This month’s Changemaker Chat with Sonya Hausafus of Techstars reminded us about the importance of being open, honest and real in both our personal and professional lives.

Sonya covered topics ranging from reminding yourself about who you want to be after an major life change, to how vulnerability in the workplace can lead to powerful teamwork.

Top lessons learned? Read on for Sonya’s POV.

1. Make ‘social good’ part of your day job  Sonya always looked for ways to do work that had impact.  She finally found her balance at Techstars, an accelerator program for entrepreneurs that is also helping people build technologies that foster impact. Techstars is now operating internationally, and redefining what diversity means to their workplace.

2. On starting her day We asked Sonya what she starts her day reading, and we love her go-to sources: 20 minutes of meditation, reading emails, skimming through social media (while her dog on her shoulder) and hearing from friends. This is the most important news she needs.  Life moves too fast to forget what is happening with our families, friends and community.  ‘My morning starts out with what MY WHOLE world looks like.’

3. People create initiatives  For Sonya, positive change is all-inclusive.  It can’t come as ‘an initiative’ from HR, or from the top down, it has to come from the people.  ‘Your whole team has to take charge of the problems and come up with innovative solutions. If it’s not their idea, it’s not likely they are going to feel connected to creating the change. When everyone feels connected, they create change and learn how to lead. Change doesn’t have to start with minorities and it doesn’t have to come from the top. Let the people lead the way.’

4. What choice has made the biggest Impact? Sonya’s most impactful choice was ending her marriage. ‘We met at 22, got divorced at 38, had to dig as deep inside my soul as I could to realize I didn’t know adult life without this person. I had to learn who I was professionally and personally. It’s been a guiding light that has helped me in so many decisions.  The crux was following my gut –I listened to my gut, and it’s helped me to trust my gut. ‘

5. Green, Green…  Sonya’s biggest learning experience was learning how interconnected her personal and professional life are. Techstars has terminology in staff leadership sessions for getting on the same page professionally and personally.  “Red, yellow, green – personally and professionally, we ask, how do you feel today? Some days I’m red- red and that’s because if things are a mess personally, chances are things are going to feel like a mess professionally. On days when I’m feeling green personally, chances are my work will be better. I believe work and personal lives are interconnected and we recognize that it is okay.  We can be there for each other if we know how everyone is doing.   For anyone who is a manager– I recommend using this tool.  It’s amazing how much it has transformed us. It brings the reality of people together. ‘

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this Boulder Changemaker Chat.  Another great evening of celebrating honesty and authenticity.