Fifty Shades of Gender podcast graphic with Leonie Dawson

Episode 67

A conversation with Leonie Dawson


57 min. Recorded on 25 October 2021. 

Leonie’s pronouns are she/they, and they are non-binary. Find out what that means to Leonie in this episode.

We also talk about honouring the land we inhabit, the freedom that came from adding a ‘they’ pronoun while having a ‘she’ experience, being non-conforming in business, the importance of having open and honest money conversations, knowing who you are inside and standing for what you believe in, kicking the social media habit, and smashing the patriarchy by being more of yourself.

Terminology: BIPOC = Black, Indigenous & People of Colour

“My sense, and this is my experience, is that identity first is of being ourselves, and our body is just the thing that we happen to land in…so for me, it’s always been, I’m Leonie first, and then the body I’m in just happens to be the body that I’m in.”

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TRANSCRIPT [expand to read]

Esther: Hello and welcome. What’s your name?

Leonie: Oh, hi. I’m Leonie Dawson.

Esther: Hello, Leonie. And normally I would ask you about your gender experience, but what I’ve learned from being on calls with Australians is to do an acknowledgement of the land and the people, which I really love. So would you please do the honors?

Leonie: Oh, sure. I want to acknowledge that I live and work on the lands of the Gubbi Gubbi people here are the such a coast in Australia, and I want to pay my respects to the elders past, present and future. And I want to acknowledge the traditional and ongoing custody and to land to seas you are wherever you are listening to this where Esther lives. And if you don’t know who those people are, have a quick Google, because it’s really, it’s a really useful to find out the traditional owners of the land you are. Here in Australia, the indigenous people say that it makes the land happy and the spirit of the land happy when you say the traditional lands, plus for racial justice issues, it’s really important to acknowledge.

Esther: Totally. Yeah, I really love it. It’s a great habit. I since looked up the, the situation, the situation of that here, and apparently it’s the Celtic Britons or the Pritany of great Britain. So that was something I learned. So that’s brilliant. Yeah. The first time I came across it was in the episode with Sally Goldner that I did, who was the first Australian that I spoke to for the pod, so you’re the second one, so that’s great. So, yay. Yeah. So tell me a bit about your gender experience. What labels you use, how that came about?

Leonie: Sure. My pronouns. Are she or they I’m comfortable with both for me, I’m somebody who’s diagnosed with autism and ADHD. And for people who have autism, particularly we tend to be much more gender nonconforming and don’t sit as well in the gender binary as maybe neuro-typical people do. For my sense, and this is my experience is that identity first, is of being ourselves and, the body is just the thing that we happen to land in and you were like, yes, we’re doing this.

Yeah. To me, it’s always been is that I’m Leonie first, and then the body I’m in, it just happens to be the body that I’m in. When I was a kid, I absolutely really wanted to be a boy for the very specific reasons that I felt that their hobbies were more of an alignment with mine. I was not a kind of a princessy kind of girl. I was very much a tomboy and I lived on a farm and I just ran wild with the horses and the dogs.

And I liked that boys got to do cool shit and I didn’t like the idea of the whole girl experience. I was like, “eugh I think I prefer to be a boy.” Having said that, I didn’t really have any gender… Like I didn’t really have much body dysphoria. So I just kind of carried on with it and have, I think in some ways my gender like, because I’m a mum now and I’ve given birth and gone through that very, very unique experience of like this.

Because of what the uterus and boobs and going through this birthy experience, I feel like, I think I’ve caught up and the she in a little way, just cause I’ve gone through that experience in some ways. I don’t know how to explain it. It feels like that kind of experience. I don’t know that people of other genders can give birth and breastfeeding just feels like some ways.

I’m definitely a she.

Esther: Yeah, you did that.

Leonie: I did that.

Esther: You did that. So, I mean, what, what was it like? Well, being pregnant, giving birth for you with idea of gender? Did you feel like it was just a bit odd or was it just like, okay, this is something my body can do. So let’s just do this thing.

Leonie: I think I, my experience was definitely that it was odd and probably a few competing interests in that were 1. Autism.

It’s tricky when you’ve got a body that totally is changing. You’re like, what the actual fuck? This is very strange. It definitely feels like there’s an alien inside me. And also I get very, very ill during pregnancies. So it feels like a very shit experience for me anyway.

Esther: Oh, right. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I’ve not experienced it. It’s not something I’ve ever desired to do so there you go. But yeah, it must be an interesting one. Wow. Yeah, I was, I was actually thinking. One of the calls we were on for your course. You said something about, if you don’t mind, I can cut this out. If you haven’t taken it, but like you were joking about childbirth and you’re saying to your husband, like next time you’re coming back with the woman parts, we’ll just gonna swap, you know? And I found that funny.

Leonie: Big time. Like I am going to be the dude next time. Okay. And you’re Sheila, and that’s just how it’s going to be. We had a go at doing it this time, this round, like this next time, I think we should try differently a bit. And also like in terms of everything, like I do feel like I’m, I have a much more masculine as brain to my husband. We, when we have arguments that traditionally like arguments that you would hear. With reverse gender. So my husband wants to talk about his feelings all the time. I have no interest. I like I’m watching TV right now. Can we not discuss this? Like, can we just, I just sort of watch similar TV. And I just have this very. I’ll just, problem-solve all of his problems. He doesn’t want to be heard. He wants to, he wants me to like, solve his problems and he’s like, no, I just want to be heard. So yes, we, we do have a kind of atypical, atypical, in lots of ways that I love it. It’s perfect. But it doesn’t fit in those strict gender roles.

Esther: It fits together. So you mentioned gender nonconforming. You’ve also mentioned the term non-binary. So what does that mean to you?

Leonie: Nonbinary? Well, for me, it’s like recognizing that female and male, are not the only genders and that there is, and it’s not a either or situation. And when you look at it, it’s much more that continuum in many ways. And even when you look at like, I loved, when you look, I looked at the science of how gender is assigned. It’s, it’s not just one thing or the other, it’s kind of, there’s a whole range of things that, that build up to it. And the end, knowing as well, there’s millions of people that are intersex in the world as well, you know, that have either no sexual organs or both sexual organs, or have presented as female and also happen to have testicles inside this, their stomach.

And it’s like an amazingly, amazingly diverse population. And I think we’ve just been so pushed by the patriarchy, capitalism is believing that there’s only two ways and yet across all cultures and all of history, there’s this recognition like fucking no.

Esther: Errr, wrong. Yeah, totally. Do you have any connection with like the indigenous side of things as well? Like do you have any idea of gender and, and identities in that way?

Leonie: Yeah, well, here, here it is Australia. It’s fascinating because they, they do recognize third gender and they have the sister boy population, with trans women. And I was, I just did some reading about the brother girl population as well. So that’s trans men. There is an island in Australia that is mostly indigenous and the percent of, of sister boys is enormous! It’s basically a population of sister girls. It is the coolest thing ever. It’s the coolest. And also, because I think, you know, kids who aren’t fitting in will then move there as well. But even the kids, the people that are born there, there’s just a very high population of sister girls.

Esther: Ah, yeah. So you, you said initially says, well, I just want to make sure I get this right. So was it the sister, girls and brother boys?

Leonie: I think I’ve got the terminology for the girls wrong. Sorry for the sorry for the boy, whatever, what have you brother boys?

It’d probably be brother boys. So it sister girls for trans men, right? Yeah. And they have very large percent of the population that are sister boys.

Esther: Yeah. Wow. Yeah, that’s really interesting. I’d love to, I’d love to have more indigenous folks on the podcast as well, which is something I’m working on.

I’ve spoken to a two-spirit woman and that was really interesting. Yeah. Yeah. And I didn’t realize that two spirit is sort of like, not like a hundred percent. It’s like really tricky to define these terms. Like in just simple, like oh this is this, but yes, like to spirit is apparently more of an umbrella term.

More for LGBT rather than cause it includes sex and gender, like gender and sexuality and all those things. So yeah, I found that really fascinating. So I’d love to learn more about that. So, yeah. As for your gender journey, how did it develop? So you said as a child, you didn’t really feel like you weren’t really a girly girl. You were more of a tomboy and what was it like as a teenager and growing up and stuff like that?

Leonie: For me, I remember when I hit 13 or 14 and realized like, oh, I’m supposed to be doing beauty things apparently. And I would like study these, you know, like the teen magazines, like there were manuals here. I, this is a very autistic thing to do. Like I should study up on how to be a teen woman. And I remember reading, this outline of a Sunday, beauty routine, like your weekly beauty routine. And I was like, huh, well, I am becoming a woman. I must do this. And so like when Sunday afternoon I follow the checklist that they have in there.

Like how my parents didn’t know I was fucking autistic, I have no clue. But looking back, very strange behavior, kicking off my little checklist of how to be a woman. And so I made like this honey and oatmeal mask that I put on there. And deep conditioning on my hair and shaved all my hair and scrubbed my body.

And then at the end of all this three hours later, I looked at myself in the mirror and I looked exactly the fucking same, except I kind of looked hot and flushed and I smelled still like honey, and that would never come off. And I was like, I don’t look any different. I look kind of worse.

What a fucking waste of time. I could’ve been riding my horse. I could have been reading a book. I could’ve been doing anything but this. So that’s when I just kind of gave up on the whole beauty thing. I thought. Not for me. It’s a bit of a time suck. It’s not a productive use of time. I think I’ll be happier just focusing on other things.

Yeah. So that was great. I’m glad I learned it early by about that time as well. I discovered that I was very much late to come into friendships. I was probably 10 or 11 before I worked out how to make a friend again, autism. And then, and it was with girls originally. And then by the time they got to be about 13, I was like, this is a little too much like this whole level of emotional drama. No, thank you. I don’t understand this whatsoever. I don’t get it. So I would, as the young people say yeet! To that, of that situation and I went and found some boys to hang out with and. I just hung out with boys for the rest of high school. It was great. That was very much, much more simple. And I appreciate that experience completely.

Esther: Yeah, that’s so interesting. I feel like I’m, I’m not diagnosed or anything, but I feel like the more I learn about neurodivergence the more I’m like, oh…

Leonie: Yeah, that’s how I found out I was autistic is all my friends were getting diagnosed and I was like, They’re the coolest people I’ve ever met. They’re the only people I actually understand that I was like, you know what, to be a good friend, I’ll go read a checklist of what again, a checklist, what that’s about.

And then I like read the, like the checklist, especially about the, how it appears in females. Cause it presents completely differently in females than it does in the blokes. And that was the same realization that had. Oh, I see. I see me at my whole life and everything and all my little quirks. They’re just a fucking checklist.

Esther: Yeah. Well explained. Yeah, it’s right there. Yeah. So when did you actually come across the term nonbinary?

Leonie: I love reading graphic novels. And I love to read like graphic nonfiction as well. So comic books that illustrate a subject. And so I read, Ooh they’ve got a whole series out now. They’ve got it’s by Meg- John Barker, and somebody Julia Scheele. I think so they read it was Queer: A Graphic History, and then they’ve got Gender: A Graphic History as well. And I can’t remember it’s one of those books and they’re both phenomenal go preorder the next one. But basically they go through a whole history of it. And it’s like a little bit like reading a university textbook about it in some ways, but so much more accessible and easy to read. And so I’m reading about the history of, of gender and how it was constructed and all like the vast amount of experiences. It absolutely blew my mind and I thought, oh, It’s it’s me like this whole gender nonconforming thing. It’s me. I’m never conformed and I don’t want to conform. And I also don’t have to, and I don’t like, I’m not going to fall in strictly one category or the other. And I know this is super strange, but I didn’t really recognize at that point, that gender and sexuality were completely different as well. Had no fucking clue. Yeah, it was great to get that 101. And I was like,great! It me! Hooray!

Esther: I love it. Yeah. I had heard of those books, actually. I haven’t got them yet, but it sounds sounds right up my street. So I have to give them a look as well.

Leonie: People just love them.

Esther: Yeah. Do you feel like your, your gender and like what you said in the beginning? You know, there’s basically just Leonie really. That’s it. So there’s different facets of this identity, diamond as it were. So I’d like, gender is one of them and you say, I guess, neurodivergence is another, do you feel like it influenced what you’ve done with your life in a way of like being on an entrepreneurial journey, I guess, which is kind of a non-conforming thing to do in a business sense, you know? Cause most people get jobs, I guess, you know? Yeah. So how does that fit together?

Leonie: I think it does come back to just the whole just bare Leonie, whatever that is like, that is your identity. And you know, when I did get diagnosed finally with autism, like I felt like I was having a little bit of a head fuck, like, which what is me and what is actually like the autism here. And my husband said like, Leonie, I want you to know, that’s great if this diagnosis has been helpful to you, but what I want you to know first and foremost is you are Leonie and that you’ve always been Leonie and it’s the most, it’s the reason I love you. And you’re always going to be Leonie. That’s always going to be constant. The autism is just like part of that constellation, but it’s not the, the reason for it. And I feel like that’s such a beautiful sentiment, you know, like he is so reassuring in so many ways. Like it’s okay if like your, your, your gender identity, your sexual identity, your, neurodivergence identity changes, like the constant is you. And that’s a beautiful, that’s a precious thing.

Esther: Hmm. Yeah. So with it potentially changing, do you feel quite comfortable in being nonbinary? Do you feel like you might try on some different labels for size as you go along?

Leonie: Sure, anything that feels like a better fit? Cool beans. I’m in. Because I was pretty happy… Like, you know, I was okay with the pronoun of she, but I was also like, it was a little bit like. It felt like a mask in some ways it’s sort of like, yeah. Okay. I guess you can call me that, but it doesn’t really encompass the whole thing. And I loved it. I could just say it’s a she or they now, because they, for me is like the great mystery, the unknowing, like identity first.

And when I realized, you know, when I read that book about gender and sexuality, I realized like this is enormously freeing and healing for everyone involved. You know, what a great miracle that these very brave individuals have shared their truth with the world and really educated people about the binary and the enormous amount of freedom that you can have with your identity and your sexuality and all that kind of stuff, because it frees all of us, even if we seem to be okay-ish here in the roles that we are, or even if we’re very, very comfortable in the roles that we are. So I think it’s such an enormous, like an enormous gift when people go, this is who I am.

And it gives people freedom to be even more of themselves. And I also felt very strongly like, holy shit, this is the way to heal the patriarchy. Right? Yeah. Because if you actually don’t really know that gender of people, right. Then the patriarchy can’t actually work anymore properly. Like it’s and if that makes sense, like, we actually, like, if somebody is just like, I’m they or them, and you’re like “I can’t tell.” All of a sudden the patriarchy is sort of like, guess I’m going to have to afford them male privilege. I guess I’m just going to have to, I just look at their achievements and their aspects as an individual. You know? And then that can spread outwards to encompass the female genders as well. That’ll just really fuck up that patriarchy.

Esther: Totally. I love that.

Leonie: Yeah. If men can rid themselves of this toxic masculinity as well, you know, because it damages them. It damages them completely

Esther: It damages everyone, doesn’t it?

Leonie: It does. It does, you know, it’s, there’s a reason why the suicide rate for men is so high. It’s, you know, it’s far higher than for females and that’s, that’s, that’s a patriarchy at play to, if somebody gets told over and over again, you’re not allowed to feel your feelings. They will blow up. They will be abusive. They will not be able to contain all of the stuff that’s inside them anymore. Some of them won’t want to live. Like that is fucking devastating, fucking devastating. Like we need to allow blokes to be weak and fragile and not know what to do and be terrified and to cry and to feel all of their feelings because it’s fucking toxic that they can’t. So smash the patriarchy in those ways too.

Esther: Totally. Yeah. So there’s a lot of freedom in like adding the, they pronoun. Yeah. Yeah. And it makes a little sense.

Leonie: It’s a more accurate representation. Like I would say that my, my birth pronoun is they and I’m adding in the she cause I’ve had a she experience. So yeah. Put a note to that.

Esther: Yeah. Oh god that’s so insightful. That’s so cool. I love that. I’ve been playing with the idea of adding they as well as using she, they pronouns. And I especially love when I talk to people who use them interchangeably, because that can really fuck with people’s heads. I mean, it can be confusing as well, obviously, but yeah, I quite like that. I do like that.

Leonie: And, and I feel as well, right. One did, this is how I feel, you know, like I feel like I’m an alien, that’s an alien they who’s coming to the world and I’m being like, oh, tips. Okay, let’s do this. So she or they but by, by being out and proud about them, I just want to try and make it a little bit easier for somebody else to be able to, to consider their own gender sexual experience as well. Like for them to know, like you’re safe with, you’re safe with me. Like. Yeah, I get it. And I’m here for you and I try desperately not to fuck it up. And if I can like push the needle just a tiny bit further with, by sharing my experience publicly, then I’m very happy to do that.

Like honestly, when I shared about like trigger warning, when I shared about it publicly with my mailing list I was like, Hey, just letting you know, this is my pronouns. Now I. I’m not ready. Like, I don’t want to share about the personal journey as to why I’m choosing this. And I actually, don’t owe it to anyone I may share about it, like in depth in the future. But I also may not like I’m just sending, you know, these, my pronouns. And also if you have some 1950s bullshit going on in your head, don’t bother emailing me. Don’t bother with sending me your bullshit, because one, I’m not going to read it like my assistant saw. And they’ll just delete it and they’ll block you and unsubscribe you from all my mailing lists. And you won’t be able to buy any of my programs because I tried to allow for fuckheads to buy from me.

Esther: That’s so good.

Leonie: Secondly, I want you to know that your attitudes and your opinions have very real consequences on the LGBTQIAplus community and that suicide rates for people with it as so much higher. And so I need you to understand that your words are deeply hurtful to this community. So don’t bother replying back. So I was very clear, and I was very boundaried in that, I got an amazing amount of emails that was very supportive. Very cool, awesome, beautiful. Other people who were like, fuck yes, me too. I’m so grateful.

And then I got some people who were like, you know what, I’m just gonna email Leonie some toxic bullshit anyway. And I thought, what the fuck is wrong with you? The fuck is wrong with you? And the blessing is like, I have very high self-confidence and I am like unshakable really, in who I am. And I thought I’m so glad that I’m copping this abuse and not somebody who’s actually like who’s vulnerable and scared.

But it also made me devastated that there are people who were just going to be copping this abuse and they’re vulnerable. And they’re scared. Like that sucks. That absolutely sucks. And even if you’ve boundaried someone, so clearly and said, “actually your opinion is not valid in this situation and it’s toxic and this is the harm it causes.

They’re still going to choose to do it. It just, it really broke my heart that week. And it also broke. I’ve got two assistants and they’re just absolutely brilliant and beautiful. And it broke their hearts as well.

Esther: Yeah. It’s like, it’s like a double bad, isn’t it. If you’ve said, look, I don’t need this shit from you.

So don’t bother. And then there’s people who do it anyway. It’s like, what, what is, what the fuck is wrong with you?

Leonie: When I very clearly said DON’T and why not, and why it has bad impact. Why, why no? And they’ve continued to wait anyway.

Esther: Yeah. I’m really impressed with those boundaries, actually something I’m learning a lot about at the moment at this stage in my life. So, did you have, did you find you had a lot of unsubscribes then people who maybe were like, okay, this is not for me.

And just, what did you, did you notice the stats in that?

Leonie: No, I don’t really. I never like look at the stats. Well, here’s what I’ve learned after many years of having sometimes controversial opinions on the internet is that when people get really funny, pissed off, there’s going to be a bunch that unsubscribe and I am like good because you, you absolutely don’t belong in my space.

And when I teach courses, I’m always going to like weave through social and racial justice issues where I see fit into programs. And you know, if it’s an important thing, I’ll bring it up. Or even if it’s not important thing, I’ll probably mention it in a QA call because why not? Why not have that chance to like educate people into learning a little bit more to how to do better.

So there’s always going to be like this natural attrition. It’s it’s like, I’ve come out very strongly in my mailing list against Trump. And I had a massive, like, you know, quite a few people unsubscribed, but I don’t notice because when I have the inner courage to do that. The right people on my mailing list will go, “Hey, you should really listen to this chick. This chick is on our side. This chick gets it. This chick is for us.” And so my mailing list grows on the other hand. So it’s natural attrition. And so like people who aren’t the right fit for me right now will leave. And people who are much more aligned with me…

Esther: Yeah, that’s the thing at the moment, isn’t it like, lots of people are just coming off the fence with stuff and not necessarily taking sides, but just standing for something that they believe in.

And yeah, it creates a lot of separation, I think, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, obviously. Yeah. Yeah.

Leonie: Not really. Like, and I’m always… Truth be told, like by personal experiences that sometimes I’m quite disappointed when people that have, you know, platforms don’t use it for good. And don’t use it to say very clearly what they’re for and what they’re not for.

So I’m Pro-vaccination, I’m pro-science. I am pro taking good rational decisions to prevent a loss of life because of COVID. And so for somebody who is a conspiracy theorist or into QAnon or into like, you know, railing against public health measures, Not the right fit. Like you, you, I’m going to piss you off and you’re going to piss me off.

So prefer not prefer not. And it’s even on my sales pages, it says if you’re into QAnon or conspiracy theories, like incorrect. By it’s, like it’s not for you. And like on some level, There’s this theory like, oh, you should just embrace everybody. Like, well, no, because these people are going to absolutely hate what I talk about and I don’t have the time and energy for it.

And I kind of ascribed to the belief that they need to have a consequence for their behaviors. And the consequences is I’d. I actually don’t teach people. You know, and if there’s enough people who have a bit of a consequence for doing harmful actions might be, then they might have a little briefing.

They might have a little thing like here in Australia, the Australian government, like we have used lockdowns to prevent COVID outbreaks. It’s challenging its own ways, but I’m also very, very grateful because we’ve had fuck all deaths in comparison to the rest of the world. And most parts of the year, apart from, from Melbourne we’ve been able to live like a COVID free life and just go about and do things that other countries have not been able to do.

You know, the last 18 months have been very different here in Australia than other countries. And completely forgot where I was going with that… oh no, I know. So now that the vaccine is out, the government’s like, well, if you get vaccinated, You will be allowed to, you know, go out to restaurants and sit and, you know, have things that we may not have been able to have so much over the last year.

And I think that’s really useful for people to have consequences for their, for their behavior. You know, it’s sort of like the whole seatbelt policy. You’ve got consequences. If you hope for a fucking seatbelt on to protect your life and to protect other people’s lives.

Esther: Yeah, just think about, to take this next.

Leonie: Oh yeah. It’s got nothing to do with gender, but there we go. Pandemic ran into the century, right? Like we’re always going to, it’s always going to come back to COVID currently.

Esther: Well, it’s, it’s kind of a, you know, it’s, it’s a, it’s a current affair. It is absolutely absolutely. Yeah, I was another thing I want us to talk to you about actually is like being, being successful and like definitions of success and the importance of talking about success and, you know, money and having it, and especially, especially with people and by people who are either minorities or marginalized, you know, the importance of talking about that kind of stuff. Is that something you’ll, you’re quite outspoken about as well?

Leonie: Absolutely. So, and you know, I’d teach about this hidden money manifesting and multiple streams of income, which is my money program, but women, and black indigenous and people of color and LGBTQ plus people have all been really prevented from being able to have their own wealth for centuries. And the only way that capitalism, like the only thing that the only people that capitalism has really bad for it is straight white dudes. Everyone else is like. And so it’s really important for us. Who don’t fit in that, that particular subset of population to, to talk about money, because that’s the way that we improve our financial education. That’s the way that we become the holder and the bearer of our own destiny. And we learn about, especially for us kind of more female orientated folk.

We learn through talking to our best mates about stuff. Really. You know, we learn through conversation and money shouldn’t be excluded from that conversation either. So I love when I meet up with friends and I’m like, how’s your net worth going? Know what are you investing in these days? And actually having those real, like open and honest conversations with people because it’s absolutely fucking fascinating.

And I don’t understand why it’s such a taboo topic when it can be so useful. Actually. You know what? I know why it’s a taboo topic. It’s a taboo topic for women and BIPOC and it’s not a, it’s not a taboo topic for the straight white dudes. You know, they go to golf and like talk about money, so we should not be denied that conversation.

Esther: Totally. I think it’d be really healthy to talk about it more. Cause then they can’t get away with so much nonsense about paying less to certain people because of what genitals they have. Right?

Leonie: Yeah. And then for people to go, oh, that’s what you add for that. Okay, great. That’s what I should be earning.

Esther: Exactly. Yeah. Totally. Is there anything that you’d like to mention that we haven’t talked about yet bringing it all together? Maybe. Cause like I love the unique approach that is like, we’ve all got our individuality and it’s great to embrace it, especially if it differs from the norm, I think it’s more difficult, more challenging, but I think definitely more rewarding. Isn’t it? I would say.

Leonie: I think so. And yeah, like where I’m at. Like, I don’t really feel like I have much to lose from being open about my various journeys and whatever. I think it’s useful for a lot of people. I think it’s helpful and healing for other people. If it can push a conversation a little bit further. Great. Great. And if I get some kickback from it oh, well, because I’m. I’m a tough cookie. I don’t fucking care. I don’t fucking care what people think, because I know who I am on the inside.

And let’s what, you know, it’s why I share about my autism experience as well, because it’s going to help so many people, it already has helped so many people go, oh, it’s me. Finally, everything makes sense. And when you realize that, like there’s nothing actually wrong with you, it’s just that, like, it’s just a little piece of missing information that’s going to open the whole world up for you. That’s that’s how I see gender. That’s how I see neuro-diversity. That’s how I see all of the front out and be all of you and other people might go “oh, me also.”

Esther: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. It’s just about bringing it all together really and integrating it and just being who you are in the end, accepting all of who you are.

Leonie: Yeah. And I also recognize that I’m in a safe place to do that. Really? I know, I know that other people aren’t and. I want you to know that like we’re all cheering you on and hope that you can find that safety in, in whatever ways is right for you.

Esther: Yeah, for sure. Oh, one thing I was just thinking about is one of your courses you talk about investing and I think if, if we just allowed ourselves to be more comfortable and actually practiced, you know, having these conversations and stuff and thinking about just thinking about the good we could do. If, if more money were in the hands of like marginalized or minority groups, you know, like world would fucking change overnight, wouldn’t it? It totally would. Yeah. And you do something like, is it ethical investment funds?

Yeah, I was fascinated by it. I was like, oh, this is great.

Leonie: It’s so exciting. So when, when you look at the statistics women, when they have money are the highest philanthropists in the world they donate so much more of their money and make so much more traction with it, than dudes and dudes will just spend it on themselves and females will invest it back into their families, into their children, their education, their communities, and through philanthropic donations as well.

So, I want to make sure that I align my money where my mouth is. So one part of that is we donate every single year to charities. We’ve done awesome, fun things. Like we built a library in Vietnam through room to read. We helped to build a six room school in Ghana, in west Africa, three pencils of promise. And that was just, that was a bunch of, of friends and me, or we just got a bit bored and we’re like, fuck it. Let’s fund somebody and build a school. So that’s what we did. Yeah, well, a bit bored. So that’s what chicks do when they get bored. And donated $45,000 to a Kenyan children’s organization.

And now because of the climate crisis, we donate our funds to directly fighting the climate crisis. So about 25 to $30,000 a year to places like Australian wildlife Conservancy, that buys up land for wildlife, which I just it’s the coolest fucking things since sliced bread and creates, you know, preserves these ecosystems and then creates these, like, I think that’s part of the climate, you know, solution is to make sure that there’s these areas, that natural habitat, and also to like friends of the earth who do more advocacy to try and push for legislative changes because here in Australia, the, we are, we have a conservative government in place currently that are not really pushing for like, you know, I think, I think they’re currently arguing about zero emissions by 2050. And I’m like, fucking, really like you’re arguing over this? Can we not talk about 2030 instead or something? So anyway, step-by-step so that’s what I pushed for with the donations. And then when it comes to what we actually invest our money in for our own personal wealth is, you know, I had money in shares, but then I was like, oh, I don’t feel great about this, because some of those shares like in shit situation like that, like shit companies especially in your superannuation, you don’t actually have any choice over, like for your retirement plans. You don’t have choice over where it’s getting invested. And so it can be invested in mining and gambling and warfare and, you know, polluters, the big polluters and so swapping our retirement funds and our shares into ethical managed funds and ethical superannuation instead was very exciting to us. So I made that switch. It was so easy. I can’t believe how easy it was. It literally took me two minutes online to move all our retirement funds over. They’ve performed really, really well. They usually outperforming over time at funds. Talk to her financial advisor about this, but amazingly well. It was brilliant. So we use a company called Australian ethical and they do superannuation and managed funds and managed funds is basically you’re buying shares in like shares in lots of different companies. You’re not just buying shares in one company and it’s like, it’s like our superannuation works except you can access it at any time.

Esther: It was so interesting though, to learn more about that because you’ve got you’ve got, I think, is it your cheapest course? It’s like $7 now. Isn’t it? The behind the scenes of, of

Leonie: the, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Esther: Yeah. And it’s, I think it’s really great for, for people to look into that. And it’s like, it expands your money mindset as well, like looking at what would you do with this money? If you had this money, like, what would you actually do with it. You know, besides live a good life, I guess, and have the, the essentials in place. But like, yeah, all the other stuff you could do.

Leonie: Yeah. It’s useful to like inspire people into, like, this is possible. This is what could be doing. And also when you have spare funds, you can do anything you like with it. You know, some people like I completely acknowledge the fact that sometimes people get very triggered by the amount of money that I earn and then the amount of money I donate and all that kind of stuff as well. But I think it’s useful for people to be triggered because maybe it’ll help them look inside them for why they’re being triggered. Maybe they’re jealous. Maybe they feel like I should be donating in a different direction or they should be donating more or whatever. That’s totally cool. It’s absolutely okay. If you have those triggers and for you to recognize that that’s cool. I’m just doing it my way and I’m just sharing what I’m doing and you can do it completely differently. You can have like set up a company where 50% of your profits go to this and this, and that would be amazing.

I can’t wait to see you create that. That’s so great.

Esther: Yeah, absolutely. So where can people find you online?

Leonie: Oh, well, there’s only one place because I gave up social media at the start of this year and it was amazing. Loved it. So my website is I have heaps of free shit on there. For people who want to start and build businesses, or just want to become more creative or want to really take control of their money and all that glorious shit. It’s all there. It’s all there for you, my loves.

Esther: Awesome. Yeah. So you said you quit social media. I mean, it’s been, it’s been a good thing that you’ve not been tempted to go back.

Leonie: Why would I be tempted to go back? It sucked. Yeah, I thought I’d do it for 21 days just to, you know, as a pallet cleanse and then within a couple of days of going off it, I was like I’m actually never going back. My inner peace is restored. I feel like myself again, I feel so much more creative and productive than I have in years. And I thought like, I’d really grieved that I thought that part of my life was over at, you know, the, the life before the internet began like that quiet space in my mind.

But then I discovered it’s actually not about the internet at all. It’s about social media and social media is such a new invention. And so they’re only now just having longitudinal studies of the effects on brain and self-confidence and health and all that kind of stuff. And spoiler alert. It’s fucking not good. It’s really not good. It actually erodes your capacity to have short-term and long-term memories, and it affects every single area of your mental health and your ability to sleep. And you, when your anxiety levels and your depression and how you perceive yourself all of the fucking things. Yeah, it’s bad.

Like it is absolutely smoking, but worse. It is smoking but worse. And so as I like researched this more and more, and I read some fantastic books, like digital minimalism by Cal Newport, and How. to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price. And, I thought I, I would afford a new future for myself that doesn’t have social media.

I genuinely have not missed it. And here’s the thing, right? Like the latest studies is that Americans spend two and a half hours on their phones and on social media, every single day, two and a half hours a day is enormous. It’s it’s enormous. That is a part-time job. That is, you know, you’re looking at 16 hours a week.

What could you be doing with 16 hours a week? You could take up a whole hobby. You could study part-time at university. You could legitimately like have a part-time job in that time you could be making so much more money. You could be getting so much fitter. Like th there’s no, like there’s no gain with social media. There’s this idea that, oh, but I’ll stay more connected. No, I’m actually more connected with my friends now that I was with social media.

Esther: Interesting. Yeah. I was just thinking about how I’m going to be sharing this episode on social media, but okay.

Leonie: Oh yeah, totally happy to end it. Like it took, like, it took a while for me to wean myself off and also consider like how my business was going to work without it, because yeah, of course we were bringing over $1 million a year with my business and it’s an online business. I was like, how the fuck can I get my business off social media? And we did, and it’s done really well so much. So people ask me so much because people are all like, yeah, I really want to leave social media. So I created a new course called “marketing without social media” because people would just hassling this half so much to find out how they could do it for themselves. So it’s doable.

Esther: Yeah, totally. Totally. Yeah. I, I sometimes dare look at my screen time or my phone because I’ll be like, what? Yeah, it’s a bit, it’s, it’s a lot.

Leonie: Like, even if you just start by just taking off Instagram and Facebook and whatever social media apps you use off your phone and go, you know what? You can use it on your desktop and you can give yourself an amount of time on your desktop, but it’s when you have a phone that can go with you everywhere and it’s just so easy to set up and then you just keep on that infinite scroll, the infinite scroll saw.

Esther: Yeah. It is such a thing. And I even sometimes when I feel like I need to just go on Facebook to share this thing for the podcast and then foreign, as soon as I see the newsfeed I’m gone, I’m just scrolling. It’s like, damn, every time.

Leonie: Yeah, and also like don’t beat up on yourself for that. It’s designed to do that. They have thousands and thousands of psychologists and, and testers to work out how to make it as addictive as possible. So that it’s just like being at a slot machine. You have no idea of time passing and you’re just going to keep on pressing that fucking lever. It’s the same mechanism and they’re using the same people to hack your brain in order to, for you to, to just chew up your time because your time is worth a lot of money. Yeah.

Esther: It is. Yeah, totally.

Leonie: So, even if you set up a little timer on, like you like give yourself a timer on your phone, on, on whatever that you’ve got five minutes to post this and when it goes down, you get the fuck off. And that will help zero that focus in a little bit more and give you a little bit more accountability, but it’s treacherous work.

Esther: It is. It is. Yeah. I’ve got, you know, I struggled with it to be fair.

Leonie: Yeah, of course you do. We all do because that’s what it’s designed to do is to make you struggle.

Esther: Yeah. Is there anything you’d like to add before we wrap up?

Leonie: I just want like all of us, just to know that you’re bloody magnificent just as you are with all your oddnesses and idiosyncrasies and your questioning and the feeling of not quite sure if you’re belonging or doing the right thing. I just want you to know that you belong and that you’re bloody wonderful. And however that wants to express itself into the world. I’m so happy for it. I’m I’m cheering you on you’ve got your little rainbow auntie Leonie, and just cheering you on just like a very, very excitable geriatric relative.

Esther: I love it. Yay. Thank you so much!

Leonie: Even if I’m younger than you, I am still your geriatric aunt and that is how you need to recognize me. I do have the personality of, you know, like an aunt, like a great aunt who’s like in their eighties, you know, and she’s a little bit odd, but you think she’s 80, it there’s a reason for it. So I just want you to apply that mindset to this. Okay. This geriatric . That’s great. She’s just cheering you on. She thinks everything that you do is wonderful. Oh, you’re marvelous. I love you so much.

Esther: I’ll have to remember that when I’m having an off day. I love that.

Leonie: Just geriatric rainbow aunt Leonie is there just cheering you on. Thanks. You’re wonderful. Fetching your cups of tea.

Esther: Love it. Oh, thank you so much for talking to me Leonie.

Leonie: Oh, you’re a doll. Thanks for having me. So thank you for having these important conversations. I’m so grateful to you. And as soon as I saw your email come in, I was like, yes, yes.

Esther: Sign me up. Yeah!

We wish to acknowledge the Gubbi Gubbi people and Gunditjmara people, the Traditional and ongoing Custodians of the lands Leonie Dawson International creates and works from. We would like to pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We also wish to acknowledge the traditional and ongoing custodians of the land and seas where you are, and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging also. [Taken from Leonie’s website]

About Leonie

Leonie Dawson is an internationally best-selling author of the 2021 Goal Getter workbooks & planners which have been used by over 400,000 people worldwide.

A multi-passionate entrepreneur, Leonie has generated over $10 million in revenue while only working 10 hours a week. Leonie has been recognised for her business acumen by winning Ausmumpreneur’s People’s Choice Business Coach, Global Brand & Businesses Making A Difference Awards.

Leonie has spent the last 10 years living in some of the most beautiful places around Australia. She currently lives with her two daughters and husband on the Sunshine Coast.

Leonie uses she/they pronouns.

You can find Leonie on and you can find all of Leonie’s courses here [affiliate link[.

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