Angela Philp On Fighting Inequality To Create A Better World Through Women Leadership
Inequality is something that is still so prevalent in our society. But there is something we can do about it. Angela Philp is Women’s Executive Leadership coach and motivational speaker who uses her platform, Queen of Possible, to create a thriving world through women’s leadership and economic empowerment. In this episode, she’ll share how she found her voice and pursued her purpose of fighting against inequality and empowering women leaders. Angela believes that everyone can do much more than they could imagine. She shares some insights on how you can choose to make things possible.
Listen to the podcast here:
Angela Philp On Fighting Inequality To Create A Better World Through Women Leadership
It is my honor to introduce you to my guest Angela Philp. He is a Woman's Executive Leadership Coach and motivational speaker. She started her career in Women's Empowerment Consulting at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Over six years, she contributed to the conception and design of many successful women's education, empowerment programs, and awareness campaigns worldwide on themes such as women's health, women's economic empowerment, and the value of educating women and girls. Since 2010, Angela has run private retreats and coached hundreds of women leaders to exceed their own performance expectations and create the impossible for themselves while maintaining peak health. She trains for mountain ultramarathons to keep her mindset sharp, and her mind and body focused equally on progress and accomplishment. Her current training objective is 160-kilometer run in the French Pyrenees with a 10,000-meter vertical climb.
She homeschooled her three teen and adult children full-time for three years. Year level grade 1 primary to grade 9 high school in both French and English to give them the benefit of completely bilingual education and an alternative perspective on learning while retraining as a coach. Angela is passionate about creating a thriving world through women's leadership and economic empowerment. Her work is dedicated for women to hold 50% of leadership positions worldwide in the next ten years. She lives in Toulouse, France with her kids and her menagerie of animals. I want to welcome you to the show, Angela.
Thank you, Tony. Living in the country, I love a campfire. A virtual campfire is as wonderful.
I love having you here. I got chills reading your bio and going through all the amazing things you've been through and accomplished. Your mission in the world is powerful. It's amazing what you're doing. I'm going to be your champion.
It's always wonderful to have someone champion you. It's warming, encouraging and inspiring. It makes you want to go further.
What is it that brought you to this place where you're doing all this stuff? What were those moments that ignited your gifts into the world? What we do on the show, for you to know, is we talk about what ignited your gifts into the world through what's called the flashpoints. I'm going to give you a space to share your story. We'll stop along the way and see what themes are showing up. Some people start as early as childhood. Some people start somewhere along the lines as an adult, they figure out that there was something that needed to be shifted in their life. Wherever you feel comfortable and whatever you want to do. I'm going to turn it over to you now.
Either you adapt and thrive, or you don’t adapt and suffer.
Possibly, if we'd had this conversation maybe six months ago, I might not have started in the same place. I'm doing a course for African-Women's leadership. I'm speaking on resilience. It brought me back to when I was five. What happened when I was under five, I just learned to swim. In New Zealand where I was born, we used to swim a lot in rivers. My dad had said to me, "You should swim across the river." There were no rapids but for a nearly five-year-old child, they were rapids. I remember looking at dad going, "What will happen if I don't make it? You want me to swim across it," and he just looked at me. This is my dad's sense of humor, "You'll drown." It would not happen. He would have got me. At that moment, in my mind, it was just like, "I have to go for it. It was to sink or swim." What I'm recognizing is that's the first moment that marked my belief in myself already that I could achieve something I thought was impossible with a lot of fear, possibly more stress and anxiety that I swallowed. At the time, my dad was proud and stepped across the river to get me more or less. He was thrilled. I want to start there. I think my life followed a course from that moment.
The queen of possible is right there. When you think something is impossible until you take that step and you see, it's possible. Anything's possible once you take that first step and make that move towards seeing you can accomplish things.
It's taking the action. It's diving in, taking the first step, start with the action and not thinking too much about it.
Also, having that encouragement from somebody who you trust who says, “Take that leap.” I think about the times with my own son. It's giving him that sense of like, “Just take that step. You'll be okay. We got you.”
That was the example of my parents. I'm lucky for that. We changed houses several times and countries when I was eleven. That was the next thing that happened. I did not want to change countries. I was not feeling the queen of possible. I was finding any way I could stay with my friends. I’ll stay with my auntie or with anyone. I'm not going with you. We moved from New Zealand to Australia as children do with their parents. It was interesting because then as well my parents gave me a choice. They said, “Either I adapt and thrive or I don't adapt and I suffer.” They made it a choice. They said, “This is your choice. We've moved here because it's better economically.” Australia was in a much better position economically than New Zealand at the time. They said, “Now you're here.”
I remember wanting a hula hoop. My parents were very young and have a lot to resettle with and you want a hula hoop. You go knocking on doors. That's a good way to introduce yourself to the neighbors. I wanted this banana-smelling hula-hoop and that was it. It was like, “You can do it. It's your choice. Take your life into your hands and be responsible for it.” Clearly, they loved, fed, cuddled me and all the rest of it. I didn't have to forage for my own food. My attitude to life made it very clear that it was my choice. I remember deciding at that time that I would not be going back to being Angela because nobody knew me. I would be Angie and not Angela. I would go to school as Angie. That was a huge step for me back then.
It's also amazing to be able to make that leap to be in a new world, being in Australia and a different place, making new friends and relations with people. Whenever you're thrust into a new environment it's hard to feel like, “Who do I need to be right now?”
Parents always say, “Be yourself.” That's hard for teenagers when they're still trying to find out who they are. I'd like to say it was easy. I do love people. I'm genuinely curious. I love connection and be in contact. That part there was easy in one sense. I'm also a bit of an introvert and I like to be alone. Also, for any child or adult, particularly kids, walking into circles of children who've known each other since preschool has never an easy thing. I could say it's easy but it wasn't. It worked. I made great friends.
Let's talk about what happens as you start to progress from that child who is stepping and stretching the boundaries of who you are and getting bolder. What did you do next? What was the thing that created more of who Angela is and not just Angie?
I used to read stories. I'm still a very big reader. I was always a reader. I survive and thrive on adventure stories, everything from The Famous Five. Also, stories about people who've done amazing things in the world. I was always inspired by that. Apparently, my mother had told me that when I was young I said to her that I would go and live in France one day. I have no recollection of that but she does. It was true that at high school I thought, “I want to be an exchange student,” so I was. I remember having the courage. I wasn't from a particularly wealthy family.
I received a scholarship, 1 of 3 in Australia, with the transport company, TNT. I got to meet the chief executive or the general manager. The three of us were flown in to meet this man. I remember him asking me, “Why France?” I said, “I wanted to learn a new language and how important it was to me.” He said, “What if you get another country?” I said, “If it's another non-English speaking country, I'll accept.” I remember saying, “I'll accept,” this part of me. He said, “What if it's the US?” I said, “No, there's no point. I might as well just finish school and travel afterwards. Thank you anyway.” Given that I'd been brought up to speak with respect to adults, I wasn't respectful. Afterwards, I was shaking in my boots. I can't believe I dared to say that. I didn't have a family until about two weeks before I was due to leave the country as it was. My mother was in quite a panic. I said, “I'll go to South America.” She said, “I don't know if I want you to go to South America.” I had a family in Belgium. That was close enough. That was a French-speaking country and a family on the border of France more or less. That boldness was speaking out what I wanted and believed in.
That's quite a bold move, in general, to be able to make that move from Australia to Belgium, to be on your own. I know the family's there and all that. Do they speak English or is it purely French being spoken and you had to sink or swim?
You can do it. It’s your choice. Take your life into your hands and be responsible for it.
I've balanced that out a little bit. There were a lot of sink or swim situations in my life. I remember getting there. It was hilarious. This was after a 42-hour trip because back then you went halfway around the world and I’m not understanding a thing. I finally somehow managed to make it to Belgium. They set all the exchange students down and what they said was hilarious, “They don't shower in Belgium as much as what they do in Australia and France. They wear the same clothes for the whole week. The cars are on the other side of the road.” This family picks me up and everyone's talking to me in French. I felt ill. I didn't understand anything. I was jet-lagged and these kids were talking having fun.
You’re like, “Where's that plane? I want to go turn around and go back home.”
They were warm and fun. I had the most amazing year. My middle daughter's about to go and live in Australia because we have double nationality. She's French-Australian and she's going to live in Australia. It’s all going well on the flight with COVID still there. She's starting to recognize that she's leaving everything she's grown up with. I've been able to sit with her and say, "I remember going to Belgium and crying when I left Australia. I’m trying to hold onto a lamp post by the time I was leaving.”
What I love about what you shared is you've prepared your children for this. This is the element of being prepared but then the ability to be immersed into a situation is so important. I think about it because of all the things you've done since then. Success is where opportunity meets preparation. You have to think about, “What do I need to prepare myself for this next situation? Also, I need to be looking for those opportunities that will allow me to immerse myself into this situation.” That's where you can start to see the success show up. It doesn't come to you. It doesn't just show up when you're just sitting there and saying, “I wish that something would happen for me.” Wishing does not make it so.
Neither does manifesting or whatever everyone calls it without taking action. It’s like, “Align with the universe.” It's the action that's going to align you more than anything. I love what you said about preparation because that was something I learned a lot later in life in the last few years. I had a certain amount of success with the sink or swim. I just dive in. Taking that step is always important. We always say, “What got you here won't get you there.” Getting to your next level of success when you already mastered something means my habit and way of being is all about diving in. My learning for this last stage of success has been prepared.
Also, not over-prepare.
Give some background.
Understand the landscape a little bit and what you're getting yourself into so that you're aware of the potential boundaries that you might hit. At the same time, be open to unexpected things that might show up and be okay with that.
That’s important because we can never guarantee how we're going to get somewhere.
Tell me more about what happens next along your journey. Are there any flashpoints that you can think of that opened you up to what you're doing now especially?
My parents told me outright that I could be anything I wanted. That's why I wanted to work. There wasn't a real flashpoint but I know I wanted to work with the transformation of some degree in the world. It showed up at the university. My degree was in Economics and International Trade and Finance. I took Anthropology. Originally, I wanted to be a lawyer and I hadn't gotten in. There you go, failure. I got my third option and not my first two. It was possibly the best thing that could have happened. I did this degree.
Through Anthropology, I started realizing other cultures did interest me. I started having a bee in my bonnet about working for UNESCO in Women's Education. That was the start of wanting to create some real change in the world. That’s what I used to dream about when I was little, reading these stories about people who did amazing things. I spent ages. I’ve done some back and forth between Australia and New Zealand. I was back in New Zealand living with my aunties. I thought, "I want to work for UNESCO." I sent out my CV and it was a no all of the time. I thought, “I've got to get to France.” I managed to get to France, to cut that long story short.
Have big goals and take small steps.
I did start and a miracle occurred. Stepping into what I wanted, I found my way over here. In my first two weeks, a dear friend that I met introduced me to some friends of his. One of the people who happened to work for UNESCO introduced me to her boss and that was it. I started working for UNESCO. When you make a move, the universe aligns for you. You're just never sure how. I did work for six years. It's such an important work whether it be with UNESCO or other non-governmental organizations or even personal initiatives. I believe that women should have an equal place in the world. In fact, all people should have an equal place in the world. That passion overtook me. How can it be that 50% of our population in so many countries don't even think women should be taught to read and write? That felt so wrong. I still have a bee in my bonnet about that.
I started working for UNESCO when I was 25. I’m 51 and we are still working on the same subjects. I don't get it. That time or period, I was immersing myself. That’s what continued to drive me for these years. When I left UNESCO for all sorts of reasons. We moved from Paris down to Toulouse with my ex-husband, I thought, “I'm going to use my talents and put some workshops together for women in developing countries.” When I started that, for various reasons, he decided that it wasn't the best moment. Some friends of mine said, "Could you do your workshops with us?" That's how I started. From the workshops, it was creating self-confidence and impossible. What can you create for yourself? I wanted to bring my education, upbringing and everything that I'd worked with at UNESCO and eight years of studying Calligraphy. That's what led me. It became a flow after that.
It's part self-directed and part going with the flow. I started those workshops and from that, someone said, "Could you coach me?" I went, "I'm not a coach." I wasn't. I said, "I've put these workshops together because I think they'd be useful. It's just my experience." As we often say, "It's just that." She insisted and so I said, “I'll accompany you. If that works and you're happy with it, you don't call me a coach. We'll see where it goes from there.” She blitzed what she wanted to do. She created her own impossible. I started doing some training from there and it's expanded after all these years. I'm more passionate about it.
Hearing you describe what you just did is such a powerful moment. I see these things where you find the interconnection of things that you’re interested in that show up in your world, the Economic background and the Anthropology which is so funny because when I was in college and university, I loved Anthropology. It was my favorite class but I was studying Finance which was interesting because it's like, “Why would I be so excited about this one class but my study was completely different?” When you see those two things come together and how you can utilize those things and then other things that start to show up in your world, to be a force to make a change in the world, it's a powerful combination.
One of the things I also noticed about your story is something that often comes from when you started you open your eyes wider from studying people and seeing what is happening in the world, you have to fight for fairness. Fairness is something that seems to be on the top of your mind. You see the inequalities and things that aren't right in the world. You want to fight for that. That is so powerful when you see that you can do something about it. That's what I think was the point that moved you into the world that you're doing right now.
We can all do something about it. Many of us don't recognize our own power. It's not all about having to donate. It can be the way we learn about ourselves and our relationships with other people. Choosing to read particular things that will expand our knowledge rather than close us down. Challenge our own thinking. Everybody can do that. Humans have that capacity.
I'm thinking of this quote, “Start where you are and do what you can from whatever you are.” There's something about that power of you don't have to move the entire world through all your actions but start with something. Do something. Take action. Start to swim.
I always wanted to change the whole world. It was like the whole river like I did when I was little. It sometimes works. Sometimes that's been my downfall but that's one of the menageries that just passed over. My downfall is always wanting to take the big steps because I have been managed in my whole life to take big steps. It was also a learning for me to realize that it wasn't just big steps but have big goals and take small steps. I still have that goal, that 160 kilometers. I've had an injured hip for 1.5-year and it's been frustrating.
I could always push through something. I've learned a lot more about flow, even bringing my calligraphy practice in learning that flow. It’s diligence and practice but also breath and calm. Practice is not getting it right the first time but keep doing the strokes. This was the same with my running. Each time I would try and run a long distance, I'm barely back at 10 kilometers now. I was running. The last race I did was 95 kilometers. I thought, "I'm going to do my 160 next year for my 50th birthday." That was in 2020 between COVID where we weren't allowed out and the hip. It's like, "I have to learn to get back to this with small steps." The dive-in is the small step this time not the whole thing.
It's crazy when I think about it because there are many people who put a lot of pressure on themselves to create these things and sometimes we need to be compassionate about the progress we're making. It's not about being perfect. What you described makes me think of that. That's this element of like I set a goal and the goal is great because it moves me towards something bigger than what I'm doing right now to the impossible and to make things that I thought were impossible possible. Ultimately, it's not about being perfect and expecting those results to happen tomorrow. They may take longer than I expected but I'm still making progress.
We don't control everything. You got to keep the goal and vision in mind, be inventive about our ways of getting there and have compassion. That's what I also believe. I was just writing my newsletter about not having to get it right but to practice. Take it as a practice and bring in the play of the child. We don't put all meaning into it. We keep the vision.
As we're coming to near the end of our show which I wish that we had much longer than we do, what are some things you've learned about yourself that you want to share with the audience? You've shared a lot of amazing stories and insights, but if you were to think back and say, “These are the lessons that I've learned about myself right now.”
We can dare more. We are capable of more than we imagined.
It's much what we've already said. What I have learned about resilience has been key. I used to have the resilience that was sink or swim, dive in. It was that real rubber band until maybe the rubber band snaps. What I've learned about resilience is that it's a flow. I've come up with this notion of resilience as being like water. It’s adaptable and impacts the environment as the environment impacts it. It plays and creative, and you don't have to do it through force all the time. That's something I learned that's been important to me. Persistence is as important as a force.
I feel like there's going to be some nuggets that come out of that insight and I'm going to be like, “This is landing with me.” Thank you. Last question. This is what I always ask everyone. What's 1 or 2 books that have had an impact on you and why?
The first book that ever had an impact on me was called I Dare You by William Danforth. It was a book that my dad gave to me when I was thirteen. He completely changed careers after it. We'd been in Australia for 1.5-year. That was when he started with the, “You create your life.” That book was called I Dare You. It was about excellence and daring to make bold requests, moves and be the best that you can be. That had such an impact. I managed to buy it again so I have a copy. The language is outdated but it had a huge impact and I like to have it. It reminds me of the fact that we can dare more. We are capable of more than we imagined.
It’s funny you said that it might be outdated, but there are books that are timeless. Even having that physicality of the book in your hand and reminding you of the lessons that it taught you is so powerful. That's why I always love asking this question because there's something about the book coming to you at the right time and teaching that lesson that stays with you forever.
My children haven’t wanted to read it which is fine. It’s mine. This is my link with my dad as well. We shared singing, readings and sport. That was important. I have so many books. The other book that had a huge impact on me was Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. I have bought that for many of my clients. It's not all about storytelling but it's presented through fairy stories, women's place in the world and how we can reconnect to ourselves and wild nature. I'm all about the queen of possible and also wild spirit, strength, compassion, receptivity, flow, curiosity and power. That book is important to me. I read it when I was nineteen and I still have it. I'm still buying it for people.
This has been an amazing hour of my time. I'm thrilled and honored to have been here with you. Thank you so much for coming on the show, sharing your stories, insights and presence.
It's been delightful, Tony. In New Zealand, we do a lot of singing around the fire. We did that when I was little. I've been in France for many years. My best memories have been around fires with guitars and sharing stories. This has been such a warm, intimate and lovely sharing conversation that I'd like to thank you for inviting me along and being able to go back into my past with all the best of it.
You made my day, probably my week and maybe my year. Thank you so much for that. I appreciate that. I want to make sure that we let the audience know where they can find out more about you so they can immerse themselves in your world. Where can they find you?
People can find me on my website QueenOfPossible.com. My LinkedIn is Angela Philp and my Instagram is @QueenOfPossible. I’m looking to remove myself a bit from social media. I’m looking at ways I can do that, so if anyone wants to email me, they can email me at QueenOfPossible@Gmail.com and just get in contact for a conversation with pleasure.
A lot of us are so immersed in the world of social media. Sometimes it's nice to step away and just have a conversation. Thank you so much. Thanks to the readers for coming on the journey with us. This is something that's going to stick with me for a while. It’s truly amazing.
- Angela Philp
- I Dare You
- Women Who Run With the Wolves
- Angela Philp – LinkedIn
- @QueenOfPossible – Instagram
About Angela Philp
I am whole, real and multi-dimensional
I neither improve nor justify.
I dare, I challenge, I deepen, I create.
I am a stand for women’s empowerment, social justice, and leadership of integrity
I believe that hope is inspiring but it is not a strategy. Not for us, not for an organization, not for a nation.
And I will no longer tolerate talk without action.
I believe that how you speak yourself into the world, the context of possibility you create for yourself through your words and your actions, is vital to accessing and living from your power.
I am neither goddess nor girl.
I am a woman. A woman of spirit and substance, of structure and spontaneity.
Whole and complete.