An entrepreneur and former CEO of a successful wealth management firm, Mindy began her career as an executive assistant. She was a single mother dealing with divorce and later overcame a life-threatening illness. After reaching the pinnacle of her professional career, and in the middle of raising two teenage boys, tragedy struck. Mindy’s father and oldest son were murdered by a white-supremacist intent on killing Jews.
Mindy’s greatest passion is to lead the Faith Always Wins Foundation and the Reat Griffin Underwood Memorial Fund which were established to celebrate the memory of Mindy’s son Reat and her father, William L. Corporon, MD, who were tragically murdered in a hate crime in the Spring of 2014. SevenDays is a challenge for young and old, to embrace diversity across races, religions and cultures. Through three events, Faith, Love & Song, Faith, Love & Kindness and Faith, Love & Walk, we hope to promote understanding and encourage kindness to Make a Ripple to Change the World. The SevenDays Ripple features seven nested rings – four filled with color and thee left empty. The three empty rings signify the lives tragically taken from us on April 13, 2014. But the other four show that even through this tragedy, our community possesses a spirit filled with color, vibrance and life, that can never be taken away.
Brad Burrow: Hello, this is the In a World with Real Media podcast and I have Mindy Corporon with me today. Thanks for joining us, by the way.
Mindy Corporon: Thank you.
Brad Burrow: So I’m just going to read through a little bit of your bio and then we can get into lots of different things, and we can go from there. So Mindy is an entrepreneur and former CEO of a successful wealth management firm. She began her career as an executive assistant. We want to talk about that. That’s amazing, and was a single mother, went through divorce, overcame a life-threatening illness. I had no idea about that so we’re going to hear about that.
Brad Burrow: After reaching the pinnacle of her career, became the CEO in the middle of raising two teenage boys which is not an easy task. Tragedy struck and your father and your oldest son were murdered by a white supremacist and that event, obviously, changed the course of your life. And so, I want to get into some of those things, but let’s start. What an amazing career path.
Brad Burrow: So you started as an executive assistant?
Mindy Corporon: I did. I actually started almost not executive. I would just say assistant, but I was an executive assistant after probably a year or two. I was in Kansas City. I had moved here out of college, and I was a Chiefs’ cheerleader.
Brad Burrow: No way.
Mindy Corporon: I don’t know if you know that. That wasn’t in the bio that you read. I was cheering for the Chiefs which is not a full-time job.
Brad Burrow: Okay, what year was that?
Mindy Corporon: This was ’90 and ’91. My rookie season was ’90.
Brad Burrow: Do you remember who the coach was?
Mindy Corporon: Yes, Marty Schottenheimer.
Brad Burrow: Okay. Did you know that I ran a camera for the Chiefs on the sideline?
Mindy Corporon: I’m sure you got manned-
Brad Burrow: I bet I did.
Mindy Corporon: And so Joe Montana was here and Marcus Allen. That was those years. So I was a Chiefs cheerleader for two years.
Brad Burrow: Wow.
Mindy Corporon: At some point in time, I was waiting tables, and during that time, someone who came in, we just started chatting about what I do and other than being a cheerleader. And I said, “I’m looking for a position.” And they said, “Well, we’re interviewing.” And lo and behold, I got hired to work at a brokerage firm, and be in the back office. I was an office assistant so I wasn’t hired as an executive assistant. I was hired as an office assistant because I took the opportunity.
Mindy Corporon: And when I interviewed, I just let the woman know who was interviewing me, I could do it. Whatever she said, I said, “I can do that or I can learn it or you can teach me.” And so, I took advantage of just having some confidence that I would be able to make that happen and I didn’t know how long I would be there, but that literally was the beginning of my career in wealth management is that I was hired as an office assistant.
Mindy Corporon: And then I did move up into an executive assistant role and then with a brokerage firm as a vice president of investments which are different titles that brokerage firms give you. And I’m really fast forwarding a lot, but in 2007, a business partner of mine, Richard Boyer and I had been working together for quite some time. And in 2007, we opened Boyer & Corporon Wealth Management.
Mindy Corporon: And at that time, I mean, I’d been licensed for years and been a wealth adviser for years and felt extremely confident in what we were doing as wealth advisers. But now, we were opening a company and you just flipped a switch and I became a CEO. So I had a lot of learning to do, learning curve and I enjoyed it. So from 2007 until February of 2018.
Brad Burrow: What did you enjoy about that the most? To learn it that quickly and to move up that quickly, you must really probably helping people, right?
Mindy Corporon: I did. Interesting, so one of my grandfathers helped people spiritually. He was a pastor. My father helped people medically. He was a physician. And I like to tell my family and friends that I help people financially. So I believe it is in my DNA to be a giver and a helper and to encourage people in any kind of situation. And I happened to land in wealth management and I was able to get the training that I needed and the confidence that I needed, and that’s where I took it.
Mindy Corporon: And I did have great business partner. Richard Boyer, I met him when we were at Kidder Peabody and he offered me an opportunity and I took it then as well. So I think a lesson that I learned was always feel confident in taking an opportunity and trying it. My dad will say, “Don’t be afraid to fail. Do not be afraid to fail.” And so I just jumped at that opportunity and then he and I are the two people that started Boyer & Corporon Wealth Management.
Brad Burrow: So you must had a really great attitude about getting in there and really learning the business?
Mindy Corporon: Yeah, and you know what? You asked me what did I like about it and I didn’t answer that. I answered how I felt about it, but initially as an adviser, I loved working with the clients. I really enjoyed knowing their story, knowing why they were making the decisions they were making and helping them make either a better decision or just an informed decision about how they wanted to spend their money.
Mindy Corporon: And then, I very much enjoyed helping people plan how they were going to give their money away, either to their family or to philanthropy or to an alma mater, et cetera. I very much enjoyed that. When I moved into the CEO role, I still enjoyed the clients for sure, but then I very much enjoyed the employees and empowering them and helping nurture them to be as good as they could be when they were sitting with a client, have all the tools and all the education so that they felt as confident as I knew I could.
Mindy Corporon: The old adage is, for sure, hire people that are smarter than you, and I did. Definitely, when we hired people, we looked for people that would enhance the firm and the firm is doing really well. And I’m not there, and it’s doing fantastic and I’m very, very proud of that because I feel like I helped laid the ground work.
Brad Burrow: Yeah, that’s great. Well, let’s transition into, so let’s talk about Reat. Let’s talk about the day that really changed your life. Can you just talk us through how that all came about? I mean, there’s lots of documentation out there and everything, but the fact that you were the first one there after this happened is, to me, an amazing thing. I mean, how could that have possibly happened that way?
Mindy Corporon: Well, I would say, it’s God. That was a God thing. So the story goes that on April 12th, I knew that I couldn’t be in two places at one time, and our 12-year-old, at that Lukas had a lacrosse game. And Reat, who’s the 14-year-old that was murdered along with my dad, he had audition to go to.
Mindy Corporon: I very much wanted to go to the audition and take him to the audition but Reat asked me to go to Lukas’s lacrosse game because he felt like as a parent, as a mom, that I need to do that. He was looking-
Brad Burrow: He asked you to go to the-
Mindy Corporon: Reat said to me, “Mom, I think you need to go to Lukas’s lacrosse game,” and I was like, “Oh, I really wanted to take you.” And so I said, “Okay, Mom” to my mom, [Yayey 00:08:08], “Can you take Reat?” And she couldn’t because she was busy with her other two grandkids, my niece and nephew. And so my dad said he would take him and that’s how my dad ended up being the driver.
Mindy Corporon: So here’s what happened on April 13th. As I drove to the lacrosse game, which was 25 minutes away from our home, and the lacrosse game was canceled.
Brad Burrow: Oh, man.
Mindy Corporon: It didn’t even start. I was walking into the game and another mom was walking out and she said they canceled the game because of lightning. And we literally stopped and looked up in the sky, and did not see lightning and we shrugged our shoulders. And then I saw sad Lukas walking out, very disappointed that mom and dad didn’t get to see him play and he didn’t get to play.
Mindy Corporon: And I said, “I’m really sorry, buddy, but I’m going to go to Reat’s audition right now.” And so they climbed in their car. He climbed in the car with my husband, Len, and I climbed in my car and I drove to the J. And when I pulled in to the Jewish Community Campus, that’s what I’m calling the J, it was 1:08 and I know because I looked at the clock and I thought to myself, I’m probably here before them.
Mindy Corporon: His audition is 1:30, and so I just thought, “Oh, it’s 1:08. I’m going to even be here before him. I’m going to go get settled and surprise him.” And I pulled around at the back of the parking lot and that’s where I saw his truck, my dad’s truck. And the driver’s side door was opened and my dad was lying on the ground. And I could tell that he wasn’t attempting to get up. I could tell that … I didn’t know at that moment that he was deceased but I could tell there was a problem.
Mindy Corporon: So my first thought was, “Oh, my gosh, a stroke, a heart attack.” And I thought Reat’s probably calling the ambulance. And then as I got out of my … I parked my car and got out of my car and I ran screaming, “What happened? What happened?” And there was no one in the parking lot that I could see and there were no sirens and nothing. My dad is just lying there in a pool of blood. And now, I can tell that he’s deceased.
Mindy Corporon: And it’s important that I tell this piece because I’m about two feet away from my father, and I wanted to help him but I could see physically that there was literally nothing for me to do. And I was stopped just by nothing but I heard the words, “Your father is in heaven. Go find Reat.”
Brad Burrow: Is that right?
Mindy Corporon: Yeah, very clear. Very clear words, “Your father is in heaven. Go find Reat.” And so I backed myself up. I would take about five or six steps backward and then I went around my dad’s pickup truck not even knowing that that’s where Reat was and that’s where Reat was. And he was in the arms of two men and they were shocked to see me. I was still screaming at them. I started to scream and they said, “Who are you?” And I said, “That’s my father and he’s in heaven, and this is my son.”
Mindy Corporon: And the looks on their faces just told me that this was … Obviously, I could tell it wasn’t good because I knew my dad was deceased and I couldn’t tell what was wrong with Reat. He was already unconscious. He’d been shot right after my dad and then he lost his life about 45 minutes to an hour later, but he never regained consciousness. He was shot by gunshot through the window and basically, through the face and the head.
Mindy Corporon: And I was there. So it was so intimate because I was part of that. And then I was kind of picked up by a person and he took me kind of into the J area into the center. And I had managed to call my husband. I couldn’t hold the phone so he dialed the number. My whole body was shaking uncontrollably. So someone else, this gentleman was Mickey Blount. He called Len and I told Len that my dad has been shot and Reat is seriously injured and I’m not sure what’s wrong but it looks like a head injury.
Mindy Corporon: And he and Lukas turned around and then I said, “Call my mom.” And then Len called my mom and she got there. She was just across the street at town center. And then my brother got there. And so in the meantime, the ambulance had come and the ambulance took Reat to a hospital. It took us a while to get someone to tell us where they took him. So they did.
Mindy Corporon: They finally told us, someone said, “We think Overland Park Regional.” And then we got to Overland Park Regional and they told us that the young man in the ambulance lost his heartbeat and we’re very sorry, but he lost his life. And I just had no idea that that could happen. I was trying to process that my dad was deceased on the way to the hospital with a 15-minute drive, you can’t really process that.
Brad Burrow: No way, yeah.
Mindy Corporon: And then to hear that Reat was gone too so suddenly. That was the initial of our April 13th. And then most people want to know why I went to the vigil. There was a vigil-
Brad Burrow: Yeah, that night.
Mindy Corporon: There was a vigil held that night, and I was in my home. I was in my mom’s home, sorry. I went to my mom’s house and people just kept showing up and that made it more real which was actually hard. I was very glad that people showed up but it’s so surreal to be in that situation. It just feels like you’re in a nightmare.
Mindy Corporon: But friends were showing up and I could tell by the looks on their faces that this was real and tragic. And then Adam Hamilton showed up, who’s the pastor of Church of the Resurrection and it’s the church that we were attending. He and I had a private conversation, and one of the main things he said to me was keep listening to your heart. I told him what I had heard and he said, “Well, keep listening to your heart.”
Mindy Corporon: So as I walked downstairs, someone said there’s going to be a student vigil, and I felt my heart say, “You need to be there.” And that’s why I went to the vigil. I went to the vigil thinking that I was going to have an opportunity to see students and let them know that this was a horrible strategy but that they needed to live their lives. I didn’t want this to derail them from their lives significantly.
Brad Burrow: The day of the event-
Mindy Corporon: Yes.
Brad Burrow: … you’re showing up. That’s unbelievable. So looking back at this, I mean, I don’t want to get ultra-spiritual here, but man, like everything that happened that day, that little lightning you’re looking up. There’s no lightning. There’s no clouds?
Mindy Corporon: There were clouds. It was a cool, crisp day, and I don’t know if you remember but it did start raining later and as we were at the J, an enormous storm cloud came over the center and people have sent me pictures of it that it looks like evil is sitting over the center. I’ve seen that and that was when we were there and the sirens were there, and the ambulance and the police cars and everything.
Mindy Corporon: All I remember was that it went from a clear, crisp, blue, pretty day and I hugged my dad and I kissed Reat goodbye and his last words to me were, “I love you too, mom.” Those were his last words. And then it’s pouring rain. It’s torrential rain and Len, my husband, is driving us to the hospital to see if our child is still living.
Brad Burrow: So looking back on that, so you’ve gone through this process of healing, and there are people like me looking at this, how could you possibly make it through something like that? Day by day, do you see yourself getting better? Do you see the healing happening? I know you’ve mentioned to me in the past that you don’t ever really completely heal from something like this. You just maybe learn how to deal with it. Is that a correct assessment?
Mindy Corporon: Correct. The crying gets less because you do learn how to know that the sun is going to come up. Yes, there were weeks and months that I just couldn’t function and I call it brain fog. I had significant … which is a real term and data on it, so I had brain fog, things that happened to me where I couldn’t do Math. I mean, Math just left my brain. Certain things that I used to know I didn’t know for a long time. It took a while for things to come back.
Mindy Corporon: And so I physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually was devastated and so, it took a long time to walk through that. It took a while to walk to the mailbox. But I knew that if it had happened to me, I think a lot of people turn things around and say, “What if it happened to me, what would my loved one want? If I had been the one murdered, then I know my dad and Reat and my family, I would want them to move on or to find a way to go on.”
Mindy Corporon: And so, I call it my onward. That happens to be last themed day in our event called SevenDays’s Onward because we all have life disruptions. We all do have some trauma that happens in our life at different times, and it is important to be sad. It’s important to know and own the pain and sit in the pain. It is. I don’t recommend that people try to get out of the pain too quickly, and I found myself on the floor numerous times exhausted from sobbing for hours at a time.
Mindy Corporon: But I would always feel when I was at my darkest that I was not alone, and that they were with me. And as a Christian, I believe I’m going to see them again. Different faiths think different things about people when they’ve passed, and so that gives people hope in their own way. I’ve known from that day that they were in heaven. I’ve known, I have no doubt, that I will see them again and I get messages from them.
Mindy Corporon: So I want to share very quickly. This morning I had a coffee with a friend and we walked in and she’s Jewish. I think it’s important to state that she’s Jewish, and we walked into the coffee shop and we were in line and she was going to buy me a coffee. And we looked to the right, and there was a backpack with SevenDays buttons on them.
Mindy Corporon: And I said to the young couple that was sitting there, I said, “Excuse me, who’s backpack is this?” And she said, “It’s mine.” And I said, “I’m Mindy Corporon, and I started SevenDays.” And she said, “I’m Madeline and I was a friend of Reat.”
Brad Burrow: Is that right? Wow.
Mindy Corporon: And she was in the coffee shop, and so I’m always … Every single day, I’m like, bring it on. What message do you have for me? And so I think that everyone gets messages. I think that they do and I think we just have to listen and look and allow them to come to us.
Mindy Corporon: I also want to tell people that prayer does work. Many, many people will say, “I’ve prayed for you,” and I will say, “That’s how I got out of bed.” Because I don’t know how I was lifted. I can’t explain it. I just know every morning, I got out of bed. I did have a 12-year-old to care for. I had a husband and I had a mom who had just lost her husband and her grandson. And I had brothers who lost their father and their nephew and we all needed to be able to care for one another.
Brad Burrow: Yeah. Well, let’s kind of switch gears a little bit. It’s amazing looking at the faith aspect of it though. I mean that’s one of the things that I kind of hone in on is just how God kind of works through those things, through our pain, but he’s doing things in our lives through that. That’s amazing.
Mindy Corporon: He is, Brad, but one thing that God told me and I can say it that way is he said, when I was really devastated in the first year and I was being introduced to Judaism and Islam and I did not understand why. I heard God say, “Bring my people together.”
Mindy Corporon: And so one of my personal missions is to help people understand other faith. Again, I’ve already mentioned that I’m Christian but I’ve been to the Hindu Temple now several times. One of my best friends, Sunayana Dumala, who is Hindu. Her husband, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, was murdered in 2017. And I know many, many Muslims now and many Jews and I’ve been to their holidays. I’ve been to their high holidays. I feel comfortable doing that and I know that people don’t.
Mindy Corporon: And so I try to open that door and a lot of what we do in any event that the Faith Always Wins Foundation has is to open the door so people can just come and understand what are Hindu’s doing in the temple and not feel uncomfortable. And so we try to open that door. I’m not proselytizing in any way. I just want people to have respect of other people’s faiths.
Brad Burrow: Yeah, that’s great. Can we talk about the power of forgiveness? That’s the one of the things. I mean, you’ve forgiven the man who has done this.
Mindy Corporon: I have. I have forgiveness for him and I want to define what forgiveness means before someone is listening to this and concerned or upset. I will tell you in the first six months, I had two or three people come up to me and say, “How did you forgive him?” And I was angry that they thought I forgave anybody.
Mindy Corporon: And I looked at the definition of forgiveness and I asked Pastor Hamilton several questions, Rabbi Nemitoff questions about forgiveness and what I understand is that forgiveness is releasing the anger. I am not going to allow anger to foster in me. I’m going to just put it out and it can go back on you or whatever, but it doesn’t mean that what he did wasn’t wrong. What he did was horribly wrong, horribly wrong.
Mindy Corporon: But I am not going to carry anger because that would be debilitating to me. And so I don’t carry anger about it. In a long term sense, do I get angry? Yes. When my son, Lukas, started his senior year this year, he struggled really badly for three days because Reat was never a senior. When Reat’s friends are going to get married, it’s going to be another milestone that we will miss out on with Reat. When they have children, we’ll miss out on that because Reat wouldn’t be able to do that.
Mindy Corporon: So yes, I do get angry. I do, but I choose to allow it to happen and to pass and I find things that help me process it.
Brad Burrow: So was there a point in the timeline where you drew the line in the sand and say, “Okay, this is where forgiveness happens.”
Mindy Corporon: No.
Brad Burrow: Or was it just a process over time or how did that work?
Mindy Corporon: Yeah, it’s a process. I mean, I stood up and spoke at the vigil that night and somebody said, “How did you forgive?” And I was like, “I didn’t use that word. Why would say I’ve forgiven.” But it was because I was choosing to not have revenge. And that’s true. I said, “We were living our life and we’re going to live our lives again.”
Mindy Corporon: I didn’t know at that time that it was a white supremacist act. I didn’t understand that and I knew a third person had been murdered but I didn’t know how it was. It was Terri LaManno, and her husband, Jim and I and our family are all close friends.
Mindy Corporon: No, there’s not a line in the sand for anything associated with grief. People say there’s seven stages of grief and they’re all over the place, and you do not go through them one through seven. Sometimes you start with seven, and sometimes you go back to one and I don’t know how they’re numbered but it is not an easy step-by-step process.
Brad Burrow: Yeah. So your family, so you actually had to move from Kansas City, which is understandable. So it really kind of disrupted your whole family just for your son to be able to heal because he’s around everything every day. I mean, it’s hard to get away from what happened even just driving down the street, down Nall.
Mindy Corporon: Yes, so driving down the street down Nall and being close to the J, there’s a beautiful lovely memorial that Lukas has been to. But he was 12 when this happened and he lost two years of education. He went to school but he wasn’t learning much. And I feel very compassionate for families who have trauma in their lives and they don’t have the ability like we did to get him the care that he needed.
Mindy Corporon: But still after two years and two different times at Research Medical Center for suicide prevention, he never attempted suicide but had plans. And so he was in care two separate times at Research Medical Center. And then he found golf, and so again, it’s not drawing a line in the sand but he found golf and he’s good at it. And so he asked if he could move. He asked if he could take himself somewhere else to focus on golf and school in a different way.
Mindy Corporon: And so he’s been in a private school and a golf academy since his sophomore year of 2018. And then we moved with him to be there for at least until he graduates his senior year. And so right now, he’s doing college applications like all the other seniors. And he’s stressed about-
Brad Burrow: Been there done that, by the way.
Mindy Corporon: Yeah. He’s pretty stressed and anxious about, “Will someone accept me? Will I get into a school,” et cetera. We’re in that process right now and he doesn’t know where he’s going to go, but he is applying to about, I don’t know, I think is up to eight. I think he’s applied to eight schools now.
Brad Burrow: As a parent, you just want to do anything you can to help him, don’t you?
Mindy Corporon: Absolutely. We want to help our kids not be anxious and not feel the pain. But Lukas would tell you, I say to him, “Sometimes, you have to sit in the pain, sweetie.” And I said to him this last week. I said, “What you’re in right now is called the valley or storm or a challenge. And sometimes, we just have to sit in it and that we’d have to do the next thing. And the next thing might be algebra class and then the next thing might be English class and then the next thing might be your sports media class but you just have to do one thing at a time until the storm starts to clear.”
Mindy Corporon: I use journaling as a personal way to process a lot and so I’ve asked him to try to start journaling. I said, “Write down the good and the bad. Just get it out of your system and get it out of your heart.” And I also encourage him to cry when he feels like crying because it does free you from those really sad feelings.
Brad Burrow: Amazing how that works, isn’t it? Like we were made … That was a tool that was given to us, isn’t it?
Mindy Corporon: Yes. It’s like a faucet. You can turn it on and let it out and you do feel better when it’s over.
Brad Burrow: Okay. So, let’s talk about some of the things that you’re doing moving forward here. SevenDays is a pretty cool thing that’s happening.
Mindy Corporon: I think so, thank you. The foundation is Faith Always Wins Foundation and it’s a 501c3. And our flagship event is SevenDays Make A Ripple, Change the World. And we just finished in April our fifth year and so in 2020, it will be our sixth year. I’m super excited.
Brad Burrow: That’s amazing. That’s pretty long.
Mindy Corporon: It is. And after the first year, people said, “Are you going to do it again?” And I thought, “Well, okay.” And then after our second year, “Are you going to do it again?” I thought, “I don’t know. That was pretty exhausting.” But I tell you what I did in July of 2018 as our foundation hired Jill Andersen. And she is now the director of SevenDays. And so I have a person who is completely hands-on, so I haven’t moved completely away from it.
Mindy Corporon: We work together but I can really so much rely on her and she’s got fantastic ideas. She’s incorporated … We had to use advisory team that I called them a youth advisory team. She now calls them the kindness youth leadership team. And we had over 40 applicants to be on this team and the students get mentored by an adult. And what they do is they plan the event. So we have an adult and a student planning every single activity, and so we have 20 students involved with 20 adults.
Brad Burrow: What would you like to see happen with SevenDays?
Mindy Corporon: At some point in time, I’d like to see it go regional and then national. We’ve been asked that each and every year. We are still … I always say we’re getting our legs under us. We’re starting to write out what does that look like. We’re putting some tools in place so that if someone comes to us, I don’t know if the right word is franchise it, but just for lack of a better term, be able to license it. Maybe that’s the right term, is to license it, and to help other cities create a week of kindness.
Mindy Corporon: So, SevenDays is certainly a week of kindness. The themes are love, discover, others, connect, you, go, onward. And each day has a different activity and what I’m really proud to say, Brad, is that our locations vary from a Christian location to a Hindu location. This year, we’ll be at an Islamic center. We’ll give people an opportunity to experience an iftar which is the fast-breaking during Ramadan. And then most likely now, we’re looking at Jewish location as well.
Mindy Corporon: In that sense, what we’re doing is we’re showing kindness in several different faith avenues to help people understand different faiths.
Brad Burrow: Is there anything that the listeners can do to support what you’re doing with that event, with the foundation?
Mindy Corporon: What a great question. Of course, they can.
Brad Burrow: I said that perfectly, didn’t I?
Mindy Corporon: Yes, you teed that up and I’m going to hopefully knock it out of the park. Yes, we just started in August a monthly giving program and we are looking to try to be sustainable. So, they can do one or two things. They can donate one time or they can donate monthly or they can donate monthly and then turn it off after six months, whatever is good for them. We are fighting against hate. We’re fighting against evil and it takes more than seven days. It takes 365 days.
Mindy Corporon: And so our campaign is seven days to 365 days and we’re asking people, if they can, to donate $36.50 which is 365 a month for as long as they can. They can choose lower, they can choose higher but we are certainly trying to become sustainable because we do have a small office. We have a small office that we’re leasing and we have signage that we’re doing and we do … Jill and I started planning into May, so the event was over in April and we ramp up in May and we are looking for sponsors.
Mindy Corporon: We’re seeking big sponsors too. A good friend of ours, several different friends, CommunityAmerica Credit Union has been a sponsor in the past and I am hoping that there’ll be another one. And then Garmin-
Brad Burrow: You love them, by the way.
Mindy Corporon: I know. And then Garmin has been a great sponsor. We’re looking at other sponsors. Bank of Blue Valley has been a sponsor. I’m trying to think of companies. We get a lot of individual sponsors which is fantastic and a few individual foundations. The Jewish Federation was a huge sponsor this year. They brought in … We asked them to bring in two reformed white supremacist.
Brad Burrow: Really?
Mindy Corporon: We bring in some interesting speakers because we want people to understand the person that they might typically call an “other”. You wouldn’t typically want to go speak to a white supremacist or reformed white supremacist but I wanted our community and myself to learn what took them to that, to I would call the dark side. What took them to hate and how did they leave hate and what are they doing now. And so we had 800 people come to Church of the Resurrection to hear two reformed white supremacist talk about their childhood and how they got into hate.
Brad Burrow: What was that like for you?
Mindy Corporon: Fascinating.
Brad Burrow: Emotionally too?
Mindy Corporon: Hard. It was exhausting. Emotionally, it was exhausting but the whole week is exhausting. So I had met Christian Picciolini online. I saw him do a TED Talk and then I called him and emailed him. And he and I had our first conversation on July 5th, 2018. And then I wanted to meet him personally before he spoke and so I actually flew to Tampa with my husband and we saw him speak. And we had about 45 minutes with him prior to him speaking.
Brad Burrow: Is that right?
Mindy Corporon: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I did not want him coming to Kansas City without me, hearing him speak live and without me having an opportunity to meet him. And he looks like someone, not maybe right now because he kind of looks like a teddy bear too, but he’s all tatted up. I mean he’s got tattoos from his wrists, all of-
Brad Burrow: So he fits the profile of what he think that is.
Mindy Corporon: Yes. Physically, he’s a stout guy and he looks strong and maybe a little rough a little bit and then he’s got tattoos all over his arms. But he’s very compassionate and he wants forgiveness and he asked for forgiveness about what he did. And for him, he’s giving back so he’s helping current white supremacists who want out because once you’re in something like that, it is difficult to get out without getting yourself killed.
Brad Burrow: Really? Wow.
Mindy Corporon: Yes. It’s like a gang mentality. So he helps people get out of that system and he’s had his life threatened numerous times because he’s helping people get out of white supremacy.
Mindy Corporon: And then other woman who came, and all of a sudden I’m blanking on her name and I can see Christian and … She’s going to be upset, I can’t remember her name right this second. It’s really unfortunate at the age of 15, she was raped at a party and she should not have been at the party and she knew it. And she was raped by two men and she never told anyone. She didn’t tell anyone for 10 years because she felt so guilty.
Mindy Corporon: And so she talked openly about that, and that was really helpful to me to help when I talk to teenagers. I want them to know there’s nothing that they’ve done that they can’t share and get help and healing for. And so she went into hate because she felt like that was the only group that would love her, was that really bad for the kids.
Brad Burrow: Unbelievable. Talk about Workplace Healing. That’s kind of a new thing and then let’s talk about what you want to do personally.
Mindy Corporon: The segue into Workplace Healing is that I was a cofounder and a CEO of the wealth management firm. And my team did the best they could do at getting me back into work and trying to help me. And they were trying to help me and I remember-
Brad Burrow: After the event.
Mindy Corporon: Yeah, after the tragedy and one of my coworkers, Pat, she said, “I just don’t know what to do to help you. I want to help you so much, so you need to let me know what to do.”
Brad Burrow: Did you know at that point?
Mindy Corporon: No. And so that’s my point, and so I tried. In about 2015, I realized I was going to need to leave my company. I realized I didn’t have the compassion or the passion that was needed but it took three years, so it was a three-year process, and I tried very hard to devote a lot of time and energy to the firm. And again, I think they’re doing fantastic and so we transitioned me out and transitioned other people in.
Mindy Corporon: And then as I was in that process of transitioning out, I was able to look at it from a distance and say, “Wow, what if someone had come and told us what they could have done, or what our office could have done to really reacclimate me and reintegrate me and help me have a soft landing rather than skidding into the office and just abruptly being in so much pain all the time and how to talk to people.” And if you’re a coworker of someone and they’ve lost a spouse and they’re coming back to work, frequently, people don’t know what to say. And they worry.
Mindy Corporon: So, Brad, if your wife passed away, Brad … Do I say Brad’s wife’s name? Do I bring her up or what do I say? And so I’ve been working with Lisa Cooper for over a year now and we have built a workshop and we’ve got a lot of data on why empathy in the workplace is so important right now with the trauma and anxiety and the depression that people have.
Mindy Corporon: And we give people tools, really specific tools that they can take away from our 90-minute workshop. They can say, “I know what not to say.” We let them know what to not say, and then we give them 10 things that they can say and then we give them actionable items that they can start doing when they’re reintegrating someone back into the workplace. And again, we call that a soft landing.
Mindy Corporon: So, that is Workplace Healing. And right now, we’re speaking at several different corporations. I just came from an event at Central Exchange. We’re very thankful that Central Exchange have us speak and a bit of a nice crowd of about 22 people which was a good intimate crowd. And so that’s the plan with Workplace Healing.
Brad Burrow: We really don’t know what to say though. It really is true, in the situation. And the last thing you want to do is say something that hurts, makes them feel worse. I remember Tracy and I went through this, you and I have talked about that of losing a child full term. And it really is noticeable that people just would not know what to say, would act very kind of different around us probably because they were scared they were going to make us feel back or whatever. And it’s just an awkward thing.
Brad Burrow: But if you had the tools to really say, “Here’s what I can say to you and here’s the impact that’s going to have.” That’s really powerful because you need people when you’re going through something like that.
Mindy Corporon: Yes. We talked about the fact that when someone is going through such a significant trauma, their lives are in chaos. Their personal lives are in chaos and they’re going to have brain fog. They’re not really going to be all there. They may present physically that they’re all there but emotionally, mentally and spiritually, they are hurting and broken and literally in pain walking around in pain. And you have trouble thinking and making decisions.
Mindy Corporon: And so, I think that prayer does help but what we’re doing again are more actionable items. So we talked about having an able conversation, a conversation with someone that might last four minutes and it might last 10 minutes but it’s a conversation where you ask, you believe, you listen and you encourage. And it allows people, the person who’s had the trauma or had their life disrupted, to feel cared for. And then you can help them by asking them very specific, easy, personal questions how to help them.
Brad Burrow: Give me some examples of questions to ask, really quick.
Mindy Corporon: One question to ask is what is your capacity right now? Just right now, not what is your capacity today, not how are you because that is a loaded question and after so many thousands of how are you, I would say, “Do you really want to know?” Because sometimes as a manager, you really don’t want to know that. You want to know, “What is your capacity right now because I need to know when you are coming back.” But you don’t want to ask that question, when are you coming back?
Brad Burrow: As a manager, you would ask an employee-
Mindy Corporon: As a manager, you could say, “How is your capacity right now?” Another question could be is, “Are you getting any sleep yet? How are you? Are you getting rest?” If the person has children, it’s always good to ask about the family members. “How are your children or how are your other family members,” because people tend to want to talk about others more than they want to talk about themselves. And in a roundabout way, you can get them to talk about themselves and help you out as a manager.
Mindy Corporon: If you’re in a position where you know them well enough and you can ask them, are you eating healthy?
Brad Burrow: Really? Wow.
Mindy Corporon: Yeah. Does your family have healthy food? Because I’m going to tell you, Brad, I didn’t eat for four days. And then when I wasn’t eating, when I did start eating, I eat a Snicker bar and a Coca-Cola. That’s all I could have in the stomach. And I lost nine pounds and then when I started eating … Someone brought me food and the question was, I’m going to get … They said, “I’m going to get you food. What will you eat?” Like literally, very specific, what will you eat rather than generalizations. You don’t want to ask a general question. You want to make them answer in a specific way.
Brad Burrow: So, that was a good question?
Mindy Corporon: Uh-huh. And I said shrimp. And so she brought me shrimp and she fed me. She sat at the table and my friends had talked, they said she’s not eating and when she does eat, it’s only a Snicker bar. So they sat me at the table and I was working on probably the funeral and pictures and things like that and she started putting shrimp in my mouth and she said-
Brad Burrow: Is that right?
Mindy Corporon: Yeah. She said, “Open up.” So, it’s okay-
Brad Burrow: That’s a good friend, isn’t she?
Mindy Corporon: Yeah. If you are a close, close friend, then go feed them because … I mean I just wasn’t even … I had no idea that my body needed food at the time. You just forget.
Brad Burrow: Yeah.
Mindy Corporon: Those are some simple questions. But managers, I think, they care for sure but then they need a return on their employee. They need to know, “When is my employee going to come back?” And so at some point in time, they do need to say, “What is your capacity today? What is your capacity right now so that if I’ve got …” Because, Brad, I did. I had a couple of hours I could give and I wanted to be able to give back to my company when I could. But then the rest of the day, I couldn’t. It’s helpful to know the answer to that question.
Brad Burrow: Then you said believe?
Mindy Corporon: Believe. Because when you’ve had a serious trauma, weird things happen. Just weird stuff happens. So I know that Reat visited me, and if somebody says to you, “I’m not sleeping well and I think my wife visited me last night.” As a manager, you really just need to believe them right now.
Brad Burrow: Oh, I see what you mean.
Mindy Corporon: Don’t knock them down. Just listen. Just believe and then listen. And believe them if they say they aren’t sleeping, then believe them. And here’s, I think, one of the best beliefs too is sometimes someone will come back from a tragedy and they might come back earlier than you think they should. And they’re working, working, working and they’re trying to stay focused and work through the grief by working but then they have like a little breakdown.
Mindy Corporon: And they come to you three months later and you think they’re fine because they’ve been working for three months. And they come back to you and they say, “I need to take three weeks off.” You need to believe them because they have now hit the wall. And we don’t know … Everyone grieves differently.
Brad Burrow: Yeah.
Mindy Corporon: Everyone grieves differently and we don’t know when it’s going to happen. So when somebody that has had a trauma tells you something like that that’s significant, you got to believe them because they’re coming from their heart. I mean, I feel that. My heart was so raw that I couldn’t make decisions with my brain. I was making decisions with my heart for months.
Mindy Corporon: Listen, so sometimes just to sit and listen, and once you get someone talking, let them talk. Let them talk about their family. Let them talk about the heartache. Let them cry. You cry with them if it’s that sad and just sit and listen.
Mindy Corporon: And then the E is encourage, so you want to get around to being able to encourage them to find the care they need. Do they need mental health help? Do they need a counselor? Do they need holistic medication? Do they need a sleeping aid? Do they need healthy food? And you want to encourage them and then try to help them if you can in that encouraging way.
Brad Burrow: Yeah. that’s great advice.
Mindy Corporon: Thank you.
Brad Burrow: Well, so, let’s go ahead and wrap it up here. Somebody wants to have you come and speak, how would they do that?
Mindy Corporon: If someone wants to have Workplace Healing come and speak, we have a website and it’s workplacehealing.com. And you did ask me what I’m doing personally, so I’d just say it’s MindyCorporon.com. So I do speak professionally now. I’ve spoken in several places in the United States this year. And I have four more speaking engagement that I have booked in 2019 and ’20. But Workplace Healing, Lisa Cooper and I right now are working locally in Kansas City. We have a little bit of room for some betas. We’re calling them our betas.
Mindy Corporon: We are looking for companies or small businesses that want to hire us right now and then they’re helping us build our product and then we’re helping them at a lower price. And then Mindy Corporon is, I’m available MindyCorporon.com to go and speak. And I speak on what we’ve talked about. I speak on resilience. I speak on kindness. I speak on helping your family and yourself through trauma and sometimes, I speak on managing your business through a trauma.
Brad Burrow: Is speaking … I got to ask you this question, is that part of your healing?
Mindy Corporon: It is. I didn’t know it would be but I just feel like that is something God has asked me to do. He just said, “You have something to say.” I have experienced so much. Reat was an organ donor, I can speak on that. They were murdered by guns. It was a violent crime. I can speak on that. I can speak on trying to keep your family together. So my husband and I definitely struggled. We’re very strong right now, strong marriage, but it’s extremely difficult to stay married when you’ve lost a child which I know that you and your wife became stronger as well through your faith.
Brad Burrow: But a lot of people don’t.
Mindy Corporon: That’s right.
Brad Burrow: A lot of people go the opposite direction.
Mindy Corporon: Right. And I want to tell those people that might be listening that have needed to leave a spouse or needed to leave a relationship. I know why, it is hard. It is a lot of hard work and sometimes, it can’t be done. Sometimes, you have to find a new path just like Lukas needed to move from Kansas City. I chose not to find a new path because I did get the support I needed from my husband. And three of us learned to be the three of us which is still a process.
Brad Burrow: Yeah. Well, that’s great. Thank you so much for joining us. This has been … I think I’ve learned some things today.
Mindy Corporon: Thank you.
Brad Burrow: I know how to address those situations should they come up. I really appreciate it. What an incredible story. I wish you the best moving forward. I think you’re going to impact a lot of people and if you can look back for a reason for things happening, you know there’s going to be a lot of people that have a very positive impact because of your son and your dad.
Mindy Corporon: Yeah. And I do think that when I impact people and when I speak, I’m keeping my dad and Reat alive in my heart by talking about them. And Terri LaManno, so she’s always included in my story, so I appreciate that opportunity.
Brad Burrow: Well, there you have it. It’s the In a World with Real Media podcast. Thanks for joining us. Be sure to subscribe and then you’ll get a notification on your phone when we have new content coming out. Thanks again, and we’ll see you next time.