Episode 112 – Unstoppable Explorer and Adventurer with Seniye Groff
As I create these notes, I must first explain that being an “explorer and adventurer” goes far beyond seeing many unfamiliar lands and different cultures. Seniye Groff has indeed done these things. However, she also has learned how to look within herself and accept difference. She also has learned that she can move out of her regular and normal comfort zones when necessary. Of course, going out of the familiar does cause discomfort for Seniye, but she can still do it.
I think you will be fascinated by some of the adventures she has faced both physically and mentally.
Seniye’s basic philosophy is not to say “no”, but rather to say “yes”. She readily admits that saying “yes” can lead to challenges as you will see during our time together. However, Seniye will tell you that the ultimate rewards for saying “yes” go far beyond what would have happened in her life if she had taken a different path.
I hope you enjoy Seniye’s and my conversation as much as I.
About the Guest:
Seniye has never been interested in the word, “no” and because of this, she has been able to move in many circles. Seniye grew up moving a lot which inspired the wanderlust that stays with her today. She lived in the Middle East, Central America, the Caribbean and throughout the United States. She loves change and can pretty much find talking points with just about anyone that she meets. Seniye has a natural curiosity, an insane passion to make a difference and is not afraid to speak her mind. She currently takes on freelance projects in human resources, diversity, equity and inclusion, training, management coaching and organizational development initiatives. She has authored articles and spoken at national conferences on best practices for all things related to helping people succeed. Seniye believes that the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.
How to Connect with Seniye:
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:20
Well, hi, once again, it is time for unstoppable mindset. I am your host, Mike Hingson. Today we get to have the honor of interviewing Seniye Groff who believes that there is a lot to be said for not paying as much attention as one might believe in the word know. We’re going to get to that as well as a number of other kinds of things. Seniye has been involved in a lot of travel she’s as she says she’s had a wander less for years being a person who’s lived all over the world. Maybe someday on another planet. We’ll see how that goes. But anyway, Seniye Groff, welcome to unstoppable mindset. How are you?
Seniye Groff 02:00
Thank you for having me, Michael. I’m great. I actually just came back from Peru less than two weeks ago. So the wonderlust continues.
Michael Hingson 02:08
Well, cool. Where were you in Peru?
Seniye Groff 02:11
Pretty much at Lima. And everywhere south, I really kept moving, of course, got to go to Machu Picchu, which is just an amazing place. I’ve seen a lot of ruins, but Machu Picchu is pretty magical. Went to the Amazon, which was definitely pushing me to my fears. And down to the desert and the coast. And to the Sacred Valley. Just an amazing country.
Michael Hingson 02:43
Wow, was this just for travel for vacation? Or was it business?
Seniye Groff 02:47
It was solo travel, which is how I love to travel. And it was I had a two week stint where I could take off and I’m like, why not? It’s been on my list for a while so and some are there right now. So even better?
Michael Hingson 03:04
Yes. Better than better than at least where I am in Victorville where it was 31 this morning. Where are you?
Seniye Groff 03:12
I’m in Portland, Oregon. And you get a cold too. Yeah, it was in the low 20s this morning. And I think the high today is going to be like 35 or 36. So
Michael Hingson 03:24
well, we cope. Well, why don’t we start a little bit by you telling us about you growing up and kind of how you got started and some of those things.
Seniye Groff 03:33
All right. Well, um, I grew up in a very traditional Muslim, Middle Eastern household. And we moved a fair amount about every 11 months. So I got to really circle the globe and the United States, and really learn how to adapt, and how to relish change, because every new year, it was about meeting new people and figuring out the lay of the land. And I know some people would probably think that’s a horrific way to grow up. I actually think it was a great teacher and helped build my toolbox. with who I am today,
Michael Hingson 04:21
why did your family move so much?
Seniye Groff 04:24
Um, well, my dad was a doctor and could practice wherever he wanted. And, you know, he moved from Turkey to the United States to go to school and missed, missed Turkey. And so we went back there several times. And, you know, just I think also had kind of a wanderlust also.
Michael Hingson 04:46
So you moved a bunch all over the place, and didn’t stay in one school very long either as a result,
Seniye Groff 04:55
that would be correct. Absolutely.
Michael Hingson 04:57
So when did you Ever get to be in one place longer than a year? Did you do that for college at all or?
Seniye Groff 05:07
Well, so high school, I lived in the Virgin Islands. And so I got to go to high school in one place. I did skip my junior year of high school. So it was a little shortened. And then I went away to college. And I went to Atlanta for two years. And then I went to Florida for two years. And then I lived in Florida afterwards for about a year and then in Baltimore for a couple of years, and then moved out to Portland, Oregon, for a job opportunity, and I’ve been here 23 years, which is crazy. So this is the longest obviously that I’ve been anywhere,
Michael Hingson 05:44
hence the need to occasionally go off and just travel on your own and go places. Absolutely, absolutely. Well, how did that upbringing and all that travel and the things that you do kind of help shape the way you are today?
Seniye Groff 05:58
Well, I think, first and foremost, diversity, it comes very naturally to me the love of diversity of thought, of environment, of meeting different people and understanding where they came from, and what’s important to them. And finding commonality with people very quickly, I can pretty much find a common point with anybody that I meet. And I think that really was due to growing up and having to be very adept at learning the lay of the land very quickly. And, you know, making friends and creating a life in that new environment. So I’ve always been fascinated and loved people. I love taking care of people in my HR roles that I’ve had, in my training roles that I’ve had I it’s always been about helping other people be successful, and just genuinely caring and wanting to know more about people.
Michael Hingson 07:02
You said, you’ve now been in Portland for what 23 years? Has it been with the same job? Or have you wondered from job to job a little?
Seniye Groff 07:10
Oh, you know, my lifespan in a job is five to six years, primarily because I get bored. And I go into a job not knowing what the lay of the land is or how to solve whatever problem I’ve been asked her to figure out. And so I love that creative process of having to figure out what’s going on here. How can I make it better, because my personal mission is leave everything better than I found it. And then once the framework is set up and processes in place, it’s like okay, now it’s time to move on to the next challenge. It’s time to move on to where I’m gonna be able to push myself again and learn and grow.
Michael Hingson 07:53
What did you major in in college?
Seniye Groff 07:56
I’m actually I majored in, I got my BA in English, and then my bachelor’s in advertising and marketing. I was actually, when I was in high school, I had an art teacher that just really spent a lot of time with me. And I ended up winning an art scholarship to Parsons. And, you know, then I really focused on art. And I had this turning point at when I graduated and graduated a year early at that. What do I do? Do I pursue art, there was a hotel in Boston that offered me a job to create the artwork for their hotel, or do I go on to college. And what I learned by going away to this art school to Parsons was it was really hard to force creativity. And when you do something as a job, sometimes it takes away the joy, especially when it’s a creative process. And so I decided to move away from art as a vocation, if you will. But I still was interested in that creative process and advertising. Definitely tied into that. So I majored in advertising. And then I went back and got my master’s in adult education. So there’s always been a joy and love of learning, no matter what.
Michael Hingson 09:18
You mentioned HR. So are you doing a lot of things in the HR field today, which is a little different than advertising? Well, it’s solving problems, right? So they’re solving problems. That’s why I said a little different.
Seniye Groff 09:31
Yeah. Yeah, HR really been where I’ve focused the majority of my career. It’s always been on the people side of the business, whether it be recruiting training, the employee experience benefits, diversity, equity and inclusion. It’s always been on making sure that employees are set up for success, whether it be tools, policies, process, promotion, shun ability, equitable opportunities, etc. But yes, it’s always been about people.
Michael Hingson 10:07
So you have done a lot in the field I gather of diversity, equity and inclusion and all that, what really got you into that?
Seniye Groff 10:21
Well, you know, I think what got me into it is looking back at my career and, and having the the ability and good fortune of being able to work with a lot of different people go out and visit a lot of different cultures live in different cultures. And, you know, I’m being I’m certainly, you know, need to acknowledge the George Floyd incident really woke me up that that there are some systemic and structural things that really are preventing folks from, you know, having equitable opportunities. And after that, I just became a student. I read as much as I could I watch the documentaries, I talked to various people, and I decided this is where I want to spend the rest of my career in HR, we’ve always been focused on and I’ve always been focused on diversity in the workplace, etc. But this is a whole nother level. This is really looking at the structural impacts that are in place that prevent people from having equitable opportunities and the bias that exists. You know, and I think, honestly, I really feel that I am responsible for taking off my own blinders, that bias is a choice that you have to consciously call yourself on. And we operate in automatic a lot of the time and catching yourself in that automatic mode, and really saying, is that really the reality? Is that really the truth? And what can I do differently?
Michael Hingson 12:10
Well, so you, you have learned a lot, of course, by traveling around and being in a variety of places. Why do you think that difference? is such a great teacher for you?
Seniye Groff 12:25
Well, you know,
Michael Hingson 12:27
I think anything for anyone for that matter.
Seniye Groff 12:29
Yeah. And I think well, one of the things that I also want to comment to the previous question is, I grew up in a Muslim, male dominated household. So women were considered second class citizens. And I, after having daughters, decided, I didn’t want my daughters to have to navigate an environment like that. So that also was an instigator to really focusing on Di. So why is different, such a great teacher? And I think difference forces us to ask questions. So for example, in the workplace, you know, if somebody does a task differently, it’s a great opportunity to ask why, why do you do it that way? What prompted you to put the things in that order versus, you know, the way I do it, and from that, we get to learn another perspective, right? Travel is also a great way to relish difference, you know, to be immersed in a new culture, and understanding the anticipation of the journey, the joy of going down that unknown alley, the new food, not knowing the language, that general discomfort that we have, when we don’t know what’s around the bend. That’s what creates learning and growth, at least for me.
Michael Hingson 13:55
So, we oftentimes talk about people not wanting to get out of their comfort zone and being very, very comfortable in a in a specific place, as it were, I guess you would say that your comfort zone is a whole lot wider than other people do you? Do you have still areas where you’re really uncomfortable getting out of some sort of a comfort zone in your life.
Seniye Groff 14:19
Oh, absolutely. And that, you know, I think fear honestly has created some of my most pivotal moments. You know, and fear is what forces me to get out of my comfort zone that sounds counterintuitive, but I think back and some of the most amazing things experiences that I’ve had, were based on fear and moving against that. So leaving a job right we all have fear of that unknown of leaving a job but then I look at we’ll look at all the new skills at all. All make look at all the new people I’m going to meet. Having a child I did not want children now. I have to I, I just had a huge fear of becoming a parent. And yet, my when my older daughter, you know, came into this world, I, my first response was, oh my gosh, I love you so much. And what took me so long? Every time I go in solo travel, I’m, I’m terrified, right? I’m traveling alone. That means I gotta navigate everything myself. What happens if something comes up and I can’t figure it out. And yet, I’ve had the most amazing empowering trips, traveling alone, because I invariably get lost. And I’ll never forget Portugal a couple years ago, I got lost, so lost because I don’t report to use signs. And I was driving everywhere. And I found that found this little town. And it wasn’t even on my radar. And it was ended up being my favorite place of all of Portugal. So, fear is fear forces us, you know, to move into the unknown. And I have found that the outcome is better than I ever imagined. Is it hard? Absolutely. Is it painful? Sometimes, but ultimately, it ends up that I’m in a better place.
Michael Hingson 16:21
Have you ever had any experiences or ever you ever had any fears that were so strong that you didn’t do something that that you wanted to do? Because you were too afraid?
Seniye Groff 16:34
Hmm. You know, nothing comes to mind right away. But I will tell you that in Peru in my just my trip that I just took, there were a couple of things that I was like, ah, and then I did it. So I’m in the south of south of Lima, about four hours, this area called EGA. And it’s a desert, amazing desert. And they had we went I went on this dune buggy ride, which I’d never done before in the in these massive sand dunes, which were amazing. And then there was sandboarding. And you have to sandboard down this. I mean, just really high Sandhu and I’m like, there is no way I’m doing this. Forget it. And the driver of the dune buggy goes, you’ve got to do it. And I’m like, oh, no, no, no, no. But I did it. And I was like, oh, gosh, I’m going to do this. Again. This is so much fun. The second thing in Peru was going to the Amazon. I’m terrified of snakes. I do not like snakes. And plus, you know, the Amazon is full of bugs and spiders and tarantulas and monkeys and all this other stuff. I really. So originally my trip, I was going to spend three days in the Amazon I decided on to. And I gotta tell you that when that second day came, I was very happy to get on the plane. And get out of there. Because although the Amazon was amazing, and definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, I was so happy to leave. So I can’t say I’ve never not done something. But I certainly was recently shortened my time in the Amazon, because I was done with being terrified.
Michael Hingson 18:17
So did you see any snakes?
Seniye Groff 18:20
I thank goodness did not see any snakes, lots of tarantulas and bugs. But no snakes. Fortunately, you
Michael Hingson 18:29
in Indiana Jones one of the things that I’ve been reading about you discovered is that you don’t like the word no, tell us more about that.
Seniye Groff 18:44
Well, that’s true. I mean, you know, as a kid who likes to hear no, no likes
Michael Hingson 18:48
to hear no when you’re a kid.
Seniye Groff 18:51
But what I realized as I was moving through my career was that the more times I said yes, the more opportunities that came my way. And the more that I got to learn and grow and I have a love of learning. I have a love of challenging myself. And so I decided that, you know, no puts up roadblocks and yes, although sometimes scary, uncomfortable. Yes. leads to a lot more experiences, friendships, adventures, opportunities, and and failures. Let’s be let’s be frank, it can also lead to failures. But with that failure, again comes growth and more opportunity.
Michael Hingson 19:46
It comes back down to what is failure really, which is that failure is a learning opportunity. And unfortunately, we all too often learn that failure is a bad thing and we don’t have Ever want to fail, and we don’t recognize the incredible teaching moments we get, because things didn’t necessarily go as we planned, which is a whole lot different way of viewing it than failure.
Seniye Groff 20:13
Absolutely, completely agree. And that that’s a very mature approach. I mean, when you’re new in your career, and kind of figuring out your way, and you know, certainly trying to please your boss, you can’t go there. But as you mature, you become a little more confident with your skills, you realize that? I mean, I’ve often said, if I have a tough decision to make, that could lead to something that I really don’t want to deal with. What will how impactful will it be five days from now, five months from now, five years from now? Right? So in five months from today, will I even be thinking about this? In five years? Will I even be thinking about this? Will this be as as monumental as it feels at this very moment? And I very few things are going to still be monumental, at five years, and oftentimes not even at five months.
Michael Hingson 21:12
Of course, when you talk about what what you think about this in five years, or whatever, it also comes back down to is this a negative thing or a fear? And given the way you approach life? Probably not. On the other hand, if it’s a teaching moment, you may think about it in five years, because you’ll rejoice in how much you learned.
Seniye Groff 21:34
That’s right. That’s absolutely right. Yep. And you’ll be in a different spot.
Michael Hingson 21:39
Again, in a different spot, right? Yep. Which is really what it’s all about. One thing that you mentioned, to me, and I’m really curious about is tell is to talk about your view of raving fans, I want to understand what that’s all about.
Seniye Groff 21:55
Oh, raving fans. So I talked to just, I just talked recently about, you know, wanting that approval of your boss or your friends or whatever. And I think, you know, oftentimes, again, I can say this in retrospect, because I’m, you know, I’m much further down in my career, my life, but, you know, we want people to approve of us, you know, we want to create a persona. And I think this is because social media has definitely helped this, we want to create a persona that creates jealousy. Right? Um, you know, all the beautiful pictures, all the perfect lives, which, you know, I’ve certainly spent some time talking to my daughter about, you know, that don’t believe everything you see online, right? It’s not as picture perfect as you might think. They’re not going to show you the slums, right. And I don’t believe we need a stadium filled with approvers. I think that if you have one raving fan, you know, somebody that has your back, regardless, somebody that’s willing to tell you the truth, when you’ve got a blind spot, then you’re truly rich, you really, truly are rich. And so that’s what I mean by raving fans.
Michael Hingson 23:07
It’s all about having people who you can be honest with and who are honest with you.
Seniye Groff 23:14
Absolutely. Absolutely. And understanding that it doesn’t have to be zero sum, meaning that you don’t have to win, or I don’t have to win in order for you to lose, we can we can both win, we can both help each other out and be stronger together, rather than being you know, on opposing sides. And, you know, trying to think that one of us is going to get more than the other. It just that’s a no win situation.
Michael Hingson 23:44
But that’s a lot of what we seem to find society or people trying to teach us that Right.
Seniye Groff 23:51
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that again, that’s one of the reasons why I think my dei work is, you know, very important to me is that I just want to make people think I want to, I want people to walk away and say, ha, I never thought about it from that perspective. That’s a completely different lens than what how I was operating. To me. That’s the secret sauce, right? And if I can help educate folks, to be inspired, from that new perspective to take action, then things change without action, nothing changes, right? I mean, it’s great to have a lot of higher level thinkers, but if you’re not willing to take action, then there’s no change. So, you know, creating opportunities for people to interact with folks that are different from them, you know, and move away from generalizing. That will help eliminate bias, right. And we’re, again, we’re stronger together and getting rid of that bias. and helping people see something different from themselves also removes that belief that I’ve got to win in order for you to lose, right, or you’ve got to lose in order for me to win.
Michael Hingson 25:13
So there are lots of differences. There’s a lot of diversity, we talk about being a very diverse society. But even in our diverse world, this is something that we get to talk about a lot on this podcast. The problem that I see is that we really don’t embrace all that there is to deal with concerning diversity. For example, diversity usually talks about sexual orientation, or race or gender, some social attitudes and so on. And to explore the discussion a little bit, disabilities are left out, we don’t tend to discuss the concept of the world of persons with disabilities. And from, from my perspective, what I’ve seen is the difficulty is that people who have disabilities, especially those that people can see, were viewed as less capable, less able, disability does not mean a lack of ability, how do we get people to understand and embrace that and recognize that we’re just as much a part of society as everyone else?
Seniye Groff 26:27
Well, I think first of all, you know, diversity there, there’s a lot of intersections to diversity, meaning that no one has just one thing, right? There’s a mix, you can be disabled and lesbian and Hispanic, right? I mean, so there, there’s intersectionality. And again, I think, like any other diverse topic, it’s about getting people at the table to talk and to be exposed to folks that are not like themselves. I mean, there’s been a lot of attention to mental health, right? Typically, mental health is below the surface, right? It’s not that it’s not the iceberg that you can see above the water, it’s below. And yet it is a disease, it is a disability. And it it really, it really talks to how complicated the de I work is, it also talks to how much work needs to happen still, and how slow and I’m very action oriented. So slow is not in my vocabulary, but how slow this stuff takes. But it is about creating opportunities for exposure, so that people can see their bias and their generalizations broken down. And realize that’s not true that generalization generalization I had about that person or type of person or whatever. It’s not true, because I’ve just witnessed it for myself. And that’s why a lot of the Di Di work that I do is much more grassroots, because I feel like when you tell people to make mandatory, that you must do this, you must act like this, you must say this, you must take this training, people dig in their heels, right, and they’re going to hold on to their old ways of thinking as much as possible. When you create grassroots opportunities, where people can naturally, organically interact with folks that are different from themselves. That that that wall has already come down there, they’re already ready to engage. And then that light goes off of like, Whoa, my what I thought was completely wrong. And now I’m forming a relationship with this person that I didn’t really know. And now I’m beginning to know, and when I have a relationship with somebody, I actually care about them. And when I care about somebody, I am not going to let somebody else say something negative or incorrect, or harassing to that person. Because now I’m invested. I’m invested in making sure that that person is included, that they belong. And so that is where I think we have a huge opportunity to move the needle with folks, because I agree with you. There, there are folks that we jumped to conclusions about abilities. And we need to provide opportunities where people can see that that’s just not true.
Michael Hingson 29:45
And all that is very true, in terms of what we need to do, but but how do we really make it happen? The problem is that when it comes down to it, let’s take a person who happened To be blind or pat a person who happens to be deaf or hard of hearing or low vision. The reality is that the prejudice is run so deep that for example, if I were to apply for a job, and under most circumstances, if I just happened to mention in the cover letters from my resume, that I happen to be blind, I won’t even get a response. Or if I don’t mention it, and I go to the job interview, and they happen to invite me because they liked my resume, the hackles go up, and the resistance goes up immediately when they discover it’s a blind person. They may not because legally they can’t so much today, but the thoughts are still there, how you’re going to get to work, what special things do I have to do for you? How do we move the needle to get people to recognize that, in reality, the cost of doing business needs to involve inclusion. And that the reality is that for a person with a disability, and I can make the case that everyone has disabilities, because most of you are light dependent. So maybe if I’m the boss of a company, I shouldn’t hire anyone who is sighted, because I got to spend all that electricity for lights for you guys, to turn to turn it around. But the fact is that companies spend the money for lights. But if I need a screen reader to a piece of software to read a computer screen, resistance goes up to providing that, even though they provide monitors for you and other things like that, how do we move the needle to get people to understand that in reality, part of the cost of doing business is inclusion?
Seniye Groff 31:46
Well, I think, in your very specific example, although not fair, or even reasonable, it’s
Michael Hingson 31:57
it’s real, though it’s real,
Seniye Groff 31:59
it is real, but heading off those obstacles with I know, you’re probably thinking that, you know, I’m gonna need X, Y, or Z. Well, let me let me tell you, let me give you an example how I’m able to do this, you know, outside of work, or at this other employer. And I mean, it’s removing those, those beliefs and those biases by actually giving examples you also need. And, again, this is no easy task. You know, as organizations, for example, I was curious about I attended this training session on hiring formerly incarcerated employees. I never really thought about it, but it came across my email. And like, that sounds interesting. I want to learn more. And so I it was a, I don’t know, hour long video about the programs and et cetera. And I was like, I ended the ended the session and like, wow, I never even thought about it like that. And so then I was meeting with a friend, a fellow peer, and I said, I just saw this video, and you wouldn’t be You wouldn’t believe this viewpoint about hiring formal, formerly incarcerated folks. And wow, my eyes were really opened. And, and she’s like, look, I hadn’t even thought about that. So, I mean, obviously, this is a very slow way to, to influence. But I think it’s up to each of us to help educate each other and challenge each other on our thinking. And I mean, those systemic structural biases that exist at organizations today. You’re absolutely right. They’re there, they can appear to be insurmountable. But I guarantee that if we continue to say nothing, and we continue to behave the way we’re doing, guaranteed, nothing’s going to change. Right, right. And I think, to make those changes,
Michael Hingson 34:01
and I think one of the things that we can do, let’s talk about disabilities, again, is that for those who understand that this situation exists, how hopefully we can get more of them to include examples relating to disabilities, if you will, in the conversation. The fact is that if we don’t talk about it, nothing is gonna get done, which is what you said, but we can push the conversation, we can ask or discuss and use examples to talk about some of the issues. I was at a meeting last year. And there was a person there from a federal agency who talked about we have to change the conversation about dealing with disabilities, it was all about disabilities. And this person said we have to really change the conversation and And I asked the question, Well, okay, you’re high up in a particular federal program. What can or will you do to get not only people in your agency, but maybe even the president to start using more examples and discuss the concepts of persons with disabilities in everything that they do to promote the discussion? And that was a concept that just didn’t even fly with this individual? Well, we’ve, we’ve just got to change the conversation. Well, how are you going to change it? And that’s the problem is that we don’t see that happening, even with the people who could to make it a daily part of our discussion, and get others to make it a daily part of their discussion as well.
Seniye Groff 35:52
Yeah, I mean, again, you know, without action, nothing changes, right. So we have to be willing to be allies, we have to be willing to stick our neck out, we have to be willing to challenge the status quo. We have to be willing to have the conversation. Absolutely.
Michael Hingson 36:09
We’ve got to do more to drive the conversation and take a more proactive role. We have discussions about race all the time. I mean, using everything from John Lewis and crossing the bridge in Alabama, to all the different sorts of things and all the examples that we see today. Those are great. But we need to broaden the conversation, because it’s all part of the same thing, whether it’s race, gender, disabilities, or whatever the reality is, it’s all part of the same thing. People don’t generally react well to difference.
Seniye Groff 36:49
I agree. Absolutely agree. And we have to get more comfortable with it. Because it’s a good thing. I mean, it. Difference is, again, powerful, because it, it allows us to see things, hear things experience things, from a different point of view, there is no one way to do something, you know, and we have to get comfortable with difference.
Michael Hingson 37:15
So you, you talk about the whole issue of doing more with conversations, and I think I think you’re absolutely right. It also in part starts with parents educating children. So how do you do that? How old are your two children? By the way?
Seniye Groff 37:34
My older daughter is 20. And my younger daughter is 14.
Michael Hingson 37:38
So they’re they’re getting close to having some intelligence there. But how do you? How do you as a parent, and what do you think as a parent, you need to do but how do you help really spark with them? And get them to think more in terms of why not and exploring and dealing with differences as opposed to just adopting the usual prejudices?
Seniye Groff 38:08
Yeah, well, I mean, I, I said earlier that I never really intended on being a parent. But once I became a parent, I was all in 150%. And so as a parent, I really see my job as being a role model, a guide a coach, and to, to love unconditionally. And unconditionally does not mean without any accountability, right? It does not mean giving your child free rein, with no rules or expectations. And matter of fact, my kids will tell you that I’m very strict. But it means that you love and you support them, and that you are really willing to tell them when they screw up. And, you know, how could we do it differently next time. But it’s also about exposing your kids to as many things as possible. And I’ve always believed that the greatest gift we can give our children had self esteem, if they run, walk into the world believing they can do something, or at least try it. That is powerful. But kids watch what you do. I mean, kids aren’t born mean kids aren’t born prejudiced. They learn it. And they and as parents, we are their role models and role models being how we act, but also what we call out. If we don’t call out something that is wrong. If we’re not modeling the way when we see something that’s not right, then we’re not doing our job.
Michael Hingson 39:48
The The fact is, kids, children are not dumb. They’re very observant, much more so than we tend to generally give them credit for and so on. You’re right, they’re going to see how you as their parent behaves. And they’re going to pattern their lives after you.
Seniye Groff 40:09
Absolutely. And you know, it’s funny because I had a parent tell me a story about something that my older daughter did. When they were on vacation, my daughter went on vacation with another family. And so the mom, you know, called me up and kind of told me about something that happened on the vacation. And I’m like, Oh, my gosh, my daughter has actually been listening to me all along. Now, in the in the moment, don’t push me away and say, Oh, Mom, you don’t know what you’re talking about. But when, when push came to shove, and it really mattered, my daughter acted appropriately, which told me she had been listening all along. And when it was really critical and crucial, she she met the expectation.
Michael Hingson 40:56
So it’s a good teaching moment for you to
Seniye Groff 40:59
hear well, he was You’re right. You’re absolutely right.
Michael Hingson 41:04
What do you fear most about being a parent? Hmm. Um, since we talked about fear and all that, you know, obviously, it comes up and you you decided that being a parent is okay, once you got started in it, but what do you fear most about being a parent? Or what’s your greatest fear?
Seniye Groff 41:25
Oh, well, you know, I’ve, I’ve had a few friends that are in my age group, or maybe a little younger, they have kids that have unfortunately passed away. And I fear not being around for my kids for as long as possible to be able to be a part of their lives and an influence in their lives and continue to be engaged in their lives, and for them to have me as a resource. So obviously, I don’t have any control over that. But I would say that’s probably my biggest fear is to not be around when they really need me.
Michael Hingson 42:03
So you’re really sort of saying that, in one sense. Children always need their parents.
Seniye Groff 42:11
I yeah, I think so. I think it’s an idea. It’s an invariable bond that you have.
Seniye Groff 42:19
With your children, you need them, they need you. And you want to be around to see how it all plays out?
Michael Hingson 42:27
How does your relationship with them change and evolve as they grow older? As they become more mature?
Seniye Groff 42:34
Yeah, that’s a great question. So as a parent, you always at least me, I always remember them as those cute little babies that just were so excited to see me at the end of the day, when I picked them up from daycare. You know, what, I really rocked their world, and I was the center of their world, and then they become teenagers. And when they’re teenagers, you can’t do anything, right. You’re the most embarrassing, stupid person that they could possibly imagine. And it’s very hurtful. As a parent, again, as a parent who didn’t intend on being a parent, and then finding out wow, this parenting thing is pretty amazing, to then be pushed away when they’re teenagers. And they’re rolling their eyes at me, or I can drop them off at the corner. But I can’t actually take them to the friend’s house, because they don’t want me to be seen. Whoa, that is a real wake up call as a parent. But what’s been fun to watch with my 20 year old is that they’re coming back full circle. And now they want my guidance, and they want to spend time with me. And, you know, like, my daughter wanted to get her first credit card because she wants to build credit, right? And I’m like, so she came to me like, Mom, how do I do that? And I’m like, Well, how do you think you might start that process? And we have actually intelligent, engaging, thought provoking conversations. And even she is at the point now where she can throw an idea back at me and I get to say, Wow, I hadn’t thought about it. Like that way. And isn’t that cool to be able to have these intelligent conversations? So I’m really loving that that piece of it. Ah, and so that’s been that’s been really fun as she will you know, after one more year in college, go out into the world and start navigating the work workplace. I think it’ll be really fun to continue that partnership and that dialogue.
Michael Hingson 44:28
So what you’re saying is that since she was a teenager it’s amazing how much you’ve learned, huh?
Seniye Groff 44:36
Yes. Yeah, and you know, I mean, that you know, everything, you know, it Everything will pass when it’s challenging and I, I love talking to people, when I am posed with something that I’ve not experienced, like so for example, my younger daughter is adopted. And when I I adopted my younger daughter, there was a very tough transition. For eight months after I picked her up. There was a very tough transition. And I was like, Oh my gosh, what am I done? What am I? What am I doing wrong? And so I sought out parents that had a birth child as well as an adoptive child, and to kind of pick their brain. Hey, what worked? What didn’t? Does this transition time ever end? I mean, what have I gotten myself into? And what I learned after, you know, meeting with eight or nine parents was, first of all, completely normal. Why didn’t they write this in a book, I don’t know, but completely normal for there to be an adjustment period. And guess what it does end. And that’s what I needed to hear. I needed to hear that it ended. And so I turned around and actually wrote an article for adoption today on that whole process, because I thought, well, if one other parent that’s going through this can hear that it does end. And this is normal, then I’ve saved them a lot of grief that I had to go through. So yeah, it’s it’s all about learning. I hope I’m I learned till the day that I’m not here. It’s really important to continue to learn and
Michael Hingson 46:16
grow. How old was she when you adopted her? 11
Seniye Groff 46:20
months? So, yeah, originally, we were supposed to get her at four months. And at four months, their world was a little different from the awareness they have when they’re 11. Mm hmm. And so that led to a very challenging adjustment period.
Michael Hingson 46:39
Because her whole life, all 11 months of it, which is a fair amount had just suddenly been uprooted.
Seniye Groff 46:45
Absolutely, yeah. And I think that there was fear and anger at that, being uprooted. I mean, I didn’t speak the language I didn’t, I didn’t communicate the same we weren’t, we were feeding or something different. Everything smelled different. You know, I mean, everything was different. They didn’t sleep in a crib when she was at the orphanage. And now I wanted her to sleep in a crib eating and she needed that crib. They didn’t take baths, they were just sponges. So anytime that my daughter got wet in any way, it was a major trigger for her. So yeah, I mean, her and as an adoptive parent, you believe that you’re, you’re providing a better life for this child. But just recently, I realized that could be true. But I’ve also put them in a position where they are different. They’re different. They don’t match my my younger daughter is Vietnamese. So my younger daughter doesn’t look like me doesn’t look like her big sister. And so you I can see people when we walked down the street, and this became really evident, took my girls to Greece in June. And people would like do the doubletake trying to figure out, okay, how does this What’s this equation here? And I had people walk up to her and try to speak Chinese to her just out of the blue. And that made her very uncomfortable. And so I really stepped back and thought, wow, I adopted this child with the greatest of intentions. And what I’ve done is made that difference. really obvious. And I’d never looked at it like that before.
Michael Hingson 48:37
Yeah. Which is, which is a huge new experience for you, too. Yes. And I was going to ask you about that in terms of so you, you do take them on travels from time to time as well. As
Seniye Groff 48:53
well, we my kids go, Yes, I believe that and they’ve been traveling since they were six months old. I always wanted them to experience different cultures and understand that the United States is not the center of the world. There’s a big world out there. And you know, just being exposed to food and language and culture and history is so important. As you develop a sense of self. And, you know, a broad perspective of the world.
Michael Hingson 49:26
One of our podcast episodes some time ago was with Leslie hegu, who is a gentleman who lives in the Maryland area. And he asked his wife when they both turned 40 What do you want to do now? For the rest of our lives? And she completely blew him away by saying I want to adopt a girl from China. And she did that because she had heard of the weeping cliffs where young girls are thrown over the cliffs because they had too many girls daughters and so on in China, and she wanted to deal with that and they ended up adopting two different girls a few years apart, but they found that to be such a rewarding experience, the older one wanted to find her birth parents. And he has written a book about doing that and talks about it on the podcast as well. And I think the younger one, now, they’re starting to work on that as well for her. They used a lot of technical and scientific stuff. And the the whole world of DNA in China is not as advanced as it is here. So it’s a little bit more of a challenge. But they’re doing some incredible things. But he, he talks about the fact that, you know, they, they didn’t have any worries at all about having children who were totally different than them, and they’ve really helped their daughters to understand that’s okay.
Seniye Groff 50:54
Yeah, yeah. I mean, one of the reasons why I looked at Vietnam is because Portland has a very strong Vietnamese community here. And right before the pandemic, I actually took my younger daughter back to Vietnam. And we went to the orphanage. And then we went all over the country, because I really wanted her to see where she came from. And I wanted her to have a sense of itself, because I think it is very natural for an adoptee to wonder, who am I? Where did I come from? How would my life been different? And so it’s all part of the process of, you know, her becoming her own person?
Michael Hingson 51:35
Does she speak Vietnamese?
Seniye Groff 51:37
No, she does not.
Michael Hingson 51:39
She has not learned that. I think Wesley said that. His daughters have done some work. Now they’re in their 20s. But they’ve actually learned some Chinese because especially the older one does communicate now, with her birth parents, through through various technical means, and so on. And the whole family has become enlarged, because now Wesley and his wife and so on are part of the bigger family in China, in the China family as part of their family. And so they approached it in a very positive way. Yeah,
Seniye Groff 52:17
that is definitely an ideal adoption scenario that you hope, like, you know, you hope will happen. My, my brother in law, X brother in law is adopted also from Korea. And he had that happen, where he was able to find his birth mother. And then they came over here. And basically, we met all of them. And it was just one big extended family. And wasn’t it fantastic that he now had, you know, this great extension in in South Korea, that he didn’t even know about that. Now. He considered family and he’s gone and visited them several times.
Michael Hingson 52:57
Which is really cool. Yeah. So what’s the thing you like most about travel?
Seniye Groff 53:07
Gosh, I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one thing, I don’t know if I can. But I would say you know, the food. I mean, the food. I mean, I’m a foodie. So I love the food. And I love seeing out food and culture and history converge. So for example, in Peru, there were a lot of stir fries. Now, I did not anticipate that there will be stir fries, in, you know, South American food. Well, going back in history, a lot of Chinese immigrants came over to work in Peru. And so obviously, that influenced food. I love meeting people and hearing their stories. I think stories are powerful. And we often don’t take time to stop and listen. And I think hearing people’s stories are, you know, game changers. I love the element of discovery that travel brings. And you know, I have a running list of travel destinations. And it seems like every time I cross something off, like three more things get get added on, I don’t know if I’m ever gonna be able to, to, you know, do this list. But you know, and and also just the empowerment of that solo travel that I talked about, you know, I go places without having anything booked. So I just, I land and then I figure it out. And at the end of the day when I’m kind of tired and this is the benefit of you know, having a phone now that has internet right that we could do this where I can just look up a hotel that might be near me and I’m in for the night or whatever. So there’s not just one thing I can narrow down to one thing, Michael, I’m sorry. Are there so?
Michael Hingson 55:02
Did your daughters go with you to Peru?
Seniye Groff 55:05
They did not. They did not go to with me to Peru. So my older they’re both they were both in school. Yeah. So you know, schooling, but we’re already planning what are what are they went to Greece with me in June. We’re planning what our trip is going to be next summer. So they come with me when when their schedules allow, but I also enjoy doing it solo, too.
Michael Hingson 55:30
So what work do you do today? What’s your job? What’s your day job?
Seniye Groff 55:34
My day job? Well, I’m
Michael Hingson 55:36
da y, as opposed to Dei.
Seniye Groff 55:39
Yeah, exactly. Well, you know, I mean, I, I’m an independent consultant. So, you know, I solve problems for companies. And the beauty of being independent consultant is that I get a variety of experiences, I get a variety of organizations. And oftentimes, organizations think that their their issue or problem is super unique to them, you know, cats out of the bag, it’s really not. But you know, how they apply it, how their systems work internally, the people because the people, you know, people obviously, are, are the wildcard that’s what makes it different or challenging. And so going in figuring out fairly quickly what’s going on, and what’s the issue, because oftentimes, clients will say, we need you to solve this. But after doing some investigation, sleuthing, I often realize actually, that that’s not the issue, this is the issue. Now let’s figure out how to solve it. And so that there’s a lot of creativity that happens there. And, you know, I’m an artist, and I was, uh, you know, in advertising and, you know, so there’s, I have very much a creative flair to me. And so the problem solving, it kind of taps into that creativity.
Michael Hingson 57:00
So, you, you, you consult with a lot of companies at once, or one at a time, or how does that work?
Seniye Groff 57:08
Yeah, usually multiple depends on what what the the thing is that I’m working on. You know, sometimes it’s a one discrete little problem that I’m solving, sometimes, we need a whole new system, we need to up end the organization. So obviously, that would be a little more immersive. And I could probably only, you know, take on one project at a time. But, um, yeah, it really varies. And that that’s the, you know, I love variety kind of comes back to my love of change. And so, you know, I don’t I don’t know what the solution is. And I love that challenge. I love walking in and having to figure it out. And not know what the answer is, until I really dive in and, and get involved.
Michael Hingson 57:54
Have you gotten involved with companies like you’re talking about? And they end up just playing resisting what you suggest. To us? That’s happened,
Seniye Groff 58:06
huh? Oh, absolutely. And, you know, I mean, I can make a recommendation, right? It doesn’t happen often. But it absolutely has happened. Because especially if, if a company is stuck with what they believe is the issue, right? If they if they’re, or they just don’t want to hear the truth. You know, if if leadership has some opportunity areas, and they just don’t want to hear it, they’re gonna put up a roadblock. And I can’t do anything about that. Right. So, but I hope that again, you’ve hired me to come up with a solution. I hope that I’ve helped you look at the issue in a different way, and provided some ideas for what can make it better.
Michael Hingson 58:53
Well, and hopefully, mostly people will react well to that. And then typically, if someone is serious about hiring you or serious about dealing with whatever issue comes along, they will listen very carefully to recommendations and hopefully, adopt them unless there’s some compelling reason why it can’t be done the way maybe someone suggests in that case, you maybe go back and rework it.
Seniye Groff 59:20
Yes. Right. Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I mean, I think that, you know, when a company hires a consultant, they’re looking for that expertise, because you’ve done it before you’ve seen it before. You have a toolbox or a library of solutions. And that’s what they’re paying for. And so, you know, for the most part that plays out the way it should.
Michael Hingson 59:46
Have you ever written any books or anything about your travel experiences or your experiences in general?
Seniye Groff 59:51
You know, I haven’t, I haven’t I’ve written articles. Never a book. I’ve thought about a book. I’ve started a book but and not to completion. It’s pretty daunting. I mean, you know, it’s, I’ve always admired. I used to be a book reviewer. And so even if there was a book that didn’t resonate with me, I always finished it. Because I felt this person has accomplished something amazing, which is publish a book. And it’s really easy. I found it really easy to tell a story verbally, right? But when you have to write it down and get those nuances on paper with words, it’s hard. It’s really hard.
Michael Hingson 1:00:30
It is harder. Well, and it’s different. I’m not sure for me, it’s harder, but it is definitely different than doing it verbally. Yeah. Well, if people want to reach out to you and learn more about you possibly explore, working with you, and the kinds of consulting work that you do, how do they do that?
Seniye Groff 1:00:51
Well, I have a website, seniyegroff.com.
Michael Hingson 1:00:54
Can you spell that please?
Seniye Groff 1:00:56
S E N I Y E G R O F F is in frank.com. And that’s the easiest way or I’m I’m a definitely on LinkedIn. So you can find me there too. But I’m pretty easy to find with my name. It’s not like my name’s Mary. So if you Google Seniye, and Portland, Oregon, you’re gonna find me.
Michael Hingson 1:01:20
I would imagine. So you know, we can just go hey, you and you’ll be there. That’s right. That’s right. Well, I really am glad that we got a chance to spend this hour we’ve been working at it for a while and finally getting it done. And we found you on LinkedIn. And that’s pretty cool. So definitely, I really appreciate you coming on. And I hope that you listening out there appreciate and enjoy this as well. We’d all love to hear from you. So if you would like to do so please email me at Michaelhi at acessibe A C C E S S I B E.com. And I will share with Seniye as well. You can also go to our podcast page, www dot Michael hinkson.com hingson is spelled H i n g s o n.com/podcast. And again, we’d love you and would appreciate you giving us a five star review for the podcast. But reach out to Seniye. Let her know what you think. And hopefully she’ll be able to assist you and help you expand and grow. And you may have some great ideas for her as well. So it does go both ways, doesn’t it? It absolutely does. Thank you so much, Michael. Well, thank you. I really appreciate you being here and I hope that we can can get you to come back on again.
Michael Hingson 1:02:45
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.