23. Cracking the Code: Exploring Emotional Literacy and Embodiment

This is Part II in our emotional literacy and embodiment series. Our special guests are returning alumni with Divinia Knowles, Founder of the COO Roundtable and Maddie Fox, a leadership development coach across venture-backed organisations. We are also joined by Pippa Richardson, Somatic Therapist, Educator, Speaker and Clinician.

12/28/20235 min read

We discuss the following with Pippa, Maddie and Divinia:

  • Our personal journey’s into embodiment

  • What do we disconnect from our body?

  • What is dysregulation?

  • How do you manage through a day of back-to-back meetings?

  • How do you bring embodiment into the day-to-day?

Listen here


Pippa is a highly regarded Somatic Therapist, Educator, Speaker and Clinician. She has lived experience and clinical expertise in the areas of trauma, eating disorders, addiction, recovery and healing. With over 10 years experience of working and studying in the field of embodiment, body-centred therapies and psychosomatics, both in clinical and non-clinical settings. Her work lies at the intersection of psyche (mind) and soma (body) and she is passionate about supporting her clients to live an embodied, meaningful life.

Alongside her clinical work, Pippa leads talks, retreats and workshops both in the UK and abroad. She has a broad range of experience working with individuals, groups and organisations including the US Military, Save The Children, Bamford, Manolo Blahnik - as well as with leadership executives and professional athletes. Her work aims to provide thought provoking environments to explore the human experience with curiosity, kindness and compassion.

Divinia was COO, CFO & a director at both Mind Candy and Pact Coffee, where she also served as interim CEO. She has held or still holds chair and board seats at too many companies to list and is occasionally an angel investor. Divinia re-trained as a coach in 2017 and combined it with her previous experience to become the COO Coach, working with start up/scale up COOs/CEOs to help guide them through successfully starting up, scaling up and exiting. And in addition to all that, she is also the Founder of the London COO Roundtable, a community that brings operations professionals together to define what it means to be a highly effective startup and scale up Chief Operating Officer.

Divinia Knowles references

Maddie has over 20 years experience in HR and Learning & Development working with various organizations from corporate to fast growing tech, in Europe, the US and Australia. She is an ICF accredited executive coach, leadership and HR consultant with a wide range of experience, however specialising in developing leaders from emerging leaders to seasoned CEO’s, building high-performing sustainable teams and helping clients successfully navigate change. Her style is eclectic, using research, theory and direct experiences to ensure individuals find ways to effectively embed new behaviours, build resilience and deliver results. More recently she has been working in VC backed start-ups, series A-B, working for mostly founder led businesses as a Chief People Officer, Leadership Coach and Advisor. Clients include Blippar, Lantum, Trint, Mixcloud, amongst others.

  • Diversity and inclusivity in tech industry. 0:05

    • Bethany shares her experience at an EQ event for people and talent, feeling like an imposter among mostly women in leadership roles.

  • People and talent leadership, strategic conversations, and IT budgets. 2:13

    • Bethany highlights the importance of the people team being involved in strategic decision-making and having a seat at the leadership table.

    • Brandon agrees, emphasizing the need for people leaders to be proactive in thinking through the implications of choices made by the leadership team, particularly in terms of human resources and operations.

    • Brandon and Bethany discuss the importance of people leaders having control over their IT budgets and understanding people ops and analytics to run the business effectively.

    • Bethany suggests that combining thinking and feeling perspectives can create a powerful combination for business success.

  • Embodiment and acting techniques for emotional connection. 7:00

    • Brandon struggles with abstract concept of embodiment, citing communication issues in his career.

    • Brandon discovered that traditional communications training was ineffective and found acting classes to be more helpful in understanding the human condition and connecting with others.

    • The Meisner technique, which includes the repetition exercise, was instrumental in Brandon's acting development and ability to connect with others on stage.

    • Brandon describes Meisner technique as "mesmerizing" and "emotionally difficult" but ultimately "spectacular" for connecting with others.

    • Bethany shares how she discovered her body through acting and wants to hear others' experiences to inspire new ways of embodiment.

  • Somatic practice and its connection to leadership and emotions. 14:10

    • Divinia bumps into Nick Kitchen, an executive coach with a somatic practice, and learns about the disconnect between people's words and body language during team coaching supervision.

  • Somatic therapy and body awareness. 15:44

    • Pippa realized she was disconnected from her body through somatic therapy, leading to profound life changes.

  • Embodied coaching and somatic practices. 18:22

    • Maddie's curiosity about the body and mind led her to explore somatic coaching, which she found helpful in connecting with her body and sensations.

    • Maddie notes that while Pilates can be a helpful exercise practice, it's possible to do it in an objectified way that's disconnected from the body, and that somatic coaching offers a more embodied approach to movement and self-awareness.

  • Therapy, embodiment, and yoga for body positivity. 21:01

    • Bethany finds solace in yoga after years of therapy, feeling more grounded and centered.

    • Bethany discovers joy in embodiment through PIPA, undoing years of yoga conditioning.

  • Disconnection from body and its impact on society. 24:48

    • Pippa argues that disconnection from the body can limit connection and joy, and is reinforced by systemic factors.

  • Body awareness and dysregulation. 26:18

    • Maddie and Divinia discuss the importance of recognizing and addressing unregulated stress in the body, which can lead to physical sensations like pain or anxiety.

    • Divinia explains that unregulated stress can manifest in various ways, including physical sensations, behaviors, and emotions, and that it's important to identify and release this stored trauma to move forward.

  • Autonomic nervous system and stress regulation. 29:22

    • Pippa references autonomic nervous system, explaining sympathetic (accelerator) and parasympathetic (brake) states, and how body signals can indicate stress or anticipation.

    • Dysregulation occurs when the body's stress response system becomes overloaded, leading to difficulty regulating emotions and behaviors.

  • Managing energy and presence in meetings. 32:38

    • Maddie suggests incorporating intentional pauses between meetings to improve presence and productivity.

    • Brandon and Maddie discuss the challenges of maintaining energy and focus throughout the workday, particularly for senior executives.

    • Maddie suggests practices outside of work, such as yoga or exercise, can help increase resilience and presence in meetings.

  • Categorizing daily tasks based on energy levels. 36:24

    • Reflect on energy-giving activities to prioritize in daily work.

  • Self-care and body awareness. 37:49

    • Bethany prioritizes self-care by giving herself permission to do what feels good in her body, such as laying flat on the ground for a couple of minutes each day.

  • Somatic practices for stress reduction and self-awareness. 38:51

    • Practice dual awareness of self and others to reduce stress levels.

  • Resilience coaching and grounding exercises. 41:18

    • Divinia observes that using words like "presence" can be misleading, as people may not actually be as present as they think.

  • Somatic coaching and its benefits for stress management. 42:40

    • Maddie and Bethany discuss the importance of centering practices for managing stress and difficult interactions, and Maddie leads a quick centering exercise to demonstrate the technique.

    • The exercise involves bringing to mind a difficult interaction, physically sensing any tension in the body, and then grounding oneself through a scan up the body and attention to familiar places.

    • Maddie guides listeners to find space in their body by centering themselves and lengthening from the crown of the head to the soles of their feet.

    • Pippa, Bethany, and Brandon discuss the importance of creating space and having more choice in our bodies and actions, leading to a more conscious and intentional approach to life.