Stella Fox 00:00
I just want to kind of give a recap of what The F Word is. So my name is Stella Fox, I’m the host of the F word Podcast. And I own a company called High Caliber Solutions. We
handle personal and professional coaching for all shapes and sizes of people in all
different walks of life. We want to make sure that we’ve got a whole life balance. So we
want to start teaching people how to do better business. This also comes in talking about
vulnerability. And we want to be honest about the vulnerability component of what
happens when we talk about the hard stuff, when we talk about the stuff that people
don’t really want to really dive into, especially from a professional standpoint, and the F
Word that we’re referring to, for this podcast is Failure, all the ways in which we thought it was going to be this great, wonderful thing, and it is not happening, or it did not happen that way. Sometimes it’s trauma. Sometimes it’s a given moment where certain series of things happen to you. Sometimes it’s a situation that you find yourself in where you don’t really know how you got there. But that’s just where you’re at. One of the reasons why I asked you (Savannah Demers) to come on the show was so that we could talk about these things until we could allow people to have a safe space to talk about the stuff. So tell us what you do for a living…
Savannah Demers 01:04
I am a producer of nightlife cabaret shows and a professional tribal fusion belly dancer
specializing in character work and hip hop fusion.
Stella Fox 01:15
One of the background questions that I have for you, where you from?
Savannah Demers 01:18
All over. Really? Generally, I might have Sam from the south.
Stella Fox 01:22
And where are you at now?
Savannah Demers 01:23
I am in Washington State. What’s the greatest thing to ever happen to you? It would be
meeting my husband.
Stella Fox 01:28
Is the fact that the greatest thing ever happened. What makes you say that?
Savannah Demers 01:31
If I look at all of the other good things that have happened to me in the past 15 years, they would not have been achievable for me on an emotional level without his support and his inspiration. And his just imperturbable optimism. You know what I’m talking about, you know that occasionally that imperturbable optimism comes with things like a humor defense mechanism, that stuff it can be annoying to the to the more serious types like you and me, but he challenges me and he makes me remember things that are easy for serious people to forget. All of the other amazing things that have happened to me since then have kind of built off the relationship that I have with him and the bomb that it is for me personally.
Stella Fox 02:12
That’s what you want in a partner. And a companion and it’s rare to find that.
Savannah Demers 02:17
Well, I’m honored to be here, thank you.
Stella Fox 02:19
Do you have something that comes to mind for you, that kinda talks on failure?
Savannah Demers 02:23
It was a project, it was earlier this year, I was signed on to a local nightlife production
company and that did not work out for me. I learned a lot from it. I guess what I would
want to focus on is the show that I produced and the operational side of it, because Front
of House did fairly well, but backstage and the operational elements where I really feel
the failures were. And a lot of that had to do with the chemistry of the people I surrounded myself with and how they related to me and how I related to them.
Stella Fox 02:53
So talk to me about when you talk about the fact that you were dealing with these
people, like did you immediately know or did it become apparent to you after?
Savannah Demers 03:02
It became apparent to me after time with them, a few red flags went up, I generally
assume the best of people, I assume that anything I see on a social level is not going to be
a problem professionally. And that’s simply not true. One of the big things that I learned
through not listening to those red flags, when I saw them in social situations, before I
worked with this partner was to trust my instinct in that regard, and to lay down terms
beforehand to make sure that I’m not just assuming that everybody’s going to treat this
situation, the way that I’m going to treat it.
Stella Fox 03:40
Can you talk to us about the red flags?
There is a certain volatility to this person socially, that should have been a clue to me that they had communication issues. And those communication issues really floated up in the regards of we both would spitball about the show conceptually all the time. And we would assign tasks, and they would get done. But they would not always get done according to the deadlines that my partner had in their head, which were not actually laid out in any written or verbal format for me. So there was a large miscommunication due to the fact that we weren’t communicating the proper thing. And that’s something that I probably could have anticipated if I had been paying more attention. So to recap for anybody who might have been in that situation
beforehand and just to make sure that I understand, the partner that you were with at the time, did not communicate their expectations in regards to deadlines and always felt for you like it was a moving target.
Savannah Demers 04:41
Yes, that’s exactly it.
Stella Fox 04:42
And then for you, the other side to that you weren’t communicating that you felt this way.
Savannah Demers 04:47
I was not communicating strongly enough that I felt that way. And looking back, I should
Stella Fox 04:52
Tell me about that. You say that you didn’t feel like you were communicating strongly
enough, you remember at the time kind of why you didn’t or why you didn’t feel like you
Savannah Demers 05:01
And now we start tying back in the past and trauma because one of the reasons I didn’t
feel like I could is a reason that I have trouble communicating my needs quite often in
professional situations, which is that I grew up a working class kid, a lot like you, and I
think working class kids really want to make the most of any opportunity they’re given.
They feel a need, an immediacy to impress the people they view as their superiors. And I
really wanted to learn from this person and have it work out, what I thought I was doing
was rolling with the punches, when what I was actually doing was kind of allowing the
project to degrade through a sort of mild neglect on my part. I was doing the work, but I
wasn’t doing it in a way that was effective, because I wasn’t communicating because I
wanted to impress her. Looking back, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Stella Fox 05:50
This show really is talking about look at the time, it made sense. And at the time, that was
the information that I have in hindsight, hindsight is 20/20. So you know, of course looking back on it, we’re like, “Oh, I can’t believe I did that”. Or “I can’t believe I allowed that”. But ultimately…
Savannah Demers 06:06
Stella Fox 06:06
Part of what shapes who we are, would you say that this person that you were working
with and partners with was a toxic person?
Savannah Demers 06:12
For me? Yes, I don’t think the person would be a toxic partner to everyone. But the
chemistry between us professionally is such that it was a toxic relationship for us.
Stella Fox 06:21
And what’s changed since then?
Savannah Demers 06:23
I’m no longer a producer in the company anymore, I have gone back down to being a
principal performer, the professional relationship is still really good. We just, we both kind of acknowledged through a very honest conversation after that experience that we tried it on and it didn’t fit, which is completely fine with me. I am looking into the reasons why I had those communication failures through lots of avenues. One of them being therapy, the way that this is going to help me professionally is with anxiety management and being able to deal with the idea of conflict, so that I can stand up for the things that I need as a support member of a production team or as a producer of a whole show myself because it’s also really important in my industry to trust your experience and your ideas when you’ve been doing this as long as I have, because everybody has a very cultivated vision for their shows. Getting your idea out there and solidity and communicating it well is going to be what attract the people that you need to surround yourself with.
Stella Fox 07:27
Business owners struggle when they’re starting a company, they see a vision for it but
they aren’t always very clear when they communicate their expectations or the vision to
someone else. And then they’re unmet expectations for the business owner as a visionary, “why isn’t this being executed the way I saw it?”…The challenge to that is in two parts. The first one being expectations management. We are communicating what our expectations are and the end picture. And then we are being very fluid about how we we deliver that vision, someone else’s interpretation of that vision may result a better vision than we can ever imagine for ourselves. And having the flexibility to have that change, having the flexibility to see that it takes a different form or different shape, cause it never looks like what we think it should. And so in that space of your industry, of making sure that you have the ability to communicate what your vision is, everyone struggles with that. It’s not intuitive. It’s not something that you’re naturally born with. Everyone must cultivate the skill. And so I think just even knowing that would be just hugely valuable for everyone listening to this is to know that it’s safe to know that you’re not really great the skill and that you’ve got time to build it. What would you say to someone in your shoes?
Savannah Demers 08:36
If you are in any business that’s creative, and you’re looking to go to the next level, you
need to be ready to meet the challenges that other creatives are going to give you head
on but with kindness because this all creative industries, and I’m sure all industries to
some extent, but I only like to speak on what I know for certain all creative industries are about input and output of information to better what we’re giving to the public. If you can’t deal with something that’s going to feel like conflict, maybe look into that before you decide to take on a bigger project because your communication will break down. If you can’t deal with those challenges and deal with those people and those hard notes.
Stella Fox 09:18
Do you have a tip or suggestion for the audience in regards to anything that has been
helpful or useful to you, professionally or personally.
Savannah Demers 09:24
Don’t be afraid to learn new things. Don’t be afraid to teach yourself. Don’t be afraid of
yourself and your own curiosity and your own instincts.
Stella Fox 09:31
And how would a person know if they are living in fear?
Savannah Demers 09:35
The only way out is through. If you want what you’re so afraid of losing or of being…. I
think of the anxiety involved with being close to achieving a goal or going for something
you really want, in the same way that I think of a haunted house, you decided to go in
there, you want to be there, you want to have the experience. But at the same time, it’s
terrifying to have these experiences and get out to the other the other side, you have to
really bring up your resolve and trust in yourself and soldier forward. And I think it’s really important for anyone who’s living in a state of fear to realize that they can do that they’re worthy of doing that. They don’t deserve to get left behind until you’re ready to receive help by drawing upon your resolve, then no one can help you but you.
Stella Fox 10:25
Did you know, at the time, that you were failing?
Savannah Demers 10:27
That’s an interesting question for me, because I struggle with anxiety. Oftentimes, when
I’m in a stressful situation, I will feel like I’m failing when I’m not. Technically the show did not fail. It failed on an operational level and it failed my vision of it. So I guess the short answer would be yes, I knew I was failing at the time. But I probably felt like I was failing a lot more than I actually was.
Stella Fox 10:51
You mentioned anxiety. Can you talk to me about anxiety?
Savannah Demers 10:55
Well, there are lots of ways that anxiety can happen in a person, I have what’s known as
clinical anxiety, which means that my brain does not produce enough of the chemicals
that keep you brave and happy. So what I do to treat that is I take a daily medication that
helps my brain produce more serotonin and which helps me feel better and be able to
handle stress more, you can also learn anxiety, it can be very much a learned thing, if you experienced trauma in your childhood, which I have had my fair share of those stories. But if you experienced trauma in your childhood, this is something that you can learn just from being unsafe in any situation. So I mean, I suppose it even if you had a particularly long abusive employment situation, you could develop some mild anxiety about workplace issues. And that would totally be something that would be reasonable to go see a therapist for. Your mind is part of your body, it needs treatment.
Stella Fox 11:55
I love that so much. Part of my personal story: when I found out that my ex husband was
having an affair, I was talking to my therapist time is Brenda Aufderhar and she’s worth
her weight in gold. And it’s like what does the future look like? And I couldn’t tell her
because it was foggy, this it was unclear I couldn’t see the way forward I couldn’t see
through. And then she said something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. She
said that clarity only comes when you have the ability to look at all the options regardless of outcome. It’s not anything you have to decide that day, you don’t get to to look at it, you get to touch it, you get to feel what it looks like in your mind. And you don’t have to commit to that. It’s not disloyal to look at it and be aware of it. Nobody goes into
marriage wanting to get divorced. Going through that process and having her say “Look
at it, just just see what it is, just see where it goes.” allowed me to have clarity; it allowed
me to look at every single option that was out there and to make the decision that I
needed to make. That was game changing for me, I love that I had the opportunity to
share that with you.
Savannah Demers 12:54
I had a thought crystallized during all of that haunted house talk. When I say “the only
way out is through”… I just want to add that that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. If
you have people that you trust, that are friends that don’t raise red flags, that you feel like you could have a personal professional connection with, bring them with you. Don’t ever feel like you’re in this alone, because some of us get involved in really strange changing industries that are really complex and volatile. Like live entertainment, it’s important to surround yourself with people that you trust that make up for your shortcomings just don’t surround yourself with the first set of people that comes along.
Stella Fox 13:32
People of origin are not always the people of influence.
Savannah Demers 13:36
The right people are worth waiting for.
Stella Fox 13:38
It’s really important when we talk about looking for a therapist that we’re finding a good
match. Because this is a relationship let’s be perfectly real about what this is. You are
going to a person who is teaching you coping skills and communication skills. And if you
don’t have a connection with them, go find another one, and go find another one, and go
find another one, until you find one that speaks your language, that has similar shared
values that you do, who is a expert in the categories of care that you believe that you
need. And there’s no there’s nothing disloyal or shameful or impolite about being like you know what? It’s not working out. This is not a good fit.
Savannah Demers 14:12
And in addition, they won’t see it that way. If that’s what you decide.
Stella Fox 14:16
Savannah Demers 14:17
And they won’t be hurt or anything. They’re trained to not be hurt.
Stella Fox 14:21
And this is their business. So they know that that not all of their clients are going to be the right client for them, and that their skill set may not be the right match. So it’s really
important when you’re talking about finding someone who’s going to help you who’s
going to mentor you and develop you, you know, it’s important that you find a person that matches, that has a good fit for you. And if they don’t please go find another one.
Savannah Demers 14:41
Stella Fox 14:42
I love to talk that we got to talk about that because I was like “Oh! this is super important.” This too, this moment of uncertainty or doubt or stress or worry or grief or anxiety. It will
Savannah Demers 14:53
The only way out is through.
Stella Fox 14:54
The only way out is through. For the listeners who are wanting to learn more about you,
how would they get in contact with you?
Savannah Demers 14:59
Search for Savannah Demers on Facebook. I do have a fan page. I am committed to
doing better next year than I have this year with keeping it updated with content about
what I’m doing. I have a welcome people on my regular Facebook page. So feel free to
look me up and add me there.
Stella Fox 15:15
All right, that was our podcast interview with Savannah Demers. This is the second
episode of The F Word Podcast. You can find us on Facebook as well as on anchor.fm. And
that pushes out to nine different channels. I believe that the iTunes Store and Google Play
are two of them as well as Spotify. I look forward to seeing you guys here next week. Take care.