, but you’re not the same person you were three months ago. I mean, hell if we think about who have you become since COVID, you’re a different version of you. And so the idea is like, how do you capture, how do you deconstruct again? Right. Here’s what I’ve been through. Here’s the narrative I’ve been telling and repeating and refreshing and like, well, what’s really true right now. Let me tell a story from that place.

MU (10:58): You keep saying the word story. And that was it’s how you open the book. You talk about the importance of storytelling and its cultural significance, its societal significance. And one of the first exercises in the book was you asked us to tell a story. I chose to tell a story about the best meal I’ve ever had. And I told this story, it was two to three minutes. I was in Sweden. I was sat at the bar. It was, I told this whole story, I’m talking with my hands. I’m getting all excited. And then you asked me to tell me, uh, tell you about myself. And I told you about myself. And at the end you prompted me to think about what was different about those two stories. What do you suspect? I discovered about those two stories.

HKM (11:40): You were probably like listicles mode with the second one. Like here’s where I was born. This is what I do this like we get, we get boring. Um, so, um, my guess is that the animated version of the male was not the same version of the story. It was like this polished buttoned up LinkedIn version of yourself,

MU (11:59): Worse than LinkedIn. I don’t know what it was. It was like LinkedIn and a button up suit and all repressed. And yeah, the first story was so much fun. There was so much emotion behind it and so much passion behind it. And so many just, it was just joy. And it’s funny because when I talk about what I do in my life, what my life’s purpose is, there’s also passion and joy and, and meaning. But like why is that not coming across and how I’m talking about myself. Yeah. And it should.

HKM (12:26): I know, I know. It’s, it’s really fascinating when you think about it, it’s like, Oh again, we were not taught how to tell robust, compelling accounts of ourselves. We’re actually taught that it’s an American culture, at least that it’s bad to talk about yourself as women. At least I won’t say that. I can’t speak in my own experiences as a woman, it’s frowned upon to be like, this is who I am and what I do and that’s compelling. And that makes me amazing. It’s like, yeah, don’t, don’t go there.

MU (12:56): Talk about yourself, but not too much because you don’t want to come off as really, you know, like I said, braggy or too full of yourself or yeah. Um, I think that’s absolutely true. And I definitely think it’s a cultural thing and I definitely think it’s as a woman thing, you’re, you’re kind of taught to just downplay everything and take up less space. You talk a lot in the book about the art of self definition. Can you tell me what you mean by this idea of self definition?

HKM (13:22): I love that. It’s so funny. You asked that because I was like, let me read up today. Cause I know Melissa is going to come through with like a page of notes. Um, I think about it simply as the articulation of how your motivations and your values shape the choices and the moves that you make in life. So that defining of self and who you are, is rooted in those things.

MU (13:45): Oh man, I’m thinking, you know, I’m thinking about that. And I would be very hard pressed without having gone through some really, um, targeted exercises to define myself. We don’t, we don’t do that. When are we asked to do that?

HKM (14:01): Very rarely, but it’s interesting. Cause we’re not asked to say it, but we are asked to do it like at work every day you are defining yourself through what you do. I mean, personally, professionally relationally, we’re constantly being called to action, but the articulation of that action is missing. So you’re like, Oh, I didn’t even realize I was that person, but I’m showing up as that person. But we don’t get the moments to really talk about it often.

MU (14:27): And that lack of articulation may translate to a lack of self awareness if I’m not ever forced to articulate exactly how I’m thinking about it or how I’m showing up. Am I even aware that that’s how I’m showing up? Yes. Oh goodness gracious. Yeah. I, so I had the benefit of going through your book and doing all of your exercises and you guiding me through this process. How did you discover this on your own? How did you create this on your own?

HKM (14:58): So I have a very organized brain. Like I like systems and frameworks and structures and um, I’ve worked 25 jobs across seven industries doing completely different things that always called on the same skills. And I hated it when people will be like, tell me about yourself. What do you do? It’s like, well, what do you want to know? Where do you want to start? And I had a colleague, um, when I was working at an education nonprofit, she knew of the work I was doing in terms of communications, coaching, helping speakers, articulate their ideas. And our team was essentially working in schools and we had to work with everyone from administrators to parents, we were called dream directors. And she’s like, can you do a training and our dream Academy and teach us how to introduce ourselves. I’m like, yeah, I can do that. I can do that.

HKM (15:48): So I just sat down with some post-its, which is my favorite thing to do. And I was like, if you were to give this a structure, like what are the steps that you’re thinking about? And I was like, Oh, you’re probably thinking about audience. The question being asked, how much time you have. And I was like, Oh, these are the steps. And I taught it from post-its and like an hour and 15 minute session with my team. And I was like, Oh, this made sense. I could see the transformation that happened with folks. And I did it for myself first and I was like, Oh yeah, yes, here’s an approach.

MU (16:20): I was going to ask if you did it yourself first. How did your own telling change before? And after going through the exercise yourself?

HKM (16:29): Oh my goodness. I stopped downplaying things. I would just, I would use one word answers. I mean, similar to you of like, Oh, I’m an entrepreneur. Oh, I work in education. Oh. I, it was just this broad cause I was just like, I haven’t excavated all that stuff and I don’t want to touch it. So let’s stick with this broad thing. And if you ask me some more pointed questions, we can get there. Um, but what I saw was I was able to maneuver conversations more thoughtfully by just talking about what I care about and then boomerang back, better questions to other people versus like, tell me about yourself too. It was like, what are you, what about you? What do you care about? What brought you here? I can, we could expand the conversation more and make it more rich. So I noticed a huge change and I was like, Oh yeah, this is the thing that people need. Yes,

MU (17:21): I can absolutely see the benefit, the immediate benefit, the like, why haven’t I done this already benefit for people who are entrepreneurs, they are independent contractors, they’re artists. They work for themselves. They have a side hustle, you know, in that case, every potential person you meet could be a really important business connection or a client or a resource or just someone that would offer you, you know, fantastic connection in, in what you do. Um, you mentioned public speaking a few times and in the book you talk about how developing this idea of talking about yourself. You’ve got to first work on it and then you have to practice. You’ve talked about practicing, practicing, practicing as an entrepreneur. Did you tackle this task much? Like any other public speaking event where you kind of nailed down how you were going to talk about it and then you just got really comfortable with it?

HKM (18:15): Definitely. It’s definitely like I have a, I grew up playing basketball and I have a coach who would always tell us repetition is the mother of skill. So I got to a point where I was like, Oh, I’m going to a networking event tonight. Let me carve out 15 minutes to work through the frameworks. I’m like, okay, if I bump into this type of audience, here’s some bullet points for how I might approach it for bumping into this type of audience. Here’s how I might approach it. Sometimes it was clunky and I walked away from the convo like, shit, I don’t know what I just said, but I’m not going to do that again. It was just like I had to plug and play and play around with it. Um, but it was definitely the repetition and the honing until I was like, Oh, okay. Yeah. I know how to position myself in any room now.

MU (18:56): And that’s really smart. I like how you say, depending on, you know, if I bump into this kind of person or this kind of person, you know, I would want to highlight different portions of who I am and what I do based on the person I was connecting with or the room I was connecting with or how I would want that connection to grow. So I think it is important much like a resume to have various versions of you talking about yourself.

HKM (19:18): Absolutely. Cause like my parents still can’t, they can’t articulate what I do, but they have a better sense of it now. And how I talk to my parents about it is way different than how I talked to my best friends about it is way different than how I would talk to potential clients about it. So that differentiation between audience is crucial because you know what level you can come in the conversation.

MU (19:40): Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And I think about, you know, I must, I’ve answered the question, like, what do you do for the last five years with this super like I do health and nutrition stuff. And you know, in going through your book, I was like, man, how many opportunities did I miss by not saying I write books about, you know, empowering people to discover health on their own terms. Like how many opportunities does it raise juicy? This is cause it’s I read your book, Holley, I did the work. That’s kind of what I came back with. Right. I empower you to, to find, to discover health on your own terms. Like I not saying that has probably cost me some, what could have been really awesome connections or opportunities. So, you know, living later, if you are not an entrepreneur, this is a kind of a question I had as I worked through the book. If you have, what would typically be a pretty well established job? If you, if you are a teacher, if you are a primary care physician, a landscaper, if you’re a full time parent, it might seem like you would just say, I’m a teacher, I’m a first grade teacher. Why is it important people in established positions like that to self-define and be able to tell their own narrative? Yeah.

HKM (20:55): Mainly because the work that they do changes over time, right? Like I know people who’ve been in the same role for 10, 15 years. And you, if you ask them what their role is, they can give you the title. But if you ask them what falls under the role, they’re like, Oh, I do like 50 million things under, like there are so many different hats. So to be able to articulate the nuances of what people do at work is important one, because then they can convey what value they bring. They can advocate for themselves when they’re looking for a raise or to pivot into different opportunities. So it’s really important to be able to communicate those things. And just on a larger company level, I’ve worked with so many companies and teams who, people on teams didn’t know what their colleagues did and it’s like, Oh wait, how are we serving this larger mission together? If we can’t clearly identify who’s on our team to do the work together. So even just in terms of like camaraderie or serving a larger vision, it’s important for people to be able to convey. Here’s what I do. Here’s what my company does. Here’s what my team does. Here’s how we work together to arrive at that same shared vision together.

MU (22:03): It never occurred to me until just now that you would want to be able to talk about yourself with people, all who already knew you. That’s what you’re saying. You’re on my team. You already know me, but here’s how I self-defined. And like, did you know this about me? Yeah, yeah, that’s right.

HKM (22:20): Because we can connect more deeply, especially because we spend, gosh, God knows how many hours a week at work. And if these are the people who you’re spending the most time with, it’s probably useful for you to know them intimately well so that you can be good in community with each other so that you can be good to each other so that you can serve and support each other.

MU (22:43): And imagine as a boss, imagine me putting the entire H you know, whole 30 HQ team through this exercise and us all introducing ourselves at our next team meeting as self-defined I guaranteed, although we are all really close that we would all learn something really important about each other. For sure. For sure. We’re going to do that. You want to beat us all through it at our next obstacle?

HKM (23:05): Yeah. I would love to. I would love to.

MU (23:10): The other thing that came to mind as you were talking is that I have heard, and I have done it myself. The addition of just to what I do, what do you do? I’m just a teacher. What do you do? I’m I’m just a mom right now. And I think the very art of going through this exercise and self-defining would help you see that there is no, just no right. In any, in anyone.

HKM (23:34): There is no, there is no just there is what you do, whatever it is, who you are and how you lend that, who to work you do is so valuable in there probably 50 million things under, you know, under the sun that you’re adding. And it’s interesting. Cause I often tell people when they’re like, Oh, you know, I don’t have that many skills or I haven’t accomplished much. And I’m like, well, let’s take work for example, or being a mother. If you were to say, I’m going to head out for two weeks, I’m just going to go away for vacation. It’s like, what kind of stuff would hit the fan if you weren’t there. And it’s like, that’s your value? That’s the value that you bring? And people will be like, Whoa, I didn’t even think about all the text messages that I get when I’m out in all the emails that are going to come or the phone calls that are going to come piling in on me. So there is no justice. Like you add value to any space you step in and to be able to communicate that is power.

MU (24:30): I am starting to see this work. You know, when I first came into it, when I first read your book many months ago, I really saw it as an opportunity for me to better explain myself to someone else. It was very much about the other person and the more I did it. And the more I talked to you even just in this discussion, the more I’m seeing that this is really a self-empowerment exercise. Yeah,

HKM (24:52): Yes, yes, yes. For you first. And it has to be for you first cause so much of what we do is like, let me prove, let me, and it’s like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Are you clear on who you are? Can you do this self excavation and narrative development process? So then when you show up in other conversations, right, you’re a light, you’re a light in those conversations and it becomes a domino effect for other people to do that and seek out that kind of development for themselves.

MU (25:19): I’m getting that like warm kind of tingly feeling where I know that what we’re saying is like so true, like universe. True. It makes me very excited. I love it. One of the things that came to mind as I was going through these exercises is how does someone avoid feeling? They’re like, here’s who I am with so many buzzwords and so much jargon. And so many like clickbait worthy phrases that it ends up meaning absolutely nothing.

HKM (25:47): Oh my gosh. Reference real life examples. Um, I think often we talk about like, tell me about yourself, encapsulates so many different parts and I won’t dive too deep in, cause you might have questions that we’ll talk about the process, but really it’s like, what is your lived experience and what are the examples of that lived experience and how you show up from day to day, if you’re citing buzzwords and adjectives and there’s no like meat behind it, then you know, that’s fluffy. Right. And the other piece is like, what’s the goal of what you’re trying to share. Are you trying to move the dialogue forward? Are you trying to get someone excited about the possibility of working with you? Whatever that intention is, what can you say that serves that intention? Right? Cause if I’m telling you, Oh yeah, I believe in education. It’s like, no, I think that everyone in the world has the right to have access to language and education that helps them self actualize. It’s like, Oh, okay. That’s different than like education is a core value to me. It’s like, okay, saying, yeah. And you know, what are you saying to, to add meat to the conversation?

MU (26:53): Yeah. That does, it feels really empty and airy until you add that meat. You just touched on. And I really loved this portion of the text. There are three things that you want to think about when you’re thinking about what do I want to leave this person with? How do I want to, like, what do I want to leave them with? Can you talk about those briefly?

HKM (27:13): They think in the, what do we want them to think? What do you want them to feel? What do you want them to do next? Yeah. Um, I, I am a emotive Pisces energy person. So everything, a lot of how I operate and function is around like feeling. Um, and my aunt who was one of my first and greatest teachers always taught me the type of communication that’s most successful is the type that succeeds and evoking emotion. So when I’m speaking or communicating, I’m always thinking, what do I want people to think? How do I want them to feel? And what do I want them to do next? Right. How can I, how can this conversation inspires some type of action?

MU (27:52): I like the example you gave in the book where the end result wasn’t nailing the sale or the deal the end result was. I just want you to get back in touch with me and talk to me a little bit more about what I do. And I think that that thinking about what this end result is, if you go into these conversations, thinking that every person is an opportunity, I feel like that cheapens the connection in such a big way.

HKM (28:19): Absolutely. It makes it transactional. It’s like, I’m gonna go in. I looked you up. I know what you can do for me. So by the end of this 15 minutes, you’re going to write me a check for a million dollars. And it’s like, if you have some kind of special magic and that’s the result you can pull, but it really is about like, how can you cultivate relationship with someone to, you know, arrive at a divinely aligned outcome for you both. Yeah.

MU (28:45): And you know, sometimes your end goal is that you want them to write a check, right? Maybe you’re hosting a fundraiser and the end goal is that, but there’s no reason that you can’t go through this process and want them to leave them with wanting to feel a certain way. You know, about the transaction.

HKM (29:00): Absolutely. Yeah. Even wanting to desire a larger conversation to get to know more or something else.

MU (29:07): So with a client like me who really has the Tate’s against sounding super braggy, how do you get someone more comfortable with stating legitimately who they are and what they do? So I’ll give you an example. I hate to say the word author. I never say I’m an author because in my own head it sounds super pretentious. And very often I will say to people, Oh, I write books, which is kind of the same thing, but it means I don’t have to use the word author. And I just have this like aversion to it. Brandon is always giving me like so much crap. I was like, why? Like, why aren’t you telling people like who you are, what you do. And when he introduces me, it sounds very different than when I introduce myself. How do I get over that? Like, feeling like I’m getting too big for my britches in being authentic about who I am.

HKM (29:55): I it’s interesting in my mind the word it’s like, you do a trace back, right? Like what about that word makes you uncomfortable? Oh, when I say the word author, it makes me feel XYZ. Where did that feeling come from? Where did that feeling come from? Where did that feeling come from? And you trace it back to the root cause. Cause sometimes it’s not that the word author sometimes it’s actually like someone told me a long time ago that I was too confident about how I talk about myself and I should like pipe down. Right. So it’s like tracing it back to that thing. The other piece is, um, mirror work. A lot of the exercises in the book are like practice with yourself, practice on audio, practice on video. And those are things that people are incredibly uncomfortable with. And when you do that practice and play it back for yourself, you can hit, you know, in authenticity when it comes to yourself better than anyone.

HKM (30:48): So that playback of leg, what was that little, what’s that little ups speak I’m doing? What’s that little, I don’t even, I don’t even pronounce these words this way. So it lets you hear yourself and get comfortable with your voice so that then you can show up. So honestly it’s practice. Yeah. Practice a little bit of therapy for some of us. So much, a lot of, or a lot of it of therapy for some of us. But that practice is, it’s like the exercising of a muscle. And I think also just extending some grace when we talked early on about, this is not a skill that we’re introduced to and kindergarten first, second grade. So you have to factor in, this is a habit that you have not formed yet. Um, that you’re trying to replace with a habit that you’ve been practicing for 30 plus or however many years.

MU (31:35): Yeah. It’s funny. There is a different, like, it hits different. When I say something, when I said that line about, you know, I write books to empower you. Like that hit like, felt like I felt it here pointing to my chest where, when I say like, Oh, I write books about health and nutrition. It’s like all up here. There’s, it’s in my throat, it’s in my shoulders. Like, I, I, it sounds different. It lands different. So like the truth really does, your authenticity really does land differently with yourself. And if it lands that way with you, it’s going to land like that with someone else.

HKM (32:07): Absolutely. Absolutely. I love that you noted where it shows up in your body. And so I think paying attention to the semantics of it is important. Like you like my throat and my shoulders, like Hm. That’s not, I’m not keeping it real. Yeah.

MU (32:20): Yeah, exactly. Is there value in asking the people that you are the closest to the people who love you, the people you love to help you with this process, for example, you know, in hearing Brandon talk about me to other people I pick up on nuances that I’m like, you know, he’s right. I don’t know that I would have said that about myself, but like he’s actually really right about that.

HKM (32:41): Yes, absolutely. It’s funny because before I came on the show, um, I talked to my wife Kholi. I’m like, all right, I have to say my thing. Here’s my thing. And she was like, what do you mean? Like that I had it down that was killed it. No, let’s take out this word and tweak it. And, but she was like, and then, but make sure you make it sound like Holley. And I was like, okay, like she knew, you know, so there’s absolutely value in, um, tapping into people who know you most intimately, who will be like, Hmm.

MU (33:14): Yeah. I love it when she makes that face.

HKM (33:18): Yeah. Can’t say that. I love it, but I know there’s a lesson, there’s a lesson there for me and I know something that will come from it. Yeah.

MU (33:25): And some, you know, sometimes again in the, in the, in the way of Brandon, he very often will look at me like, you know, you’re selling yourself short here. Right. And I’m like, yeah, I know, fine. Like, okay, fine. And, and he’ll really force me to like step up and own, you know, to own it. Which feels good. It feels good. Yeah. It’s liberating. Yeah. It can be really liberating for sure. And it does require some practice, you know, you have to be comfortable with it and the more comfortable you are with it, the more do you, do you ever get pushback? I never thought about this, but do you ever get pushback when you stand up and introduce yourself and you come into your full power in you, you share your own self definition. Does anyone ever, like, have you ever had an example where someone is talked down to you or tried to make you feel less than because you really stood for who you are? Yeah,

HKM (34:11): Definitely. Um, it makes me smile when I think about it. Cause I’m just like, I’ve learned that has absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with the other person and how they show up and how they feel uncomfortable. Like I’ve had, I’ve been in instances where I’ve been coaching speakers and I know that it’s, it’s rare to see a black queer woman doing pitch coaching for competitions, like global competition. So I’ve had people in the room, like after I introduced myself, they’re like, Oh, and they want to like test my knowledge and like be extra observant. And I just kind of chuckle because I’m clear. I know, I know what I’m doing. I know I bring value and it’s enough for me first. So I don’t, I don’t care if you know, if you’re not moved or you feel weird and that’s totally on you.

MU (35:01): Yeah. That’s so true. It’s definitely not about you. Okay.

HKM (35:04): Yeah.

MU (35:10): Your book is interesting. It’s different because I expected it when I picked it up to be just a self help book where you read through the narrative, but you want people to do some work in the books and you, can you talk about how you want people to use your book? There’s diagrams, there’s posted notes. Like how do you want people to use? Tell me about yourself.

HKM (35:28): Yeah. I formatted the book so that it feels like you are going through a workshop or being coached by someone. And you can read till the come home about how to present, how to speak. But unless you do the work of the excavating, the work of the carving out your story, the work of the practice is not going to stick. Um, so the book includes, there are case studies that reference folks who have coached and taught the, tell me about yourself method. There are interviews that break down different parts of the step by step process. And when you, when you dive into it, this it’s six steps to accurate artful self-definition. So you’re walked through each step with guiding questions, with a storyboard that you can download and walk through each part. It’s very, um, tactility is one of my core values. So I think it’s important for people to be able to like touch it, see it, scratch out. Post-its write, rewrite, see their language and their words come alive on the page. And the book very much calls you to be like, here’s some exercises, get some pen and paper exercise. Some grace don’t think you’re going to do it in one sitting. Cause you’re not. Um, and, and take your time and honor the story.

MU (36:37): Yeah. I really, I have to tell you that most of the time, when I get books that involve a workbook component, I do not do the workbook. It’s just not, I’m not a journaler. It’s like not my thing, but I really was intrigued with the process. And I really wanted, I really thought that I would already be pretty good at this. Cause I have to do it all the time for media and interviews and stuff. And then I was really not good at it. I really struggled with this idea of self definition and the more I walked through the exercises, the more I felt like I was really getting to the core of who I was. So I was very glad that I did that. It was like being coached by you personally, which I loved.

HKM (37:12): That’s how I designed it. I go through it too. Still. I still do the process.

MU (37:17): Yeah. Well you should. Because like you’ve said, you’re changing all the time. Your, your role is changing. What you care about is changing the world around us is constantly changing. Oh yeah. Yeah. What I do now, honestly, since coli came on board a year ago and started leading us in our DEI work and our people and culture work, who I am is a totally different person. And what I do is totally different. So yeah, I do need to keep going through this on a regular basis to make sure that I’m accurately reflecting the values that are important to me now. Not what was important to me, you know, 10 years ago when I started this company,

HKM (37:53): But you’re also, I call it TMAY, but your TMAYs every day, like in your stories, I’m like, I’ll tell Callie. I’m like, wow. Melissa is really just, wow, she’s going for it. She’s like, this is, Hey, this is what I care about. Right? This is what’s important to me. Like get on board, interrogate it for yourself. So I think there are so many moments like outside of interviews and IG bio’s and website bios, there are so many opportunities for us to introduce ourselves. And it’s small bites. Social media is the perfect opportunity to just give folks some stuff in small bites. Cause we get with you a full range of who you are. We get some Gus, your workouts, you know, we get you as a mom, we get you as an entrepreneur. I think those, the multitudes are so important.

MU (38:38): They are. So I never really thought about stories as like many kind of introductions to myself, but they really are. And I honestly think that doing the work that I did in your workbook has made me a lot more confident. And some of the work we’ve done as a team, as well as made me a lot more confident, just showing up like, like you said, this is who I am. This is what I believe. This is what I think this is how I’m gonna behave. Um, I think it’s, it’s all just like one big tied in story that I then get to just go out into the world and live and it feels really good. It feels really good. All right. The last question I ask, all of my guests is what one piece of advice would you give to someone listening who was ready to do the thing?

HKM (39:26): Take inventory right now today. As you’re listening to this, just map out, how did I get here? What are the skills that brought me to this place? What do I desire? What have I achieved? What do I want to do next? And if you take inventory on those simple things, you’d be surprised at what story comes to life.

MU (39:51): I love that. I’m going to include that in the show notes. Exactly. As you just said it, I love it. Holley, where can people learn more about you and find your book? Tell me about yourself.

HKM (40:02): You can learn more about me on my website, holleymurchison.com and Instagram is the place where I’m most active on social media. You can find me @holleymmurchison and you can also buy the TMAY book on my website. It’s available where all books are sold, but if you buy it from my website, I do an onboarding call with everyone who buys the book. So you get a 15 minute call with me to talk about how to best apply the TMAY book and whatever moment of transition you’re in personally or professionally you do. Yeah, that is incredible. I didn’t, I just started it recently. I was like, you know what? I want to make sure people do the thing. So if you could talk to the author and be like, I just bought this, this is what season I’m in. How should I get started? I’m like, yes, that’s, that’s my responsibility to make sure that you don’t just buy it, but you actually do it so we can all reap the benefits of you doing the work,

MU (40:53): A incredibly generous and B. I love that so much. I think people are going to absolutely love learning from you and the TMAY book and the process and experience as much as I have Holley Kholi Murchison. Thank you so much for joining me today. What a fun conversation.

MU (41:15): Thanks for joining me today on do the thing. You can continue the conversation with me at Melissa. You on Instagram. If you have a question for dear Melissa or a topic idea for the show, leave me a voicemail at three, two one two zero nine one four eight zero. Do thing is part of the onward project. A family of podcasts brought together by Gretchen Rubin all about how to make your life better. Check out the other onward project podcasts, happier with Gretchen Rubin side hustle school, happier in Hollywood. And everything happens. If you liked this episode, please subscribe, leave a five star review and tell your friends to do the thing. See you next week! From the onward project.

Thanks for listening!

Continue the conversation with me @melissau on Instagram. If you have a question for Dear Melissa or a topic idea for the show, leave me a voicemail at (321) 209-1480.

Do the Thing is part of The Onward Project, a family of podcasts brought together by Gretchen Rubin—all about how to make your life better. Check out the other Onward Project podcasts– Happier with Gretchen Rubin, Side Hustle School, Happier in Hollywood, and Everything Happens.

If you liked this episode, please subscribe, leave a 5-star review, and tell your friends to Do the Thing.