Communication Rebel Blog

What Creates a Movement Maker with Nikki Groom

What kind of weirdo wants to start a movement?

I mean seriously!

Starting a business or being a speaker is crazy making enough.

And a movement — wow that’s a whole other ball of complexity.

Lucky for you and me, we are not alone in our quest to create something that is bigger than our business.

Nikki Groom, the host of the Movement Makers podcast, is on a mission to support aspiring Change Makers to step into their leadership role and create their movement.

If you’ve been working on your 3 Word Rebellion and have your sights set on creating a following of people who are the messengers of your message, you want to listen to this show!

In this episode, Nikki and I discuss:

  • What defines a Movement Maker (it’s simpler than you think)
  • Why you absolutely MUST have other people around you to create change on scale
  • The critical difference between a Leader and a “Guru”
  • How authenticity and showing your screw-ups is a key leadership trait for Movement Makers

Launching a rebellion requires you to step up into leadership. Since you are here, I know you have what it takes to be a Movement Maker.

Listen in or keep reading below

Prefer to listen?

She is the host of The Movement Makers Podcast, which was one of the reasons I wanted her on the show.  This podcast features in-depth conversations, and unfiltered stories, from business leaders and entrepreneurs, who are making a difference on the planet.

She's also the founder of The 100 Stories Worth Telling Project, which seeks to amplify the voices of underrepresented entrepreneurs, all over the world.

So, since Nikki and I both have a passion for people who are starting movements, I thought I'd invite her on the show, and we can just jam about movement makers. Welcome Nikki, to the Rebel Speaker Podcast.

Nikki:                Thank you so much for having me. I'm very excited to be here.

Michelle:                          I'm excited too because I love the fact that you and I both share that focus on creating something bigger than just a business, or just a speaking career, or just a podcast.

What Made You Interested in Movement Makers?

Nikki:                Yeah, and actually it really started because I always thought that everyone was like you and me, and wanted to make an impact.  I worked for the StrengthsFinder, a coach-friend of mine a while back, so I knew that one of my strengths is significance, which is really around making a bigger impact in the world.  My friend told me, “Yeah, not everyone wants to do that, you know.” And I thought, “Oh, okay.” I had always just assumed that a lot of people do, and I still think a lot of people do, but maybe not her.

Anyways, so I really got into it.

When I first started my copywriting business, which it was the first business that I started as an entrepreneur, I had the fortune of working with client after client, after client.  

When that happens you have these incredible stories of things that they had been through, but they pulled themselves through it and displayed incredible resilience.

They started their own businesses, and really make a success of their lives.  But what I found was that although they would have this great business idea that played to all of their strengths – they were really struggling to find the right words to put it into motion.

So, that's where I was able to come in and help them bring it to life.  I helped them find their voice and then really amplify it because they wanted to sound more like themselves.

They wanted to stand out, and as I went along, I became really fascinated by that interplay between what we've been through, and what we decide to do with our lives.

There is a real sense of purpose that ties that whole journey together, and I kept having these types of clients coming to me.

As I tweaked my own copy and my own messaging, I found that more and more of the right people were coming my way.  

Why Ideal Client Avatars SUCK

If you're in the online business space you'll hear about how you need to have this ideal client avatar, and I used to get really tied up in that.

I remember the first time that I ever filled out all these questions that help you figure out who that person is. What do they read? What do they watch? What do they eat? Where do they go?

And I just got so frustrated, because I created this Avatar, and then I thought, “I don't know if that's her, or I don't know if that's him.”

I realized that what I'm really fascinated with is, who are the people that I most want to serve.

What do they struggle with, and how are they feeling, and how can I speak to that, in a way that makes them feel seen, and heard, and understood? How can I meet that need?

I also realized that the people I most wanted to work with, shared the value or the strength, if you will, of wanting to really make a difference.

So, basically, and I talk about this a lot,  it was so simple.

The people that I'm most drawn to are the people that were making a difference.

So, then I … Yeah, so I'll stop there and I'll let you ask other questions.

Michelle:                          Well, there's a lot to unpack there.

Nikki:                Yeah.

Michelle:                          I think you were completely right, that you and I are programmed to want to make a difference.  My why has always been communication changes the world.

Nikki:                Yeah, that's true.

Michelle:                          Yes, it is absolutely true, but I realize that not everybody wants to change the world, and that's okay.

That is absolutely okay, but like you, the people that I'm most drawn to really want to shake up their industry in some sort of way, and really make an impact on their clients.

So, it's not as satisfying for me, and I don't know if you find this, to work with people who don't share that.

People who tell me, “Oh, I just want to have a business, or I just want to speak. I just want to be on stage.” I'm like, “Meh.”

Nikki:                Yeah, I find that. I discovered that there were certain questions that I always used to ask people when I was interviewing them.  That helped me to get out of them their key goals that I needed to write their messaging.

One question that I could always rely on was, why do you do what you do?

And that would always open this door, and so often, a big piece of that would be their story.  

But often times it was tied in with this greater sense of purpose, and this desire to really do something with their strengths, and their skills.

So, I learned early on, some people will answer that question but they would be only focused on themselves, and that's not a wrong answer.

If we're all honest, we're all starting our businesses, not only because we might want to make an impact, but because we maybe want more freedom, and we want to find more fulfillment out of life, or whatever it might be.  We might want more financial independence, and there's nothing wrong with that.

But I think that our wires shouldn't stop there.

It needs to have this bigger implication, otherwise, I'm not so into those types of people.

Michelle:                          Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

Nikki:                You know, there's nothing deeper beyond that.

Michelle:                          I know! Some people will say, “I just want to make money.” And you're like, “Awesome.” Not the person for me.

Nikki:                Yeah. Right!

The Definition of a Movement Maker

Michelle:                          So, that actually brings us right into the next question I had for you, which is how do you define who is a Movement Maker?

What are those characteristics? What are you looking for?

Nikki:                It's funny because I feel like I don't want to give a dictionary definition answer.

I did write down a response to this, but I kind of don't want to read it out, because I'm like, “Well, how do you define a Movement Maker?”

But I think at the end of the day, it's people who really want to facilitate change on a growing scale.

They also know that they can't do it by themselves, and so they use their voice in their platform to really rally people around them, in pursuit of this change. Yeah, I guess that's how I define it.

Michelle:                          Now, I love that, because I think, especially with speakers, that they don't do enough to rally people around them.

If you really want to create a change, if you really want to rebel against the status quo, you can't do that by yourself.

You just say, “This sucks and I want it to change.”

And you're just talking to yourself, but it becomes about how do I call those people in, who see the same thing that I do, and what it to be different?

Nikki:                Yes, and we're living in this incredible time. I listened to a talk a while back from a crisis management expert, who talked about the fact that it takes seven seconds for something to go viral, around the world on social media.

So, you have the likes of Tarana Burke, who started the MeToo Movement 12 years ago.  It's still working every day, but even if she didn't have the degree of recognition she has now, she would still be doing that work, regardless.   

But then Hollywood caught hold of the MeToo hashtag, and the ripple effect that that has had in recent months has just been incredible. Then we see that ripple effect again with the Never Again Movement and Time's Up.

The times that we're living in are very uncertain and volatile and then moving faster and faster and faster, and that can be a good thing.

If you are using your voice to create change, then you have more of an opportunity to get the word out there, but absolutely, you have to use your voice.

Whether that's on stage, or whether that's through social media, through your writing, through your emails that you send out, or whatever it might be.

Yeah, there definitely has to be that action piece, if you want to get from A to B.

Michelle:                          Yes, you bring up a good point. It's not just speaking. It's not just social media. It's really using all of those things to have your voice, and be known, and seen as a leader of the movement, as somebody who is holding space for this change that they want to have created in the world.

The Parkland High School students have been amazing at that, in keeping that space and putting people's feet to the fire around gun control and gun violence in schools.

I love watching how people can use their voice, and how a movement can start, like in a snap. Like it just starts.

So, you have The Movement Makers Podcast. You also have the 100 Stories Worth Telling Project.

So, what have been some of your biggest aha's and insights from interviewing Movement Makers, and underrepresented entrepreneurs?

The Biggest Ahas Talking to Movement Makers

Nikki:                Some of my biggest ah-ha's….

I started this as an entrepreneur who was trying to grow a business, that also has a positive impact in the world.  My niche was and is, helping people to find their voice and use it.

You mentioned the leadership piece a second ago, and I think that that is a big piece of my work – really helping people own what it means to be a leader.

That can be really hard, particularly if you don't necessarily see yourself represented in certain spaces.

I'm really interested in that, and I do think so much of this work does go back to our own experiences.

The struggle to find my voice, and to stand up as a leader has been immense; incredible amounts of resistance, and it's not over. Every day it's so hard to keep showing up and keep showing up.

So, a lot of the guests that I've had on are people that I admire, because they've been able to build a business, that I think is doing really great things.

For example, I had Tanya Geisler on who talks about the Imposter Complex, which trips so many people up, when it comes to being a leader.

I had Randi Buckley on, who talks about boundaries.

I've had lots of different people on, and I have lots of different people queued up to come on, which I'm really excited about, yourself included.

I also see that because my podcast is still relatively new, it started a year ago, and as I talked about – the world that we're living in is moving at an ever faster rate, and so there's this sense of urgency, I think.

Urgency around not sitting back, and not holding back, not sitting on things that we could be doing.

So, I realize now that I have this platform, and I say, “Okay, so how could I be getting people? Maybe I can get people on who could speak more to social and political movements.”     

I mean, that is a different world, that again, so there's this desire for me to kind of play it safe. I don't know if I can quite move there yet, but also I think, that if we have that opportunity, then we shouldn't hold back.

For example, it would be incredible to get to run a Tarana Burke on my podcast.

It would just be like a dream come true, because what I love about her is, it's not so much about the business side of things, it's about actually making a difference no matter what.

Doing the work, no matter what. No matter how much money you're bringing in.  I just have so much respect for people who do that.  

So, I don't think I've really answered your question in terms of what I've learned.

I think what I've learned about the guests I've had on, has taught me really valuable things about showing up as a leader, and have taught my listeners the same thing.

I think as we move forward, I would love to really deepen into that, and I'd really love to go above my comfort zone to understand more of what that means, in really critical spaces, where we need people's voices more than ever.

Michelle:                          Yeah, the leadership piece is fascinating to me, because I have been thinking more about that as well.  

What I've noticed in the speaking industry, and one of the things I'm rebelling against personally, is that speakers in the industry have become these commodities.  They are not elevating themselves to that position of leadership.

But when you tell people, “Well, if you're a speaker, you're a leader.” They're like, “Ewwww … Really? No, I'm not a leader. I'm just on stage for 45 minutes.”

So, then I go off on my merry way, and I'm convinced that's the problem. It is really about using our influence for good and embracing that role.

So, dealing with the Imposter Complex, and dealing with boundary issues, because if you are wanting to make a difference, and I don't care how you do that, you have to lead.

Nikki:                Yeah, there are parallels with entrepreneurship in general, because you know, I always describe entrepreneurship as the steepest of learning curves, and you have to … I don't know if I can swear on this?

Michelle:                          Yeah, you can swear.

Nikki:                Okay. We have to get over your own shit pretty quickly, otherwise, you're just going to get in your own way.  

So, I have typically stayed very close to the business drama in the past, but no matter what kind of a leader you are, you need to get over your own stuff, and it's not just your own stuff, but it's stuff that other people have put on you as well over time.

Yeah, it's fascinating, and as I deepen more into this journey, it's really, really interesting what I've learned.

You'll have to listen to the podcast to get the full story because I've only kind of danced around this question.

Michelle:                          Yeah, but I think the insights about leadership is really a big take away.

The other thing that I was thinking about as you were talking, is that leadership is about the people who are following you. It's about doing right by them.

It's about elevating them so that they themselves can become leaders as well. So, it's less about, “Hey, look at me.” And more about, “Hey, look at all of us.”

I think that's what that leadership component is, and I don't think we talk about it enough, or it feels like, “Oh, leadership. Whatever.”

Leader versus Guru

Nikki:                I just had this conversation yesterday with a group of girlfriends, and we were talking about the fact that, on the one hand, we want to learn to shine brighter, and so that means if you have a message, if you have a movement, using your voice, getting it out there more.

But on the other hand, there's also this fear, Well, I don't ever want to be seen as some kind of guru. I'd even hesitate to call myself an expert. Although, I guess I am of sorts in certain areas, I don't want it to be all about me.

It's very difficult to find that line because you want to shine, but then you don't want to shine so brightly.

One of the ways that I deal with that actually is, I want to bring people up with me, and so, I'm always teaching what I need to learn.

I'm very honest about, and I think I've even said it during this conversation, that I am an open book, and I never want to pretend that I've got it all figured out.

I never want to pretend that I'm perfect.

I'm still trying to figure things out, and I share a lot of things on social media, but I explain to people:  this is what I'm dealing with right now, and you might be dealing with it too.

When we do that, we kind of liberate other people from feeling like they need to be perfect, or have it all together as well.

So, I'm a big believer in that. Again, it's about balance.

I think it's important for us to show up as leaders, but at the same time, I think it's important for us to bring other people up with us. I guess that is really what a Movement Maker is all about.

Michelle:                          I totally agree. It's about elevating those voices around us, who also need to be heard.

I think that in essence, and also I love the transparency.

I know as I'm writing my Three Word Rebellion book, I'm thinking, “I'll go on Facebook Live, and I'll talk about what I'm struggling with.”

Or people ask me questions about it, and I don't have it 1,000% figured out, and it's okay to tell people, “Hey, I'm still thinking about that.”

Nikki:                Yeah, exactly!  I've always said that about my 100 Stories Worth Telling Projects as well.

When I first started it. I told everyone, “Okay, so I can't tell you where this is going,” and I still can't tell you.

Someone just asked me the other day, “Are you going to write a book from all the stories?” I thought, “yeah, maybe.”

I mean, I haven't figured out that piece yet, but I just kept hearing these incredibly stories time and time and time again, and I knew that I had a platform and that I could use it to share these stories.

So, I wanted to do that, and again, being very transparent about the fact, but I haven't figured out where this is going.

I feel the need to do it. I'm going to do it. We'll figure out the rest of it later.

Michelle:                          One last question for you. What change would you like to create in the world?

Nikki:                Oh, that's a good question.

Michelle:                          Isn't it?

Nikki:                Yeah. It's funny, because I'm usually the person asking the questions, and I love asking like hard questions, and then I just go quiet. I can sort of sit back and watch them. Now, I'm in the hot seat.

I've mentioned it a few times during this conversation, but I was trying to explain. I'm in a transition in my own business right now.  

We had talked about it a bit before we started to recording, about the fact that I'm moving away from one-on-one copywriting and moving more into this leadership work, I guess you could say.

I was trying to explain it to a friend the other day, and I told her, “It's not this. It's not that.” And I got really frustrated, and I just said, “You know, what it really comes down to is I want to help people find their voice.”

And then I said, “Actually, I don't want to help people find their voice, because they've already got a voice. I want to help them figure out where their voice is and I want to help them use it.”

If I can do that if I can help people who genuinely want to create positive change in the world, if I can help them use their voice, get their message out there, and start a movement.

Oh, my gosh.

Even if I help one person do that, then I did something really great.

Michelle:                          Yeah. I feel like that as well. I feel like you and I are on a similar trajectory.

Nikki:                I feel we are too. Yes.

Michelle:                          Because I definitely feel that if I can help one person start a movement, get their voice out there, own it – own their power, or own their influence, own their leadership – then I've done my work for this lifetime. I'm good to go.

Woo, we're done. So Nikki, tell us where we can find you online.

Nikki:                So, I keep it simple. I'm a big fan of keeping things simple. NikkiGoom.com and I'm all over, well pretty much everywhere, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook as Nikki Groom as well.  I also have a Facebook for The 100 Stories Worth Telling Project.

Michelle:                          I highly recommend you guys check out her Movement Makers Podcast.

The interviews are excellent and insightful, and they do deal with the leadership questions, and also check out The 100 Stories Worth Telling Project, because those stories are compelling, and you will learn so much from the people who are featured.

Thank you so much, Nikki, for being on the podcast.

Nikki:                Thank you so much. It was such a pleasure. I really appreciate this.

Michelle:                          You are welcome.

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