I had this insight to bring, storytelling, that I did in the entertainment business, to champion people and make them better at building their brand and own their voice.
Today I interview Audrey Cavenecia, the Co-producer and co-host for the Amplify Voices podcast, alongside NFL coach Pete Carroll and host of the “Unlikely podcast” on leadership. A talented, storyteller, and visionary Audrey has decades of experience in, leadership development, entertainment production, and content marketing with a focus on championing humanity in all people.
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Audrey Cavenecia is the Co-producer and co-host for the Amplify Voices podcast, alongside NFL coach Pete Carroll and host of the “Unlikely podcast” on leadership. A talented storyteller and visionary Audrey has decades of experience in leadership development, entertainment production, and content marketing with a focus on championing humanity in all people.
She has worked alongside some of the most influential leaders in the world—including speaker and author Tony Robbins and Oracle founder Larry Ellison—to develop and empower new visionaries through stories and insights around authentic human connection. No matter the sector, she continues to build bridges between what is and what can be, with, storytelling, as the scaffolding.
Audrey’s back story
Myrna: I know you are an expert, storyteller, what’s your story?
Audrey: Well, you know, it’s interesting because I grew up, I was born in Oakland, California and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. My parents were pretty much the extreme polar opposites in every sense of the word, my mother is white. And when I say white, I mean white, like blond hair, blue eyes, can’t even tan, white from Germany.
She came here to the US when she was about 12. My father is African Latin from South America. He had dark skin, kinky hair, all the features as a black man. So, think of this mixture of German culture and African Latin culture and your get total polar opposites in so many ways. They meet in church and five children later; we each have a roll of the dice of that race of that mixture of all of that.
So, I think we started out, especially for myself, started out very early, being forced almost to be an observer of society. Because I didn’t have my, my tribe. I couldn’t point at somebody and be like, oh, you’re exactly like me. I couldn’t find the Mexican culture and fit in with them. Every single person was like, No, you’re a little bit different. You’re a little bit on the outside, and maybe it wasn’t even them maybe it was just me.
And my own perception of where do I fit when I come from these two narratives that are so different. And then I live inside of my own Americanization while still being pulled into both of their cultures, different languages in the household and all that.
Most of those movies we watched were white people. My dad comes to the United States and marries a white woman. So, it’s another layer for me to look at and be like, Oh, what am I not beautiful? Because my father didn’t even marry somebody who looked like me. What does that say about me? My parents owned their own business, like a lot of people that come from other countries. And so my first foray into just self-expression was, storytelling, and finding myself in the theater, because I thought, in that place, I can pretend with, storytelling, because I have no home, I have no tribe, and I can be anything.
Introduction to leadership development
Myrna: I am sure you had problems there as well, not being black enough for certain roles, and not white enough for others.
Audrey: That’s right. And but I did have some extraordinary experiences. I toured with the work inside of the African Repertory Theater, and Berkeley toured with plays with individuals was on the Wayans brothers show. So, I had a great time being inside of, storytelling, and that was my lead into, leadership.
So, I went to the, leadership development, in my 20s, I went to the, leadership development, course and there was something about it, it had the beauty of theatrics of being onstage. It had that spiritual kind of nature of going to church and that physiological kind of feeling that you have in your chest and in your heart when everything opens up that is where, storytelling, is born. I fell in love with, storytelling, as a, leadership development, tool.
I threw myself into it. I dedicated all my time to, leadership. I was single mom at that time as well. And so, I rose through the ranks, I became a really successful leader in that regard and then one woman said something to me. She said, Okay, great, so what? You can be a superstar, but can you create other superstars?
I thought to myself, why isn’t the whole point of competition to be the best, why would I want to develop people to be better than me? But it really stirred something in my heart and in my soul. It spoke to something that was way down deep there which was being a champion for humanity.
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Storytelling in leadership
Audrey: And now I threw myself into understanding the art of, storytelling, in, training and development. I wanted to do everything possible to help people that have failed. The people that no one can turn around, the people that have given everything and couldn’t find themselves. I trained the shy people introverts the art of, storytelling.
I want to pull all of them up and make them the best, storytellers, in front of crowds. I want to make them the best public speakers. I did just that and that’s when people like Tony Robbins and all those others in the, leadership development, space started searching me out and having me work with their, intellectual property.
And then I had this insight and I listened to my heart and my mind, and it said, now bring those two things together, bring, storytelling, that you did in the entertainment business, and bring this, storytelling techniques, to champion people and make them better at their own purpose and voice. Bring them together. Storytelling, and leadership development, is something unique. I opened my own agency, and it took off from there.
I’ve worked with some of the biggest names out there, I not only champion them and rise them up and help curate and formulate their voice and their audience, all of that, but I combine, storytelling, with their actual content. So now I’m in publishing. I have this media company with Pete Carroll, and we’re pulling in people right and left. Our company it’s called “Amplify Voices” for a reason. We’re going into the margins of, leadership, with, storytelling. We need to expand what, leadership, is.
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What does leadership look like
- what does it looks like,
- what size it is,
- what color it is,
- what its hair looks like,
- what his nose looks like,
- what his what his voice sounds like,
- where it lives,
- what it does,
- its temperament,
- its emotions, all of that.
We need this more expansive view of, leadership, because there’s so much to accomplish in this world.
Myrna: Beautiful, wow. So beautiful. I love how you found your voice through, storytelling, and entertaining in theater and, and now you’re helping people to tell their story through, storytelling. I love what your definition of what a leader looks like, smells like, tastes like etc.
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Amplifying voices of the Black community
Audrey: For Amplify Voices, the voices we’re focusing now are on podcasts, podcasting. So, I’m on finding particular people out there that have a voice. We’re looking for voices that are timely, that are important. Like for instance, Reza Metacam, is a writer of grandmother’s hands African American male, who specializes in, body trauma.
We’re asking people to be together;
- Leaders are asking people to work on their divisiveness,
- Some are asking people to work in their business environment,
- Everyone is asking them to be great parents, but we have not confronted the trauma that lives in their bodies, especially black bodies. Black bodies are not the only ones who’ve experienced trauma, white bodies have trauma as well. Before black people were enslaved, they were enslaving white people, it’s in our history.
And so, our bodies have this pain, this fear of one another. You look in the world right now we feel resonance, such an important voice. So, what we do is we find people that that are out there speaking when they have a book or they’re a public speaker, or they’re doing workshops with businesses, or a community leader or something. I approached them, I have dialogue with them and if I feel there’s a real sense of synergy, there is collaboration.
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At Amplified Voices, we take them over and start developing their content. We become a support for them, not only in the production process and the postproduction process, but also helping them in shaping their brand through, storytelling, and marketing. We take them through those ranks and then when they get to a certain point, get them right in front of the right people for their book deal, or television show or whatever else becomes the natural progression. There’ll also be projects that they’ll do independently on their own by nature of this collaboration and some things we’ll do together.
Developing authentic human connections
Myrna: Awesome, this is how can we empower, leaders, basic, human connections. We talked a little bit about, storytelling, and what, leadership, looks like. What is an, authentic human connection? I know that, human connection, is connecting with someone, But I think you probably have a broader definition of it.
Audrey: Actually, I’ve got a simpler definition for, authentic human connection. It’s not actually quite broad. It has depth, but it’s quite simple. The very myopic interpretation and narrative we’ve had around, leadership, and, authentic human connections, is this “sharing yourself.” If you share yourself that is where the magic happens. Just think of the last three days of your work lives, maybe even your relationships, maybe even with your children. Are there moments where you wanted to say something, and you didn’t? Where you felt like you wanted to reveal something, and you didn’t?
Did you want to ask for help or support and you didn’t? You didn’t because of your pride, or shame, or because of the way you were raised. We do not have the freedom to express ourselves. As, leaders, we can’t tell people “I don’t know how to meet payroll at the end of the week” Leaders, can’t tell people “I have an eating disorder, I may be drinking too much because of the stress and the pressure” But it truly is accurate statement to say “bitch this will set you free” Getting rid of the, imposter syndrome, and establishing, authentic human connections, won’t just set you free, It will actually allow people to grow inside your, leadership. It is the greatest possible thing that you can do.
Myrna: One of the things that people love about Gary Vaynerchuck is that he’s very transparent. He made, Storytelling, and, transparency, necessary for all leaders. Transparency is one of the ways to develop, authentic human connections, because you are sharing yourself and letting others see your pain.
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How does Diversity and Inclusion affect Leadership
Audrey: Harvard has done studies behind, diversity and inclusion, this is not a moral compass conversation. This is an economic conversation because we are talking about business. I know everybody gets like, yeah, we know we need, more Black people. I’m not talking about a moral compass. What I’m saying is, look, in the world, there are 6.5 billion people, do you think all those people only like white things? They think all those people only want to hear from aggressive, outspoken, black people. Diversity, makes economic sense.
Well, here’s the thing. It’s the pretend part. That’s so damaging. Because you can’t pretend, unless I’m hiring you to be an actor and film. There’s really nothing beneficial about pretending. Pretending doesn’t get you to the other side. Pretending doesn’t get you help from the team, pretending doesn’t give you an opportunity to experience failure and learn from it.
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Myrna: How can people connect with you on social media and listen to your podcasts?
Audrey: Okay, well it’s very easy to find us at www.amplifyvoices.io. You’ll find everything there. Find me all our podcasts on our website and our social media handles. We just won a prestigious award so we’re very happy that people have received it so well.