Anne Mandler Interviews Deborah Lindsay | ANNE Magazine
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Anne Mandler Interviews Deborah Lindsay

Anne Mandler Interviews Deborah Lindsay

Anne Mandler interviews Deborah Lindsay in the Premiere Fall 2015 No. 1 of ANNE.


ANNE: Hi Deborah.

DEBORAH: Hi Anne.

ANNE: How are you today? Thank you so much for joining us today for our Premiere issue of ANNE Magazine, it’s such a pleasure to have you. What I’d like to do before we get into questions is to introduce you and talk a little more about your background.

Deborah Lindsay has a varied background allowing her to work on a diverse range of projects. She’s currently an Administrative Director for a private PreK – 8th grade school in Santa Cruz, CA. She’s also working on an MBA in Sustainable Management at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. She’s doing this while helping individuals and small businesses raise capital through crowd funding. In the past Deborah was the producer and host of the radio talk show, “Tomorrow Matters,” where she logged thousands of hours discussing her guest’s passions for sustainability, and engaging listeners in pursuing “solutions for a Better World Tomorrow.”

Deborah also co-founded and directed Sustainable Monterey County, aka Citizens for a Sustainable Monterey County, CA, a non-profit created as a regional organization to mobilize citizens and elected officials to help local communities transition to the use of sustainable energy and resources. In 2008, Deborah was elected to the Pacific Grove City Council.

She is a certified HR manager, a career and life coach, a lecturer, a large-scale event planner, and a mom.

ANNE: So again, welcome Deborah. It’s a pleasure to have you. Deborah, one of the reasons I have you here is because this magazine is really helping, inspiring, and giving a toolbox to women, a way to create a life that matters to them, and you have done that in a nontraditional way. What you are doing is not uncommon, but the reason I’m so excited to have you here is because you haven’t followed the straight line path to, “I went to school, got my BA, went to school and got my MBA, and now I’ve got X.” You have managed life to get here, so I’m wondering if you would talk a little about your experience getting to where you are, how that happened, and why you are there. What are you enjoying the most about life now?

DEBORAH: Thank you. So you are right. My life has not been straight. I have to admit there has always been a part of me who has wished that I woke up when I was in my early teens and said, “Oh, I’m going to be a Doctor!” You know, I can see the value in that a little bit, but the other part of that is that I know that when I got out of high school, which is some time ago now, I thought what did I really learn, and what is this world all about? I made a really conscious decision to go and understand life, and it always started with a question, which was less about, “How am I going to pay my bills?,” funny enough, and more about, how am I going, and what is this question. I went into the military in Canada.

I joined a youth program, and I had the option of doing a three-month basic training. I wanted to know if that was for me. I found out, no, this was not for me. These hands are not for holding a gun. These hands are for holding life. So, after the three months I left the program and went to work on a commune.

Each step of the way I had a question. When I was there, I was asking, “How am I going to live and pay for myself?” Each time it was like, “Ok, how am I going to do this?” Eventually, I met my husband, and started to have babies. I realized that there is a traditional way, and there is a more common way to raise children today, but it didn’t have the deep connection to community and nature that I wanted. As a result, I sought out other ways to be a mom. That led me to asking more questions. As they got older. Now what?

I can’t say that there was ever a moment where I felt like I had an answer. Each answer that I had built on led to another question but there was a narrowing in. I asked myself, “Why am I here on this planet right now?” I do actually believe that each of us has very special gifts that we are meant to bring out into the world. At that point, the questions became less about what is the world about and more about what am I? Who am I? Why am I here? In relation to my children, my husband, and my community. I also started to learn about what was going on with the planet. I started to understand sustainability, regeneration, and the truth around our earth. I also spent as much [time] as I could learning about politics, what has gone on in the past, and where are we going? Then it was about, what can I afford to do, what can my family afford to do? I riffed on a venn diagram. Maybe you have seen this? Where are your passions, where are your skills, what can you be paid to do, where are you in your life, and what needs to be done?

Now that I’m almost 50, I have different things that are important to my life than those that were important to me when I was 25, of course. That’s why I added that question, “Where are you in your life now?” because the passions that drove me have changed. All of this has led me to have an incredible wealth of experience as you can imagine.

Being a radio show host, being a politician, being a mom, I’ve been in the tech world; you know lots of varying backgrounds. What I feel right now is this really clear path that I haven’t had before. It’s inspired by something inside me that has released the need to protect my children. You know for the many years when you are raising kids, you feel like that is what your main drive is. I don’t really feel like I have to do that any longer. Now, it’s very much about, “What can I do for the next generation?”

So the inspiration to work on sustainability issues is high and always has been. It’s even more so now. I also had to be at the table. I didn’t want to be someone’s assistant any longer, I didn’t want to be anybody’s analyst or in the sidelines. This is about being an architect. This is about not only being at the table but owning the table.

I realized that there was a time when, in sustainability, paraphrasing a quote, if you want to help the planet, be a lawyer, and now it’s if you want to help the planet, be in business. I have been around enough business people who really haven’t known what they are doing to the point where not only have they broken what they have started but for the people that work for that company, they don’t really get a sense of where are we right now in the world.

Where we are right now in the world is in a very delicate place and everyone I see entering into business, in my opinion, needs to be building the triple bottom line: people, profit and planet. All of these pieces are a combination of where I am right now. This is a jumping off place as well as an opportunity while I’m in business school to build where I’m going. So I’m the architect without having to really think about other forces in my family, and mostly about myself.

ANNE: You have to address these different steps in these different careers. There is something that has inspired you to take these different turns in the road. For instance, from going through sustainability, in education, your role in helping women lead, and helping the next generation of women leaders get support, what do you think has been the common denominator for you as you’ve taken each leap?

DEBORAH: I get what you are asking me. When I went from being in the HR and tech world, I had this inspiration to go into crowd funding. It really came from a woman who was in investor relations. She was so in charge of herself. I was so impressed with this. It was her company. She came and went as she pleased, and of course, she had quite a bit of stress and responsibility in her life, but when I looked at this I thought, “This is great, but where is the new thing?” Where is the cutting edge in investment world right now. I thought, it really it is in crowd funding.

So, I dove in and learned as much about it as I could. It marries very well with my background in event planning and political campaigning, actually. The inspiration is what is going to be needed in the future. Where is the cutting edge right now? It’s only been around since 2006. It’s less than ten years old, but it is definitely on the rise; there is a lot out there to support it. I wondered, how can I be out there on that leading edge so that I can become an expert in that field and say, “Hey, we need to get that from her, and get that info.” I was slow to build it because I was trying to create an app in the industry. It turned out that I ran out of capital myself, so I went back to work to help develop my career while working on my MBA. It turns out that I was so darn good at that job that they offered me a more responsible job. I took it.

The crowd funding piece is still out there, but this is where, I realize, it makes all the sense in the world, but do I really have a passion for it? Does it satisfy that one area?

The truth is it doesn’t. I can do it and I can help people but it’s not the only thing that inspires me. That is what I pay attention to. If it doesn’t inspire me, I’m not going to keep going. Now, I’m in my job and in my school. I’m just getting through. Meanwhile, I’m building the next piece.

ANNE: That’s incredible. Thank you for sharing that. You and I have worked together in the past so I can say first hand that I’ve actually watched you do some of what you are saying, so it’s not just spoken word. It’s actually for me, watching you work, I think that there is an adaptability and a flexibility that is the common denominator at work in everything I’ve watched you do, Deborah.

My next question is about what do you want to inspire and what do you want to give back to that next generation? That is such a big factor in you being where you are now. Is there something else that you would like to help the younger generation achieve, and how would you like to do that? Is it through a quality or an inspiration that is specific?

DEBORAH: Yes, interestingly enough. This master’s program I’m in, I applied for years ago and I didn’t submit my application [then]. I had a friend look at it, and she said, “Well, this is really more of a short story than an application for graduate school.” So, I didn’t submit it.

It talked about how I see the future generations looking back at us, and the things that are to come. In some universe, they are out there. They are watching how we are behaving. I can see them looking over the edge of a cliff, and there is a great chasm that’s between where we are now and where they are. They are all standing and looking over the edge and they are saying, “Are you doing your best for us? Are you holding this planet and all the culture, the animals? Because we’re here. And are you holding it in the best way, because we’re here. Whatever you do now is going to be handed to us. Will it make it easier or harder for us?” The application is several years old, I wish I could find it.

You know, I’ve also, learned to be flexible. I’m not a person who is attached to a lot. I get inspired by a woman named Julia Butterfly Hill. She lived in a Redwood for two years. I’ve heard her, met her, and heard her speak She would talk about storms that she would be in. When a storm would come, rather than hang on tight, she’d hang on loosely, like the branch of a tree, fluidly. and allow the storm to toss her about, moving with the gusts of the storm. I’ve always felt that way about my life, if I hold on loosely enough I’ll be able to ride the storms of life. It has been quite a gift to use that imagery.

I’ve learned to take my cues from the world in very synchronistic kinds of ways, and sometimes it can be something very poignant. I believe in sacred questions, and when you have a sacred question, to get the solution to that. Then you move on to the next one. There are synchronicities in the world and how you find your answer. Sometimes it’s as simple as going down the highway and seeing a billboard. You say, Oh, my gosh, yeah.”

Sometimes, it can be an encounter with a friend of someone on the bus, it can be an animal, or it can be something in your dreams. I’ve actually had a dream where I’ve seen that next generation looking back at me and that I need to build bridges to that generation. Those are the most internal drivers to motivate me to what I’m doing. It’s not money-based. I need to make sure I have what I need to be comfortable and successful, with a healthy body so that I can continue to do my work for many more years to come, inspiring to people who are more mainstream. Because I’ve been the hairy edge of alternative and lived that very frugal, somewhat hippie life, and I realized that is only appealing to a certain segment of the population.

Now, I’m making myself appear externally to people who are not that way so that they can see that they can be invited to live a more sustainable, locally-based, community-based life. They can see it’s not just some takeover that is not attractive.

If you are going to be a light, you need to meet people where they are. You have to be able to have conversations with them that aren’t activating and triggering. Hopefully, I’ve learned how to do all of those things and helped people find their passions, be creative, and appeal to the next generations, as well.

ANNE: I so much love your last answer Deborah, because it speaks to the purpose of the magazine. We don’t all fit into a box, our lives don’t, and certainly our careers don’t. That is one of the purposes of having a diversity of features, or, as I call them, Luminaries.

I call you Luminary today. We don’t all have to be the same. We all bring something unique, important, and of value to the table. We can come from something that is completely different than where they are right now. So yes, meeting people where they are right now is critical. We all change. My next and final question to you is about what you see in that change. You’re working in a couple of different areas right now, and you are giving back in those areas. Can you speak to where you see, either the course of sustainability and/or education, where do you see those areas going in the next twenty years?

This is for someone who is adjusting themselves to get themselves in a place where they can reach their passion and give back.

Where is the field of the sustainability going? How is the way that we are building our individual careers is changing? It’s certainly changed in the last thirty years. Where do you see it going in the next fifteen to thirty years since we were talking about the next generations?

DEBORAH: It really depends on how we behave. Here’s another thing that inspires me.

Never in the recorded history of humankind have women had such an opportunity to lead lives of such power and strength and self control. Maybe pre-Christian times, but what I mean is that we have the capacity to be such incredible leaders and to really drive our own lives. We can get as much education as we want. We can be in control of our own bodies as much as we want to. We don’t have to have a ton of children. We also have the gifts of being able to communicate to huge numbers of people and share our ideas and be inspirations. I’m really hoping that it continues and spreads around the globe. I think it’s important that women move into every single form of leadership possible so that we move into the milestones that we have gained. I do see that and I see it as something that is done internationally. But it’d not something that gets done by somebody else. It’s something that only gets done if we are doing it ourselves.

Just like you, Anne, as you are being a leader in your field, and you are reaching back and saying to others, “Come on, you can do it!” This is something that we each need to do in our lives. Even though I don’t have a lot of people who work with me right now the women who are under me and work with me, as I’m their supervisor. I say, “Hey, take my hand. We’re going to be leaders in this thing together. I’m going to pull you forward with me and I’m going to move you even beyond me if that is what is called for.” Women in every field at every opportunity should be saying, “Come on; come with me.” We’re going to go and take charge of this right now because we need to take the strengths that we have as a culture of women and we need to keep going. That’s where the future is. The things that get me concerned are the things that leave me with a lack of attention to what is really going on in the earth. Just last night, we’ve had the largest hurricane, Patricia, in recorded history. It was so large that it was over the scale [of measurement] they have for it. This is not by chance.

This is climate change. We are going to be faced with some very serious situations in the future. As much as we want and need to be leaders and to take over and to encourage each other, we also very much need to keep an eye on what we are purchasing and make sure that we are reducing, reusing and greening. [Careers in the] sustainability field are only going to increase. There are jobs in every single sector that you can imagine. If you are looking to go into a field, I would highly recommend going into this area.

I even more so recommend going into the STEM programs because we really need women as engineers, technologists, software engineers, artists, and politicians. Just step up ladies! This is the time. There are no barriers. This is the time. We’re not going to hell in a hand basket or [we can’t tell ourselves that] we don’t have community or all of things [we can say to ourselves]. You just keep on. You just keep on putting one foot in front of the other and keep on being bold. Know that this is our time.

ANNE: Amen [and yes, for women]! That is awesome, Deborah. Is there a complimentary offer you’d like to give to our audience; something you’d like to give back?

DEBORAH: I would like to offer as a gift a fifteen minute consultation time on creating a path, either a career path or an educational path and just listening to what is going on and offering a suggestion coming from the deep wisdom wells that I have.

ANNE: Thank you so much, and for your patience and doing what was necessary to get your message out because I think it’s really important that we hear your message, and hear your voice. Thank you for joining me today.

DEBORAH: Thank you so much, Anne. I really appreciate what you are doing, and I can’t wait to see what your work is doing in five, ten, twenty years from now.

ANNE: Me too. Thank you my dear, and I’ll talk to you soon.


Deborah Lindsay

Deborah Lindsay has held leadership roles in a number of industries. Currently working as the Administrative Director of a private Pre-K to 8th grade school in Santa Cruz, CA, as well as working on her MBA in Sustainable Management at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, while helping individuals and small businesses raise capital through crowd funding.

Deborah hosted and produced the radio talk show, “Tomorrow Matters,” where she logged thousands of hours discussing her guests’ passions for sustainability, and engaging listeners in pursuing “solutions for a better world tomorrow.”

Deborah also co-founded and directed Sustainable Monterey County, aka Citizens for a Sustainable Monterey County, CA, a non-profit created as a regional organization to mobilize citizens and elected officials to help local communities transition to the use of sustainable energy and resources. In 2008, Deborah was elected to the Pacific Grove City Council.

She is a certified HR manager, a career and life coach, a lecturer, a large-scale event planner, and the mother of two daughters. scale event planner, and a mom.

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