In this week’s episode, join host Mary Williams and special guest Madeline Reeves as we explore the complex tapestry of identity and self-discovery within the backdrop of a challenging world.
Discover the pivotal role of community and communal living, as we draw lessons from the characters' resilience in the face of adversity. We unravel the intricate duality of human nature, both light and dark, and how relationships can shape one's survival and growth.
As we reflect on the characters' journeys, we find striking parallels to the challenges we face in our own lives. Join us in a conversation about the importance of affirmation and validation, and how these elements influence our choices and growth. We delve into the role of inner work and self-reflection in personal development, offering valuable insights into navigating change, resilience, and the multifaceted nature of human existence.
Links to resources, transcript, show notes, and show information are found on the podcast homepage.
The core of Madeline Reeves' work centers on branding and business coaching, as well as developing go to market strategies. Her company also helps companies build new websites, as well as content marketing. You can connect with Maddy through her website, Instagram, LinkedIn.
I’m Mary Williams, your host and the founder of Sensible Woo.
You can find this show wherever you listen to podcasts and all of the links to resources, guest information, and anything else we might reference in an episode are in the show notes.
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Until next week, be sensible, be woo, and most of all, be you. 🤗
[00:00:00] Welcome to the School of Moxie podcast brought to you by Sensible Woo. This is the podcast where we break the mold around business podcast conversations. We make it fun around here by using television, movies, and entertainment as a jumping off point for conversations about how we navigate the world as individuals.
I'm your host, Mary Williams, and I've been an online creator since 2010. I've seen a lot of trends come and go over the years, but one thing that has persisted is a struggle among entrepreneurs to connect more authentically with their audiences. As a business systems process and operations coach, I've seen how much my clients and subscribers have benefited from learning how to incorporate their fun sides.
So we're going to demonstrate this for you here on this podcast through analogous thinking. Not only that, but we're using media and entertainment as the lens through which we reflect on our own desires and strengths. Fiction is the vehicle that gives us words to articulate our value systems and tells people who we are.
I find that a lot of my
[00:01:00] audience, and probably yours as well, struggle to find words for their problems until they start thinking about how to use analogies. Analogies help us build bridges between something we can describe into a new area that we are in the process of developing. As humans, we are a languaged species, which means we find context and meaning in our lives through the ability to put our feelings into words.
This podcast is going to help you normalize this process and see how it's done in real time as my guests talk through their own experiences in relation to the episodes they've been assigned for this show. Our first season of this podcast is centered on the first season of the HBO original series, The Last of Us, based on the video game of the same name.
Consider this your official spoiler alert. On this podcast, my guests are going to jump right into the conversation, and we're going to spill all the tea on the story and the plot. So if you enjoy being surprised, I encourage you to watch the episode first before listening to our discussion. Before we get into this week's episode, have I
[00:02:00] told you about the weekly readings that I create for entrepreneurs
just like you each and every week. I’m an Akashic Records and Tarot reader, and I've been giving clients intuitive guidance coaching for just about 20 years now. That's a long time. I know that most readers out there don't focus on your business needs. So that's where I come in. Readings with me are
only about your business development. And it helps you feel more aligned with your intuitive messages so that you can incorporate those gut feelings and inner knowings into your business data for better results. Click the link in the show notes and subscribe to my weekly email updates, where you can get a free reading sent to your inbox every single week.
If you want more, you can subscribe to the weekly extended readings, which are just $9 per month and help you get focused on your business energy every week. No more Sunday scaries. You've got this better in hand than you know, and I'll help you see it. Now let's get watching and talking. We have another
[00:03:00] capsule episode.
The seventh episode on The Last of Us is titled Left Behind, and it comes from a DLC known as Downloadable Content, which is gamerspeak for what basically is a graphic novel that was published asynchronous to the original video game. I think it was a clever addition to the television series and also filled in major gaps about Ellie's backstory.
Just like with the third episode, Long, Long Time, this episode, I really wanted to have another queer voice on the mic with me. Because of Ellie's journey and relationship with Riley, I invited one of my business friends whom I met through a networking event as members of the Greater Seattle Business Association, which is the oldest LGBT chamber organization in the entire United States.
Go Pacific Northwest. Madeleine Reeves is the founder and CEO of Fearless Foundry, a creative consultancy that supports ambitious innovators in building branding, marketing, and business development strategies that allow them to make a meaningful impact on the world. Madeleine is an outspoken force for promoting equity, collaboration, and community in business, and she spends her
[00:04:00] time working with clients, creating content,
hosting the Finding Fearless podcast and leading her growing team. Maddy, welcome to the show and thank you for being one of my very first guests who's holding space for Better Business Conversations.
[Maddy] Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.
[Mary] I'm super excited to do this conversation with you and I love how everybody has said, that was my favorite episode, including you for this episode, which is so beautifully special.
I love that it gives us a backstory to Ellie. And I love that it came from the downloadable content because not every backstory gets told. And I feel like as queer individuals in the business space, there's a lot of story that never gets told. And we usually see a lot of things that are out front and they're sort of polished and finished.
But to see where things really came from is a privilege.
[Maddy] Absolutely. Yeah.
[Mary] So, I wanted to ask you, like, why do you think it's important that we really understand what happened to Ellie in the mall when you look at the
[00:05:00] overall story arc? Like, in terms of business, how many business owners gloss over difficult backstories when they're meant to be told?
And does every backstory need to be told? Let's discuss the nuances.
[Maddy] Yeah, so, point number one, I think that like you said, getting to know who Ellie is and where she's at on her journey of really discovering herself, I think is really, really critical. There's like these little kind of nuggets that we get hinted at, like I think back to the scene where they go into that like, abandoned, it's kind of like a gas station and there's the video game there and you know she kind of makes reference that she used to, used to play Mortal Kombat with somebody else, but like we don't really know her, especially not in the same way that we know Joel.
And so for me, also just seeing her like, queer awakening in some ways, was a really, really important and telling, you know, piece to kind of everything that comes up after in the following episodes. And also just like for, for me, like, you
[00:06:00] know, it's still such a new thing to see stories like that captured in film and television.
And I was saying to you before we hit record, like the thing that I felt like that was done so well in this episode is capturing this tension of being a young queer person but not really knowing who it's safe to show that identity to and this awkward tension of like, you're my friend, but I also like you and I don't know if you like me back.
And so I don't know if we're going to like rough house or if we're going to make out and like, and I just felt like that episode captured it so perfectly. And so, I mean, it's a great way for us to understand, you know, the journey that Ellie's been on and you know, why, you know, why was she so angry in that, that first time we ever met her?
Why was she just so filled with rage? What is her kind of like resistance to authority that shows up constantly? Like, why are, why are these attributes like so pervasive in the way that she, you know, exists throughout the plot line? And so I feel like you get kind of a better
[00:07:00] sense of what Ellie was ripped away from in some ways.
And then that really kind of helps us see who she is as a character. Flipping that on its business head, I think that there are a lot of instances where we as entrepreneurs gloss over why we became business builders. And I think the thing that I find to be most pervasive both with myself and the entrepreneurs that I work with is that we often take a story that's really hard and we make it really pretty.
We make it really sweet. You know, and oftentimes a lot of us built businesses because we couldn't exist in the way of working. It didn't work for us for a lot of reasons. You know, for me, it was an experience of becoming like a senior level director in a tech company and having my second child and wanting to be offered a little bit more flexibility so that I didn't have to commute into the company.
And, you know, being offered three fifths of my salary and saying, you can, you can downgrade your
[00:08:00] responsibility now that you're, you know, a mother of two. And, you know, for years, I flipped it on its head and was like, you know, I embrace my story, you know, female founder, blah, blah, blah, blah. But when I look back, like, there's a lot of sadness and hardship there.
And a lot of entrepreneurs I know didn't actually start companies because they want to. They started companies because they felt like they had to or they couldn't exist in the working world in a way that made sense for their lifestyle or for their identity or whatever that piece was that pushed them, you know, to go out on their own.
And I think again, we do a good job of kind of reframing so that we can feel good about it. But I also think we have these closed door conversations where we're like, yeah, that shit was really hard. And for me personally, I had a moment. It was about a year ago, I was on a walk and, and I, it just hit me like this, like semi truck of like, did I really choose to start my own company or did I actually not have any other options?
[Maddy] And that was a really hard narrative for me to accept.
[00:09:00] But as I've accepted it, I've started to try and be more transparent and have those conversations with entrepreneurs because I think when we talk to the vast majority of them that's a really similar circumstance underneath the hood.
[Mary] It's so similar.
And yeah, so I'm listening to you talk about that and I'm like, yeah, I've totally reframed my story. I'm like, oh, I ended up, it turned into a consulting thing. I'm like, no, somebody got me to come work at her startup. She lied about all the details and she didn't have payroll for the next two weeks. I helped her scrape it off the floor for about three months and I was like, I can't take the abuse anymore.
And I bounced out. And I got real lucky that I had friends who needed a consultant to do other things. And it just kind of went from there and it was out of it was pure necessity. It was out of a really big career mistake.
[Mary] And, and, you know, we see Ellie do that in the storyline where like in that, it's the first episode when they first leave the QZ
[00:10:00] and Tess asks her like, what were you doing in the mall all by yourself?
And she's like, wow, you got some balls on you, sister. And Ellie's doing what we do. She's not telling her the whole story that I have this best friend. She even asks like, you have a mom, boyfriend, somebody comes and she's like, Nope,
[Maddy] Yeah, just me.
[Mary] And, you know, she doesn't tell them any of the details, none of the real details.
But the whole part about like, I survived a clicker is definitely at the forefront. And I feel like that's what we do. We, we. gloss over those really important details, but they make us who we are. And by the time you figure out that is who she is, like, you realize, I remember that was when I really started loving the character of Ellie, because like, she could be a real asshole sometimes where I'm just like, Oh God, can you just shut up and just like.
You're gonna create so many problems for people.
[Maddy] Yes, yes, yes. Yeah.
[Mary] And when Joel's like, you ask so many goddamn questions and I'm like, I'm right there with you.
[Maddy] Yeah. Like, yeah.
[Mary] Some silence, please. And then you get to that and you realize like where the anger comes from and where all these things, you know, other emotions come from.
And you think that when we see other entrepreneurs in our spaces, when we see people who are like angry or jaded or whatever, there's a story in there. And I'd be so curious sometimes to know what some of those stories actually are.
[Maddy] Well, and I think a lot of people, you know, in order to persevere as an entrepreneur, a lot of our whys come out of an experience of hurt or an experience of hardship or an experience of, you know, there's got to be a better way kind of thing.
And let's be honest, like business can be brutal too. And so we, we have these experiences, but again, for the sake of. Wanting to appear as this everything's good as if we're successful as if you know we're we're thriving and we're crushing and we're scaling and we're killing it, you know we don't really talk about those things
[00:12:00] and so like, you know I actually just came from a brunch with like, you know, three other women who I adore.
We're all founders and you know, it was only with one of them who, who, you know, we kind of had a moment to ourselves where like, you know, we were both really like, but how are you really? Like, how was this past year? And both of us had had a soul crushing year. Like, we had both gone through some of the biggest business hardships we've ever dealt with.
And it was really impacting our mental health. And I've, like, known her for probably going on, like, 10 years now. And, and even then, even in all of that, like, a lot of us don't even feel safe or, like, we can reach out and talk to other people about it because, you know, I feel the fear that comes up in me of, like, oh, but then will they not want to, like, refer business to me?
Or will they not want to work with me? Or, like Because you're worried, like, will this change your perception of, of, you know, thinking I'm successful and then therefore I'm not going to have, you know, the ability to get clients or do what I need to do to sustain things. And so I think that's a really
[00:13:00] a tentative thing that we need to work on in our communities is like figuring out who are those people that we can, you know, have honest conversation with about the shit work that's going on.
And some of it, you know, we learn from and some of it is like totally like out of left field, we couldn't have predicted or prevented it if we tried. Um, but I think a lot of us, you know, are ashamed to talk about what might feel like a mistake, you know, uh, or, or somebody fucking us over or things like that.
You know, we don't, there's shame in it. And so then we just kind of bottle it up and it comes out in all these weird ways.
[Mary] I mean, you see it even like between Riley and Ellie, Riley's like, I'm going to show you the, was it the four? I always forget the number, right?
[Maddy] It started, it started out as four and then Riley added a fifth wonder because the escalator escalator was so wonderful to Ellie.
[Mary] Yeah. Um, but she's having to show you the wonders of them all. And, and at the end it's like, you know, Ellie feels a little betrayed. Cause she's like, wait, you didn't tell me the truth. You're a firefly and you're making
[00:14:00] bombs back here and you're living in the mall.
[Maddy] Glossed over. It's all good. I'm a firefly now.
[Mary] Yeah. Yeah. Like, look, our, our flashlights are better than your flashlights are. Everything is better. Look how much freedom I have. Come and go as I please. And then the truth comes out, you know, they're riding the carousel and she's like, they're talking to you about being an officer and she's like, and they gave me like sewer duty.
And I feel like so many of our. You know, fellow business people, that's happening, you know, it's like, oh, look at what I'm doing and it's like, no, I didn't land that contract and I've ended up working with, you know, something that doesn't light me up and, um, or that community like, really screwed me over.
[Mary] And, and, and now I kind of have to like sow my seeds where I can. And like that's kind of what Riley's doing. She's like, well, this is my option. So they're gonna ship me out and
[00:15:00] actually I'm saying goodbye. And I think there's something so emotionally poignant about the episode. I always feel like
fiction gives us heightened emotions that helps us feel something about our businessy things. Because we can put that in such an emotionless space. And I love what Ellie and Riley do for that because like there is this sort of, they represent that like young stage of like young love. It's like your first kiss and like, you know, and it's, it's really sweet.
And it's also really scary. You know, I love how you brought up that like, oh, does she like me? Like, like me. Are we going to hold her hands? You know, and I feel like as entrepreneurs, we do that with our clients. It's like, are they going to choose me? Are they going to sign the contract? Like, are we going to make this official?
[Maddy] Yeah. Yeah.
[Mary] I thought that was really beautiful.
[Maddy] I think too, you know, this, the sweetness and the newness of it
[00:16:00] too is, is, and it's, it's interesting, right? Because. You know, obviously with everything that happens at the end of the episode, you're like, you just feel like you're about to embark on something, and then it goes really far south, really quickly.
And you're like, oh my god, like this is about to be like a love story, and then, whew, rugs pulled out and under us. And I feel like that we can relate to a lot in business of these things of like we idealized a project or a client and we just think it's like going to be the next best thing and the next big thing.
And then we get going and you know, maybe somebody's true colors come out or the way that they treat you and your team is totally different than what you expected. And I feel like I've had a lot of that, particularly in the past year in business of like thinking like, Oh, this is going to be the thing that like kind of turns the tide or this, this is going to be amazing.
And then. You know, five seconds into it, you're like, Whoa, this is not the way I thought this thing was going to go.
[Mary] Monster attack.
[Maddy] Yes, exactly. Exactly.
[Mary] I'm wondering how many times do you think business owners really experience monster attack when they're exploring?
[Maddy] I think, I think it's like a constant, like, like, I mean, that's the thing I think that you, and it's only now and I'm entering into my fifth year as an entrepreneur.
And I think when you've been on the ride for that long, you start to recognize like, Oh, No, this is like the, the only difference is that your tolerance changes like the further and further you get. And I've also like learned to like reframe. So like I used to talk about like riding the roller coaster and I had a coach who was like maybe don't refer to business as being a roller coaster because that implies that you're like screaming all the time and I was like fair, fair point.
So now like I've reframed and I call it like riding the waves because it's a little gentler and, but, but it inherently there is an up and a down. And at the end of the day, you know, there's lessons you learn about like, you know, build a stronger contract to do a better
[00:18:00] vetting of the people you're going to work with.
But there is just a lot of shitty people who are using business as a vehicle to do shitty things in the world. And, you know, I remember, for example, like the first time that I kind of dealt with like a big, like, oh shit, I might have to sue this person or they might sue me kind of situation. One of my friends who's a founder and she's, you know, she's a few steps ahead of me.
She was like, congratulations. Like, you've, you know, you've made it when, you know, you're dealing with some legal shit. And that's part of the ballgame. But it's like, that's not the stories that you hear when you. And especially, I think this is hypertoxic and hyper, you know, in the like very femme centric business space, I think there's a lot of toxic positivity there.
And so, there's no one ever talking about, yeah, you know, you're going to have months where you don't pay yourself. You're going to have months where, you know, you are doing everything you can to, like you said, scrape the payroll off the floor.
[00:19:00] You're going to have. Somebody come out of left field and, you know, not pay you even though you've done the work.
You're going to have, you know, somebody, you know, renege on an agreement and you're going to be left holding all the pieces of this project and you're going to have to be up till 2 a. m. to pull it off. And it's like, yeah, because those stories aren't fun and super sexy. And again, they don't make us feel super successful to tell them.
And yet, you know, that's kind of the only constant in business. And there's also wins. Like there's wins along the way. So they balance each other out. But I just think. I, at least in my experience, to think that that another thing isn't going to happen would be really naive. And the thing that shifts is the more you grow, the more you're tolerant to recognizing it's a part of the process.
[Mary] I love that you talk about tolerance because I was thinking like, is it ever really idyllic or is it just always a hot mess? You know?
[Mady] Yeah. Yeah.
[Mary] And I think, too, especially I like that you brought up femme centric businesses. Because so much of our entrepreneurial
[00:20:00] world has the bro shit, but they've normalized this discussion around hustle and like, and, and I think that's where that mess is wrapped up is like, well, of course, you're going to have shitty things happen because that's part of the hustle and our femme centric businesses are, you know, trying to sort of push against that.
But it's no better. Nobody anywhere is still telling the true story about what's going on. And I feel like we can really learn something from a piece of fiction like this because we all know what it's like to be young and you don't have to be queer having a queer love story in order to relate to this, you know.
You know what it's like to not be sure if they're going to reciprocate. You know what it's like to feel like everything feels a little like, I don't think I'm supposed to be here. And like
[00:21:00] And I think it's interesting just talking it out with you on the mic like, I feel like we do.
We kind of deal with like the monster of the week.
[Maddy] Mm hmm. Mm hmm. And that, I mean, the biggest thing for me is. Recognizing that, like, the thing that I can change is how, how I respond to it. Yeah. Right? Like, and again, I think the more reps you get in, so to speak, the more you allow it, you're, you're able to let it go.
And the more that you're like, oh, you know, this is not going to be. You know, earth shattering, like the monster this week I dealt with was a client who we've executed excellently, in my opinion. There were hiccups in the project. There were some things that, you know, are things that I couldn't have, could have predicted, right?
Like the monster before was like that the designer fell off the project and then I had to source a new designer. And then you know, I'm scrambling to fix it, but at the end of the day, I'm really proud of the work that my team is delivering. And there's one piece of the project that the client has been a nightmare on, can't decide what they want.
[00:22:00] We've turned around four different versions of the deliverable, gone above and beyond scope over and over again to make them happy. And the client turned around and was like, I deserve a refund on this piece of the project. And I'm like, one, I would never, but two, this is somebody who like I know personally.
So I was like, not just shocked, I was disappointed. And of course, these are the things that bubble up to me from the team to be like, we got to hold the boundary. And I did. And she came back and was like, yeah, so again, I think I deserve a refund. And I'm like, you know, does it suck? Yes. Did it take up more of my day than I wish I would have?
Also, yes. Is it going to ruin my weekend? No, because I've dealt with this before. I've lived. And I think what happens is that you're, when you're earlier on, it feels like the whole world is going to crumble. But again, the more you go through these experiences, the more you realize, like, I can still walk out the other side and be okay.
You know, will it suck that I'll probably lose this, this relationship over something as dumb
[00:23:00] as like a slide deck? Yeah. But at the same point, you know, this, this experience showed me this person's true colors and I'm like, would I really want to be friends with somebody who's this, this terrible in terms of the way that they're handling the client relationship?
No. So, you know, pros and cons.
[Mary] Pros and cons. And I don't think that we can ever predict. what becomes normalized for us or that we have more strength in that area than we realize. You know, in the fictional story, Ellie gets bitten the first time we finally get to see it.
[Mary] And she's freaking out.
[Maddy] Oh my gosh.
[Mary] As they should be.
[Maddy] Smashing all the things.
[Mary] Their dichotomy and reactions is. Incredible.
[Mary] And she doesn't know yet that she's not gonna get sick. But later in the linear timeline, but we see this in an earlier episode in number two, she gets bitten again. And her reaction is so different.
So chill. She's like, well, if it was gonna happen to one of us, I guess it might as well be me. She's like, well, I didn't shit my
[00:24:00] pants. I guess I did okay this time. And, and I think like that's kind of what happens to us, but we usually see that with entrepreneurs. We don't see the origin story where she really was shitting her pants the first time.
And I'm just wondering, like, how is it through conversations like this, like, how do we hold space for people to start being more honest about it? Not just for our benefit, which helps us navigate our more advanced journeys better. But for the people who idolize entrepreneurship and they're like, Oh, and then I could work from home and I think I want to do this thing.
And it's like, girl, do you know what you're about to get into? And it's like, if you really knew, some people would say yes to that challenge. And then there's a lot of people who would be like, Oh, now that I know the truth, maybe I'll take like a slower, softer route and know that that's actually okay. But because we don't let them into that, they don't know.
[Maddy] Yeah, so I was laying in bed this morning and you know, 'cause the algorithm does what
[00:25:00] the algorithm does, I got this ad that was like a day in my life running my million dollar marketing agency. You know, she's getting up slowly and she's like making her tea and she's like, and then, you know, and I'm like, bitch, please, like, like shut up.
Like shut the fuck up because. You're selling a false narrative and, you know, also I'll just say as somebody who has dabbled in the agency space for the last three years, it's becoming a really challenging space to exist in because with the rise of AI, everybody thinks that they can do what we're doing for free and what I think has to happen
is more public conversations about the hardship that happens in business. But, I think that the problem is that there are so many people who are turning around and trying to like sell a narrative of I'm a, I'm a coach, I'm an expert. And then as a result, They're trying to sell their story as being perfect, you know, and I'm like, that is a disservice to all of us because I know that this path
[00:26:00] is really bumpy and so then you have all these people who are not prepared when they step in and just think the answer is, Oh, I'm going to just buy another five figure coaching program and then, and then I'm going to be good.
Right. And so the number of people I see who have, have invested, you know, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in coaching thinking that that's the missing key versus, you know, having what I think a lot of us have in private, which is like, I've got these five friends that like, you know, when I had to send that really hard email this week, I was like, okay, y'all, I'm going to forward you something.
Could I get some feedback? Right. And I think that we need to create containers. and communities where even if we're sitting in a leadership position where we're really candid about the shit that goes down in our businesses too. Because the thing that I really hate, and again, I'm going to dog a little bit on the femme centric spaces, is that like, a lot of those models are about what I consider like discipleship like here I am and I won't name names. But it's like I'm the one woman who made it to
[00:27:00] the mountaintop.
They don't talk about their struggles. They don't talk about the fact that they have teams behind them So there's a lot of women who are like why haven't I got to this place and it's like well you don't have a staff of nine people. So like,
[Mary] You know I that just had that conversation with someone.
[Maddy] That's right, right.
And so like, I'm like, it's a great disservice because here, here people are measuring them against your yardstick and they don't, you know, they're like, they're a team of one and they're, they think they're failing. And so for me, I'm like, how can we create authentic? places that are either in communities that feel like safe spaces to talk about, you know, the real shit that goes down behind the scenes.
And also, you know, how can we out loud be like, yeah, I'm a business leader. And also the hard shit happens all the fucking time.
[Mary] It's the ugly beauty thing. The female centric thing is so interesting and I love that it's like organically conversation here. Because later in, well, no, it's the episode right before yours.
[00:28:00] creators in their extra material talk about when Ellie meets Maria in Jackson, it's the first time she experiences real sisterhood. So here's a woman who gives her a diva cup to help her with her period in the middle of a pandemic. And it's super useful. And then we get this flashback where Ellie's in, you know, this orphanage and it's a lot of girls and they're bullies.
They're really mean. And I feel like so many of us in business feel like Ellie where we end up in these spaces where it's like it's a bunch of bullies who like hoard their resources. They're like, I'm the one who's going to be on top. And it's like, why are you the only one? What is up with that? And, and what happens is I think a lot of.
A lot of our type, we end up bouncing out in the way that Ellie is more than content to break the rules and go out with Riley. Riley did. She's like
[00:29:00] completely gone out. And then they get labeled a certain way. And you hear that when, you know, in the first episode where Ellie first meets Marlene and so we're like experiencing things out of order for Ellie and if you like really piece it back in order for Ellie, you realize how all the things fall together.
And Ellie says like, Oh, terrorists. And Marlene was like, Was Riley a terrorist? You know, and, and I think that we really have to reconsider how we reframe especially women and purpose. And so interestingly enough, it is showing up in the discussion around this episode.
[Maddy] Yeah. Yeah, well, because I think the thing that I see and it's funny because this is I'm like this was our conversation earlier this year was I was like, I need to get on the soapbox because what I am seeing is the spaces that market themselves as being about women's empowerment, but actually
it's a lot of patriarchy, swathed in pink. Like, it's a lot of, of like, you know, just
[00:30:00] competitive. It's a lot of, um, scarcity. Like, you know, like, very much this mindset of like, well, I'm a, you know, I, can you give me a discount? Because I'm also a female founded business. It's a lot of undermining behavior. Um, and
and, you know, there's always kind of that, that undercurrent of, like, are we frenemies? Like, are we, you know? And to me, I'm like, and maybe this is because I come from a, you know, a queer space that, like, I've never really felt fully, like, I fit there. But also, I'm like, I don't think the basis of doing business with somebody is because we're both like, you know, femme like that's for me I'm like, what are your values?
Are you a good person? Like yeah, you know, like do are you gonna fuck me over? Like those are the things I want to know and it's not enough baseline And I think a lot of those spaces like bless them are just women transacting for the sake of like
[00:31:00] putting hand and money in in the hands of other women. Which is a solution and also if we're just like creating our own micro economies where we're underpaying each other for each other's work, we're not actually going to break out and change anything.
[Mary] No, and it's very reactionary because I feel like what happens is there are some women who play in a mixed space and then there are women who bounce out and the ones who bounce out it's, it's almost this intolerance for discomfort to hang in that space that, um, might be inhabited by men. Or anybody. And I feel like, I feel like when you, you know, polarize yourself and you like go off into this little bubble and you don't quite integrate into the larger system, you don't have to be fully integrated, but you don't at least keep a touch point, a strong touch
[00:32:00] point with it. You really lose
something, you lose an anchor. And, you know, I always look for analogies in fiction. Clearly, that's what we're talking about here. And, you know, when I think about like, you know, the Fireflies, like, I feel like they do it in that rather toxic way where it's not working. It’s really not working for them.
And the only times we see communities actually do well, well there's only one in Jackson, it's like they know what they came from and then they decided to make new rules around it. They reengineered the whole thing. And I wonder if we're like at a point where we just need to reengineer.
[Maddy] I feel that way.
Like, I have a craving to see spaces that are cultivated around a level of consciousness that is about,
[00:33:00] like, what is not working in business, like, like, I think there's a lot of people who, you know, coming out of ‘21, ‘22, kind of pandemic era are like, there's a lot here that's still really fucking broken and like, you know, that we need to address and we need to reprogram in ourselves.
And there's a lot of people who are still just like playing business as usual again in these like, you know identified settings of like we're all ladies. And for me, I want to see mixed gendered spaces because and and more so I want to see queer centric spaces because I think that we have the power and ability to reimagine really differently when the room is more diverse but also what I feel like is is missing from the conversation when you're in those kind of like like, it becomes like a one note space.
It becomes like a very like, um, like a groupthink sort of situation as opposed to what I see when we go back to looking at the community in Jackson is like
[00:34:00] we are holding space for this new, imagining a new paradigm together based off of all these things that, that weren't working before. Yeah. And so, you know, we're going to all.
kind of bring our best abilities and then we're going to share in the responsibility of creating something better. And what I don't like about the Latave spaces I see is again, they're a discipleship. They're like this model of there's one, one woman, she's made it to the mountaintop folks. And if you just follow her five step formula, you too can get there.
And I don't believe in that. I think that's like how cults get started and like weird religions, like whether it's in business or in any other facet of life. And so I think a collective model that allows for a variety of voices or a variety of solutions is really really powerful. And quite frankly, you know, it leads to us being able to innovate differently in our businesses because we're not just hearing from the same one person or five people with the same five experiences.
[Mary] Yeah. I mean we do see a cult like environment. In the course of the show.
[Mary] Yes, we do. And you
[00:35:00] see how unsustainable that world is.
[Maddy] Think about the contrast, though. Sorry to interrupt you. But like, think about the contrast between Jackson and that.
[Mady] Thriving versus starving.
[Maddy] That's such a great metaphor for what I feel like is going on in business.
[Mary] It is. I mean, both of them are in snowy, cold climates, so you can't say, Oh, well, you know, David's religious tribe, like they, they, they're, Oh, it's winter. It's so hard. It's like, Oh, it's pretty fucking cold over in Jackson too.
[Maddy] And they're not eating people.
[Mary] And they're not eating people. But it's such a weak organization system because he is the preacher.
He's the guru at the top. And these people are like, tell us what to do. And there's been a conversation already on the microphone that was real interesting, um, and now that I've seen it, I can't unsee it, and we were talking about how Tess had
[00:36:00] demonstrated in the short time she was on the show that she put down her ego to make things happen, and I feel like that's what it is.
And I see Maria do it. She's a powerful woman. But she's not egoic, you know, I mean, she's even like, no, we're communists. Yeah, this is a commune.
[Maddy] And this is working for us. Don't fuck it up.
[Mary] Yeah. And when you meet the cannibals, they, are they, it's, it's all ego driven. The leader's ego driven. The people he sends out, you know, to get their revenge.
It's all, it's all, well, me, me, me. I'm so mad. And it's like, well, now look what's going to happen to you. And I feel like that is kind of what's happening when I look at some of these spaces with whether it's men or women or anyone.
[Maddy] And there's shame. Like that was one thing that struck me. So starkly about the first scene of that episode when you really like get to
[00:37:00] know the cult or you're like kind of pan into Those people you can see like obviously they're like downtrodden, but there's like such a presence of shame in that room like before anybody said anything I was like sexual assault is happening in this community.
Like you could just see it right you could feel it and I feel like in the business community in some of those spaces, there is a real shame that people carry because again, you're, you're following this, like I should be this version of success, whatever it's being prescribed from the, at the top line level.
And if I'm not, I need to posture as if it like, this is a really random reference, but come with me. Um, it reminds me of like all the stuff, did you watch the LuLaRoe documentary?
[Mary] Yes, it's so good.
[Maddy] It's so good. I love anything like that. And then like you could very much like call that like a cult like environment.
Because what happened and why all those people created all this debt for themselves is like they're looking up at the top line and it's like I've got to create
[00:38:00] this persona as if I'm really successful by having this car, by having these things. And so I see that with women in business where it's like, I've got to externalize as this.
Everything's awesome. I've got this like cool website. I've got these funnels. I've got, and then I'll collect some of these women and they'll join my communities or like I'll coach with them one on one and you're like, Whoa, like when we got in private. You're really struggling, like, you're, you don't have, you know, your cash flow is all over the place.
You're, you know, but you didn't feel like you could truthfully talk about those things because everybody around was flexing as if it's all good.
[Mary] It's exhausting. In that LuLaRoe documentary, the women who were in that top line, their interviews were heartbreaking. They were like,
[Maddy] I'm so tired. I was so tired.
[Mary] They're still in debt.
[Maddy] There's so many racks and racks of these fucking leggings.
[Mary] Oh my God. Some of those leggings, man.
[Maddy] Oh my gosh.
[Mary] Yeah, I, I love that, you know, there
[00:39:00] is this sort of bleed over between the episodes from the one that you have. In the next one. In the next one. And, you know, Ellie is really grappling with her, her own shame.
You know, she's like, oh shit, like I can't, I can't let another person I care about die. And, you know, when she first meets other humans because she decides to go out to forage for food, which is the episode after yours, like, there is a lot of shame in her. So she postures real big and the gun's too big for her and she can't quite manage it.
And you know, in this backstory that we see in the Left Behind episode gives you so much context for why she is the way she is, why she's reacting the way she's reacting, why she's saying the things that she does. And it's such, such a great analogy for so many of us. I will put myself in that same category, you know.
There are, and some stories are really hard to tell.
[00:40:00] You don't want to tell the stories, you know. And she doesn't even really tell that story. She tells Joel a little bit at the very, very end. She doesn't really tell him the story as we saw it. We're like, there's more details to that story. And one of the things that I did think about was that it's implied, but Ellie really has to do an unthinkable thing, like you can connect the dots and realize that she must have had to kill Riley.
Something happened because she did not continue to get sick, but Riley would have. And you know, there's a responsibility that comes with that. There's an awful act, even if it's out of love. I feel like as entrepreneurs, we make a lot of tough love choices. I'm curious to know do you think? We're good at it.
Or do you think we hesitate at making tough love choices?
[Maddy] I think, you know, it was, it was really interesting, actually. I'm going to think to Bittersweet and, and, you know, that was the one of the most affirming sections of the book for me. I think it was chapter six.
[00:41:00] And it came up a lot. How many leaders
struggle with making really hard decisions and giving really hard feedback, especially as it pertains to other people. And that was really affirming for me to listen to because that's a struggle that I really have. And I think where it comes from, at least in like the healing work I've done on myself and the healing work I do with other entrepreneurs that I'm coaching.
Is a lot of us have like a really, really deep wounding that we come to the table with around wanting to be seen, wanting to be affirmed, wanting to be loved, wanting to be worthy. Um, and you know, I'm like, like the number of entrepreneurs I meet who I'm like, so did your mom and dad never tell you they were proud of you?
Okay, me too.
[Mary] Right? Yeah.
[Maddy] And so, it, and it's a pervasive thing and that makes us very ambitious. It makes us very hard workers because we, you know, we're like, I'm going to achieve the thing, but at the end of the
[00:42:00] day, all we want in return is to be loved and validated. And so, as a result. Like, the last thing you're going to get in return is love and validation when you're saying some really hard shit, or you're firing a person, or you're telling them that you're underperforming, or you're firing a client.
That's the last thing. And so, as a result, if that's our core wounding, we're super avoidant of that shit. Myself included. Myself included. And so, the work that I've had to do, and the work that I do with a lot of my clients, is recognizing, like, how can we create systems of affirmation and validation in your life so that you're getting it
not from your work because then you have these teams where all you want to do is have your people love you and it's like your people are not always going to love you. Like you're going to have to make really tough calls. You're going to have to fire people. You're going to have to tell people they suck.
You're going to have to, you know, make the call that, you know, a leader has to make on a day when everything goes sideways and not everyone's going to agree with you. But I think those choices are easier to
[00:43:00] make if you have friends, relationship, you know, community, like hobbies, like things outside of your work that affirm you so that you're not thinking that your only worthiness, your only validation, your only love comes from the work.
[Mary] I was going to ask you, where do you get your validation from?
[Maddy] Oof. Um, this is like, this is a big one for me. So um, things that I'm really working on is self love practices in general. So that would be meditation and yoga. That's a big, big part of. Just affirming and reminding myself. Another thing that I do that's really, really helpful is affirmation cards.
I'm a big words of affirmation person. So, they're on my mirror. They're on my, my fridge. Basically. Everywhere in my home that I'm going to move throughout the day, my desk. I put things that are affirming so that I can be receiving it in some way without having to, to draw it out of people. Um, relationships, like for me, friendship is a huge thing this, this past year, especially because
[00:44:00] I'm going through a divorce.
And my goal is to, date my friends and to just be really like deeply connected to those relationships. And also I think there's a really beautiful harmony there of finding friends We're not just gonna like blow smoke up your ass, but are also gonna you know be able to call you on your stuff and wrestle with it and and so you know, and to me, that's actually really affirming, like, I'm like, people who really, really care about you will tell you hard things.
[Mary] They will tell you things that make you mad.
[Mary] And I think that's like the big aha moment that you can carry with yourself. You think you're allowed to be mad in the moment.
[Mary] Be mad in the moment and also, and also recognize, this person's got my back.
[Mary] And I feel like that's what we see with Ellie and Riley in their relationship.
I mean, like, Ellie practically I think she does punch her when she comes through the window. And, and they tell each other hard things and, you know, Ellie storms off and she comes back and, like, there are some really hard things and
[00:45:00] to lose that kind of a relationship through whatever means and this story, obviously, like, you know, it's horrible, you know, Riley dies, but hopefully that's not happening in real life for people, but sometimes it does.
But, you know, you realize how precious. Those relationships are. And so when you find them again in other places, you realize like, oh wait, I do really want to fight for this and hang onto it. And I feel like that's the reason why, you know, we see, like Joel has pushed Ellie away at the beginning of this episode
like, you gotta go. 'cause he's like, this is bad, I'm gonna die. And she hesitates for a moment. We see the whole flashback. And then when we come back, she opens the door and she forages for supplies. 'cause she's like, No. Because she has that aha moment like, this person tells me the truth and, well, maybe not the other.
And, you know, and, and, but it also shows just how complex
[00:46:00] relationships are and, you know, one of the pervasive things in all the conversations has been how important it is to have community and that you can't do things alone and that community really means more than one person.
[Maddy] Yeah. I think, I think this is like the awakening that I've been on in the past couple years is reckoning that, you know, there's no penultimate relationship, you know.
[Maddy] There's no, and I, and I, and I, it's a tension, right? Because we, it's so fun to fantasize and believe like there's going to be a perfect, you know, person who will solve all of our problems, whether that's in business or that's in, you know, a romantic relationship or even in friendship too, you know, and what we do in that circumstances that we like turn people into something that is like invaluable and, and we have, we like, you know, put them on this pedestal and, and then if they break or they, you know, have a flaw, you know, we write them off entirely
[00:47:00] and that's something I feel like I was
really swift too in my, in my 20s was like, just, you know, basically saying like, people have to be this way or else I'm out, you know? And I think that in my friendships and relationships now, I am learning to be a lot gentler and kinder and recognizing like, Yeah, people fuck up and like people have nuance and people make mistakes and and in doing so I'm learning to be kinder to myself because like what that ultimately is about underneath the hood, thank you therapy, is is the standards that you hold yourself to yeah and so if you believe everyone around you has to be like this penultimate perfect person who behaves to this standard in the relationship, then you're believing that you have to be that way all the time.
And that's why you judge other people so harshly. And so it's, it's kind of a beautiful process because, you know, in learning to be kinder to other people, you're learning to be kinder to yourself. And then you're also learning like, oh, like this is,
[00:48:00] this is the space and place I can go for you know, this, this one need.
Like for me, you know, I have my queer community and there is a certain like outlet and, and fun and connection that I get there that I don't get in other spaces. And then, you know, I have my female founder community and that's a really different, you know, vibe and energy and. people I could rant to about certain things.
And then I have, you know, friends who are moms and, you know, so it, so having those layers allows you to, you know, let your hair down in different ways with different people. But I, I agree with you that community is an essential part of our own growth.
[Mary] Yeah. I've really been returning to this refrain all year that we live in a both and existence and starting to see that because you can
not like someone anymore in the way that Marlene and Joel don't like each other anymore, and you can be a hundred percent sure and respect the fact that they can get the job done and that you
[00:49:00] might need them in that moment. And I actually think that's the space where Joel and Ellie form their bond is, you know, in that, in that dichotomous both and existence.
I actually think Ellie interacts with most people in that way. Just probably like, even though I appreciate that both and, I'm also like, God, sometimes she's such a kid where I'm just like, Oh, you're exhausting.
[Maddy] Oh, yeah. I mean, as a mother of a like soon to be 12 year old, I'm like, I know this one well.
It's a lot. It's a lot.
[Mary] Yeah. I, I feel like we see a lot of that both and throughout and like thinking about all the different pairings that we come across and it's very much like that, um, you know, Maria's like, yeah, Tommy did bad things. Like Ellie points it out to her like, well, Tommy did them too, you know, yeah.
[Maddy] Antagonist that she is.
[Mary] I know, right? And Maria's like,
[00:50:00] that and he is also capable of change and wants other things and has grown. And I think we have to be willing to give each other some of that. I'm going to make a personal prediction, you and I have talked about all the trends that we've seen in the spaces, but I, my personal prediction is that some of these gurus on high, these, you know, influencer,
[Maddy] She mama girl buff, babe.
[Mary] I, my, my prediction is that the coaching community is going to go through a little bit of a crumble, a necessary one, because some of the crap needs to be cleaned out. The really strong programs are going to continue to thrive. I support one. I see her growing and thriving because it's genuine and real and it's such a difference from some of the other spaces I've been inside.
And I think
[00:51:00] the ones who need to have a little bit of a, a reckoning. They're going to need some of us to like demonstrate like I can, I can be really mad and annoyed at some of the shit you pulled in the past. And it doesn't mean I have to forgive you for all of it. And also I can show you and demonstrate for you what it's like to build proper community and welcome you in so that you can figure out,
and it's going to hurt real bad because you're not used to not being the center, the center of attention. But the ones who are willing, I think, will find new homes and maybe, maybe add some productivity to the space because there's still people and it's like, well, they got to go somewhere. And some people have been bouncing out into regular.
j-o-b jobs. I've seen that. Some of them are really good people, too. Because they're just exhausted by the space.
[00:52:00] But there's also, like, a certain amount, and You know, some of us are, as we say, unemployable.
[Maddy] Mm hmm. We could not go back.
[Mary] And, and it's like, so where, where do they go? You know, it's just like looking at these people in an apocalypse and it's like, well, there's still people.
So where are they going to go? Well, they're going to live in some quarantine zone or some outpost community or they're going to go somewhere. You know, we can either be cannibals and eat people or we can raise sheep and be happy. Yeah. You know?
[Maddy] Yep. Yep.
[Mary] And, and also, you know, we end up having to be very discerning about who's in, in what space with us.
[Maddy] I want to add to that prediction of, I think that the people who will stick around are the people who are willing to do inner work. Like I think, yes, that's the thing that is so evident to me. is it's very transparent at this point who is really doing a level of
[00:53:00] inner work. And those are the people who are evolving.
Like, those are the people who I'm actually like, Oh, like, I'm actually kind of interested in what you're up to yet. Because it's getting less performative and it's getting more personal and it's getting, you know, you're, you're, you're not selling the same song and dance as you used to be. And, and, you know, you know, that one of my things that I really you know, I'm passionate about and thinking a lot about is like, what is it it look like to build like truly regenerative business models and it's been interesting to kind of watch people to start talk about talking about like, what does it mean to be really truly sustainable in business and were their models sustainable.
And so I think the ones who are willing to like reflect back and like, Thank you. Be candid and say like, yeah, like it might have looked really pretty on the outside, but shit was hot, fiery mess in here. And, and I had to really do some inner work to, to change my whole thing. Those are the people who I think will survive and sustain because there's a level of humility and a level of ego death that has to happen in order for you to do that work.
[00:54:00] think the ones who are going to cling to, you know, being influential, those ones are going to have the hardest time because I think that we can already tell. You know, we have a deep desire to, to, to be real with each other, you know, and it's really hard to be real when you're clinging to an identity that isn't entirely true.
[Mary] So well said. Yeah, I, I hope that, I hope that we have some folks who watch this with us and listen to these conversations and really do that reflection. I feel like this is that inner work that makes you sit down and go, what about me? Where do I fall in this? What have I been doing?
And you know, maybe we can start turning the tide on discourse.
[Mary] Be so nice.
[Maddy] Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think it starts with, with recording conversations like this and being able to say out loud,
[00:55:00] I own a business and also it's a shit show sometimes. Like, it's like, like shit goes down. I struggled. I'm a human.
I'm not, I'm not penultimate and perfect and like, hey, let's get around the campfire, you know, and talk about what was the hardest thing you've had to deal with? When did you really fuck up? You know, how did that make you feel? How does that still hurt you? You know, what have you learned from it? Because I think we crave those kinds of conversations, I think we all do, but we have to just create space for them to happen.
And it starts, it starts with moments like this.
[Mary] Yeah, I also think it starts at the moment when you realize you can't rely on somebody to be your savior. I was just thinking about that right now. And I was like, you know, in this episode, we see Joel for like,
[Maddy] 5 seconds. He's just, he's just gasping on the floor there.
[Mary] Yeah. He's taking a nap. Yeah. And, and it's in that moment when Ellie like really comes to herself and recognizes that wait, she does
[00:56:00] have power in this situation. She does have autonomy. She can make decisions. She can make her own choice. And what is she going to choose to do about it? I think that's it.
I think that's where we're at right now.
[Maddy] Yeah. Yeah, and I think we're also at a turning point where a lot of, a lot of people are questioning, where do I go from here, what do I want to do next, because, you know, a lot of these folks started businesses 2020-ish, give or take, right, um, and, you know, there is a level of which you can just continue to like grind, and then there's a level at which you're going to hit a wall, and it's like three years in.
And everybody's going like, what is the point of this? Like, what do I really want to be doing? Like, does this work even matter? You know? Am I making the impact that I wanted to make? And so I'm seeing that real questioning. I feel it in myself, you know? And I think we're living in a
[00:57:00] really precarious time, you know, where people are feeling very tentative about the future.
But at the same point, You know, to go back to that like, you know, I don't think another coaching program is what's gonna gonna save all of us. We've got to turn towards ourselves and say, you know, okay, if I don't know the answers it might not be out there I might have to just sit and work and look at myself and say, okay, what do I want, you know, who, who am I now, you know, because I think that's the thing is a lot of us haven't accounted for all of the ways we've changed, you know, all of the trauma we lived through.
We haven't done a lot of integration work until then. It's really hard to say, well, where do I go from here if you haven't even really started the process of processing?
[Mary] Oh, it's so good. Well, I'm sure that we will have a lot more things as we move through this space to talk about. Um, I've been asking this question to everybody and I'd love to know for you.
What does The Last of Us reflect back to you about yourself?
[Maddy] Well, I mean, for one, I talked about this a little bit, but, you know, this episode was really beautiful to me in a couple different reasons. One was because of the demonstration of that, just like the identity that I didn't see, you know, reflected back to me growing up in, in, in any sort of, you know, film or TV narrative.
Just to see that captured so well. That really, you know, I, I came out a couple years ago and I'm still processing and embracing and understanding, you know, that younger version of Maddy who, you know, knew she was different and had these feelings for girls but did, you know, also very viscerally knew it was not
PG. It was not cool to like be out loud about that. And so to see that feeling of, you know, affection and curiosity and tension and all those things just like portrayed so well, it was really like affirming to that younger version of myself of like, I remember what that felt like. And so
[00:59:00] that was, that was really beautiful.
I think the show, too, does such a good job of showing, you know, this light and dark of humanity, like, like, and I think that's the thing is that, you know, we believe people are light or dark, we don't recognize that we, you know, we carry both within us, and, you know, we might kill somebody if we were in a really fucked up circumstance or if the world was ending.
And, and I think, too, it, it also makes us look at, like, the sides that we wouldn't want to in terms of, like, how selfish would we be? And, you know, what would we be willing to do, you know, to survive? Um, and I think that, like, there's parts about the show that, like, feel a little too close to home at times because of the fact that, like, on a, on a different scale, we witnessed a lot of that behavior during the course of the pandemic and the ways in which people were very, you know, every man for, for himself kind of thing.
And again, I think that's one of those
[01:00:00] cultural things that like we haven't really processed or healed from, but is like, Oh yeah, we kind of saw that, that like a bunch of you were not willing to do the basic things to protect us all. And so if a circumstance like this went down. It would be every man for himself.
Um, the other thing that I loved and I'm totally obsessed with right now is the notion of communal living. I, you know, as a single mom, as somebody who, you know, really wants to just like be back in nature a little bit more. I always say, like, I would be a kick ass prairie wife. I love to garden. I love to knit.
Like, I love those sort of things. And so, when they got to Jackson and there was this, like, look at what we've created as a community, that was very much, I'm like, see, like, even in the end of the world, communal living is the one that's doing the best. And so, you know, and that's a big part of, like, things that I'm trying to cultivate for myself in the next couple years is, like, and I, and I see it as a universal, like, the weirdest thing.
Not weirdest thing, but most interesting thing is of all the kinds of content, and
[01:01:00] I share tons of different types of content on Instagram, my top performing shit that I share right now is, is, is like memes about communal living. And I'm like, so you all want to join the commune too? So like that to me too, I think is again, like, there's a lot of elements of the show that are reflecting these cultural things that we're, we're kind of like hashing out right now is again, we kind of like process the, the, the things we saw during the pandemic.
And that's definitely one that stands out.
[Mary] I think that's like a vibrational reflection back to you. Like obviously it resonates so well for you that you're getting the, like a lot of response back.
[Maddy] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
[Mary] I think that's so good. Oh, thank you so much. For being on here with me and having a conversation, I know it was a lot of homework, it was a big ask, but I really appreciate it.
[Maddy] There's no one I would watch so many zombies for but you, so thank you for having me.
[Mary] Love it. Let's start a commune.
This has been the official School of Moxie podcast with your host,
[01:02:00] Mary Williams and special guest Madeline Reeves. The show is written and produced by Mary Williams. Chris Martin from Chris Martin Studios is our editor and the sound engineer for this episode. The episode was recorded in Vancouver, Washington at the CoLab Coworking space.
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