How to Experience SHOCK & AWEsome with Megan Fuciarelli

By Yuresh Shayzer
March 26, 2024

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Welcome to the "Freedom podcast”. I'm your host, Anthony Trucks. Today's guest is Megan, a speaker with a profound commitment to serving others at a high level, particularly in fostering inclusivity worldwide. She aims to create a space where everyone enjoys equal freedoms, transcending social judgments and stereotypes. As a mother of a mixed-race child, Megan shares her journey of navigating life's complexities, from growing up in a culturally homogeneous environment to embracing a diverse world. Her experiences have empowered her to serve her son, the world, and you, the listener, with her words. In today's episode, Megan unpacks her journey, motivations, and actions, offering motivation, inspiration, and practical insights to help you and your team thrive. Without further ado, let's dive into the episode.

[1:52] What is your message to the world, and why do you believe it's important?

So my message is ultimately about taking those culture shock moments, those shock moments that we all experience, and train them into awesome opportunities, rather than allowing them to continue to push us down in a society where social justice work and talking about DEI work is polarizing workers want to help bring everyone together to ensure that everyone is seen heard welcomed and valued are welcomed and valued.

[2:45] Do you mind kind of unpacking it for us so we can go through the journey of what led you to what you talk about?

I believe our personal narratives shape us profoundly. A significant aspect of my own story, which resonates with many seeking meaningful dialogue but unsure how to initiate it, revolves around my upbringing in a homogeneous and sheltered community. In this environment, everyone mirrored my appearance and beliefs, and my knowledge about people like me came solely from those who resembled me. Exposure to diversity was scarce during my upbringing, compounded by limited representation on TV during the 70s and 80s, often confined to stereotypes. Upon entering college, encountering individuals from diverse backgrounds worldwide was a culture shock, leaving me uncertain how to navigate these interactions, fearing I might unintentionally offend. Consequently, I withdrew into silence, only to realize later that my silence was more detrimental than I had assumed. As an educator, this realization prompted me to embrace dialogue and understanding as crucial tools in bridging divides.

[5:35] How does somebody know that they are being oblivious and what would that emotionally feel like?

Yeah, I love that question. So we created a quiz that people can take if you identify what stage they're at and their own transformation. This quiz guides them through reflective questions, fostering an understanding of their needs without instilling guilt, shame, or blame—a common hurdle in this type of introspective work. It encourages individuals to engage openly without feeling burdened by their past experiences. Often, individuals find themselves in the 'oblivious' category not by choice but due to limited exposure to diversity. We aim to gently nudge them beyond this category, promoting growth and awareness.

[6:30] What is the second stage of the process? 

The second stage is termed defensive, characterized by heightened emotions, whether it's anger, defensiveness, or, conversely, frustration towards the perceived urgency of social justice efforts. This can manifest in phrases like "Why are we still discussing this? It's 2024," or "We've been grappling with this for 500 years; we should have moved past it by now." Both expressions are laden with intense emotional reactions. However, when emotions run high, it often leads to defensiveness and hampers genuine dialogue. In this stage, individuals may be unaware of alternative perspectives but may express their views sharply due to the emotional weight behind them.

[9:42] Where does all this stuff sit in terms of progression through your work?

Yeah, so it's really about it all comes down to the idea of releasing that guilt and shame. And then allow us to have authentic conversations in the moment. If those main points are brought in. That's what I bring to the table when I come and speak on stage. When I'm offering facilitated work, it's about helping people look in the mirror, starting with ourselves before working on anyone else. And then before we start to unite society, so our name squared is understand self United Society. The three-phase process we go through is to understand ourselves, gain that awareness, gain the wisdom of others around us, and then empower society.

[10:50] What is some of the reasoning behind why it's so incredibly important for you?

I have wanted to do social justice work since college, when I was exposed to it. However, I didn't feel the internal drive and spark to be on stage and to make this my life's calling until my son was born. My son is a biracial child multiracial child, but to the rest of society, he's a black man in America. My son, being biracial, is perceived by society as a black man in America. His birth brought to light the comments, looks, and phrases I had known about but hadn't personally encountered until then. Realizing the societal perceptions of me and the privileges attached to my identity, I understood the need to leverage that privilege to advocate for those without the same opportunities. The phrase "I use my breath to speak for those who can't breathe" took on a whole new significance with my son's birth and my heightened experiences.

[15:15] Who is the perfect group of people for you to talk to? 

It's about stepping in front of leaders who have the opportunity to empower the teams that they work with. Because too often in our society, leaders come in with a very dictator-like approach rather than a human-centered approach. So we help them see how asking questions, having honest conversations, and allowing their teams to come authentically as themselves to work is going to be more productive for everyone and ultimately, just a better environment and a better culture for not only the employees but also the clients and customers they serve.

[16:20] Have you ever gotten responses from people just so people can hear, listen, and see what happens on the backside of the things you're talking to?

Yeah, honestly, I feel like this has been happening more frequently, especially since the launch of my book. We've been receiving a lot of feedback from individuals who received pre-copies for reviews and testimonials, as well as from those who attended the launch. Already, people are expressing how much the book has influenced their approach to conversations. As a former educator, much of our work began in the school systems, and it's rewarding to hear teachers discuss how they've adjusted their lesson plans to include diverse perspectives in history. It's not about changing what we teach but rather incorporating more aspects into our curriculum. Individuals who read the book are finding the language to articulate their feelings without feeling guilty, as we all possess biases and initial thoughts. The book facilitates discussions in a way that allows people to acknowledge and own their biases without shame or guilt.

[17:35] What's the title of the book?

The title of the book is Metamorphosis. It’s a juxtaposition of metamorphosis and justice. 

[18:05] What compelled you to write a book? 

It's been on my mind to write books for decades, probably for about 20 years. As an educator, there was always this notion that we needed a book that presented things in a certain way. However, I never really dedicated the time to buckle down and commit to it until recently. Over the past couple of years, as my business has grown, clients have been asking me more frequently, "Where's your book? Why haven't you published one yet?" About a year ago, I finally decided to take the plunge and do it. It's almost as if my clients and team staged a mini-intervention. There was a meeting where I was discussing with one client, and another client who happened to be there joined in. We have a close-knit community, much like your program, where everyone knows each other. Several people chimed in, including some of my team members, encouraging me to prioritize writing the book. They said, "No, you need to do it." My team rallied around me, offering their support and assistance to make it happen. Since it had been on my mind for so long and I already had outlines prepared, the writing process wasn't as daunting as I initially thought. This book is just the first of seven that I have planned. I aim to release seven books a year for the next three and a half years.

[19:39] What are the seven books tied to the seven stages? 

The number seven seems to have a recurring presence in my life, although I'm not exactly sure of its significance. It just tends to appear, whether it's the seven core principles we adhere to or the fact that my son was born on the seventh. Seven has always held a special resonance for me, although I can't explain why. When I started writing the books or outlining them, I didn't set out with the intention of having seven. However, upon completion, there were indeed seven books. It's not a deliberate choice but rather something that seems to naturally align with my life. I've stopped trying to decipher its meaning and simply accept it as part of my journey.

[21:10] But there has to be a larger vision guiding our actions beyond immediate results. What does that distant vision look like for you?

Yeah, so my distant vision is to depolarize and humanize difficult conversations so that we can talk about social justice without the polarization that occurs in our society. Currently, the mere mention of terms like "social justice" or "DEI" often triggers visceral reactions, with people bracing themselves for accusations or political debates. My deep-seated aspiration is to normalize conversations about social justice and equity in mainstream society, free from polarization and the assumption of political undertones. On a personal level, my goal is relatable to many parents: to leave the world a better place for my children, grandchildren, and future generations. I am committed to ensuring that each subsequent generation enjoys a better quality of life than the one before, constantly striving to improve the human experience for those who come after me.

[23:30] What aspirations do you have for your life and work that would instill a sense of freedom in you?

Indeed, it's a twofold endeavor for me. Firstly, I aim to cultivate a sense of freedom for everyone to embrace their authentic selves without fear or inhibition. I aspire to attain a level of freedom where I can walk down the street with my son or partner without constantly worrying about our safety. I long for the freedom to live in a world where I don't have to glance over my shoulder due to societal rejection of my identity or those within my circle. This notion of deep-seated freedom speaks to the essence of what it means to live in a society that champions freedom and bravery. However, the reality is that not all of us enjoy such freedom in our current societal landscape. My hope and intention in pursuing this work and engaging in open, honest conversations is to create a world where everyone can freely and confidently express their true selves without fear of harm or discrimination.

Key Quotes

[4:47- 4:50] With curiosity, we learn more, and as we learn more, we are able to grow and come together as a society. 

[7:45-7:50] When emotions are high, intelligence is low

How to connect with Megan Fuciarelli




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