Today I’m chatting with Tepsii, a social justice activist, author, copywriter, and 6-figure business strategist from South Africa.
Our conversation was so rich and lush, roaming around through ancestral tales and colonial histories, subverting patriarchal narratives via name changes, and how everything Tepsii does is really about a return to self.
Tepsii is an indigenous South African who was born during Apartheid and raised in the United States, and she weaves social justice activism and writing into her business practices, using her platform to speak boldly about racism and women’s empowerment in the coaching and self-development world.
Tepsii is a mom who started her business at her kitchen table with three kids under foot in March 2015 and has been featured in places like O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine (SA), and renowned podcasts like the acclaimed Internet Business Mastery Podcast.
She’s also a bestselling author of Open Your Gifts, a book she co-authored with celebrity actor/comedian/entrepreneur, Kim Coles.
She’s also really fun to chat with and has no problem carving her own path with her husband and children.
Enjoy our ramble through a story from her ancestors as well as her relationship with her body and creativity.
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Things we chatted about in this episode:
- suburbs and walking culture in South Africa / Canada
- on how people walk a lot in South Africa but there are few sidewalks
- how few people walk in Canada, but there are sidewalks everywhere
- favourite ancient tale comes from Tepsii’s own family history and Venda culture
- a tale filled with survival, name changes, travels – long long story – over an hour
- every year the story is told when the family gathers, one particular uncle tells the story, listeners fill in any gaps because the story is told year after year
- a communal act of telling and sharing a story
- oral history culture, and a tale that traces the movement of the Venda people throughout Africa to South Africa
- a complicated history – of being indigenous South Africans who also conquered the previous indigenous inhabitants
- on what being a good custodian of a story means
- the necessity and power of changing your name
- on how her ‘big white lawyer husband’ changed his surname to Tepsii’s surname in the USA – how difficult it was for him to do so
- famous example in the USA – Jack White of the band The White Stripes – he took his wife’s surname
- powerful ideas of patriarchal ideals, masculinity, respect, emasculation and name changes
- the family history of name changes and the discussion and sometimes confusion that arises from those historic changes
- on growing up with the surname Tshikororo, thinking she was 100% Venda, then recently discovering her father’s original surnamee was Sekororo, of the Pedi people, and because of Apartheid her father changed his name and hid his background at the age of 16 in order to continue living where he was living.
- on apartheid’s rules about race classifications and how deeply it’s impacted her family
- relationship with body
- on using her body as a healing tool after an abusive relationship
- threw herself into hot Bikram Yoga, used the postures as an opportunity to be with her body and connect to herself
- healed carpal tunnel syndrome with Bikram classes
- how having children has changed her relationship with her body
- learning to love the body she’s in since having children
- on a continuous evolution of loving her body and appreciating health
- our body is an amazing vessel
- how important it is to have conversations with women about these things
- making a choice to emphasize the amazing rather than the flaws
- on watching our daughters grow into cultures that are highly critical of women’s bodies
- being a proponent of less judgment, less harshness
- compassion and love is the key
- having as a mission to help more women step into empowerment and financial security by healing as a daily practice
- on time being cyclical – we always circle back around to what needs healing
- healing is human, pain and grief and healing are parts of being human, are all a cycle
- relationship with creativity
- was born an artist
- wanted to be an artist and a geologist as a child (loved rocks!)
- was told somewhere along the way that artists don’t make money, shifted and thought more about doing a conventional corporate career, stopped doing daily art
- doing daily art is the part of the day that really brings her home
- believes that creativity and art is home, having been raised in the USA, so far from home in South Africa
- recently brought her creativity back into her life
- has always been a writer, words flow through her
- has sometimes judged herself and critiqued how creative she is
- letting go of judgment and perfectionism and playing and just being super creative feeds her soul
- everything comes back around to a return to self – how success is really fulfillment, service, love, family, a sense of home, appreciating her body