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Instead of making an enemy of your anxiety, you can make a friend out of your anxiety.

This approach to the challenges of living with anxiety—in both your life and business as a leader—helps to turn the fear that comes with anxiety into your superpower.

But if you’re to make friends with your anxiety, you need to understand the story behind its fear and concerns. Anxiety has a mission to protect and it often does so in ways that are crushing, robbing you of your presence and the place where you show up in your truth.

Making friends with your anxiety—and finding the story beneath it—isn’t done by pushing through or thinking your way out of it. That just turns up the dial.

Instead, when you build a relationship with the parts of you that hold your anxiety—instead of trying to kill it or crush it—your life will be different and your ability to lead will feel different.

You will lead with your anxiety instead of it leading you.

My guest today did just that. Not only did he study and befriend his anxiety but he saw it as a way to fuel his desire for life-long growth and performance. He learned that the best way to protect his presence is to cultivate practices where he took the time and space to prepare.

Chef Joel Gamoran is best known as the host for A&E’s hit series “Scraps,” and has become one of the nation’s most well-known sustainability storytellers. Joel spent over ten years as a National Chef for Sur La Table and, in 2018, Joel released his book “Cooking Scrappy,” inspiring home cooks to turn scraps into delicious meals.

Joel also makes monthly appearances on NBC’s Today Show, sharing his recipes and sustainability tips to a worldwide viewership. Through entertainment, creativity, humility, and education, Joel brings people together with a common goal of getting good food on the table while being mindful of waste.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • Why Joel’s committed to presence and befriending his anxiety
  • Joel’s radical acceptance of his nervous system
  • How he sees a scrappy mindset as a powerful leadership tool
  • Navigating anxiety while live on national TV

Learn more about Joel Gamoran:

Learn more about Rebecca:

Other resources mentioned in this episode:


Joel Gamoran: The reality is, is my anxiety makes me more prepared. I have a fear of being dehydrated. I always have water on me, and one time I was stuck in a subway underground for an hour and a half, and I had a nice big jug of cold water on me, thank god. And so, there is a piece of me that says I’m grateful for my anxiety, and if I didn’t have it, maybe I’d be not as prepared as I should be. So that’s kind of how I look at it.

[Inspirational Intro Music]

Rebecca Ching: You can make a friend out of your anxiety instead of making it an enemy. This approach to anxiety can help turn a lot of the fears and concerns that come along with anxiety into superpowers. Now, developing a friendly relationship with your anxiety might feel pretty counterintuitive. Afterall, anxiety can crush your confidence and make it feel like the world is closing in on you. Anxiety can drain your time, resources, and your wellbeing.

So building a positive relationship with your anxiety is not bypassing or minimizing it. It’s understanding anxiety is complex. We feel it in our bodies, we notice it in our thoughts, and we see it impact our behaviors. Having compassion towards these responses help better understand the story anxiety is holding and support along with practice and presence help lead the anxiety instead of the anxiety leading you.

I’m Rebecca Ching, and you’re listening to The Unburdened Leader, the show that goes deep with leaders whose burdens have inspired their life’s work. Our goal is to learn how they’ve addressed these burdens, how they rise from them and become better and more impactful leaders of themselves and others.

So if we’re gonna make friends with our anxiety, we need to understand the story behind its fears and concerns. Anxiety always has a story. It has a mission to protect, and it does so in ways that could be crushing.


Because anxiety is often debilitating, treating it requires specialized support and interventions. And yet, for many, it is just a part of life often not seen by the outside observer. Anxiety robs us of our presence, that space where we show up in our truth. So the hunt to figure out how to deal with anxiety is all too common for many.

Now, this is not something that is simply done through a thought or a belief. We cannot power over anxiety and just think through solutions. This only turns up the dial on anxiety. When you build a relationship with the parts of you that hold your anxiety, instead of trying to kill it or crush it, your life will be different and your ability to lead will feel different because you develop the ability to lead your anxiety instead of it leading you. You learn how to move through anxiety when it shows up, and my guest today did just that. He studied his anxiety, he befriended it, and he saw it as a way to fuel his desire for lifelong growth and peak performance. He learned that the best way to protect his presence is to cultivate practices where he took the time and space to prepare.

Chef Joel Gamoran is best known as the host for A&E’s hit series Scraps and has become one of the nation’s most well-known sustainability storytellers. Joel spent over ten years as National Chef for Sur La Table. In 2018, Joel released his book Cooking Scrappy: Inspiring Home Cooks to Turn Scraps into Delicious Meals, and this book is totally a family favorite. Joel also makes monthly appearances on NBC’s Today Show, sharing his recipes and sustainability tips to a worldwide viewership.


Through entertainment, creativity, humility, and education, Joel brings people together with a common goal of getting good food on the table while being mindful of waste.

Now, listen to Joel’s why behind his commitment to presence and befriending anxiety. Take note of his radical acceptance of his nervous system and how he sees a scrappy mindset as a powerful leadership tool. And don’t miss his story of navigating anxiety while live on national TV. You’re in for a treat today (yes, pun intended) as I welcome Chef Joel Gamoran to The Unburdened Leader podcast.

I am so excited to have a conversation with you today!

Joel Gamoran: Oh, thanks, Rebecca! And we’ve been chatting a lot, so I’m thrilled to even do this even virtually but live. It’s a total pleasure to be here.

Rebecca Ching: Yes, definitely great to connect in this way. It’s super meaningful, and I’m really, really excited for people to get to know you better and your story better. You are an incredible leader, and we’re gonna talk more about what you’ve been doing but I want to start off with a little bit more about your personal life. You’ve shared in some interviews and things that have been written that you had difficult times at home that led you to cooking as a catalyst to connect with your family and to ease the conflict. So can you tell me about the day that you decided that cooking was gonna be the tool that you’d use to connect with your family?

Joel Gamoran: Mm, that’s a great question, Rebecca. Yeah, so for me, cooking and food was always kind of just substance, right? Growing up, it was just a way to have fuel, and then around 15, 16 my parents separated, and I have three other siblings, so there are four of us. We would have huge family dinners. My mom was definitely a Martha Stewart wannabe, and she would make amazing dishes.


Every Sunday, it would be kind of a different place in the world. She would make sushi and Korean barbecue and enchiladas, and then when they got divorced it all stopped, just stopped.

Rebecca Ching: Wow.

Joel Gamoran: And we all kind of just dispersed. I remember eating a little bit in my room, and listen, I’m not blaming my parents. It was a very rough time on them, but I don’t know, the sexiness of cooking kind of left the building and I realized, man, I wasn’t just getting calories from food, I was getting connection, warmth, and belonging with food. I realized that, to me, was the essence of becoming who I am in my soul, and so, I just thought I would experiment.

So I remember I made cornbread from a jar or a can. I remember opening up the lid, adding eggs and milk, and baking the cornbread and putting it on the table, and all of a sudden, there’s my sister, there’s my brother. My mom came to the table, and my dad wasn’t living with us, but we were around the table, and I realized food is sticky, you know? It’s like honey to bees. That was kind of the lightbulb moment – that canned cornbread, that if I create something, I can bring people together.

Rebecca Ching: Wow. “If I create something, I can bring people together.” That’s a powerful insight as a teenager.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, and so, tell me a little about how that unfurled. You had this hard stop in your family, a shift. As a child of divorce myself, too, and my parents were separated from when I was in seventh to ninth grade, and then the divorce was official in ninth. So high school was — and my mom, then, started dating my stepdad who lived out of state. So I had to do a lot of cooking on my own.

And so, I’m listening to you talk and realizing that was one of the joyous things was to cook and to have all my friends come over because I had the house to myself. [Laughs]

Joel Gamoran: Totally. Totally!


Rebecca Ching: And so, that is powerful. I love the word sticky, right? That connection, that sticky connection, that’s something that we’re all craving.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: So are there other things that prompted the desire for cooking? You mentioned your mom cooking all this amazing food. There was the hard stop. You were kind of eating in your room by yourself and then went, “Nuh-huh, I want to bring this back.”

Joel Gamoran: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Tell me a little bit more about what was prompting those desires.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah, I think a big part of it for me was also the outlet. To some people, that could be working out, and for other people it could be hiking a mountain or kayaking or whatever your shtick is, taking your bike for a ride. For me, it was kneading dough, right? I was a very competitive tennis player growing up, and I would lose a match, and I would just find myself making pizza. I don’t know why. I was just there.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Joel Gamoran: I would lose time, you know? Before I knew it — the pizza wasn’t even that great. I remember one pizza I made I thought the sugar was salt. It was like a dessert pizza, and everyone just spit it out. That’s okay.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Joel Gamoran: For me, I think the kitchen became a way of kind of zenning out and meditating a little bit and being more grounded because everything around me was changing, but I knew that if I whisked eggs with warm cream that the eggs would get firm no matter what, and they’d become a custard, you know? I knew if I baked bread, it would build a crust and smell good. So there is something about the reliability of cooking to me that was comforting because I think everything around me was changing, if that makes sense.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, my gosh. You created these certainty anchors through the science of food.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: And I’m just sitting here reflecting, and I’ve been talking with a lot of my mom friends, and everyone’s like, “I’m so sick of cooking!” or “Cooking feels laborious or like a chore or something that feels like a punishment,” but for you, it was therapy, it was love, it was community, and it was grounding.


That’s powerful. That’s probably why my family connected so much with you and your work. We can see that love for food. We feel that in our home.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Because cooking, especially with my daughter Hazel who you just met before we started the show, we couldn’t really leave the house. And so, cooking became something that we could do as a family and became something that was an expression and a way to create and an outlet too.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah, I think it’s interesting. I think that’s a great point, Rebecca. I can see that in your family, the fact that Hazel, who’s 12 years old, is whipping up zucchini bread and bringing fresh pasta to her teachers is so cool. I don’t understand — I guess there is a part of me that does because, at one point in my life, I did look at food as just a way to fuel my body. But I don’t understand people who maybe don’t value food and the power it has and where it’s just fuel. I’m surrounded by people like that.

My dad kind of looks at food like that. He’s a total meat and potatoes guy. My brother’s like that. And so, it’s hard for me to connect those dots because I think you’re right. I think there’s something extremely powerful about this thing that we all have to do every day, three times a day, and why not lean into it and kind of embrace it, right? Maybe that’s why, I don’t know, I set out to inspire the world to cook, which is kind of my why. That’s why I exist is everything in my world needs to ladder back to that. If it doesn’t inspire people to cook, I don’t do it. It’s just not something I do.

So I think that there is a part of me that feels like maybe if someone was extremely overweight and they lost 200 pounds they might set out to inspire people around fitness goals. That kind of feels like me with food. I like talking to people who don’t look at food as sticky, magical, as this community builder because, to me, there’s something about inspiring them that gets me up in the morning, if that makes sense.


Rebecca Ching: It makes so much sense, especially after watching your show Cooking Scrappy. So it makes so much sense in watching your videos online. So I think that this is what draws people in, and so, I’m really excited.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: I’m excited for people to hear this conversation and be exposed to your work. One of the things I want to shift to a little bit is someone who’s been the head chef, national chef for Sur La Table and I mentioned the show Cooking Scrappy, which was on A&E I think?

Joel Gamoran: Yep, yep.

Rebecca Ching: It’s bounced around a little bit, yeah. And so, you’ve done all this upfront work, but you’ve also shared you’ve battled anxiety throughout your life, and I read you even had a big fear around public speaking. I had to pause and read that twice.

Joel Gamoran: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: But as someone who’s worked with people with anxiety, anyone who suffers from anxiety knows that you develop mad skills to keep that struggle from being seen. So I’m wondering if you could tell me about a time when anxiety nearly kept you from speaking up publicly or about a time when anxiety got between you and the message you wanted to share.

Joel Gamoran: Mm, that’s another great question, Rebecca, and I’m loving this. I think that everyone battles anxiety, and I think anxiety is something that’s not talked enough about, and it comes in many different forms. And it’s hard for us to put our finger on it, but when I was nine years old, I faked sick from school. I remember it. I just didn’t want to go, pretended I had a cough, and I was in bed, and I was watching a movie. My mom let me stay home, and I was watching a movie, and I remember it was an action movie, and the good guy was coming around the corner, and all of a sudden my veins started to pulsate on my hands. It was weird. I couldn’t breathe, and my heart was just hurting. No one was home, and I was hyperventilating, and I was having a panic attack. I don’t know why at nine years old, but I was. And it wasn’t like I was stressed about anything. It was kind of an intense part of the movie, but I was having this straight up panic attack. I didn’t know that’s what it was. I thought it was a heart attack and I was dying.


Since then, I’ve had a lot of those, and so, I’ve had to change the way that I look at things. I don’t drink caffeine. It triggers it. I try and be really level-headed because otherwise it triggers it. But what I don’t do is avoid moments that bring anxiety. For me, that was public speaking. Being Jewish, I had a bat mitzvah at 13, which meant I had to lead a service in front of 200 people and give a speech.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, my goodness.

Joel Gamoran: Which, at 13 years old, terrifying, and that was peak anxiety, right? And so, I was really scared I was gonna hyperventilate in front of all my friends and family. So what I did is I practiced that speech until I couldn’t see. It comforted me to just repeat, repeat, repeat and practice, and I gave a killer speech. But what I really realized was the power of being myself and authentic and starting to grow this comfort of presenting in class and going to college and leading a team and getting up in front of everyone. I realized that was a piece: stage fright. But I got over it. And so, there are lots of other pieces I challenge every single day.

By the way, when I go on The Today Show in front of four million people or when they say “action” on a cooking show, there are always butterflies still to this day. When I get on a plane and they shut the door, it’s really hard for me. I’m really scared, you know? When I go on a subway in New York and I’m traveling to a meeting it’s intense. So it never goes away. Anxiety doesn’t go away. Listen, when people call “action” and there are four million people watching or when I’m on an airplane or a subway and the door closes and I’m underground or stuck up in the air, I still get anxiety.

I’ve read lots of books about anxiety. I’ve talked to a lot of doctors. But there’s not a magic pill. There’s not something you can do. There are absolutely things that can help reduce anxiety and the triggers of anxiety, like I said, stop drinking caffeine, get a good night’s sleep, try and kind of balance your work-life.


All those things matter, and they help, but the question that everyone has asked me is do I want to stop anxiety, and let’s just think about that for a sec.

So I prep for The Today Show, I’m guessing, two hours more than the average chef who’s on The Today Show because I’m so scared of getting up there in front of four million people that I think about every inch of what I do. I go over it a million times. I write it out. I take pictures. I’ll record myself. I’ve been on The Today Show 70 times, and it still doesn’t — right? But the reality is my anxiety makes me more prepared, you know? I have a fear of being dehydrated. I always have water on me, and one time I was stuck on a subway underground for an hour and a half, and I had a nice big jug of cold water on me, thank god. And so, there is a piece of me that says I’m grateful for my anxiety, and if I didn’t have it, maybe I’d be not as I should be. So that’s kind of how I look at it.

Rebecca Ching: It’s interesting that you’re approaching — because so many people look at anxiety — because in the purest sense, that fight/flight part is protective, right?

Joel Gamoran: Right.

Rebecca Ching: And then it gets distorted in our modern world and adapts. For you, you’ve befriended it and adapted to it and saying “Okay, we’re gonna be prepared,” whether it’s with water or practicing. I’m curious, though, I mean, out of the 70 times you’ve been on The Today Show, for example, you’re a new father and we’re living in a time of pandemic.

So what happens in the times that maybe you don’t get all the planning in that you want? How do you navigate that or is that something that you are so rigid about and are able to structure? I mean, my sense is that life happens, and you can’t always have that prep time.


So, yeah, what goes on? When anxiety starts to creep up in those times that you don’t feel as prepared, what do you say to yourself in those moments?

Joel Gamoran: You know, you can’t predict everything, and you’re right on that.

Rebecca Ching: Yep.

Joel Gamoran: And so, I think when you’re in a moment where you get caught off guard, you need to go back to your breathing. You need to go back to your fundamentals. For me, it’s meditation all the time. I need to close my eyes, and I need to kind of — every single day I meet with my business manager and we do something called Breathe. He hates it. He’s sitting right next to me laughing, but for three minutes before every single day, we shut off our computers and we’re on mute, and we breathe for three minutes. Because we don’t know what the day’s gonna throw at us, but we do know that we’ll stay grounded, and we do know that we won’t over-promise and we do know that if we’re gonna commit to something that we’ll be prepared for it.

And so, yes, things happen but I will say 99% of the time I’m prepared, and I spend my life preparing because it’s not okay for me — I won’t show up and I won’t enjoy it and I won’t do a good job if I didn’t prepare for this call, Rebecca. So everything I do I have at least a mental I could wrap my head around it. My cell phone’s to the side, I am 100% present, and I think that helps subside my anxiety. If something catches me off guard, I’m not gonna lie and say that I’m perfect, but I do go back to the fundamentals of breathing and kind of trying to stay as grounded as possible.

Rebecca Ching: So if I’m watching you on The Today Show and I just see you take a pause, I know you’re having a moment?

Joel Gamoran: That’s it.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Joel Gamoran: Totally. I’ll give an example of that. I’ve been on The Today Show twice now, three times where Hoda from — and at the time it was Kathie Lee and Hoda — I was teaching her how to chop a vegetable, and she cut her finger on live television.

Rebecca Ching: Oh!

Joel Gamoran: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Joel Gamoran: It wasn’t a bad cut. It wasn’t a bad cut, but blood was coming down her finger onto her arm and Kathie Lee was freaking out, and in my mind I’m thinking, “This is it! This is my career,” you know? “There’s blood everywhere. There are millions of people watching in America. I’m supposed to teach her knife skills, and she just chopped her finger off.”


And so, there was a moment there where anxiety creeps in and then you realize a couple things. One is vulnerability is power, and I talk about that a lot, you know? What would anyone do in that moment? They would freak out and lean into it, and just because eight million or four million or three million people are watching doesn’t mean I’m not gonna act the way I would normally act. The way I’d normally act is make sure she’s calm, maybe joke about it so she’s joking about it, get her a Band-Aid, and we’re live on TV, and that’s cool because you know what, anyone can relate to that.

So I think one of the biggest things to do is, when you’re feeling vulnerable, say something, lean into it, and own it because people respect that.

Rebecca Ching: And that’s powerful.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Because vulnerability is something that, obviously — Brené Brown defines vulnerability as risk, uncertainty, and emotions.

Joel Gamoran: Yes, I love her!

Rebecca Ching: Oh, sure, me too, me too. I’ve had the privilege of working with her and her organization for eight years. 

Joel Gamoran: Oh, wow. Wow!

Rebecca Ching: And it’s been a game changer being a facilitator of her work. It’s powerful, and that risk uncertainty and emotional exposure is activating to anxiety. [Laughs] It says “danger!” But there are a couple things that I’m hearing — I mean, breathe, yes. The neuroscience and biology of breath is a game changer, but I’m hearing you say if you were doing that same segment, but the cameras weren’t on, the sense I get is that is exactly what you would have done too. “All right, let’s not take ourselves too seriously. Let’s get you cleaned up. Let’s get a Band-Aid, and let’s move forward.” And so, it’s staying true to you.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: You know who you are, Joel. That’s what I’m hearing.

Joel Gamoran: Aww.

Rebecca Ching: You’re not performing. You’re staying true to you.

Joel Gamoran: I think you’re right, and I think that’s why I’ve found success in this. And I think if anyone who stayed true to themselves in whatever they do, whether you’re a banker, whether you’re a dad or a mom or a full-time physician, it doesn’t matter, if you’re staying true to who you are, then you know you’re being the most authentic and doing the best at your moment, and people relate to that, and no one’s judging you for that.


But I think the second you get off course, you feel inauthentic. People can sense it, and you don’t know how to react in the moment because you’re off course, and that’s when anxiety and everything flares up, at least for me. And I can feel it in my gut. I don’t know if you’re the same, Rebecca, but I know when something’s not me.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, yes.

Joel Gamoran: And that’s when it’s the worst, you know what I mean?

Rebecca Ching: It’s the worst. I want to take a shower. I want to go do erase, record, rewind of that, [Laughs] and yeah, but it is amazing how reflexive it is to try and be who we think we should be.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: But I’m sensing, too, you’re drilling down — I don’t know if I’m reading this right, but there’s this sense that your preparation and your passion for excellence is not just an anti-anxiety approach. It’s part of your core values. It’s part of excellence. Am I sensing that correctly?

Joel Gamoran: You’re totally right, and not only that, I look at every moment — and I know if you’re listening to this, I am not perfect. I love spacing out and watching Netflix. I love just letting go, all that stuff. It’s not like I sit around all day prepping for everything, but what I do do is I only take what I can handle. I pace it out, and I believe that every experience is bettering you, and so, you should be extremely present in that moment.

So an example would be if I was getting robbed — this has never happened, but I’ll just give you an example. If I was getting robbed at gunpoint is that a moment where I can actually grow in that moment? Is that a moment where I can be present and say, “There’s a gun pointed at me right now.” Something this scary might happen in the future. It might happen with my kids and my wife.


So is there a place for me right now to learn from this experience? I’m not gonna freak out. I’m gonna learn from it, right? I’m gonna question the robber. I’m gonna question my feelings and just be in it and soak in it. As opposed to thinking, “I’m freaking out. This is insane.”

So every experience, if I meet someone, if I  miss a meeting, if I offend someone, if I let someone down, if I make someone extremely excited, every experience goes towards me thinking I could be better at who I am. The reality is it’s a never-ending chase because I’ll never be perfect.

Rebecca Ching: Mm-hmm.

Joel Gamoran: But I do think if you can strive and be better out of everything you do, it’s a cool way to live and it’s a fulfilling way to live.

Rebecca Ching: And you really, right here, differentiate the difference of excellence versus this strive for perfection, right? That wanting every moment — and it’s, believe it or not, Joel, and I talked about this in a couple shows briefly, but I actually went through a season where I was mugged three times, twice at gunpoint.

Joel Gamoran: Stop. Oh, my god.

Rebecca Ching: And they were in 18 months. Two of the times I’m, like, negotiating with the guys with the guns, trying to befriend them —

Joel Gamoran: Wow.

Rebecca Ching: They were asking for our driver’s license. That’s a whole show in itself.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: But I remember thinking, “I need to build a relationship here. There’s a human here. I’m aware my friend’s with me. What can we do,” and so, that’s interesting that when we’re in those moments that literally are life and death, or anxiety tells us are, we kind of go to those important defaults, and we see what we’re made of in those times. And so, it’s interesting how you, then, bring up this desire like, “I want to grow,” versus “I want to be perfect in everything.”

Joel Gamoran: Mm.

Rebecca Ching: I love that differentiation because I work with so many people who are recovering from this plague of perfectionism, and as Brené’s research defines, it’s really the first cousin of shame, right?

Joel Gamoran: Mm-hmm.


Rebecca Ching: But for you, you’re driven to grow and to be better, and I’m hearing that that’s what’s exciting to you. Not about pure safety, it’s about this growth. Tell me more. Tell me if I’m landing on this right and tell me more about that.

Joel Gamoran: So interesting. No, I’ve never heard it phrased that way, Rebecca, and I love it. There is a difference between perfection and growth.

Rebecca Ching: Yes!

Joel Gamoran: I don’t think perfection — let’s just do it in cooking terms since I’m a chef. I don’t think there’s a perfect way to cook chicken or make the most amazing dish. But I think there’s a way to kind of improve upon it each time. It will never be perfect. And so, embracing the fact perfection’s not a real thing but growth is a real thing. And so, knowing that perfection is stressful, right? To your point, what’d you say? It’s the cousin of what? Because I’ve never heard that.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, Brené’s research really identifies that perfectionism kind of runs shotgun to shame, is what she says.

Joel Gamoran: I understand that.

Rebecca Ching: And so, it’s driven by shame. Mm-hmm.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah, it’s setting ourselves up for failure, right? I’ve heard this study one time, my dad told me — as I was having a kid he was giving me dad advice — which was kids who take a test and they say they’re commended on their grade, “Great job for getting an A,” as opposed to being commended on their work ethic, the ones that got an A burned out faster and got commended on the grade.

Rebecca Ching: Wow.

Joel Gamoran: They burned out much faster than the people saying, “Great job for working hard!”

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Joel Gamoran: It’s not, “Great job for an A.” It’s not, “Great job for being perfect.” It’s, “Great job for the way that you tackled it. Keep tackling things like that.” That’s the difference. It’s not about the A. It’s the way you approach it, and that’s what ultimately — does that make sense? I don’t know if that relates.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, but yes because then we’re not trying to check the box. For you, the cooking is the messy, the chopping, the dirtying of all of the cooking tools, which the perfectionists parts of me — sometimes I’m like, “Hazel! Hazel, clean while you’re cooking!” And she’s just in the moment, right? My husband’s the same way. The kitchen’s a disaster, but what they make is amazing. It’s so easy to get caught up into, “Oh, my gosh, the kitchen looks like a mess,” or people wanting just the presentation.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah.


Rebecca Ching: But it’s all the story and the experience of what goes into it, and it’s such a beautiful metaphor for life, too, versus it looks perfect, we’re doing perfect, everyone sees — it’s all external, and there’s no experience there. It’s exhausting.

Joel Gamoran: It’s really hard. It’s really hard, I agree with you, and I get stuck in that. I don’t know about anyone else who’s listening or Rebecca about —

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] For sure.

Joel Gamoran: I’ll go on vacation, and I am thinking about what we’re doing tomorrow or I’m reflecting on what we did yesterday, and I’m not really there at the monument we’re looking at or the beach that we’re laying on, and that’s a problem. To me, that is whoever can crack that, and I know a lot of Buddhist monks are there and spend their lives doing it, but that’s why I breathe every day, not because necessarily breathing chills me out. It’s because I’m focusing just on the breath. Right now I’m focusing just on my conversation with you, Rebecca. I’m not anywhere else mentally, and I am not perfect at it, but I do think that is the essence of life is the more present we can be, the more our anxiety and the more we can perform. Sometimes being present takes preparation. It always does, you know?

Rebecca Ching: Mm.

Joel Gamoran: When I go out to dinner with friends, you will never ever when you see me at dinner ever see me on the phone. In fact, I put my phone away. Some people say just a moment of the phone being on the table brings up anxiety. So how can you force yourself, you’re playing with your kid, you’re cooking, you’re running, it doesn’t matter. How do you — and force is the wrong word, but how do you implore yourself to get better and better each time of being present of whatever you’re doing? If you can enjoy the moment, to your point, that’s the win, but listen, none of us are perfect at it. I wish I was better, and I’ll continue to try and get better.

Rebecca Ching: Well, it’s hard to do that while in a world that’s fighting for our attention.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah. Yeah.


Rebecca Ching: I mean, and we have to have a lot of boundaries around that. I’m just so struck by this conversation around presence because often we talk about it as it’s something that we check a box on, but this really is a life practice and that it’s almost like a muscle we have to continually exercise.

Joel Gamoran: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: Because you’re present with your food. You’re present with the people around you or the experience you’re having. That is the work, versus constantly worrying, “What are people gonna think? What’s the next thing I’m gonna do?” We’re always in that, negotiating that. Everybody is. If you care, if you love, you’re always negotiating those influences.

Joel Gamoran: Always. Always. That’s interesting.

Rebecca Ching: The preparation piece, instead of it being a performance for others, it seems for you (and I’m so moved by this) it’s really an act of values. It’s an act of how you want to lead your life, and that’s what’s contagious I think about you. At least that’s been for me and my family. This is really —

Joel Gamoran: You know, Rebecca, I’ve never heard it voiced back to me but thank you for saying that. That’s a new reflection for me, and I’m learning, and I think that’s amazing, and I never thought about it like that. But yeah, I think you’re right. By the way, it’s not like I do it for everyone else. There’s some selfishness to it, right? To me, it subsides my anxiety, right? So I think it’s okay to admit that and be open to that. When I’m out there and I’m being present, it’s not so I’m being an incredible friend or an incredible podcast guest. It’s because I’m nervous about not showing up. In that way it satisfies my anxiety, and that’s okay, right? I think, ultimately, it’s okay to admit that.

One of the things my brother said at my wedding is he said I would come home every day from work, and this would be in my early twenties, and I was living with my bro, and we would turn on a show, and I would fall asleep at, like, 7:30, right, on the couch.


And so, one day he asked me, “Why are you sleeping so early? it’s 7:30,” and I told him, “When I’m up and I’m with people, I am 100% present and with them, and that drains me, and at the end of the day, I need to stare at a wall or I need to fall asleep,” because, to your point, it is a muscle that you’re constantly working out all day, and if you’re not, then you’re just, I don’t know, you’re not totally there. I will say that, in my business, being on camera, moving people, inspiring people, if you’re not 100% there, they sense it.

Rebecca Ching: Totally.

Joel Gamoran: And you’re not gonna impact, even if it’s 99%. I mean, anyone who’s listening to this, have you ever felt like someone’s not interested? Have you ever seen their eye wander, or they’ll look at something else or you can just sense they don’t want to be there? That is it. If you can crack making every time you talk to someone feeling like a hug, that’s it. That’s the win.

Rebecca Ching: That is the win, and I think that’s what we’re craving so much these days —

Joel Gamoran: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: — is that connection. Again, this food is that sticky connection. Connection’s one of my core values, and now I’m gonna call it sticky connection.

Joel Gamoran: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: I think that’s it. You touched a little bit on getting married and parenthood. For both of us — you’re a child of divorced parents. How has that impacted the way that you show up as a husband and a father?

Joel Gamoran: That’s, wow, another great one. I’ve thought a lot about it, and actually, my dad who raised me who got divorced from my mom is not my biological dad. He adopted me. My mom is my biological mom. So I don’t know my biological dad. My dad who raised me was incredible, still is my best friend, and so, there’s a lot of influence there. But I will say that what I’ve learned is this. Everyone says the same thing to me. And by the way, I am new at this. You’re 12 years into this. I am a total rookie.


I’m one year into this, but what everyone says to me is you blink and it’s over. And I never understood crying at movies when kids grow up, I just never connected. Now I get it, right? Now I totally get it.

And so, when I look at photos of him nine months ago, ten months ago, I get sad, and I’m like, “Where’s my little baby?” He’s almost walking and all these things. So all I can do in my approach is I prepare for him. I know when he wakes up, I want to be 100% present. I’m not checking emails. If it’s Jonah time (that’s his name), then I’m with Jonah, right? We’re playing trucks. My cell phone’s nowhere near me. My phones are nowhere near me. So I prepare for time with Jonah too, otherwise, trust me, the anxiety’s gonna go off the rails, and I’m gonna forget and not embrace the journey of being a dad. So I think that’s how I approach being a father, if that makes sense.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, you’re bringing in more of the passion for presence and connection. What a gift. What a gift. How have you learned to lead and care for yourself as a father, because it’s another thing, you know?

Joel Gamoran: Yeah. Yeah. For me, it’s space. I can’t hover over him. My wife, too. I’m only a good husband if I’m able to take care of myself. We all say — I say, “Angelina,” my wife, I say, “You are number one in your life.” I think there’s this cliché to say that your partner should be number one, right, and let’s be honest, if someone was gonna ask me who should die first, I’ll take the bullet, but when it comes to everyday life, I put myself first because then I can’t put Angelina first and then we can’t put Jonah first. And so, we are really comfortable with that, and if I’m not taking care of myself, if I don’t get my meditation time, if I don’t get my time to prepare, if I don’t get my space, if I don’t get those things, we all suffer. And so, I respect when they need it too. If Angelina needs just a night away with her buddies, I totally get it.


And so, I think it’s the respectfulness of not everyone works and clicks the way that I do, and so, for me, it’s about respecting everyone’s need to recharge and do what they need to do to prepare for having energy to show up.

Rebecca Ching: I really appreciate how your befriending your anxiety has not only helped you lead yourself well but also help those in your life and those around you, lead them well or saying, “What do you need?” There’s just such a high value versus what our culture says about just pushing through, sucking it up, trying to be who other people say we should.

Joel Gamoran: Mm.

Rebecca Ching: It’s like a non-negotiable. If you don’t have —

Joel Gamoran: Well, I see it with you and Hazel.

Rebecca Ching: Aww.

Joel Gamoran: I see it in just the way you talk to Hazel, right? You’re embracing Hazel for who she is, how she shows up. Why do we try and fit people into a mold, you know what I mean? I think it’s just embrace that no one is gonna be the same. You have to be okay within your differences and accept who you are. That goes back to vulnerability, don’t you think?

Rebecca Ching: I do, and I’m struck. My husband and I talk about this too that parenting and being parents in a world that kind of says this is the way to be and this is the norm, and even my husband who’s an educator, he’s just a genius at what he does. He’s a rockstar. But there’s this pressure to conform, and I think we still succumb to it. So I think how can I — like we always talk about, it’s, “Do you, but it’s never okay to hurt yourself or others with your words and your fists.” This is one of our core family rules. But some days when it’s messy and scrappy, we always say, “I love you. I do not like your choice right now. You – love.” And then there are other days, honestly, Joel, where we’re just like, “We got nothing for you. Please just stop.”

Joel Gamoran: Yeah. Yeah.


Rebecca Ching: Please. [Laughs] Whatever, if it’s a meltdown or a hard moment and we’re like, “I’ve gotta tap out.” So I’m saying it’s hard kind of walking around constantly feeling misunderstood sometimes, especially if these things are happening in public because, man, we put so much pressure. I mean, there is this pressure for those that are parents or are in charge of younger kids of what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Joel Gamoran: Mm.

Rebecca Ching: And so, as I’m listening to you talk about presence, I am further inspired to push away the noise and just be in the moment even if it’s a beautiful moment or if it’s a very difficult, messy moment —

Joel Gamoran: Totally.

Rebecca Ching: — that’s our moment, and I don’t want the world to have a say to that. I need to just — it’s like even if we’re in public I want to create a little invisible bubble for myself in that moment.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: And then we deal with it. But, you know, it’s a hard world. It’s a world full of critics and cynics, and they do it for sport. And so, when you care (as I’m listening to you) about these things and to fight for presence like you do, I think, my gosh, how much our world would look different if we all were fighting for the presence that you fight for, that your anxiety taught you, that said, “Hey, I’ll give you some space if you stay in the moment,” and I’m just thinking, “Dang, this is medicine!”

Joel Gamoran: That’s totally medicine, and I think that I love the way you frame it as fighting for presence because that’s what it is. I don’t want anyone to think, listening to this, that it comes easy to me —

Rebecca Ching: No. [Laughs]

Joel Gamoran: — and that it’s not a fight, you know? I have people in my family who are alcoholics, and let me tell you something, they’ve been clean for 16, 20 years, right? Guess what? Every day is a fight for them to not drink. It doesn’t get easy, right? Anxiety’s the same way. It’s not like I wake up and all of a sudden, “I’ve figured it out!” and I’m inherently like this, no, I have to fight for it just like someone who has to fight to stay in shape, right?


And so, I love that, fighting for presence. I think that’s the right way to put it, and I think that’s the right way to show up for yourself and for the people around you. So I agree.

Rebecca Ching: I’m on board for that. So I want to shift a little bit to talk about the shift you made professionally. Not too long ago, you left Sur La Table to start some new ventures, and I’d love to hear about the day that you decided to leave this amazing job with Sur La Table. What led to that decision?

Joel Gamoran: Yeah, a lot led to it. But it was ten years there, and I think that I was learning and taking everything I needed out of it, and they took everything that I could give, and it just felt like kind of the relationship had gotten to an end. For me, personally, there’s something about — and I think cooking does this for me, satisfies this in a lot of ways — something about creating something and looking back on it and being like, “I made that,” you know? When I spoon pasta or risotto out onto a plate, that wouldn’t have existed unless I had put it together, and I had it in my mind, and there it is, and I get to taste it and smell it and enjoy it. And so, I wanted to do that with my career, you know? I wanted to create something good for me.

For me, the crux of my career, the first thing I knew was I am — I read a book. We’re talking about leadership here for a bit. I read a book that’s called Good to Great. Have you read that one, Rebecca?

Rebecca Ching: Ages ago. Ages ago, yeah.

Joel Gamoran: Oh, ages ago! It’s like one of those typical that the second I left Sur La Table, my wife gave it to me. I really connected to it. The first thing I connected to was there are five different types of leaders. The fifth type is really the one that should be calling the shots, and I wasn’t that type. It really painted like a Bill Gates, like someone who is very methodical, very logical. And I’m not. I’m extremely high-picture, creative, all over the place, and it made me think (and this is obvious) I cannot excel without a partner. I need the other side of it so I can do what I do.


And so, the first thing I needed to do was find kind of a partner and someone to kind of bring out the best in me. And so, that is where I found Michael who I’ve worked with for a long time. He’s my business manager, and he allows me the space to think and do what I need to do, and he makes sure that the logistics get done. And I pay Michael, right? So you would get nervous that now you’re bringing on an employee, but man, we’ve done more work, more cool things because I have invested in that, and I’m able to open up and kind of explore more.

So it seems weird, but that’s what I’ve found really successful is really being able to recognize where you fall short and employ other people and champion other people to help lift you up.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, I think that that’s gold. We’re not meant to go it alone.

Joel Gamoran: No way.

Rebecca Ching: We’re just not.

Joel Gamoran: No way!

Rebecca Ching: That expectation — but that’s a message I got early in my business ownership, that if I wasn’t doing it all on my own and figuring it out, that I was a failure. And then I realized that was slowly killing me, and then when I started getting the right support and the right team to bring out the best, that was everything.

Are there any surprises as you navigate the transition from Sur La Table into this next chapter in your career that have come up?

Joel Gamoran: Yeah, I would say it’s kind of lonely being the one that has the ideas. That’s a little bit something that I’ve talked to other entrepreneurs and other people about. You are the one with that, and so, all you can do is employ people to help bring it to life and build an amazing culture where that happens. But let’s remember it’s gotta come from somewhere, just like that food idea, and you’re the only one that holds that, and that’s a lonely feeling.

So there have been some wakeup calls around just being okay in that space, which has been tough. But there’s been some really big wakeup calls around how organized and intentional I need to be with my day and where I put my energy and not let the day control me but for me to control the day, the power of no and the power of saying no has been a big lesson for me. So lots, lots.


I am, by no means, an amazing entrepreneur, and I have hit every bump you can hit, but I’m trying to lean into the journey and be present in it and, like I said, be prepared with every day and be okay with that.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, I mean the bumps are the baptism of entrepreneurship.

Joel Gamoran: [Laughs] Oh, that’s good.

Rebecca Ching: I mean, that’s the gig. Perfection says that it’s supposed to be smooth sailing, but anyone who knows literally — this is the scrappiness of running your own business, and I think you hit something on the loneliness of thought leadership too, of, “Well, no one else gets this. How do I help communicate this and download this so others can get excited about it?” Before you get that point, it’s sitting with that yourself and celebrating yourself, and that’s kind of the presence. I’m just thinking as I’m talking this through, it’s just having presence with those ideas and the vision and being present with that internally before others can catch on and how to hang in there.

Joel Gamoran: Totally.

Rebecca Ching: Because loneliness can really devastate innovation and creativity. It is heavy.

Joel Gamoran: Absolutely heavy and that’s why I think surrounding yourselves with people is also a really amazing thing to do. You’ll be surprised at how many people want to be surrounded by you as well and how you compliment their skills. But I think that I just totally agree. You know, the turbulent times are the times, and being in business is about problem.

What I’m learning and what really stuck with me, Danny Meyer, a restaurateur said he would come to his grandpa with all these problems about owning restaurants and building restaurants in New York. You know, “God, I have so many issues,” and his grandpa just said, “Yeah, that’s called business. That’s called entrepreneurship.” And so, it’s like that is entrepreneurship. It’s just how well you tackle problems. At no point is it just you sitting in a chair twiddling your thumbs. And so, being okay with the mess, you know, leaning into it.


And for me, it’s  going back to the kid, there’s anxiety when I see toys everywhere. There’s anxiety when I’m in the kitchen. There’s anxiety when I’m in front of four million people. but you know what? If you don’t lean into it, then you might as well just curl up on the couch and just not move. So you have to lean into it and know that it’s messy for all of us. You are not alone.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, I think this is actually essential because I see, so much, a narrative in the entrepreneur space, the business space about trying to hack out the messy, hack out the difficult, and I just call BS to it.

Joel Gamoran: Right. Right.

Rebecca Ching: That’s sterile. That’s not creative. That’s trying to engineer anything hard out. But that’s just not real. That’s robotic, and that’s doing a disservice so that the message, “Oh, my gosh, I’m a mess because I’m struggling,” is, “Wow, I’m having a hard day because I’m daring to show up and do what I love and learn.”

Joel Gamoran: Totally agree. Totally agree.

Rebecca Ching: And this narrative out there is really doing harm, so I love that you’re pushing back on that. It’s just essential. But it still sucks when you’re in it, though. [Laughs]

Joel Gamoran: Oh, it sucks so bad, and I’m so bad at — I’ve been told I’m like a boat that just speeds at the speed of light and makes giant wakes and everyone is bouncing in those wakes, and so, how do I slow my boat down, how do I not create such big issues for everybody, and that takes — you know, I feel like I’m in kindergarten in that world. So if anyone’s listening to this and you can help me with that, I think all I do at night is read books right now around how to be a better leader and how to — I watch documentaries, I send clips to friends and colleagues, and I am in the learning zone. If I’m not in the learning zone, again, I’m kind of back on my couch, you know? I have to be progressing, and that progression will be forever.

Rebecca Ching: And I think that learning zone is essential because it’s lifelong, right?

Joel Gamoran: Exactly. 

Rebecca Ching: To think that we’re gonna learn and then coast, for some reason I kind of thought by 25 I’d have it all figured out.

Joel Gamoran: [Laughs]


Rebecca Ching: And I’m like, “Oh, wait, some people haven’t graduated emotionally — emotionally graduated middle school, so I have to navigate that. And oh wait, I’m growing and changing as I turn in different –,” [Laughs] so yeah.

Joel Gamoran: Totally.

Rebecca Ching: So I want to make sure we talk about your passion for decreasing food waste, especially in the backdrop of all we’re experiencing right now in our country and in our world with COVID and social unrest. So talk to me about cooking scrappy and your deep passion for decreasing food waste while we’re navigating all these things.

Joel Gamoran: Yeah, here’s the bottom line, Rebecca. We almost waste half the food we produce in America, which is gazillions of dollars of food, and it’s one of the number one causes of global climate change. And then, meanwhile, one out of five people in America go to bed not knowing where their next meal is coming from. So we’re wasting a zillion, zillion, zillion pounds of food, and then people go to bed hungry. And so, that’s what really didn’t line up for me and I felt like, as a chef, people weren’t looking at what they were throwing away, they were just kind of throwing things away.

So my job and a lot of what I do and what I’m really passionate about is really making the unsexy sexy. How do I make a carrot top interesting? How do I make chicken bones cool? How do I make a floppy carrot just as great as a ribeye? And so, I’ve kind of devoted my cooking career to inspiring people to look at the underdogs as ingredients and make the most of them. So that’s why I say cooking scrappy. It’s all the scraps. It’s all the things that you might think of. It’s the back of the fridge. It’s we overlook the bruise, and we stand up for them and celebrate them the way we’d do anything.

Rebecca Ching: I love that because I have a feeling there are a lot of people listening to this who’ve felt like an underdog, and so, we’re just aligning with the underdogs of food, but while we’re doing that we’re helping our planet and we’re helping those that are food insecure. It is amazing how much we take for granted. This hard stop of COVID I think brought these things to the surface next level.


Joel Gamoran: Yeah, which has been interesting for me. My following has grown 500% since COVID. Before COVID, I was talking about cooking scrappy, but now people get it and they’re there. And so, it’s not a big, “I told you so.” It’s a big, “Let’s do this thing together. I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect. We live in a system that really makes it tough, and so, the most we can do is make the most out of everything we have,” which is the same analogy we’re talking about now is just being present with your cooking. Don’t throw things away. Put them in your freezer. Come back to them. You can make a beautiful chicken stock, a sauce, an interesting dish. How do you embrace your leftovers? How do you make the most out of what you’re given because when our parents got divorced, we could have either crawled up like a ball, or we could have kept going. There’s a reason why they say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. It’s the same thing. So I approach the ingredients the same way I approach everyday life.

Rebecca Ching: So then how do you think a cooking scrappy mindset can  make us better leaders?

Joel Gamoran: Yeah, I think it’s making the most out of what you’re given. So I think if you’re starting out like I am. I’m starting a new business called Homemade, which is all about virtual events. We don’t have big budgets. We didn’t raise millions of dollars. So this is what we had, right? Our virtual events are shot on webcams, and that’s okay. That’s being scrappy, you know? My studio I film in, it’s my garage. It’s something I already have. It’s something I overlooked. And so, my garage is an analogy for a banana peel, right? I have a banana peel. I can either throw it away or turn it and soak it into maple syrup and make banana peel bacon. So it’s up to you.

So, as a leader, if you’re not using everything you have, you’re throwing away profit, potential, and a means to success. So cooking scrappy is leading scrappy – same thing.

Rebecca Ching: I love it. I love it. Joel, where can my listeners find you if they want to connect with you and learn more from you?


Joel Gamoran: Absolutely. You can go to my website which is www.joelgamoran.com. If you ever have anything at home that you don’t know what to do with, you can email me, and there’s a link on there, and you can say, “Hey, I have pasta and I have chicken and I have broccoli. What do I make?” It’s called Scrap Your Fridge. So that’s a service I do totally for free just to help you kind of come up with what to make for dinner that night.

And then if you’re ever interested in kind of doing a virtual event or you’re cooking with an amazing chef and really having the incredible experience in the kitchen, that stickiness. I’m really excited to launch Homemade which is out October first with some amazing chefs, and that’s gonna be at www.withhomemade.com

Rebecca Ching: Oh, congratulations!

Joel Gamoran: Thank you!

Rebecca Ching: And then people can find you on social media. What’s your handle?

Joel Gamoran: Yep! @joelgamoran, my name, and then you can find my book anywhere you can find books, at Amazon, and you can watch Scraps on Hulu. So you can check it out there!

Rebecca Ching: We love Scraps.

Joel Gamoran: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Joel, I’m gonna be thinking about this conversation for quite some time, and I can’t wait to unpack it with my family and my colleagues. So I’m so grateful for you, for your heart, for your leadership. Thank you so much. Keep showing up. The world needs you. The world needs your leadership and your presence, so thank you for modeling that to us and thank you for your time today. I’m so grateful.

Joel Gamoran: Oh, thank you, Rebecca, and thanks for being an amazing advocate throughout the journey. These are questions that I’ve never really been asked before on a platform that I’ve never really been able to talk about. So it was cathartic, amazing, and inspiring for me as well.

Rebecca Ching: Joel Gamoran modeled presence in the face of his anxiety with such clarity and authenticity. In our conversation, he reminded us often that a commitment to presence is a lifelong practice that is imperfect but consistent and intentional. He unpacked how befriending his anxiety reframed the judgements and shame towards the burdens of his anxiety and offered a roadmap on how to best care for himself, his loved ones, and his team, so he can show up with deep presence and excellence.


He also taught us that scrappy leadership models the truth of the messy, the human, the real aspect of doing life and business all in – vulnerabilities and all.

Seeing anxiety as a gift, as Joel does, not bypassing the pain of it through befriending and leading it is radical. It is also a game changer for how we lead. The leaders who can run the marathon of living this life with challenges, growth edges, deep uncertainty, grief, and all the other big emotions do this deep work and also befriend their unique tenderness around experiencing anxiety.

What do you think about the mindset of befriending or building a relationship with your anxiety? In what ways has the anxiety you’ve experienced been a gift and a teacher? Where do you want more presence in your life? What additional support do you need to help you lead and unburden your anxiety, so it does not continue to lead you or weigh you down.

Inspired from a place of excellence and not fear of perfection, building practices that support you showing up as your best requires commitment, practice, and conviction. In a world that is fighting for your attention, your energy, and your resources, presence in the face of vulnerability is indeed quite powerful. Yes, please get the support you need. Do not suffer in silence or white-knuckle anxiety. It is essential to do the work to unburden the pain and the shame around anxiety, and anxiety wants to just eradicate all discomfort. Unburdened leaders learn how to lead through it.


Befriending your anxiety and other difficult emotions means developing practices that do no harm, get you results and relief, build resilience, and deepen your capacity to lead yourself and others well. Unburdened Leader Coaching experiences may be just the support you need right now in your work, in your life, and in your leadership. In our work together, you will dig deep into the pillars of unburdened leadership: trauma-informed practices, self-leadership, bold boundaries, shame resilience, and creativity. In our work, we’ll develop the six qualities of an unburdened leader: presence, power, persistence, playfulness, patience, and perspective. This is the work needed to go to the next level of growth, to navigate big changes and expand your capacity to lead no matter what curveballs are thrown your way.

Go to www.rebeccaching.com/unburdened-leadership. Enter your email address, and you’ll be led to a place to schedule your free connection call and begin your journey with Unburdened Leader Coaching.

[Inspirational Outro Music]

Thank you so much for joining this episode of The Unburdened Leader! You can find this episode, show notes, ways to connect with Joel and also his cooking scrappy joy, along with free Unburdened Leader resources and ways to work with me www.rebeccaching.com.

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meet the founder

I’m Rebecca Ching, LMFT.

I help change-making leaders get to the root of recurring struggles and get confidently back on track with your values, your vision, and your bottom line. 

I combine psychotherapeutic principles, future-forward coaching, and healthy business practices to meet the unique needs and challenges of highly-committed leaders in a high-stakes world.

This is unburdened leadership

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We watch leaders crash & burn all the time. We watch with morbid fascination as leaders fall out of grace because their unaddressed pain led them on an unsustainable path of poor choices–even dangerous and deadly choices–to avoid feeling the vulnerability of rejection. Those times when you experienced the pain of rejection leave their mark […]


EP 21: Leading With Body Resilience with Co-Author of More Than A Body, Lindsay Kite, PhD

Caring about those you lead means caring about the harm you may unknowingly be doing. Many of us who fit western standards of beauty and live in conventionally abled bodies don’t understand how our choices can cause pain. We’ve internalized ableism and fat-phobia to the point where we can’t even grasp how our words & […]

Mental Well-being

EP 19: Defining Your Own Version Success with Natalie Borton, Founder of Natalie Borton Designs

The quickest way to crash and burn your business and life is to place your worthiness and safety with the opinions of others. This may sound like a captain-obvious statement but the pull to care what others think is something fierce. And it is sneaky. The competitive drive is no stranger to many of you. […]

Work-life Integration

EP 17: Community Over Competition with Co-Founder of The Rising Tide Society Natalie Franke

Community over competition is indeed a well-worn hashtag. The cynical can dismiss it. Those beat up by year after year of injustice understandably call BS. But in practice, leading with the lens of community over competition is subversive and culture-shifting. Community over competition requires deep life-long work to unburden the load we carry of scarcity […]

Leading Teams

EP 02: How Self-Leadership Saves You From The Relentless Drive To Succeed with Dr. Richard Schwartz

My body was telling me to take a step back and reevaluate. Five years ago I had pneumonia and I couldn’t really do anything other than prop myself up on the couch and breathe… …breathe and think about how I ended up in this mess I’d run myself into the ground. My schedule was full-to-overflowing. […]


And clearing the way for a more innovative, inclusive future.

Unburdened Leaders are breaking
cycles of workplace burnout…

Are you about this, too? Let’s meet and see if I’m your coach – no expectations. Just connection.