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Leadership Conversations about

Courageous Connectedness

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How do you stay connected to what you truly care about as you build and lead one of the strongest performing community banks? Join Gateway Bank CEO James Christensen and Rooted & Unwavering host Hylke Faber as they together explore what can help us create what we truly believe in and build a thriving organization in the process.

About the Rooted & Unwavering Podcast Series


Peace, Compassion, Wisdom, Purposefulness, Creativity and Strength come online in us when we deeply connect with the true, unwavering greatness that lives within ourselves and others. In this podcast and radio show, Hylke Faber engages in deep inquiry with leaders from all walks of life about courageously connecting with our true selves, others and the world at large.

How do we stay connected to our true selves and our greatness, especially when we are challenged? How do we rest in the heart, also when our mind keeps us restless? What becomes possible when we truly stay committed to our own and others’ best selves, also when we don’t feel it? How do we practice staying connected to our true selves, in the midst of our busy lives?

Join us and leave inspired to act on your heart’s greatness and that of the people around you.

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E17 - Latest Episode

How do we work through challenging emotions? Says Karen Nowicki, Trauma Guide “Giving myself space to feel the darkest feelings without making myself or anyone wrong.” In that space we can access our wiser self and ask: “How much of what I'm feeling and experiencing is really a response to my own trauma I've been carrying?” And then sitting with it and letting the lesson land in you. Karen shares there are so many ways to ‘sit’ with trauma, including moving our body, helping to create space around the difficult energy that way. Why do this work as leaders? It helps us as leaders “to stay solidly grounded in our truth so that we can be unwavering in the way we show up for others.” Enjoy this episode of Rooted & Unwavering and discover how your most challenging emotions can be gateways to greater authenticity, balance and freedom.

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How do we stay connected to some kind of sanity when our country is being invaded by another one? Says Yaryna Klyuchkovska, a senior communications expert, living in Kyiv: “As a country we are surviving because we've learned who we are. Yaryna shares that war has taught her more of what she is truly made of. She acts on what she truly values, even if it means losing relationships, and a prestigious job. “It’s not a value if it doesn’t have a cost,” reflects Yaryna. And, practicing forgiveness, she accepts that everyone makes their own choices. Olena Sergeeva, a seasoned facilitator and coach from Ukraine who has moved to the US has found herself in search for meaning and what her true core is. “It's difficult not to be sucked into bigger emotions and be blown with the wind,” says Olena adding that she finds inner stability through empathy with self and others, meditation, exercise, and by facing head on old patterns that no longer serve her. Both draw inspiration from Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” and practice gratitude. Listen to this episode of Rooted & Unwavering and discover more of your inner wherewithal to work with crises.


A “common feature of fear – it usually highlights where we need to grow,” we read in  “Unfear,” the book that Rooted & Unwavering guest Gaurav Bhatnagar wrote together with his colleague Mark Minukas. Believing that we are separate and forgetting that we are all part of the same essence, consciousness, causes us to lose our sense of well-being. Being exhausted is a sign that we have are not yet recognizing we are part of an infinite energy that is always available to us. We begin to wake up to this recognition by taking the perspective of the observer – realizing we are not our thoughts and feelings and that we have thoughts and feelings. Deeply seated in this knowing, we experience joy and play, that allows us to practice ‘detached engagement’ with the challenges around us. We know who we are in essence, don’t get lost in our own thoughts and feelings that may be about trying to fix something, and we keep self-regulating: is this thought helpful now? How be and do what is needed now?


Grow Your Vision



Dr Valerie Nkamgang Bemo, Deputy Director at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says: “Give aid while recognizing the dignity of the people receiving aid.” How do we honor dignity, of ourselves and of others? Valerie shares how it all starts with being authentic, sharing from our true selves, without expecting anything in return. And give to others in a way that recognizes that they like to make their own choices. She also shares how we can learn about Ubuntu (I am because we are) and generosity from the poor. Said Valerie about one person who received a bag of rice and turned around to share it with others: “You cannot be happy and centered if everyone around you is not.” Listen to this episode of Rooted & Unwavering and connect more deeply to your generous self.


How do we come back to our true selves, especially when challenged and lead from that values-based place? Augusto Muench, President of Boehringer Ingelheim Mexico, Central America and Caribbean wears a bracelet that reminds him to be humble, especially when he feels triggered. Is this thought coming from my higher self or is it my ego who is trying to take over and force a solution? He shares how fear-based reactions lead to fear-based outcomes. Being aware gives us the wherewithal to step out of this downward cycle, reground ourselves and choose again. Stepping out of our fears, we discover a space that is peaceful, vast and kind. This space provides us with the perspective to see that all is well, even if we by ourselves may not be able to create the solution we want. The problem we face may be bigger than our individual selves. However, collectively, coming from our higher selves, we are bigger than the problem.

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What can we learn from six senior leaders about leading large organizations connected to our best selves? Join Hylke Faber and Rick Gage as they reflect together on the past six Rooted & Unwavering episodes with: Pamela Mattson from Outreach, Amit Basak from Full Potential Solutions, Greet Prins from the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, Bernard Slowey from Salesforce, John Rex, formerly at Microsoft, and Pradeep UN from Truths & Insights. Explore deep acceptance of ourselves and what is, daring to be present also when things don’t go our way and discover the always and already grace that is here in and around us to enjoy and to share. Look at the world with grandfather eyes.


How does sharing our stories help us to connect more deeply with ourselves and each other? How do we help each other by sharing our story? What do we want our legacy story to be that becomes a seed for someone else’s? Pradeep U.N., Senior Director, Inclusive Innovations at Microsoft, shares his story about making choices on what truly adds to his life and about staying courageously curious to learning about things that bring him joy. 

Pradeep was inducted into the Microsoft Garage Wall of Fame in May 2022, as the founder of Truths & Insights, a digital culture transformation platform that enables leaders to engage their teams and customers in courageous conversations. One way Pradeep is able to keep learning and create groundbreaking innovations is by committing to ‘suck’ at something for a while, simply to allow the learning experience to unfold as it does.

Listen to this episode of Rooted & Unwavering and allow yourself to become more conscious of the choices, as you grow more and more into your aspirations.

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What story do you tell yourself about not being ready yet to do and be what you truly aspire to be? What becomes possible when you inquire into your “I can only…when…” limiting beliefs and let them go? How can you respond to this moment in a way that brings you peace in your heart and feeling pride in your actions? Listen to this episode of Rooted & Unwavering and hear what John Rex, Executive Coach and former CFO of Microsoft North America, has been learning about living and leading from his core values, taking response-ability and enjoying life as it comes and helping others grow in their journeys. Says John: “We humans tend to try too hard to define what the rewards of life should be. We don’t trust enough that the journey itself is its own reward, so we fixate on a destination, or a particular achievement and we forget that the value of life is in living the journey. This present moment that we are in right now has its own merit and value just by being here. Every experience has value as it offers us an opportunity to respond, to be conscious to make a choice that brings us peace in our heart and feel pride in our actions.”


Where do we find the wherewithal to choose courage over comfort consistently? How do we help ourselves to stay open and curious? Bernard Slowey, Vice President of Digital Customer Success at Salesforce, shares how it all starts with selfcare. Going for a run, spending time with his wife and five-year-old sun, meditating and finding other ways to take care of monkey mind helps him to stay grounded and confident as he works with his teams to serve customers well. He also reflects on how connecting with the bravery of his ancestors helps him put things in perspective and find the strength to bring his best self to this moment. “Find what works for you…everybody is different, you may enjoy going out for a walk, spending time in nature. You have to find what gives you balance.” Listen to this episode of Rooted & Unwavering to learn how to stay in balance, also with lots on our plates.

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This episode is in dutch

How do we stay grounded in authentic wisdom and purposefulness, without losing ourselves in our individual perspective? “We need to stay deeply curious about perspectives different from ours,” says Greet Prins, Chairman of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, and inquire into the underlying reasons why people hold these perspectives. Greet speaks to the power of staying open and actively absorbing diverse opinions without getting lost in them. She also shares how we stay connected to others as human beings when there are polarized views. And she shares how staying focused on the greater good helps us lead through challenge and change. Listen to this episode of Rooted & Unwavering and contemplate how to bring different perspectives together in our own hearts and lead from that deeper, integrating, authentic place.


Amit Basak, who leads Full Potential Solutions and Perch Insights, says that to create peak flow at work, we need to integrate excellence and accountability with grace – having deep empathy for where the other person is coming from. And then take 100% responsibility to foster an environment in which people can realize their full potential. Practicing grace doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to low performance or people not living the values. Amit shares that to be in integrity, he practices radical candor, providing tough feedback when that is needed. He recalls an experience as a teenager with radical candor when his wrestling coach said: “I am disappointed in you.” Amit grew from this because he trusted his coach. Listen to this episode of Rooted & Unwavering and learn how, with grace, we can have even the toughest conversations.

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Being connected to others starts with connecting to our own true selves. When we connect to our true selves, we notice resonance and dissonance. From a place of inner resonance, we share our truth with others, holding it lightly, knowing it may only be 2% of the full picture. People leaders help unlock the collective genius of the group by creating a safe space, ‘the safest table,’ for people to share their truths about their resonance and dissonance and productively debate and challenge one another, however uncomfortable, in service of helping each person grow and realize more of their potential. Join Rooted & Unwavering host Hylke Faber and Pamela Mattsson, SVP of People and Organizational Development at Outreach as they explore connecting to true selves.


What is the experience being rooted and unwavering? How does it help us lead differently? And how do we practice connecting to our deeper core? Rooted & Unwavering host Hylke Faber and Rick Gage, Growth Leaders Network Executive Director, explore lessons learned from the first four Rooted & Unwavering conversations with Toni Townes-Whitley, NASDAQ Board Member, Zoya Lytvyn, leader of the Ukrainian online school system, Rene Yoakum, Chief People and Customer Officer at Remitly and Erica Schaper, President of NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Core insights include:

*             Being grounded in our true self helps us be stronger than our ratio can comprehend;

*             Keeping our eye off the ball and on the field helps us access greater wisdom;

*             Letting ourselves be supported by our inner teacher helps us to mature in the moment;

*             Being humble about what is ours and what is not, helps us to stay true to our purpose.

Spend some time getting to know your inner resources as you listen to this episode of Rooted & Unwavering

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Stepping into our higher purpose, we connect to a deeper sense of energy that we experience viscerally, shares Erica Schaper, Chairman of the Board of NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Purpose helps Erica to be decisive, also when she needs to take unpopular decisions. In the heat of a challenging conversation, she keeps an eye on what is truly important, so as not get distracted by emotions, hers or anyone else’s.

Erica finds greater strength in purpose by becoming clear what she is really called to focus on and what is outside of her scope. She humbly acknowledges that we are only on this planet for a very short time and we will not solve all our problems in our lifetimes. Does that dissuade her from giving it her all? No, not at all. Erica stays focused on her purpose and takes small steps towards it every day. This includes taking care of herself, taking time off, spending time with her wife Hetty at their horse farm, or losing herself in a good book.  

What is your true purpose? How can you live it even more today? Enjoy this episode of Rooted & Unwavering.


How do we connect to our deeper wisdom and compassion, especially when challenged? Comes in Grace.

“Grace” is the name Rene Yoakum has given to her wiser, more mature inner self. Says Rene “Grace is about 20 years older than I am.” Rene Yoakum, EVP of Customer and Culture at Remitly, shares in this episode of Rooted & Unwavering how she has found in Grace a great inner mentor that helps her move through challenging times with openness and curiosity.

Grace helps her find the joy that lies beyond the challenges she encounters. It helps her consciously chooses love over fear.

Says Rene: “I ground myself in love by being purposeful. That helps me be my best in every situation.”

  • Learn more about connecting to your wiser more mature self

  • Learn how to find joy in every challenge

  • Learn to use vulnerability as a way to deeply connect and build high performing teams

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Challenges, especially the most severe ones, are also our most powerful teachers, Zoya Lytvyn, leader of the Ukranian NGO Osvitoria, shares in this episode of Rooted & Unwavering. She discovers inner strength at a deeper level that comes online when her brain wants to give up and become a vegetable.

Her organization currently provides education to more than 500,000 secondary school students online all over Ukraine and as refugees in over 120 countries abroad. How does she access her strength and not give into depression and reactivity?

She shares with host Hylke Faber how she keeps choosing what’s most important to her: being happy and being of service: building and adapting education to meet the needs of children now living in times of war.


Hylke Faber speaks with Toni Townes-Whitley, NASDAQ Board Director and former President of Microsoft US Regulated Industries, about how to lead from a place that is deeply connected to our core. Toni shares insights about how foundational forgiveness is in soulful leadership and that it includes assuming positive intent, taking deep breaths and looking at people and situations with peripheral vision beyond the issue at hand.

Also, how is a ‘round no’ a powerful way to serve another person? How can we practice forgiveness by explicitly making space for ‘ugly conversations’? How can we use conflict to become even more connected with each other? Learn more about being and becoming a rooted & unwavering leader from this deep dialogue about connectedness.

Learn how foundational forgiveness is to being a connected leader.

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