Motivational speaker and social entrepreneur Lou Radja

Motivational speaker Lou Radja shares his thoughts on ‘dancing in the rain,’ on being part of the complicated tapestry of human experience, and on finding the intersection of success and significance.

As a social entrepreneur, Lou Radja is deeply dedicated to helping individuals and teams thrive at the intersection of success & significance. He is a recognized and award-winning Motivational Speaker offering training on leadership, personal growth, diversity, and service which serve to inspire and equip audiences around the world, to Be More and Give More.

He is also the Founder and Executive Director of EduCongo, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization devoted to generating awareness and support to provide quality education for over 2,000 underprivileged children in the Congo.

Lou Radja and I met briefly in 1993 and have lived parallel lives in many ways. And in many ways, our lives have been worlds apart.

We are both speakers. We are both residents of the Pacific Northwest. We are both immensely inspired by our fathers. AND we both believe deeply that humanity is a whole, beautiful, messy, and intertwined unit. And that bringing out the best in ourselves and each other in order to make a positive impact on the world matters. We both see the possibility of a beautiful future. We both believe that a beautiful future begins in each of our own hearts and minds right now.

We are undoubtedly more alike than we are different.

However, our experiences as teenagers in Ashland, Oregon could not have been more dissimilar. Lou was an athlete, I was a nerd. Lou spoke 4 languages in addition to English. I spoke English and I studied only enough Spanish to pass whatever was required of me to graduate.

I am white. Lou is black.

A difference that unfortunately played a role in his welcoming not just to this country, but to the idyllic town in which we both finished High School.

Lou is clear. The stories he shares in this episode (and many others like it), do not define his full memory of Ashland, Oregon any more than they define who he is or who he has become.

Instead his stories, simply illustrate that life is complicated. That community is messy and that it is all of our stories and all of our experiences combined that make up the tapestry of what IS in life. His stories are also in some ways a call to action. If we wish for the future to be different, then it is up to us to live, teach and build bridges in a way that makes that dream a reality.

Takeaways from this episode…

Lou’s energy is warm, inspiring and he is a delight to talk with. These are a few of the thoughts I captured from our conversation.

Ubuntu – I AM because WE ARE

Lou shared this philosophy in which he was raised, which is simply the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity. I’ve heard this idea called different things over the course of my life, “spaceship earth being my particular favorite.

Here’s why this concept matters. When we recognize that ALL of us are connected, that there is no escaping each other, and that we have a shared responsibility to each other… it makes hatred and dismissal much more difficult.

We are all part of this tribe called humanity. The good, the bad, and the ugly… we all own that. Together.

Success without significance is hollow. Significance without success is not sustainable.

I think we’ve all seen this in people we know and love. Some of us have experienced this ourselves.

Many of you have reached financial success only to find that the money was unfulfilling because you were in a job you hated and found that you were left with a perpetually empty void where you were missing either heart, creativity, or both!

Likewise, many of you have over-indexed on significance leaving yourselves exhausted and ineffective. Too much purpose without success can feel like banging your head against a wall.

So… like many things in life, there is a balance to be struck. A purpose-filled life can help you to maximize both success and significance.

Our job is to democratize opportunity

Lou shared some of his father’s wisdom: “If you are fortunate enough to ride the elevator of success to the top, you must remember to send the elevator back down for someone else to ride.”

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