Co-founders of Empower World
Jeanine: Hello and welcome to the Empower World Coaching and Leadership Podcast. My name is Jeanine Bailey and I'm here with the fabulous Marie Quigley, my business partner. It's your morning over there. Marie, good morning.
Marie: Good morning, Jeanine. Great to be with you again today.
Jeanine: Yes, it looks beautiful where you are. And it's been okay here. Back in Australia in our winter time. So, I am really super excited about this podcast because we are here with a very special guest, Keith Donnelly, who I met. And Keith, you'll be able to let listeners know, or maybe not, because that might give away our age a little bit. I met Keith many, years ago in Sydney, way before we both went on our, I guess, our chosen career paths where we are right now. And when I first met Keith, I really didn't understand a word that he said. But I do remember this huge, enormous smile and this this amazing laugh. And I from that point on, Keith and I, we created a wonderful friendship. And I have so many great memories of our times in Sydney. But fast forward and fast forward many years into the future to now towards now. We've both been on very different trajectories compared to where we were back then. And, you know, I've been so I've been so inspired by the journey that you've taken. Keith, I know you've gone on an amazing journey. And in terms of becoming a mental health nurse and now or in recent times, creating this wonderful charity called Keith's Closet. But I'm going to bottom line myself now and hand over to you so that you can introduce yourself to our listeners. So welcome, Keith. We're really looking forward to exploring more about your journey with Empower World and beyond. Over to you. Keith, welcome.
Keith: Fantastic, ladies, many thanks for the introductions and like you said many months ago, we met and it was one of the big, highlights of my trip in Australia. And even better now that we're still really good friends and after years and years, we've regrouped and they were on this magical journey. So, a bit about me. So my name is Keith Mahoney as you mentioned. And I work at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick, and I work as a clinical nurse specialist in mental health. So, it's a very busy area. And now more than ever, there's a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety out there, a lot of unwell people who are trying to keep out of hospital. And that's, I guess, one of my full-time jobs at this moment.
Jeanine: And say more about your Keith's Closet.
Keith: Yeah, so Keith's Closet then, so this was an idea that kind of randomly, I guess, just struck me out of the blue when I was a student nurse back in Dublin, which wasn't too long ago. I had many jobs throughout my life, never really found my thing. And so, there are plenty of jobs. One fine day I've found myself being driven into an area of mental health nursing, I have had no regrets ever since. But in my student nurse year, I was asked to go down to a packed waiting room one afternoon, and I was asked to call upon certain patients who had a doctor's review. Now, like I mentioned, it was a very, very busy waiting room. And when I went into this waiting room, I could identify the individual who I had to and call for a doctor review just based on his appearance alone. He was very unkempt. His head was down, you know, like he felt embarrassed to be there. So, I, called his name and right enough it was him. So, we went up to see the doctor. And I remember, on reflection, going home that day, I just felt really guilty that I was able to pick this individual out of a packed waiting room. And I kind of thought what would change that? Maybe if he had been dressed very nice and, you know, like he was looking clean, clean shaven and nice clothing that it would have been more difficult. So, I thought at that moment, well wouldn't it be good if I could do something about that. So, I set off on a path, went home that night, and I got some clothes out of my own wardrobe at home and I brought them in the next day to this gentleman and he was like, oh, why would you bring this? And I said, listen, I just wanted to try them on if you want to. And I said, like, I just want to see if it makes a difference to you. So lo and behold, it had an amazing impact on him. I mean, he started smiling and he kind of looked at himself and he kind of thought actually feel really good about myself, irrelevant of the medication and the other treatments that are obviously going on at that time. So, from that moment on, it kind of grew, I and I was thinking, wow, wouldn't it be great if we could make this more of a full time thing. But anyway, my stint in Ireland sort of came and went and my focus when I qualified was obviously to come to Australia, this amazing country with my wife and children and so the idea of Keith’s closet grew really in Sydney. When I was there. I worked with a dynamic team like someone, an operations manager whose name will live on my brain forever and ever, Gareth Marr. And he was the kind of guy, a manager who would just inspire you even more, he would motivate you with any ideas that you might have. He said, listen, don't wait until it's perfect. He said, start and see how you go, because I'm the kind of guy who might be one that has to tick all the boxes first before I kind of launch into something. But he was going no, Keith, start now and see how you go, and you'd be amazed at what you learn along the way, what you'll add, what you'll take out. So that was sound advice. So, he was very encouraging, along with my wife and other managers on the ward as well like who kind of though yeah, listen, let's get this started, so we got it started. So, we transformed the seclusion room into like a walk-in wardrobe and we got the most beautiful clothing as we still do now. So, I got most magnificent male and female clothing, toiletries, I guess sanitary items. I was even at a stage where I was getting TVs and fridges and couches for everyone. But it was really taking up every minute of every day. So, I have had to cut back on the homewares and just focus on clothing. So basically, when our clients come into hospital now and they don't have to worry about where they're going to get clean underwear, where they're going to nice comfy pajamas or a fresh set of clothes, we have clothing for everybody who comes in to our hospital unit now. And that's a big thanks to major donators like who, like I said, it'll give us the most fantastic items because we don’t want you know, rubbish looking clothing, like what we get for our clients is to make a real difference that gives them a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging, it really increases their self-esteem and confidence, which most times would be really in their boots at that point because they're coming into the hospital, I'd say ninety-nine-point nine percent of our clients have come into hospital or are made involuntary. So, they're already going through a really stressful and anxious time, they're missing their family and friends. And also, now more than ever, due to Covid, very little hospital visits are being allowed. So, they're being isolated away. There's a lot of boredom on the ward now as well but we’ve manage to get them involved in getting the donations in and going through and stocking up the closet. So now it's everybody's business. Basically, everybody wants to be a part of Keith's Closet while obviously getting some beautiful clothing as well. So, it's a win win and things are going really well. We want to take it to our charity status. We had amazing visitors from Channel seven Sunrise not so long ago. We had the mental health minister visit too. And so, it's getting really great exposure and them kind of circles where it needs to hit hard make them aware that this is a universal problem. Lots of people are coming into hospital, they may not be as lucky as me and you know how beautiful clothing and beautiful families to maybe assist during really dark times. And yes, so they're right behind it. And the plan is that will expand this to many other hospitals around New South Wales nationwide, and there’s also one after opening up in Ireland as well. It's just.
Marie: Wow, Keith, what a story, and I want to take a deep breath, because I was feeling so many emotions as you were sharing that journey from, you noticing something. You noticed something with that man in Dublin. But you didn't just notice it. You went on to take action to do something about it. You didn't just sit and think, oh, maybe I should have, you, You did something. And it was so interesting. You use the word of course, he could try these clothes on if he wanted to. So, you recognize even then this was about somebody making a choice for themselves? You leading the way potentially, but still asking permission. Would this work for you to do that? There's so many, principles of coaching in the story that you shared about connecting with other people, about listening to your intuition, asking questions, asking permission, getting curious about another human being, to find out what it's like to walk in their shoes and also empowering them by forcing them to put these clothes on and then have an impact on their physiology. You describe that man in the hospital in Dublin, how you had his head down and then the change of his smile. I mean, there's so many principles in the work we do as coaches that’s so connected to what you do. And this is why we were so delighted to have you, this man who's making such a huge difference in the world, decide to make a choice for himself, become trained as a professional coach. And I'm wondering, Keith as you made that decision for yourself. What was that like as you went through the journey? You know, it feels like you have these things in your bones. But when you learn officially, what was it like for you?
Keith: It was at the start, I really didn't know what it was going to get involved in. I was thinking, so what is this whole journey like? People are talking about life coaching what is that? Am I going to fit in like this is one of my greatest fears as I might sound like a very confident person, but I'm really not like I just want to right for other people and help other people. And then I secretly like sort of walk away and feel happy that it made a difference and someone is OK. So, to put myself on this platform, I thought oh my God, I'm gonna be okay, I'm gonna succeed, is everybody going to like me? And then as well it’s on Zoom. So, I'm very much a face-to-face person as well. And I wasn't sure how this whole Zoom thing was going to go down. And I was just, I could tell from the very first night. Our introduction. Everybody just come along and you felt like, wow, this is the start of a serious journey here. It's not serious. It's got to be an incredible journey with lots of people who are in the same boat, we actually none of us really know what's gonna go on, how we're going to relate to each other. And one of the major things for me was very early on was just everybody was so open. And that just made for such a fantastic classroom where you could just be vulnerable, like you could just be yourself, you could just be open. No one's going to judge you. No one's going to think oh why would you just say that, because the respect and the guidelines were set out very early on. And everybody knew like where we stood. But it was also very important that us as individuals and grownups knew that this was a great opportunity to enhance ourselves, really come on in our own individual way. And that was the start of it. That was just the start.
Jeanine: Yeah. Well, beautiful Keith, beautifully said, and you know, one of the things you did say in your introduction as well was how you were encouraged to essentially feel the fear and do it anyway. You said that you were the sort of person to get all your ducks in a row to be perfect. But you listened to that, You listened to your mentor I heard and decided to go ahead and do it anyway, just as you did with the coach training as well. You didn't know what it was about. There were these fears coming up. And you felt the fear and you did it anyway. And it was wonderful to have you as part of that cohort, because I know that you inspired others and I know others would have been inspiring, inspiring you as well. And I know that there were challenges along that journey. So, we're wondering, Keith, how did perhaps the coach training, how did that support you with those challenges? And again, we're not asking you to share the details of the challenge, but perhaps, you know, what were you learning in the coach training that supported you through those challenges?
Keith: Yeah, I guess when you’re signed up for such a very important course like this, like you're really putting a lot of value into yourself, like you're putting a lot of effort in. It's very much okay, you've signed off for this. You got to be dedicated. And that like you’re thinking yeah, OK, throughout this course, like some little dramas might appear. That's life at the end of the day. But I wasn't expecting a big drama to arrive on my doorstep, and it really shook me to the core, even so much so that I think was about halfway through. And I knew that if I kind of bowed out of one of the classes that was, I'd have to rejoin a later class and then obviously speaking to you guys was just like, really so encouraging, so supportive, and I can just say that without the support of you guys and giving me that little push when I needed it most, and just a sense that everything was going to be okay. I thought I could still attend the class, that I could still be myself. I can be present in whatever way that was going to be. You knew and I knew that I definitely wasn't going to be a hundred percent on focus. I may I might have had my moments where I had to go off screen. But, I felt that really lifted me out of an amazing spot. And like we always said, in the class and from the very, very off is that this whole course is to make us feel empowered. And I remember waking up the next morning as I had done with all the stress and anxiety thinking, oh, my God, I have to face another day of this and how am I going to get through it, the following morning after doing after attending this class, I genuinely woke up at six o'clock in the morning, and the first thought that came into my mind was feeling empowered. And that's something I genuinely had never felt in my entire life, to jump out of bed and actually be ready for what the day was gonna lay on for me was that was worth its money in gold for me it really was. So, it was just as well like that. I felt that I could be open. I could share what was going on and not feel judged or not feel that any remarks were going to be made with you guys who were just absolutely incredible and also my classmates who I’d only known a very short time as well, like were just absolutely amazing. And even off the course I got like some messages of support saying listen Keith we’re thinking of you, we hope you’re doing okay. And I was thinking, this is amazing. Some of my best friends, like I couldn't even tell what I was going through like some of my family members, like I never even told. And still don’t know. But at this moment in time, I went in, I, I attended the class, like I said? And I felt, you know, I'm absolutely fine sharing this with these guys because the trust and the and the friendship that we have built up in such a short space of time with the course was unimaginable, pure magic.
Marie: Thank you for sharing the challenge that you experienced. What was it that allowed you to shift from maybe going into I'm going to use the word victim and I don't mean it in that way, but going into victim maybe mentality of kind of poor me because you didn't do that was you chose a different way of being? How did you do that?
Keith: It was literally from the previous, our previous classes that we were on, I think we were in to maybe week 4 or week 5. And from the very off, you just knew that what you're going through, you have to live it. Like it’s real life. So, it's not something that you can just park off and not worry about. And that's going to go away. The skills that I learned from this course in such a very, very short space of time, like sort of taught taught me. Yeah you’re only human of course you’re going to be feeling this way like this is real life trauma that's going on. But the skills I learned from Empower World like really instilled me to kind of accept what was going on. But also like to think of the sunshine like the good times that were going to come. That this was just a bit of a blip and things were going to go in the right direction, whatever direction that was. And that was like life changing for me, because if I hadn't have had them skills, I genuinely where I would be now. And that's the whole truth, because you can go one or two ways. You can either accept what's going on and just widefield with them and focus on the good times or else you can just, you know, like it can go bad as well.
Jeanine: Yes, absolutely, Keith, and again, really, we want to thank you for bringing your whole self in into the training room and bringing that and bringing that vulnerability into the room and allowing that to support you to actually move through what you were experiencing. So, there was great courage in your decision to continue to keep going through this big challenge that you were facing in your life and like just great credit to you and who you are. And I know the difference that you want to make. So, I appreciate that you also appreciate these skills of coaching can support what you do. You know, they can go hand in hand with what you do to support people to to have a better life. Yes. So, I know we're coming closer to the end of our podcast a little bit, sadly. But what wisdom would you impart to our listeners potentially about coaching or anything else that you've experienced? Because we know that you've got wonderful wisdom that's right here in this room right now.
Keith: Yeah. I guess that being a mental health nurse, not to whatever, think I have all the answers and I can help people every time. And by doing this course, it kind of gives like an extra toolset. It really does, like it's an extra toolset that I never even knew existed. And it's about like actually taking the journey, like you mentioned earlier, walking that journey in those shoes and knowing the potential. And what really stood out was because when I'm a mental health nurse, I have to help a lot of my clients find the direction. And that's just how I've been trained and what I've been doing ever since. But with the Empower World course like, it's not about like me thinking what's best for someone else or this lady on this gentleman? It's about finding and like dig in a little bit deeper and actually go on this journey. And the results that I’ve experienced so far, like with my clients, but also my friends and family, and even so much to say when my young children have been absolutely life changing. So, it's not just for a specific like side, age, gender, whatever this is for everybody. And I would just encourage anybody who's either not thinking about or contemplating doing it to just go and do it, because, again, the training is absolutely exceptional. And I can never thank you guys for the amazing course that you’ve on. The amazing work. Your knowledge is second to none. And it's been one hell of a journey, which I absolutely loved. Brilliant.
Marie: Keith, we have thoroughly enjoyed every part of wisdom, every joyful moment that you've brought to us since knowing you. And I've only recently met you. And I know our paths are going to continue to cross in so many ways, thank you for everything you are. And thank you for everything you do. If people want to find out more about Keith's Closet, which I know they will, and want to support you in any way, how can they do that Keith?
Keith: They can look on and the social media platforms such as Facebook on there: Keith's Closet. I'm also on Instagram and Twitter and LinkedIn. So, if you just google, maybe Keith's Closet, you'll get some good information up there to locate me. And I just say, please get in touch. It's a universal issue and something we want to bring worldwide eventually.
Jeanine: Beautiful Keith and I can hear all your cheerleaders behind you.
Keith: 24:18 Oh, my God. My children's have obviously equalized this craziness going on out there. I saw the one of them, but forget.
Marie: Boy of interviewing on Zoom, isn't it? Family and friends sometimes.
Keith: This is all part and parcel. If it's not cats making bat noise, it's kids screaming at the telly.
Jeanine: Oh, I thought they were cheering you on Keith.
Keith: No, definitely not me tonight, my children's.
Jeanine: Keith, it's been an absolute pleasure. And again, thank you for being a dear friend. And I'm so looking forward to our potential future pathways ahead together. So, thank you.
Keith: So exciting and a massive thank you again. It's been an amazing journey, but it's only the start of it. It's kind of built on magical things are going to happen. So, thank you both very, very much.
Marie: You're most welcome.
Jeanine: Yeah, thank you.
Marie: Wishing you both in Australia a wonderful evening as I enjoy the day at this side of the world. And Keith, we look forward to watching you grow and expand and dream.
Keith: Fantastic, yet you’ve got to dream.