Recover from Work-place Bullying and regain your Confidence with Zenica.

Seeds of Self Love interview.

If you have ever suffered from workplace bullying, it can be a big hit to your confidence. Bullying in the workplace is tricky to navigate and sometimes even harder to extricate yourself from.

Listen into this interview where we reclaim confidence after workplace bullying and give you hope and ideas to move you forward.

Zenica Chatman is a certified personal and executive coach, helping women rediscover their inner strength and confidence in the aftermath of workplace related trauma. Her own journey into coaching and positive psychology began after being left emotionally broken by a pair of workplace bullies at the height of her marketing career. She went on a path to redefine her own self worth and what it means to be successful at work and now as a coach she’s helped dozens of other women do the same. As coach she helps leaders develop their own unique leadership style and create work environments that are safe and equitable. She’s also the creator of an eight-week work detox program, Surviving Corporate, that helps women establish a healthy relationship with work and puts them back into the driver’s seat of their careers.

Want to watch more episodes of the Seeds of Self-love? Check out the full playlist here. 

Prefer reading a transcript to watching the video? Read the full transcript here.

Zenica Seeds of Self-Love Transcript

Zenica: if you wait on courage, if you wait to feel brave and courageous, you’re never gonna do what you’re supposed to be doing. 

Rachel: Welcome. Today I’m interviewing Zenica Chapman. She’s amazing. I’ve met her in person, not just over the internet, she’s a personal and executive coach certified. She helps women connect to their inner strength and reclaim. Lots of things. Your confidence, your, happiness in the workplace after the aftermath of workplace trauma.

Rachel: This is one of the reasons I wanted to have her on here, because I know many of you, including myself, have had workplace trauma. I’m sure there are corporations that are not traumatizing their employees, but many are known for traumatizing them. She has an eight week program called Survive in Corporate, which I’m sure some of you are gonna be getting on the wait list for that and finding out how you can sign up as soon as possible.

Rachel: So thank you so much for joining us Zenica, welcome. 

Zenica: Oh, thank you so much for being here. I’m excited to to chat because yeah, we’re friends in real life, so this is gonna be 

Rachel: good. Mm-hmm. It is. So, but Zenica may not know this about me, but I, so now it’s probably been almost 15 years, I had a workplace trauma experience where I was a teacher in the classroom and I ended up leaving education for almost five years because I was so traumatized and I worked with a counselor and she helped me.

Rachel: but if I would’ve even known that workplace trauma or workplace bullying was a thing back then, I might have been able to do something different about it. Mm-hmm. . Feel free, if you wanna share your story about Yeah. It, or what made you decide this is something that I wanna help other people with 

Zenica: too.

Zenica: Yeah. So I think it is important for me to share my story just so people understand kind of how I arrived at this place. But , I was in a space where I really felt like I had done everything right. I went to college, I got the advanced degree, I did the work, I had the good resume. I was doing all of the things, joining the, the professional development committees and all of that stuff, and had finally landed what I thought was my dream job, right?

Zenica: I had done it and I, I did. the same way many other black women did it. I didn’t know anybody. There were no friends at the company. There was no networking my way in. It was literally, I wrote a great resume, got a call back, deliberate in the interview, and was hired. And I was so proud of that. And for the, for the first probably 18 months, Rachel, it was the dream job.

Zenica: Mm-hmm. . I mean, if, if you could imagine probably for you those first few years of teaching where it was great, you loved the work, you loved the people you were challenged in, in the most productive way, I felt like you know, just being around these people was really, really pushing me to be a better person, to be a better communicator at the time.

Zenica: And all of a sudden, literally it felt like in the blink of an eye, I was told verbatim that I was the worst employee on the team. . And that turned into, and I, and I really didn’t hear much Yeah. After that, after that. But that turned into a barrage of all the things that were wrong with me. Things that were, were ultimately my character and who I was and what made me good at my job were all the reasons that I was no longer excelling.

Zenica: There were no clear examples as to why. And I would love to tell you that, that, you know, I was confident enough to, to challenge that. But in that moment, the very first time that I heard those words, I believed them. Yeah. And I thought, oh my God, I am, I am underperforming. How do we fix this? What do I do?

Zenica: And there were, you know, things that were given to me to improve, and I went home and I created my own little improvement plan. Right. Because that’s what we do sometimes when we’re faced with this stuff, we just think the answer is just working harder. , I’ve gotta do more. I’ve gotta be more mm-hmm. . And that, I took that back into work the following week and said, here, here’s my plan for how I’m gonna fix this.

Zenica: And very flippantly was told, whatever, you know, I, if you, if you wanna do all of that, you can, but whatever. Now, you know, mind you, I had been threatened with being put on a corporate performance improvement plan. So if you’ve been in the corporate world, you, you kind of know that’s like the kiss of death.

Zenica: That’s really mm-hmm. , they’re starting the paperwork to, to get rid of you at that point. Right. Exactly. So imagine being threatened with that, coming back and saying, here’s how I’m gonna improve myself, but being told whatever, if that’s what you wanna do. Right. Wow. And so that just, it, it, after that point,

Zenica: It was really just a series of constant harassment. I was overly my work was being overly scrutinized in a way that it had not been months prior to that I was excluded from meetings with my team. Mm-hmm. I was given projects that weren’t fully being explained to me. So what I call work sabotage, where you get a piece of the project but you don’t get a key component of it, and then you’re told, well, hey, you didn’t do this project the way that, oh my gosh.

Zenica: Wow. We wanted it to be, to be done. So it was, it was just a very negative, very toxic environment. But for me it went, it went beyond that. And it wasn’t until several months later when I was out of that situation that much like you, I actually. Just kind of said to some girlfriends at brunch, Hey, I felt, I felt like I was, I was being bullied.

Zenica: And that word, that phrase was just kind of dropped into my spirit. And I got home and I said, I’m gonna Google that because it just, it was like something in me resonated when I said, mm-hmm. , I was bullied and I’m getting all the chills. And I Googled workplace bullying and all of these searches popped up and I found, like I, I know for sure in the States and in Canada, there are actual organizations designed just to deal with this issue.

Zenica: Wow. And so from there, I was just, I was kind of embolden because I was like, how is it that there’s all this research around this? There are organizations around this, there are people fighting to create policy around this, and nobody is talking about it. Mm. Nobody is telling women, oh, you’re being bullied.

Zenica: we have to address this and so, and so much like you. I thought, how many more women are leaving jobs, leaving fields where they can contribute greatly because they’re being bullied and we’re just not talking about it. We’re just chopping it up to these personality laws Yes. Of leaders and saying, oh, that’s just, you know, that’s just Phil being Phil and I apologize, right.

Zenica: Her name is Phil on this, on this call, but we just chop it up to, well, that’s just that person being that person. 

Rachel: Mm-hmm. . I love how thoughtful you are, even if there is a Phil. I mean, if y’all aren’t already impressed with her. I wouldn’t even think to apologize to Phil, let’s just say, you know, I feel like I’m pretty considerate.

Rachel: I have a few questions because I am curious, was it a manager who spoke those things to you? And I’m also curious, did you feel. That they were consciously manipulating the situation to create trouble for you to 

Zenica: bullying? Absolutely, absolutely. So in my situation, it was a manager. Many of the women that I coach also receive bullying from a manager.

Zenica: But I wanna be clear that workplace bullying can happen at any level within an organization. So it Yes. Can be one or more employees targeting another employee with threatening manipulation Yes. Tactics. But in my case, yes, it did come from a leadership perspective. And I, I do think that once, once the target was put on me, yes, there were other things that were just allowed to kind of just manifest UN until it got bigger and bigger.

Rachel: Oh my gosh. And I’m glad you made those distinctions, cuz for me there was one place where it happened in a major way and then another job where it was happening in minor ways. But because I had already experienced that, I managed it differently. But in both times it was either a peer, the first time it happened, it was my assistant was doing it.

Rachel: Mm-hmm. to me. It essentially, I was the one in the, if there’s a hierarchy, which there was like, she was working for me, but manipulating and bullying. Mm-hmm. . And another time it was a peer actually also in that other one, there was a peer and my assistant. So it can happen at all levels in terms of the dynamics of the relationship.

Rachel: And there, I’m, I’m pausing here for a second cuz there was something else that you said that just made me really wanna hone in. Are there things that you did to emotionally address the hurt and the pain and betrayal perhaps? Yeah. Of that whole situation? Yeah. 

Zenica: Not, not in the moment, no, in the moment because as I sought help, a lot of what I was told was either, . It was just the person’s way.

Zenica: I actually did go to hr and HR said, you know, this, perhaps this is just her way of making you a better employee, which is so funny to me that I’m telling HR and I specifically use the words, I feel like I’m being harassed. I feel like I’m being targeted. And their response to me was, that’s probably just her way of making you a better employee and preparing you to go to the next level.

Zenica: That’s another story for another day about 

Rachel: hr. Yes, HR needs some extra training, I believe. Absolutely. 

Zenica: Absolutely. Or I was told that, you know, if you’re going to, if, if I was going to be a black woman in this world, in this corporate world, this corporate structure, this working world, that these were just things that I was gonna have to tolerate.

Zenica: Mm. 

Rachel: Right. The expectation of yes, you’re held to a higher standard. 

Zenica: Yes, yes. Or, or that I can. , I can withstand being mistreated . Oh my gosh. Or that mistreatment and, and, and the disrespect is just a part of my journey. Mm-hmm. , it, it was like a get used to it. Yes, it hurts, but getting used to it. And so that was really, when I think about how I was trying to cope mentally and emotionally, it was this constant struggle of I know that I’m being disrespected, I know that I’m being mistreated.

Zenica: I know that I’m being discriminated against. Mm-hmm. . Cause that was a word that I did not wanna use. Right. But it was happening to me. Yes. And trying to reconcile that I’m supposed to be okay with it though. Mm-hmm. , I’m supposed to be okay with being disrespected, mistreated, and discriminated against. And so that was, wow.

Zenica: That was really all of the mental and emotional work that I was trying to do in the moment. It wasn’t until almost several years later that I was able to reconcile. That I had a right to feel all the emotions that I am feeling now, which is the work that I do with my clients now, of acknowledging in the moment as these things are happening to you and, and, and to stop this cycle of, we just don’t talk about it.

Zenica: We just don’t talk about it. We say it’s fine. It is what it is, is one of my, like most hated phrases now when people talk about, you know, all of the crappy stuff that is happening to people inside of work environments. No, no. It’s, it’s not just, it is what it is because that’s part of not really dealing with that 

Rachel: trauma.

Rachel: Yes. And I also wanna bring out for listeners, I know that there are some corporations who, that it is what it is, is like ingrained in this is how we do it. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And deal with it. But there are so many other corporations who they wanna. Pour into their employees. Yeah. They wanna invest in their people.

Rachel: They, they want to be doing the work. To me, that feels like the direction we’re moving in. And, and so even if that’s what you’re experiencing right now, and maybe this is what you coach your people on, there is likely another place where your skillset will be utilized and you won’t be treated that way.

Rachel: And if you do like the corporate environment, there are other corporations out there, Absolut, absolutely. Who happiness of the employees and workplace balance or, or good relations are an integral part where the HR hears something like that and they’re on it. And, and so I just wanna bring that up because.

Rachel: It may have been that there was a time where that is what it is and there are no other options. Mm-hmm. , but I don’t think that’s the time we’re in 

Zenica: now. No, I agree. And that is a lot of the work that that I do. You know, when I’m personally coaching people, because you know, honestly Rachel, a lot of the times when people are reaching out to somebody like me, they hear my story, they’re reaching out to me, they are in a place of complete hopelessness.

Zenica: Mm-hmm. , they know. They know that what they’re experiencing is not right, but they’ve been in it so long. Whether it’s bullying or just just a extremely toxic environment or just, you know, for many of my clients who are black women, it’s just experiencing the same thing over and over and over again. Yes.

Zenica: In different roles in different companies that they are in a place where they really don’t believe that there’s another company, another organization, or another team, or even just another manager. Mm-hmm. that is going to to value. The experience and the expertise that they bring to the team. And so a lot of the work that we do, and I think that that’s what’s so incredible a, about coaching in general is to really help people get outside of themselves.

Zenica: Yes. And so what, what I help people to do is to stop reliving the story because the story is a part of who you are now. Yes. I will never be able to mentor another young woman in the, in the field that I’m in now without telling her about my bullying journey. Mm-hmm. , it is a part of, of my history. It’s a part of my career now, but it is not who I am.

Zenica: Right? Mm-hmm. . And so I love to kind of help people get from that place where they cannot, they cannot fathom a day where this person doesn’t create a visceral reaction in their body and get them to a point where we can say their name and it’s like, oh yeah. I remember how I felt, you know, three months ago when we first started working together.

Zenica: Mm-hmm. . 

Rachel: Mm. I love how you help people to get to that place because again, like for me when this happened, I worked with a counselor and then I thought I was good, but my next job interview after that, they asked me a question and I started talking about my bad work situation in an interview. A red flag there, Rachel, never do that again because you’re not going to get the job.

Rachel: And it even it was, that interview was so terrible. And, and you know, I didn’t know I was young and I hadn’t, but it, I didn’t know until that moment. I’m still charged up emotionally from what happened to me. 

Zenica: Absolutely. 

Rachel: And, and I, I, I know this. . This was a job that I was so excited to have and I felt in a lot of ways, like I messed up the interview.

Rachel: Mm-hmm. not only because of that, like I maybe could have presented a better case in other ways, but I really feel like that was the lens that they saw me through then. Mm-hmm. , and it also brought in the question in their minds, I believe, was it her or was it them? You know, because Right. Sometimes if you, not that I was badmouthing my former coworkers, but in a way, like describing the situation, people wonder, well, maybe she’s just a dramatic person.

Rachel: Mm-hmm. who badmouth their coworkers, let’s not bring her on. Like, I feel like in the back of their minds, they were probably wondering. Whereas after, after that bad experience, I worked through it some more. So the next time I had an interview I could talk about it. And it wasn’t like, let me put my bleeding heart on the table.

Rachel: Potential boss . And so, yes. working with someone like you that that could help somebody actually score the job interview you want and not mess it up because you’re so charged and triggered and traumatized from an experience that in a lot of ways it’s not your fault. Mm-hmm. . 

Zenica: Yeah. So a couple things, things.

Zenica: So I, I will share a quick story. Mm-hmm. Of the next job for me too. I remember, I, I did land the job and I was sitting at my desk, incredible coworkers, like they had, you know, prepared like a little note. They had a little basket. Hmm. They had welcome to the team. We’re so excited and I, I went through, you know, the process and, and here are the projects we’re gonna put you on, want you to meet so and so and so and so, and I’m probably about a week in and I’m on my very first call and I start crying.

Zenica: Oh my gosh. I was bawling. . And I had to run to the bathroom because I was so emotional, because I thought these people are gonna find out that they made the wrong choice. Mm. That everything that those those other people said about me is true. And part of what happens is when we are in very toxic work environments, the only thing we’re taught, we’re taught that the solution is to get another job.

Zenica: Right. That’s what everybody tells you to do. You gotta get outta there and get another job. Yes. Right? But when we come out of very toxic relationships, what do people say? Take some time for yourself. Mm-hmm. feel, get to know you again, right? Mm-hmm. , yes. But we never do that when people are coming out of very bad relationships that they’ve experienced at.

Zenica: and so for me, I had not done the work of shedding, I call it I, I, one of the first steps in my program is dropping the lies because when you’re in an environment, especially where you’re being bullied, where you’re being picked apart, where your character is being attacked, where the very work that you’re doing is being attacked every single day, I don’t care how much personal branding and networking and all that stuff that the career coaches tell you to do, when you are in an environment like that, your confidence is going to take a hit.

Zenica: Oh, yeah. That is why it is so hard to get the next job when people tell you, mm-hmm. Oh, just, just get another job. That’s why it is so difficult is because you’ve spent so much time being told all the things that you’re not great at from a toxic work environment, constantly being questioned, which constantly being questioned also hits at your confidence.

Zenica: Mm-hmm. . And so it does make it difficult to go into the next job interview with the level of confidence that you need to display so that people peop other people have the confidence in you to give you the job. 

Rachel: Yes, yes. Oh my gosh, I’m so glad you brought that up, because you’re right. It, it, it’s true. Go get another job.

Rachel: It seems like the solution, but you’re still, you with everything you experienced right. In that new place and your, your example was so that you lived, wasn’t even just an example of your life, great people, but you still were reacting to this experience and the lies, the fears that you had from that, that is so powerful.

Rachel: Yeah. Hmm. Goodness. What are, what are you thinking now that you wanna share with us? What’s, what’s the next step? ? 

Zenica: So, so I, so the, so the first. , these two steps are interrelated. Yeah. So you have to identify what is a lie. Mm. What’s the lie from your toxic environment that you have started to internalize?

Zenica: And it’s usually some form of I’m not good enough. Mm-hmm. , it’s usually some variation. Mm-hmm. of that. Mm-hmm. . But you’ve gotta get very clear on what is it, like what’s the baggage that I’m taking? Yes, yes. It, it, it might and it, it could, maybe it’s not for you. A variation of you are not good enough, but maybe it’s, you can’t trust leadership.

Zenica: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Right. I gotta, I can’t trust my coworkers. Mm-hmm. Because a lot of people who have gone through bullying situations, we have that where nobody came to my defense, nobody came to my aid. Yep. Mm-hmm. . And so thank you for the snacks. But when, when are y’all gonna turn your, well turn your back on me.

Zenica: Right, 

Rachel: right, right. And also, oh, go ahead. Can I just ask cuz you interact with so many people. Women, we have this, I don’t know if I wanna call it a trend. Culturally it’s sometimes acceptable to be cliquey with one another. And in a workplace that can actually be very damaging if your clique is either leaving somebody out or, you know, manipulating a situation.

Rachel: And so it makes me think about some of like the mean girl tendencies in a workplace. I mean, that’s like adding fire to ca gasoline to a fire , if I can remember the analogy. And it, it makes me think of some of these unhealthy like societal things. people might act like, oh yeah, that’s just what women do actually can have these long lasting, detrimental effects to somebody’s personal life, to their professional life.

Rachel: And I don’t know if you, so when you’re thinking, talking about the coworkers is making me think, e even if you’re not the one being bullied, I hope somebody listening is also more aware of what’s happening in that dynamic. Because you can also be an advocate and say something to a manager or to HR or to that person mm-hmm.

Rachel: because it can feel lonely to be the one who’s being targeted and discriminated against and feel that nobody cares and you’re all alone. Yeah. 

Zenica: Yeah. It, it 100% can be mm-hmm. . And I, and I think for a lot of people who un unfortunately, are the only. on their team, in their office. It’s isolating anyway.

Zenica: Yeah. I mean, I can tell you of, of, not, not to get too far off topic, but I can tell you of being on great teams, but because I was the only black girl, I never, I didn’t get invited to lunch. Oh my gosh. I didn’t get invited to coffee. Mm. I mean, and everybody was very nice. Right? Whatever you need on the job, I’m here to support you.

Zenica: Have you talked to so-and-so yet you need to connect to this person and that person, and just imagine having that iteration and that, that interaction and just seeing groups of them just go to lunch. Wow. And nobody ever, and nobody ever invites you. Yeah. And so when you, when we think about, just like you said, some of these societal norms and, and developing friendships and, and things like that, be cognizant of those things now, me, , I’m a very, you know, I, you know how I am, I, I make jokes and I just said one day to these group of women who I thought were really great, we would, we would have water cooler talk all the time, and they would go to lunch and nobody ever said, Hey, do you wanna go get a sandwich?

Zenica: Yeah. And one day I just walked by and they were all sitting there eating their sandwiches and I just said, just so you guys know, I like grilled cheese sandwiches too. And they were like, huh? I was like, yeah, I would’ve loved to go get a 

Rachel: sandwich, but nobody asked me. Yeah. Oh my gosh, you’re so, I, I don’t want you to only be brave, but I am seeing and honoring you for saying that and calling them out on that.

Rachel: And, but 

Zenica: it wasn’t, and it wasn’t my intention to call them out. Yes. I really did wanna go get a snow . Yeah. , you know, I really, it was, it was another newer job, but I really liked them and I would’ve loved to gone to lunch with them. And so instead of me kind of sitting there, and I said, you know what, they’re not gonna ask me, but I think we vibe.

Zenica: And I said, Hey, I like sandwiches too. And I like coffee from that place 

Rachel: that y’all go all the time. Oh my gosh. I love it. Can I ask a question? Because one of the things that sensing right now is making me think you have at least two articles that were published in big name places Yeah. Which also makes me a little bit fan girl to you,

Rachel: And, and in one of them, what I’m hoping you’ll summarize or tell us a little bit about it, but what struck me was one word might be boldness or audacity, but audacity in a good way of you being courageous enough to speak for your needs and to tell people. either with the sandwich example, or I’m thinking of you spoke to a boss about you were given more responsibility.

Rachel: I Do you mind sharing that story? 

Zenica: Yeah, so I, I think the one that you’re talking about is the one that was published on, on where I talked about one, it was really to talk about this notion of, and, and you and I are connected to a coach who talks very much about invisible workload for women.

Zenica: Mm-hmm. in general. And so it was really just to shed light on some of the invisible workload of women. But that article is specifically of women of color in the workplace. Mm-hmm. and black women and all of the additional work that we are asked to take on without the, the conversation around compensation or promotion.

Zenica: Mm-hmm. We’re asked to assume these different duties. And then the work that we volunteered to take on, In hopes of promotion or compensation without that being explicitly stated. And so in that article, I just, I told a quick little story of how I was asked to, I was given these, these additional workload, many, many big, big projects, but there was not a conversation about compensation or promotion.

Zenica: It was just phrase as, this is going to be a great quote, opportunity for you. Oh my gosh. And me just being very, I guess a little bold in saying, but an opportunity for what? And can we really have a conversation about if this is an opportunity, are we working together to create what the opportunity looks like?

Zenica: Cuz I would lack some more coins for these opportunities. , yes. Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes I’m like, you keep your title, but I, I’m at a place where like, for me, I would like some more coins for all this opportunity. And when, not if, when can we have a conversation to specifically talk about that. But it was really just a, a, a article around addressing that invisible workload and also pushing back a little bit on this notion that we are going to be the housekeepers of the office going forward, and we are going to continue to do the shadow work of you promoting sometimes ineffective leaders with us behind the shadows or, or playing the puppet master of keeping everything moving while someone else gets the coins and the title to go with it.

Zenica: Mm-hmm. , 

Rachel: oh my gosh. I would love to see a movie. Zika Wears Prada and it’s, it’s all like, oh, let me take over this workplace about that coming in, being the boss who’s setting everything straight. . 

Zenica: But, but I mean, but I mean, I, I, I think that that really, the article was just kind of it, it was my.

Zenica: Contribution to trying to create a more equitable workplace. Yeah. And, and really helping other black women to understand the role that you, you play in that, even in the job that you have now. Because we, we, you know, the work that we’re trying to do is very big. Yes. And we often think that we have to take big, giant steps.

Zenica: Yes. But sometimes it’s just really saying, I don’t think I’m gonna do this. Right. If we’re not having a conversation about how this helps me move my career forward. Yes. And stop just assuming that we have to say yes. Mm-hmm. 

Rachel: all the time. Yes. I love that. And, and that you highlighted that, that is so powerful.

Rachel: And it also, it makes me think of a conversation I recently had with some women and they were talking about, The way they show up at work being different than their moms. Because cultural norms, even a generation have changed so much for black women at work. And it, I I, and I don’t know if it’s cultural norms is the way that I wanna put it, but they are showing up at work maybe similar to you, maybe different.

Rachel: And when their moms hear about it, they’re like, oh my gosh, you can’t do that. Mm-hmm. , mm-hmm. . And, and here you are showing us all. Yes, you can do that. And, and also helping women to see, I don’t just have to do it like it’s been done. I can address the invisible workload and these other things and I can break generational curses and all the, all the other good things that we need to disrupt.

Rachel: Speaking of, , will you talk a little bit about your event that’s 

Zenica: coming up soon? Oh, you, I was gonna say now, you know, I love the word disrupt. I know. , . 

Rachel: As soon as I said disrupt, I was like, wait a minute. There’s a reason I 

Zenica: said that. . Yeah. Yes. And I did not pay her to drop that word. . But honestly, so I, I, I like to use the word disrupt.

Zenica: And if you follow me, you’ll see that a lot of my programs have the word disrupt attached to them, because one, I know people say, gosh, that’s a, that’s a hard word. Like it’s a tough word. Mm-hmm. . And part of why I like to use that word is because the work that has to be done is equally hard. Mm-hmm. and the things that women and black women are experiencing in the workplace are equally hard.

Zenica: Being bullied at work was very hard for me. Being manipulated to accept negative behaviors in the workplace, very hard for me. , those are, you know, doing those things are hard. And so I think when we talk about how we’re gonna fix it, we need to be equally up to the task. We need that word to be equally visceral in how we’re gonna create change.

Zenica: And so I created an in-person coaching program called Disrupt Live cuz it’s a live coaching experience for black women to reclaim their power from workplace trauma. And so at this event, it’s gonna happen in Charlotte, North Carolina. And I’m gonna say cuz I know a lot of people say, well, I’m not near Charlotte, then get your butt to Charlotte.

Zenica: Yeah. 

Rachel: Hey, you’re worth it. Get on a plane 

Zenica: or near car. It’s, it’s really gonna be an incredible experience around. Disrupting some of our social norms and how we show up at work. Mm-hmm. . And so what you will get out of this experience is tips and tools for how you can start to disrupt some things in your own life.

Zenica: How you can stop doing work that just leads to stress and burnout, but work that actually is gonna push you and push your career and your life forward. And we’re gonna do that together in a very fun and safe environment for you to have these conversations and really get the transformation that so many women are looking for.

Rachel: Mm-hmm. , I love that. And I also wanna highlight, we we met at a live event, the two of us. Mm-hmm. . And one of the things I love about a live event is when you go through a transformation and you meet the other people there, Yes, we can meet on Zoom and make a connection, but meeting in person is is, it’s faster, it’s deeper, you know, it’s how we used to do it.

Rachel: All these tasks, I know, and, and so I’m imagining either people will come with a friend who works at another corporate place or the same place, or they’ll meet someone else there who can help them continue this after the event, because you have that connection, you have that common language transformation, motivation.

Rachel: And also for the listeners and viewers, you’ve already seen how amazing she is and less than an hour. So imagine a whole day of. Of feeling the confidence again and, and dropping the lies and all of the other disruptive, really impactful things that can boost your confidence. I mean, yeah, I, I messaged her as soon as I heard about the event, cuz I was like, I don’t work in corporate but this sounds really good

Rachel: And I still keep on thinking maybe I’ll come if I can swing it, just because I’m sure it’s gonna be amazing even though I’m not technically the audience, but I, that’s how good I know that Zika is. So if you, if there’s anything that has been sparking you, I say follow that call. Follow that 

Zenica: spark. Yeah.

Zenica: And, and I just, I, I wanna say a couple of things cuz I know there are people who will say, I’m not black . Yes. . 

Rachel: Right? Like, let’s, obviously she doesn’t only talk to black people , like, 

Zenica: like, let, let’s address that. But, but I, I do feel like, you know, just to, to be in, in full integrity of who I am and, and programs that I create, you know, and I’m here talking with you, Rachel, and, and we have a friendship outside of this.

Zenica: I wanna be clear though, that the programs that I create are designed to address the specific challenges that black women face in a working environment. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. , you are more than welcome to come if you hear what I’m saying. And, and this, this content resonates with you. You are more than welcome to come.

Zenica: But I do wanna be clear that that’s who the experience is created for. 

Rachel: Hmm. , thank you for that clarity and your eloquence. You’re always so thoughtful about everyone. I just love that about you, . 

Zenica: Well, I, I, I try, I try to be, but you know, part of why I did this work was because I really felt like this was a void in some of the leadership in career coaching that I was getting, which was, like I said, personal brands, all that stuff is really good, but they’re very hard to kind of come back to when you’re at a place where you’ve been beaten up.

Zenica: Yeah. Right. Or, you know, in my case, almost a year, I went through that for almost a year. Wow. I have some clients that have been in, in, in toxic work environments for years. Mm-hmm. . 

Rachel: Oh my goodness. That’s, that’s intense. And I love, like you said, you saw there was this void and you knew you had the skills to one, you healed all your stuff so that you could deal with it, because sometimes we heal enough to operate, but not enough to help 


Zenica: else.

Zenica: That’s right. That’s right. Mm-hmm. . . That’s so good. 

Rachel: Yeah. Awesome. Well any other things that you’re feeling called to share right now that maybe I haven’t asked a question about that you wanna highlight? Yeah. For 

Zenica: people? Yeah. So there was something else that you said about like just going to places physically and you know, maybe coming with a friend.

Zenica: And I think what is so fascinating is the event that you and I met with so many women came alone. Yes. And so I just wanna speak to just anybody, not necessarily my event, not anything that maybe Rachel’s doing, but just in general, when you hear a message that resonates with you, move towards that thing.

Zenica: And I think so many of us are waiting on the friend to show up and support us, but we have to get to a place where we are bold and brave to use your word, bold and brave enough to put ourselves in the room regardless of who comes with us. because what you will find is that you’re going to connect with people who are actually wanting to connect with you, who are going through the same thing that you’re going through.

Zenica: And you will find that there is a place in you that without that blanket safety net of, of the homie, the homegirl, that will allow you to be vulnerable enough to let these other people in and to make the deeper connections that you wanna 

Rachel: make. Yes. I’m so glad you highlighted that cuz there’s, there’s benefits to bringing a friend.

Rachel: Absolutely. And there’s benefits, like you said, to just coming as you are, being vulnerable without thinking, oh, now she’s seen this side of me i’s 

Zenica: Right. Wife will still be closed. And I just wanna say that because I, I, people, when I did this event in 2021 that were like, that missed out because they were like, I was waiting on my friend to get a ticket.

Zenica: Mm. Or I really wanted to come with my friend. And so yes, if the friend wants to come, and moves the way that we are telling you to move. Bring her along. Mm-hmm. , but don’t miss out on an opportunity because you’re waiting on somebody else to make the move first. 

Rachel: Yes. I love that. And it is really to bring it back to self-love.

Rachel: I, I know that there’s a real primal, visceral, whatever you wanna call it, concern and fear. What if I grow and my people don’t come with me? Yeah. And, and I’m not gonna minimize that because it is a real thing. And sometimes what we don’t know is we’re the way show. We’re the leader who goes to the thing because we know, you know you need it.

Rachel: You meet the other people there who also knew for themselves, this is what I need. . And then maybe a year from now I’m getting the goosebumps, maybe a year, which tells me like, AHMA, this is good stuff. lean in. Maybe a year from now your friend says, oh yeah, you went to that last year. Yeah, I wanna come now.

Rachel: I’m ready now. Cuz your friends are not always gonna be in the same place that you are, but your own dedication to yourself and getting your own needs met, you will find new community, new connections when you’re putting yourself in those places that you feel called to. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . 

Zenica: Yeah. And it, and it comes to, for me, it’s, you know, when we think about self-love, it’s filling my cup first.

Zenica: Mm-hmm. , you know, and, and just in being on this journey and, and, and building this. that has been a common theme because you’re right. As you grow and you experience things, you wanna bring everybody in your circle with you. But you also have to be mindful that you’ve gotta allow people to go through their own process.

Zenica: Mm-hmm. . And there may be some people who never quite make it right to where you are. Right. And so I don’t now weigh myself down because when you’re dragging somebody else, you’re moving a lot slower. Mm-hmm. . And so now I just focus on how I’ve gotta fill my cup first and people are gonna see through me.

Zenica: And that might spark something. And if it does, great, if it doesn’t, my cup is still. 

Rachel: Oh, I love it. And I, I wanna share a few times in my life when I’ve been the one to speak up at work or in a situation when no one else would speak up, people later said, thank you for doing this. Mm-hmm. , and, and I’m thinking of your articles.

Rachel: Did you wait for your friend to say, Hey, let’s both go publish and Fast company, or in essence, no, you did it. And when I think of that, for me, I’m just like, well, maybe I should start pitching Fast Company. Although I, I don’t really know that that’s my, I mean, I respect it, but I don’t know that Yeah, they wanna hear from me, but that’s okay.

Rachel: But still, it, it, it, that leadership and that inspiring of others and knowing that. To me, it’s a way of making sure that you’re valuing yourself. Because sometimes we’re used to, well, what is she gonna do? Or is it okay if I do this? But you maybe are so used to being bold and brave that you’re not waiting, oh, what are everybody else gonna do?

Rachel: You’re making that move. And then other people are getting inspired by that move. Mm-hmm. . 

Zenica: Mm-hmm. . And I’ll just say too, I appreciate, you know, you saying that I am bold and brave. I never feel that way. Mm-hmm. , right? Like, and, and for people who might be listening, I never stop and say, like, when, when I submitted that piece to Fast Company, I didn’t say like, oh, this is my brave moment.

Zenica: I was terrified, , you know, like I was terrified that people were gonna read that me, and I was a grown ass woman when this was happening to me. Like I was being bullied at work. I was terrified. . Yeah. Right. And so I think that that’s the part that whether it is speaking up when nobody else speaks up, we don’t ever feel like we’re being brave in those moments.

Zenica: Mm-hmm. , it’s terrifying. I’m sure you were, you were probably saying to yourself, am I really, 

Rachel: I about to say this. I was gonna say, one of, it’s no longer one of my favorite quotes. It, it still is. But for a period of my, my life, I think it’s Margaret Mead. Speak up. Even if your voice shakes, maybe it’s not her that said that.

Rachel: I would tell myself that all the time because. Even, even though I’m speaking fine to you right now, and I was a teacher, I was used to projecting when I was in situations where I spoke up and I was the only one to say something and I was bringing something up that I didn’t know how people were gonna take it.

Zenica: My voice, oh, I just wanna 

Rachel: spit, like was so wavery and weak, but I just would tell myself it doesn’t matter. Like, yeah, I’m really scared and my voice is totally showing it, but I need to say this thing or I will not be okay. Yeah. With myself. Well, and that’s 

Zenica: the thing, right? It’s, it’s getting to the point.

Zenica: And that’s where I think this work is so important. And one of the things that we focus on inside of my coaching programs is getting people to a place where, yeah, most of us don’t operate from this place of, I’m gonna be brave and courageous today, , but I’m gonna, I’m, I’m going to operate from a place. Of alignment with who I am and the values that I’ve established.

Zenica: And so that is what you stand on in the moments where you know, your, maybe your voice is not shaking, but your fingers are quivering because you’re typing something, or you gotta push send on an article and your heart is racing. But you can ground yourself in knowing that in this moment, I know who I am, I know the values that I stand on, and I am operating in full integrity with who I am.

Zenica: And the outcomes are the outcomes. But at the end of the day, I know that I made the right decision. I made the right call for myself. Mm-hmm. . 

Rachel: Mm-hmm. , a hundred percent. I might just listen to that a few times later today just to . Woo. Thank you so much. Do you wanna tell us where we can follow you, where you want us to reach you?

Rachel: You talked a a little bit about Disrupt, I’ll put links below, but for the listeners, if they wanna hear the links and just type it in right now, tell us 

Zenica: all the places. Yes. So one more thing I wanna add. Oh, yes. To what I just said. Because if you wait on courage, if you wait to feel brave and courageous, you’re never gonna do what you’re supposed to be doing.

Rachel: Mm-hmm. . That is so true. There’s a few things where I, I’ve realized, oh yeah, I might not ever get to that . 

Zenica: Right? You might not ever, like if you keep, if you wait to feel that way, to feel that feeling, because we put so much weight on that, like in our world, and it’s like you read all the stories of people who have done brave and correct.

Zenica: They never say, . I felt very brave in that moment, and so I took that step. , it’s like that was just doing what I, what I felt like I was called to do. 

Rachel: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . That’s so true. Thank you for reminding us, because it’s, it’s easy to hear you talking or me or thinking, oh yeah. Well, obviously they’re doing that because they’re them.

Rachel: Right? And, and it is a good reminder that when you’re feeling that wavering, nervous fingers are shaking that it’s okay. Return to integrity. Remember all these courageous, bold people out there, they are scared too. They’re nervous too. None of us truly knows what the outcome will be. We can’t predict that.

Zenica: No, no. If we knew that, we wouldn’t need faith. 

Rachel: Mm-hmm. . Yeah, that’s true. 

Rachel: There’s one or two people that I was thinking of when you were talking, this one woman who I follow who, she doesn’t personally know me, but she, her last book was about friendship in the workplace.

Rachel: And I need to look if she does like interviews, cuz I feel like sh YouTube being connected could be a really profound thing. This is maybe like my psychic senses or whatever, but I kept on thinking like, oh, Mel Robbins needs to have you on her show. And people like that. That 

Zenica: is stretch

Rachel: Well, it’s maybe stretch right now, but maybe not next year. And I was also thinking, you know, how Kvi said she wants to get on Netflix, I could totally see a Netflix show about a black woman changing, you know, go, like, your story could totally be a book. I would read that book 

Zenica: all day long. Well, I don’t know where it falls, like in terms of, well, when I will sit down and do it, 

Zenica: I definitely think that I want to write a book about, oh, good corporate experiences for black and brown women. Mm-hmm. That it’s not rooted in just ass kissing.

Rachel: Well, I, I get very strong feelings about the book, so I love that. Thanks. I could, I could, it could go different ways. It could be like a memoir or it could be a memoir and a teachable moment, or it could just be like a nonfiction teaching thing. I think any of those would work, and it’s so powerful. When you were sharing your story, I kept on thinking, man, I didn’t go through hardly anything , because even though it felt like a big deal, and not to minimize, but I’m kind of mind blown about how much you went through and now how you’re on the other side of it.

Rachel: So it 

Zenica: was bad, Rachel. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. like it was, and I be, because it, it, it was what, what was happening to me, and then it was going home every day and like, why is this happening to me? You know? I. , what have I done? What can I do? How do I fix this? I don’t have a rich daddy that can tell me to come home.

Zenica: I’ve gotta pay these bills. You know, I’ve built, yes, I’ve built this life and I’ve gotta pay these bills and do these things. And you know, there’s also a part of a, a part of when you’re, when you’re the one who made it out. And so everybody Yes. Is counting on you. Right. For one thing or another. Right. And so I can’t just quit.

Zenica: How do I endure? And so it, it was, it was all of that too. 

Rachel: Oh my gosh. Wow. That’s a lot. 

Zenica: You know, that I, I think a lot of people don’t talk about too, Everybody has it hard too, but there’s also this part of like Yeah.

Zenica: When you’re a single girl. Yeah. What do you do? Right. You know? And, and that is why part of that Essence article was talking about finances. Yes. . Because a huge part of that was like, this will never happen to me again. 

Rachel: I’m super excited , there’s a few people that I’m already like, you need to go to this event if you can find a way to get there. Cause she, last week she’s like, Rachel, I’m on a team of four people and they forget to invite me to meetings.

Rachel: And she’s the only black woman on her team. And it’s stuff like that where I’m like, how can you be that stupid? Like at that point it’s not a mistake. Like, and that’s, it’s 

Zenica: intentional. That’s where I say too, like we have to stop. That’s why I use words like disrupt.

Zenica: Yes. Because I’m like, we have to stop playing around with some of this shit and just call it what it is that is not un, that’s not unconscious. Right. It was unconscious the first time. Right. It’s not unconscious anymore. Yes. You are consciously not inviting this girl to this meeting. Yes. And that is psychological attack on this girl 

Rachel: at work.

Rachel: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Yes. Yeah. It is time to call it what it is and disrupt pH. I just, and, and I think maybe too, that’s where for women, so. Were used to cultural conditioning of like, don’t push back or assume the best. It’s like, okay, in some circumstances, assume the best in this one. Assume that what it looks like is 

Zenica: what it is.

Zenica: It is what it is. Yeah. Mm-hmm. , and stop. And stop questioning yourself. Stop living out of integrity. You know what it is? Mm-hmm. . And the more you try to battle that, oh, this is not what it is you’re making yourself now. Now you’re making yourself sick for no reason. 

Rachel: Yes. Right. Because then you’re at war with yourself, correct.

Zenica: Correct. Now your heart and your mind are fighting each other. Exactly. And think of what could happen if those two things were aligned, because now we can say, okay.

Zenica: Hmm. Right. Exactly. Outta here. And now I’m gonna figure out what this problem actually is. Mm-hmm. . And now I’m going simply say, I need to understand why you keep, for, why you keep leaving me off of these meetings. Yes. Period. End of story. I’m gonna let you explain. Why do you keep leaving me off of these meetings?

Zenica: This has happened consistently. And know I’m not making this up. Here are the dates of the meetings that I was not included on. This has happened 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 times Now. Is this a situation that we need to bring in, director? Mm-hmm. , because I need to understand what’s 

Rachel: happening here. Mm. I I love what you just said because sometimes, and, and this is, I’m sure what happens when you’re coaching with people sometimes,

Rachel: I know if I’m in a stressful situation, but I’ve already decided what I’m gonna say. I can get through that situation. And so you’re right. Now I’m thinking you’ve just given someone here, here’s what you’re gonna say. Write it down, memorize it, whatever. You’re gonna say this, you’re gonna wait. You’re gonna hear what they have to say and you’re gonna move forward.

Rachel: Because sometimes in the moment, if you have to speak off the top of your head, when you’re stressed out the brain, the way our body works, your prefrontal cortex is not engaged If you’re in a stress response. That’s right. That’s right. Yes. It’s in survival. Mo, exactly. In survival is like, don’t say anything probably.

Rachel: But having, having the the line to say so many times in my life, not even at work, if I, if I know what I’m gonna say, I know I can handle the situation, but I have to think about it when I’m not in the stressful situation. Mm-hmm. . And so I love how you shared that because. , it’s, it’s also not necessarily, I don’t think it’s being aggressive, like you’re just opening it up so that yeah, people are gonna have a reaction, but you’re not, it’s not like over the top pushing it and yeah, it’s not making any insinuations.

Rachel: You’re letting them take it in and respond to it and figure out what to do next. And also letting them know, like, I know what’s, something’s happening here and we 


Zenica: to address it. Yeah. We need to address it. Mm-hmm. and it, I mean, you know, and it, that’s why, again, I think it, it takes coaching and you’re right, oftentimes people will come into the, especially private coaching sessions and they’re like, so this is what happened,

Zenica: and, and it is now. It’s like, okay, well now that we’re here, let’s dissect that, right? Yes. Bring this scenario here and let’s talk through it. . And you’re right, it is sometimes it’s role play, sometimes it’s get out of the other person’s head cuz you don’t know what’s going on up there. Come back,

Zenica: bring it back, to this and now let’s work through that. 

Rachel: Tell the viewers how they can follow you and where to find you, all of that. Goodness. Yes. 

Zenica: So you can find me on almost all , the social networks now, but the places where I play the most often are Facebook at Zika, Chapman, LinkedIn, same name, Zika Chapman with a T, not a P.

Zenica: And Instagram at Zs Chapman. I almost, but it’s a Z Chapman on Instagram. And if you wanna know more about. , the in-person experience that we’re having in Charlotte and March 11th, or I actually have a online version of that that’s a little bit longer. It’s called Surviving Corporate. It’s a eight week work detox program that is also designed for black women who are ready to reclaim their power from workplace trauma so they can do B and have more that will start enrolling very, very soon.

Zenica: We’ll be taking new applicants for that. All of the information for those programs are available on my, under coaching or work with me. I think that’s what it’s called. 

Rachel: Awesome. Awesome. I love it all. And you’re so incredible. Thank you for sharing so much of your insight and encouragement and practical and big worldview type advice and.

Rachel: Thoughts. 

Zenica: No, thank you so much Rachel. Because people also don’t know, but you are always like encouraging me on the other end, so when I share stuff, when I dropped like that essence, you were like, this is awesome. I think you were like the first person to comment and so just another plug for going to event because you never know what kind of incredible people that you’re gonna meet that will become a part of your journey.

Rachel: Mm-hmm. , I agree a hundred percent. 

Rachel: , I’m honored that you spent this time with me.

Rachel: I’m 

Zenica: honored that you asked me. This was so 

Rachel: fun. 

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