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ForCollegeForLife Podcast Ep. 6: Abby Conway

Casey J. Cornelius (00:00):

Hey everyone. And thanks for joining the latest episode of the, for college for life podcast. My name is Casey Cornelius, and I’m thrilled to be hosting our speakers, our consultants, the people who make up the team at, for college for life, so that you can get to know a little bit more about them and their journeys and their stories and their core messages. So today I have really a great opportunity to get to chat with Abby Conway. And I’m going to tell you a little bit about her before I, I bring her to the mic and, and get into this conversation. So Abby brings experience in leadership development, curriculum, writing design and facilitation throughout her career. She’s delivered individualized content to clients through programming, oversees the development and implementation of continuous training for teams and design curriculum to enhance organizational experiences through blog writing and workshop curriculum AI currently serves as the director of learning for the center for leadership excellence in Indianapolis, where she spends her days immersed in curriculum and training design, big, big stuff. A’s received her bachelor’s of science degree in education from Florida state university or master’s of science in education from Indiana university Bloomington and probably some fun facts for you. She’s an avid orange therapy goer. She enjoys traveling to spend time with friends and family and spending time with her sweet, sweet, sweet golden retriever puppy named joy. So without any further ado, please let me go ahead and welcome Avi Conway to the mic Avi.

Abby Conway (01:32):

Hi. So excited to be here.

Casey J. Cornelius (01:36):

I I’m, I’m thrilled that you and I have the opportunity to, to record this podcast. I always say in these that I wish we could record some of the conversations that we have offline, right? So like phone calls or zoom calls, or I, I wish we could have hit record during those moments because sometimes there’s such great content and, and I want to go back in time to the first, what I would call real conversation that you and I had about your speaking and consulting work. And I will be honest with you, Abby. I don’t know if you know this, I had planned for it to be maybe a 20, 30 minute conversation. And I think we spoke that day for almost two hours. Is that correct?

Abby Conway (02:18):

Yeah, it was it, and it was crazy cuz the time like flew by and I didn’t even realize how long it had been until you were like, do, am I taking all of your time? Like, do you have time to still stay on the phone with me? And I was like, oh my gosh, it’s been two hours.

Casey J. Cornelius (02:34):

It was great. It was great. And, and that was one of the ones where, you know, when, when you hang up, you go, I wish we had recorded this so that we could share just because it, it sort of wandered and meandered through so many big thoughts and big concepts and, and just, I don’t know, like, like everybody else, I always say this once you get to know Abby, you’re, you’re sort of odd at how, how awesome she is, how, how cool she is. And, and I feel the same way too. I, so I, I guess I wanna start before we get into sort of the, the, the nitty gritty here. Can we talk about joy for just a second?

Abby Conway (03:06):

Absolutely. <laugh>

Casey J. Cornelius (03:08):

Tell us about this golden retriever, puppy aptly named joy.

Abby Conway (03:15):

Yeah. So she got her namesake from the Disney Pixar movie inside out mm-hmm <affirmative> so that when that movie came out, like instantly became my absolute favorite. And one of the best compliments that I’ve ever been given was somebody said to me that I reminded them of joy from inside out and Aw, to this day, like literally the best compliment I’ve ever gotten. But I, I also just like, love the message that it brings. And I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned how even in great sadness, there can be joy, which is a huge message from the movie. And so just has I always come back to it, I talk about core memories a lot, which is a huge piece of that movie. So homework, if you have not seen inside out, you need to watch it

Casey J. Cornelius (04:11):

Required viewing. Yes, yes, yes.

Abby Conway (04:13):

It’s required viewing. And so when we decided to get a puppy I was like trying to think of a name and it was really stressful because it was like, okay, it’s really not that deep. But also to me it feels like a big deal. And I was just kind of thinking, okay, well what about like a Disney name and which is UN shocking to people that are just even have met me one time, like big Disney gal. And we kind of got to this point where I was like, what about joy? And it just kind of stuck. And would then of course, when we got to meet her in person, we were like, yes, like this, this absolutely makes sense. And she sparks a lot of joy in our life and is just a crazy little rambunctious full of energy puppy, like anybody would expect. And I absolutely just, she just makes my day so much more fun. Some days

Casey J. Cornelius (05:14):

Are you can hear it. Yeah.

Abby Conway (05:15):

Yes. Some days are. You’re just like, okay, I just have to remind myself. You’re just, you’re being a puppy. You are being a puppy. But most of the time it is a lot of, she brings a lot of laughter. So there’s a lot of times where you just kinda are like, did, is this real life? Did this just happen? <Laugh> and then you’re just kinda gotta laugh. So

Casey J. Cornelius (05:37):

She, one of the most humbling things in the world too, is to be a puppy parent. Like, yes it is. I always say like, you forget, like if you, if you have pets animals, especially dogs, for some reason you forget over time, how hard the puppy stage is until you have another one sometime in the future. And you’re like, oh my goodness, this is what this is like, it it’s very, it’s very humbling for sure.

Abby Conway (06:03):

Yeah. Well, and I was very fortunate. My family, we got a chocolate lab puppy when I was in eighth grade. And so from that point, that is when I knew, like when I, when I am on my own and adulting, I wanted to have a puppy like from, or as early on as possible so that I could be there throughout their entire life. And so it’s, it’s funny now because I was young enough that, I mean, my parents were still helping a lot with all of those like fun puppy things. And now we’re, they just laugh because they’re like, yes, we remember very vividly

Casey J. Cornelius (06:41):

<Laugh> yeah, yeah. All the stuff you didn’t see as a, as an eighth grader, right?

Abby Conway (06:45):

Yes, yes.

Casey J. Cornelius (06:46):

Yeah. Abby, you, you referenced something in, in your answer before that. I, I think, I think needs a little more exploration. I wouldn’t call it unhealthy, but I do detect a, a very strong love of Disney in, in your, in your, in your being <laugh>. Do you wanna talk about that a little bit?

Abby Conway (07:07):

Yeah. So I, I joke about being a born and raised Disney brat. That was what my family did for family vacations. So it’s actually really funny when I met my husband. He had only been to Disney one time prior, and I kind of looked at him when I was like, well, that if this like continues, that’s probably gonna change. I hope you’re okay with that. <Laugh> and his family just chose something different to do for their family vacations. And so I just have always loved the message from all of the movies and it’s just something that has always brought me a lot of joy. And I think it’s been really great as I’ve gotten older and learned more. I it’s been a really fun thing to kind of balance the dissonance that comes along with that too, of like, okay, there’s learning about all of these different pieces and how things you can learn all of these pieces, but also kind of thinking through, okay, there’s still a lot of progress to be made here and the messages that are delivered.

Abby Conway (08:15):

And I think that there’s a unique opportunity as Disney’s like moving into the future of how, how are they going to continue to be better and actually make those tough decisions. So I think as a Disney movie viewer and big Disney person, like there’s hidden, Mickey’s all over my house and it’s a really fun game when people come over, I’m like, how many can you find <laugh>? I think that it kind of creates really good conversation of like thinking through all the things we’ve learned from different movies or shows and thinking about how that’s also influenced our life and continues, influence our lives.

Casey J. Cornelius (08:56):

You know, I, I, and this is just a, a, a realization I had as, as you were describing your, your appreciation for, for Disney, I’ve never met an adult Disney fan who didn’t have a youthful spirit to them. And, and I wonder if there’s something to that, like, I wonder if there’s a an element of being invested, not only in the stories and the characters and so forth that maybe maybe prevents you and, and, and fellow Disney aficionados from, from ah, maybe getting jaded in some way or, or so forth. Like there’s something there’s something to that. I, I don’t, I don’t know that I’ve flushed it out completely though.

Abby Conway (09:38):

Yeah. I think that there’s the something I’ve always been told is that I find like the positive in a lot of things in, right. That something that I’ve had to learn, how to balance in terms of being positive, but also, and I think that’s where, like, honestly, a lot of what I learned from inside out really plays into my, my true day to day and in all of my relationships and that you, you can be happy, but also need to appreciate the sadness that comes along with the rollercoaster that is life. And so I think that there’s a lot of when, when you kind of peel back the layers, there’s a lot of different things that you can learn from the different messaging that you have to, you have to be open to, and also use a little bit of that critical thinking, and especially being an adult and rewatching, some of those movies, you kind of pick up on those different things and you maybe didn’t realize that you did when you were younger.

Abby Conway (10:42):

But yeah, I think it’s the, it, it’s just so fun. And I think like actually going to Disney world is so like just, I truly feel like a kid running around and just having quite literally the best I ever. And I think I, I just have a really deep appreciation for that youthful experience and just maybe it is a little bit of the realization that adulting is really hard. And so it kind of, it provides that escape for me of, okay. I can put adulting to the side for a second and kind of focus on all of like the fun things and the thrill of riding a roller coaster or seeing a character or just watching all of these families have such a great time spending time together when they’re walking the parks. And yeah, I think there’s just, I would agree. There’s definitely something like youthful, but also just like there’s like that, that fun spirit that comes to it as well.

Casey J. Cornelius (11:45):

I, I did not anticipate at the beginning of this, of this recording, Abby, that, that, that we would go down this path, but we’ve really gotten to a place of mindset. Right. And it occurs to me that in some of our initial conversations about your speaking and sort of the, the way that you see the world as well, I remember vividly the moment that you shared with me the concept of shine therapy and a as someone who is sort of a self professed theory, nerd, leadership theory, and sociological theory and education. Like I like I’m, I’m a nerd about these things. I had not heard of shine theory. So when, when you started describing it, I was like, wait a second, tell me more, like, I really wanted to know. And I know that that, that theoretical perspective influences so much of your work as well. Could you just like, in, in a nutshell, I, I know I normally you would do this for an hour or three hours or three days, but can, can you talk a little bit about shine theory and about how, how, not only conceptually, but also practically has influenced you in your journey?

Abby Conway (12:56):

Yeah, so I learned about shine theory when I was in grad school from two supervisors and they our two women that have drastically influenced my life gonna

Casey J. Cornelius (13:10):

Shout ’em out.

Abby Conway (13:11):

Yeah. so it’s Sarah Cohen and Melissa Kish. They were, were, and still remain like super influential in my life in terms of building relationships with women in a healthy way. And also understanding the complexities that come along with that. I think they really help set a foundation to me, understanding how to really be a woman that truly embodies empowerment for other women. And when I think about the concept of shine theory, the, the way that I think it really has stuck with me over the years has been the concept of I don’t shine if you don’t shine. And I think that really showcases how I, as Abby am not going to shine in mindfulness potential. If the women around me and people around me are not shining and living up to their fullest potential. And I think it’s incredible when you think about the influence and impact that I, as an individual can have on people around me and helping them to truly be the best version of themselves and pushing them to those great things.

Abby Conway (14:26):

Cause I think sometimes we need that, that voice in our ear, that that friend to be like, Hey, I really think you should do this. Or you would be really great for this experience. And sometimes that’s all we need to be like, okay. They believe in me. So I’m, I’m gonna do this. And I think the concept of shine theory is really important when we think about competition and how that exists in so many different ways. Like we all love a little healthy competition and there are some of us that are way more competitive than others. I am.

Casey J. Cornelius (14:59):

I was going to say, yeah, I know someone. Yeah.

Abby Conway (15:02):

Yeah. And like, I am very much so on board for that. Like, I will be that person that will be cheering on Florida state and, you know, I get very competitive in those environments. Especially when they play UF in November, that is a time where I’m very competitive, but I think it’s also realizing the balance of how does that exist in our day to day and how are we being more open to not letting the competition get the best of us? I think about when I was in undergrad, I was studying elementary education and it was a really, really tough major to get into because the cohort was so small and they obviously, they only took a cohort each semester. And so I was dead set on being a teacher and for the longest time wanted to be a first grade teacher.

Abby Conway (16:00):

And I had no other plan other than I had to get into the elementary education cohort because that’s, that’s what I was gonna do. That is the only thing I was open to. And so I focused on obviously focused heavily on school, all the extracurricular things that I needed to do. And it got to a point where every single person that was in my class, if I found out that they were also wanting to be elementary education, instead of like finding that common ground and being like, oh my gosh, we can like make each other better. I took it in the opposite direction and was like, oh no, they’re my competition. I have to beat them in order to get it, to get into this major. And I think once I finally got into the major, I realized, wow, I wasted a lot of time viewing these people as my competition when I could have actually been learning from them and building relationships with them.

Abby Conway (16:58):

And I think that that is a lesson that really stuck with me and thinking through how my mindset really changed when I got to grad school and then was infused with learning more about shine theory and how that showed up in my relationships with other women and recognizing that, you know, it’s important to have like recognition for things. And I am a words of affirmation person. So when I get a simple thank you, or just like a little shout out, it, it really, it brings me so much joy. And I think I also have had to learn that in order for me to feel like I’m truly actually shining and thriving as a human being, I need to make sure that the people around me are feeling that as well. And if one of my friends gets an award or is shouted out for a big deal for something or gets a promotion or whatever has a big family milestone, it is important for me to celebrate them in a huge way, because I know that for them, that is a really big deal. And it has helped me eliminate the whole mindset of, oh, well, that hasn’t happened for me yet. Like why hasn’t that happened for me? And why have I not gotten that recognition? Or it’s really helped me D diminish a lot of those thoughts because it’s allowed me to truly celebrate those around me and say, wow, you’ve got so many great things happening for you. I’m excited to continue to support you and see the ways that you continue to thrive and shine in every aspect of your life.

Casey J. Cornelius (18:35):

I just love, I love this whole system structure, worldview mindset so much when, when you first described this to me, I, I remember just being blown away, wanting to know more as, as you know, a lot of the work that I do are with men, men’s organizations, teams so forth. And what I’ve always described is, is quite the opposite. And the, and the thing that in our relationships we need to overcome in that is this idea of you know, being in this constant negotiation of like surplus and deficit, right? Like for, for me, like for, I have to be plus one. So that means you have to be minus one. And what you described, it feels like it’s so perfectly equipped to help build better relationships just across the board. There, there is a question that I think comes to mind a little bit, and I I’m, I’m sure you’ve thought about this too.

Casey J. Cornelius (19:29):

Right? So, so when you say, when I shine, you shine, the inverse of this also would be like, would you shine? I shine. Does, does the other person in the equation, other people in need the equation? Do they need to even be aware that this is happening for it to be something that you do? Or can, can you sort of shine the shine, the light on them? I’m, I’m using this, this word interchangeably here, like, like, like hold up that light to them without their knowledge, just to simply multiply all the good that they’re doing.

Abby Conway (20:01):

Yeah. I, I think that, I think it could depend on the situation. I think with, within some of my relationships, I don’t think that my friends are necessarily aware of it. Like intentionally. I think they can look back and be like, wow. Abby was really supportive to me through all of that. And I think what comes to mind for me is one another, one of the best things that people have shared with me is that I’m a really good friend. And I take a lot of pride in being a really good friend and supporting those people around me because relationship relationships really are very important to me. And I think a lot of times, like we, as humans, we know relationships are important, but it’s a lot of hard work and a lot of effort. Yeah. Emotionally to invest in other people.

Abby Conway (20:57):

And I have never been disappointed or hurt when I have invested in other people. And so I think that’s something that I’ve carried with me. And when I think about multiplying the, the shine from those that are in my life, I think that they feel it because of how much I like pour into them and make them feel special. I, I also am an engram too. And so I think that plays a huge role in it that I live for those around me, and I want to make them feel special and make sure that they feel loved and supported. So I, I do think that that’s a huge part of it as for me specifically. And, but I think it can exist in both ways. Right. There’s the idea of, if we’re all aware of shine theory, like there’s a group of my friends that we’re all aware of it. And I think that we make conscious efforts to support each other because of it. And then there’s another group of friends that I have that I’ve, I’ve like dropped hints about shine theory, but never actually had a full blown conversation with them about it. But I think that if I were to sit here and have a conversation with them and be like, Hey, here’s like point blank. What shine theory is? I feel confident that they’d be able to say, wow, that we’ve been living this without even realizing it.

Casey J. Cornelius (22:25):

I love it. And, and I think that that’s so so symbolic of the work that you do as well is when you expose this idea to, to audiences, to groups, to organizations, the, the feedback is always like, wow, that like, this is not a complex step. This is something that we can do. Like there’s no, like, you know, 17 step process to, to be better to one another, right. Like, right. These are, these are choices that we can make now to have better relationships. And, and I think, I think Abby, in a way, it kind of, it kind of gets to what might be sort of a, a tougher topic. Right? So a, a lot of the conversation, maybe not enough of it, but, but a lot of the conversation starting to arise about this idea of performance. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and I, I guess I want to know from, from your perspective, as it relates, especially to, to women’s empowerment, is there a, like, is there an element of performative empowerment that’s going on where it’s like, it’s, it’s, it’s shine light or it’s a faux shine or, or whoever we want to take it, like, is there performative empowerment in that space as well?

Abby Conway (23:40):

I think sometimes there is. And it’s, I, I think important to note that I don’t necessarily think it’s intentional in terms of, because you, when you think about women’s empowerment specifically, how it is manifesting in Panhellenic organizations within fraternity and sorority communities, there’s, you can talk to a lot of different people across the country, in different communities and say, Hey, like, I’m sure you all have a sticker or a t-shirt that says empowered women, empower women. And I’ve seen a lot of campuses have women’s empowerment weeks, which are absolutely amazing. And I think so important. I think my question back would also be are the people in your community truly empowering all of the people around them, because if we’re not willing to bring all of the women along and include all women in empowered women empower women, then we’re not actually doing what we’re say saying we’re doing.

Abby Conway (24:47):

And I think that there’s an opportunity for us to really reflect and think about when we say we’re empowering each other. What does that actually mean? And I think it’s gonna look different at various campuses or within an individual community. And I think that there’s an opportunity to think about it on an individual level of, if I am someone that believes that empowering other women is very important. How am I doing that in my day to day life? And how is that ripple effect actually persisting around me? Or how is it not? When I think about simple things, like, are you out there talking negatively about another person or another organization or are you quick to make judgements that you might not even know that person, but because of a specific instance or something you saw on the internet, you’re gonna make that quick judgment, quick judgment about them.

Abby Conway (25:58):

I think that there’s opportunity to think about is that behavior of what it actually means to empower other people. I think important to also note that like we are, we are all human, we are not perfect. We’re not always gonna get it right. But I think just having that awareness of, oh, today, I did really, really well in empowering other people around me and maybe a week from then, you’re like, Hmm, I could have been better today. And I think it’s important to ha start having that conversation of how can we be better? Cuz I think as women, we so, so many times women use the word perfection and that specifically perfectionism to describe how they approach their life. And I think that we have been molded unknowingly and sometimes knowingly into this situation where we feel like we have to be perfect. And more often than not, especially when you meet women leaders, they’ll say, oh, well I’m a huge perfectionist.

Abby Conway (26:58):

Like I gotta get everything done. I wanna make sure everything’s done right. And we can unpack a lot of ways of why that exists. But I think it’s also important to be realistic in that the relationships that we build with people they’re not gonna be perfect and we’re not always gonna get it. Right. And we’re, we’re going to have to say the words, I’m sorry, can you help me learn how to be better next time? Or how can we approach this situation differently in the future? I think there’s a lot of really great learning when we’re intentional about those pieces. And also recognizing that it’s hard. And even though it is difficult, there is always so much good that comes from it because I think that’s when we actually can build those strong female relationships and create dynamics where women actually feel supported and it’s not just on a t-shirt or a sticker or on an Instagram post to say, Hey, we’re empowering each other, but behind the scenes, we actually aren’t.

Casey J. Cornelius (28:03):

I first of all, wow. Like I’m, I’m, I’m blown away with that description. I, I I wanna unpack one of the things that you said, and I think it’s a subtle difference that you’re pointing out, but, but has, has a major impact. So if the phrase is empowered, women empower women, I think I’m hearing you say that if you change that to say empowered women empower all women, that that would be the next step in this conversation beyond performance to really think about, are we empowering those who are different than us, those who have different backgrounds, different experiences who look different, who have different interests, are, are we equally as committed to empowering them rather than just people who are like us? Am I, am I unpacking that the correct way?

Abby Conway (28:52):

Yes, absolutely.

Casey J. Cornelius (28:55):

And would you say that the, the challenge to that is in, and this is a very social science brain of mine asking this question that we tend to like admire support people who are most like us at the detriment of those who are not like this has to be a a purposeful action that folks are taking in order to make sure that all people are included in this empowerment.

Abby Conway (29:23):

Yeah. I think that there’s the AB absolutely like the human science part of it where we’re kind of like, okay, we’re gonna just be like surround ourselves with all of the people that are similar in thought and similar in appearance in all of these different pieces. And I think that that’s where we are doing a disservice to ourselves because we’re not actually creating an environment where we can learn when we are not open to surrounding ourselves with people that come from different backgrounds and even like speak different languages and look different from us in every way, shape and form. I think we’re not allowing ourselves to actually understand what it means to empower all women.

Casey J. Cornelius (30:15):

And so much of what you’re talking about comes down to some core values as well. Right? Like I, I know that for example, kindness is a core value to not only you as a person, but in the way that you, you teach this concept. Do you wanna talk a little bit about kindness?

Abby Conway (30:35):

Yeah. I think like kindness is something that is, I would say absolutely like a core value of mine and how I strive to live each and every day. I think the, I, from my sorority sisters there was this concept of it costs $0 to be a decent human. And that, that concept has really stuck with me because at the end of the day, during some of my toughest days when I was in college, when one of my sorority sisters actually said this and it, it really stuck with our, our chapter, but it also kind of created that space of why are we not being kind to each other? Or why am I reacting the way I’m reacting? And so it, it kind of gave me that that’s the phrase for me that gives me pause to say, am I actually being helpful or harmful in this situation?

Abby Conway (31:32):

And when I think about the concept of kindness, it’s something that is very ply talk prevalently talked about right now, especially in the age of wherever we are in moving forward beyond. COVID. And I think that there there’s a lot of hurt and angst and a lot of, a lot of feelings that are existing for each individual, especially considering how the realities of a pandemic. They, they have hurt everybody in so many different ways. And I think that we just need to offer that kindness to each other and just give each other grace. And just ask, ask more questions instead of making more assumptions and recognizing that somebody made a decision based on the information that they had or because that was the best decision they needed to make in, in that moment. And I think instead of getting angry, it’s approaching it with kindness of saying, can you help me understand how we got here?

Abby Conway (32:41):

And I think a lot of that shines through, especially in accountability, cuz I think that oftentimes yes, we really do want to grow as individuals and be better human beings, but it’s also really hard work. And to me, I feel like it is very kind for somebody to approach me and say, Hey, I didn’t like how you said this, or I’m not understanding your concept or Hey, you’re, you’re leaving out people. You’re leaving people out at this conversation because to me that is expanding my mind and allowing me the opportunity to grow and to learn rather than it just be an attack. I think we kind of allows us to create situations where everybody is able to learn rather than create this whole dynamic where everybody feels like they’re walking on eggshells or they can never say the right thing. Kindness creates that, that space where it might be difficult, but there’s, there’s going to be the option to learn and have that growth

Casey J. Cornelius (34:01):

Happen. You know, it, it, it occurs to me, Abby, there are going to be people who listen to, to this, this recording, and they’re gonna be one of two types, one, they’re going to be people who know you and who are going to say yes, this is absolutely who Abby is. And there are gonna be people who don’t know you yet and who are gonna say, she sounds too good to be true. She can’t possibly do all these things and believe all these things. First of all, as, as someone who’s in, in camp, a not too good to be true exactly who she is. But do you think that, that there’s some skepticism, that’s sort of part of our culture too, like where it’s like be, you know, kindness, as you say is tough. So people are skeptical of people who seem overly kind or who prioritize things like, you know, being, being nice to someone. Do, do you, do you sense some skepticism in that?

Abby Conway (34:56):

Absolutely. I think that a, again, it comes back to like, we’re, we’re all human. And I think I, I try really, really hard to lead with kindness and I’m the first to also admit I am not perfect at it. And there are times where I will catch myself and I’ll be disappointed in the way I handled a situation or the way that I spoke to someone, whether it was tone or if it was me just like reacting to something. I think it’s important to know that we, we all have our, our different life experiences and that absolutely influences how we react to things. There’s this whole concept that has really been staking out to me recently. And we are defined by how we react to something and thinking through we, we have choices and sometimes those choices happen really quickly in our minds and we just have no choice and we say, okay, I just I’m reacting on emotion right now.

Abby Conway (36:03):

And we come back to it later and it’s like, mm, maybe that wasn’t the best way to handle that situation. But I think when we have that self-awareness and have that opportunity to reflect on it, I think that’s when we become better at leading with kindness and saying, okay, I now know that this is something that, that really gets under my skin. And so next time, when a situation arises, I’m gonna take a deep breath. And instead of leading with whatever emotion comes in that instance, I’m gonna take a moment and think through how can I lead with kindness in this moment? And that might be that you just sit and listen, there’s power and sitting and listening. And really in any situation, we oftentimes come away with the concept of like, we are, we are defined how we respond. And we, we are also only in control of how we respond.

Abby Conway (37:06):

If we are having a really tough conversation with someone you can’t control how they’re going to react, you can only control your emotions in that situation. And so I think that there’s the opportunity for kindness to really lay the foundation, to have those really hard conversations. Because I think that is what strengthens the relationship. And when I think about the whole like, oh, it’s too good to be true. There are absolutely people I’ve come across in my life. And I’m like, wow, you’re just like a really kind human like, and I think it’s just that, that gut feeling that I aspire to be as kind as they are. And I think in the past, that’s where I would be like, well, that’s too good to be true. Like you can’t always be happy. And I think what I’ve learned is that people really can be that happy. And it’s why we have gotten to this place where we’re not celebrating, being happy as much as I think we could be. And I think there’s a lot of reasons for that. And it looks different for everybody, but I think that instead of having that knee jerk reaction of, well, you can’t be that happy all the time it’s questioning instead. I wonder what their thought process is to where they are always finding joy in every situation.

Casey J. Cornelius (38:33):

And I think we’re wandering into, to another kind of core, core value here. Right? So when, when you talk about choices related to our, our actions, our interactions, our relationships, it seems like inherent in that has to be a conversation about empathy as well. Right? Recognizing the fact that we don’t always show up perfectly or people make mistakes or they have pains and struggles that we have never even considered or conceptualized. Talk to me a little bit about your thoughts on, on empathy.

Abby Conway (39:10):

When I think about empathy, I, I think about how a lot of it like, and just thinking about like present day life that we are all living. It it’s really, really hard because I think that we’ve all experienced different hardships in a variety of ways over the past few years. And I think now we’re starting to get to that point where we’re realizing as we are going back to doing some things that we haven’t done in the past few years, like being around a larger group of people or maybe for whatever reason to keep others around us safe. We, we still aren’t ready to do that. And I think that when I, we think about empathy, it’s, I think we are a little spent individually because there is so much that has happened physically and emotionally for everybody over the past couple years. But I think there’s also opportunity to say if I put myself in their shoes, I’m gonna understand just a little bit more and I can empathize with the fact that maybe that’s why they don’t want to attend this meeting or come to this function.

Abby Conway (40:24):

Even if it’s something as simple as going out to dinner together, maybe they’re not ready to be around a large group of people or even just one person, because I think something that’s been joked about a lot, but is very real, is the whole social anxieties that exist because we, for a lot of us, it was like, wow, I spend a lot of time with people pre COVID. And then all of a sudden I forgot how to interact with other people. I remember the first time I was interacting with people, I was, I felt very awkward. Like I would, my, the Palm sweaty didn’t know what to do with my hands and was just so anxious. And I didn’t know why. And truthfully, I still get that way sometimes because there’s that reality of, I feel like I have to relearn all of these things that I spent my entire life thus far already learning and working to.

Abby Conway (41:18):

Perfect. And I think that with empathy, there’s great opportunity for us to say, how can I learn in this situation to make me a better human and coworker or friend or partner, whatever it might be and say, I need to have the opportunity to understand what they’re going through so that, that we can work through whatever it is or work to be better together when we exercise empathy and really taking that perspective of the other person. Because I think then it allows us to grow and stretch our minds in ways that we would’ve never initially expected. And I think there’s great opportunity for us to think about empathy in this as a strength and remembering that vulnerability is hard, but when we are open to being vulnerable with other people that allows empathy to really take the stage and create a friendship or relationship or working relationship that embodies trust and says, okay, I I’m, I’m trusting to let you into this situation or this problem that I’m having. And I want it to be better, but maybe we’re feeling a little lost of how do we make it better. And I think that when empathy is at the forefront of our actions, we create that environment where people feel like they can, they can talk to us, but also feel like they can walk away having some sort of answer and what they can do to figure out their problem, or create a space where they trust you as a person to know that you can help them navigate through the really hard stuff.

Casey J. Cornelius (43:23):

I, I, I love this so much, you know, as, as we kind of look back over the, the course of this conversation, there’s so much that really is relationship focused, focus on the relationship between you and others, our, our choices, our actions, our interactions, based on those things, empathy, kindness, shine, all of these things. Just in, in some allow us a framework to simply be better to one another. And I, I think, I think Abby, you know, people who get to know you and people who get to work with you, they know that that’s the core of who you are. It’s actually the precise core of what you teach as well. So I, I really I appreciate you, you sharing all of it today. It, you want to get outta here on some some rapid fire questions, some, some fun ways for folks to get to know a little bit more about a Conway.

Abby Conway (44:14):

Yes, let’s do it.

Casey J. Cornelius (44:15):

Okay. So you have not been prepared for these co I wanna, I wanna be real, have not been prepared for these questions. So these are gonna be real authentic answers. Okay. So let’s say you have an entire day to binge watch. Anything. What do you choose?

Abby Conway (44:31):

Oh Harry Potter, Harry Potter marathon,

Casey J. Cornelius (44:35):

Like, like all of them, like start to finish. Yes. Okay. Excellent. You said that without any, like <laugh>, without any even process you like Harry Potter, there you go. Okay. What is the most used app on your phone?

Abby Conway (44:52):

Instagram, for sure

Casey J. Cornelius (44:54):

As a, as a consumer or as a producer, like follow up question

Abby Conway (44:59):

Consumer.

Casey J. Cornelius (45:00):

Okay. What do you like most about it?

Abby Conway (45:04):

I really, I just love, I like pictures and like, I feel the whole like concept of like, oh, pictures are worth a thousand words. But I also, I feel like it’s a really great tool to keep up with people and kind of understand like what’s going on in their life. And I think that you can, you can see it’s like a little peak into what somebody is, what they’re spending their days doing and things that are things or people that are important to them as well.

Casey J. Cornelius (45:36):

You know, this, this one, this is a tangent here real quick, but I remember you saying one time that you are particularly fond of sort of the the photo dump, right? The like the non curated non-perfect like, here’s, what’s been going on in my life over the last few weeks or months sort of that that’s follow as well. Am am I correct on that?

Abby Conway (45:59):

Yes, that is, that is absolutely one of my favorite trends right now, because it’s like, you have this thought of, oh, wow. That person hasn’t like cheered anything in a while. Like, I wonder what they’re up to. And then all of a sudden, boom, there’s a photo dump. And they’re like, wow, they’ve been doing some really fun things. And it’s a really great way. I feel like too, to get ideas of, oh, that could be a really fun place to go visit. Like, I feel like so many people I know have gone to Asheville and now I really wanna go to Asheville <laugh> so there you go. Cause they make it look like so much fun.

Casey J. Cornelius (46:27):

Yeah. So if anyone who’s listening in the answer real area who wants to reach out, Abby will do discounted. No, I’m just kidding. Alright. Next one next question. Who would you most like to have dinner with?

Abby Conway (46:40):

Hmm, probably Viola Davis.

Casey J. Cornelius (46:46):

Nice choice. Why?

Abby Conway (46:47):

Yeah. I, I just really have always loved her as an actress and the, the story she teaches. She was amazing in how to get away with murder and I just am I followed her on social media and I just, I really feel like she is a really wonderful human and just has a lot of really important ideas. And I think that it would just also be a really, really fun time.

Casey J. Cornelius (47:15):

Sure. Well, let’s see if we can make that happen. We’ll we’ll tag her in this. We’ll see what we can do here. <Laugh> all. All right, Abby, what do you do to wind down? Do you have any sort of ritual or when I do this, it’s now my signal that, that I’m, I’m sort of decompressing for the moment. What do you do to wind down?

Abby Conway (47:34):

Well, since we got joy taking her on an evening walk has really been a, a fun way to kind of wind down. Cuz we will just like walk the neighborhood and when we come back, like she’s then exhausted. And so I think that’s the opportunity of, it’s a fun routine of, okay, we’re gonna go on a walk and then we settle in. And I will say during the week I do love watching wheel of fortune and jeopardy. So I, that is also, I would say part of my line down routine <laugh>

Casey J. Cornelius (48:08):

Wow. I think we’ve learned something about Abby that we there’s there’s an old soul to you wheel a fortune in jeopardy every night.

Abby Conway (48:15):

Yes. Yes. It’s okay. Yeah, and I, I watched the nightly news before that, so I’m, I’m really, <laugh> really sharing a lot about I, I think, and it was one of those things where whenever I visit my grandma she loves, loves, loves David me. And so every time you would just watch the nightly news and then watch real fortune in jeopardy. And so it, and I realized one day I was like, wow, I, I really enjoy this because I know what’s going on in the world. But also I like solving the puzzles and very rarely do I know the answers on jeopardy, but whenever they have there was a Disney column. One time I got every single one. Right. I

Casey J. Cornelius (48:57):

Was it right. I smoked it. Yeah. Yeah.

Abby Conway (48:59):

Right. But I think it just, it was one of those things where I paid attention to the fact that it, it made me happy. So I was like, I’m gonna make this an every night thing when I can, when my schedule allows.

Casey J. Cornelius (49:11):

And, and listen, I think that this ties back together with how we started, this brings you joy because it also connects back to this experience that you had with your grandmother along the way, too. Right. and, and by the way, I had very similar ones. I was just thinking about like on the days that I was sick and watching the prices right. And Bob Barker and all that other kinda stuff that was many moons ago. Okay. Last question. We’re gonna get you outta here on this one. How can listeners best connect with you?

Abby Conway (49:38):

I think well, if you have pets sharing pictures of your pets, I would, I like love seeing pictures of dogs, especially, and just like, I, I feel like that’s a really fun way to jumpstart a conversation and learn about other people. I also think too, just reaching out and just a simple, Hey, and wanting to, if I don’t know them getting to know them I will always engage in a conversation if you started off and tell me if you could pick any Disney character that embodies you, who would it be and why, or Harry Potter, if you’re not a Disney fan. And I think you learn a lot about a person through that. And I think would a really fun way to, to jump, start a conversation and get to know people.

Casey J. Cornelius (50:31):

I love it. And I think I’m hearing you say Instagram is the, the go-to platform, right?

Abby Conway (50:36):

Yeah. Instagram or I, I also do. I do love email. I’m one of those weird people that checks my email a lot because I get excited and think, oh, somebody wants to talk to me today. So I think email and Instagram are two really great ways for me to connect.

Casey J. Cornelius (50:51):

I love it. I love it. Email’s never going outta style. Abby’s not going to let it happen. <Laugh> Abby, this has been, this has been such a fun conversation. As many as we’ve had. I always seem like I leave them thinking. I, I learned something new about you and I, I hope our listeners experience that as well. It’s like, there’s, there’s so much interconnected themes and threads into, into everything that we’ve talked about over the last, you know, 45 minutes or so. So I, I, I really genuinely appreciate you if you all want to learn more about Abby her, her program if you wanna schedule her for an event, please go to for college for life.com/abby. That’s a, B, B Y no eyes, no ease a B, B, Y. And and you know, you could, you can find out whether or not you think that this is a, the put on or not. And I think you’re probably going to find that Abby really is that, that joyful kind empathetic person that, that that she puts out to the world. It’s not a put on it’s real. And it sure is inspiring as well. So Abby, thanks for conversation today.

Abby Conway (51:55):

Yeah. Thank you for having me.

Casey J. Cornelius (51:58):

All right, everyone until next time, we’ll talk soon.

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