Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview with Jo Roberts
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Introducing Jo Roberts
Todays guest, joining us on the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview is Jo Roberts.
She is a lady who was born in South Africa and spent her childhood enjoying the amazing wildlife of Africa.
So its a not a surprise really that her life has stayed close to nature, and since 2004 she has held the position of Director of the Wilderness Foundation, developing ways that we can link wilderness trails to peace and reconciliation.
But her connection with the foundation goes back a lot further to 1998.
She believes that the effects of protecting the wilderness is a great way of developing sound youth leadership built on environmental awareness and ethics, especially the youths that might be considered as at risk.
How The Dots Joined Up For Jo
Take kids who might have lost their morals, focus or perhaps a belief that the world is a wonderful place, and get them to challenge their attention into protecting and establishing the world.
It seems to me a fantastic way to bring the lost souls back to us in a hugely positive way and is something we need more and more off across the globe.
But lets find out where Jo Roberts channels her efforts on a daily basis.
And whether this lady who is spending her time providing such value to the world, is content with her efforts, or like so many wonderfully caring people does she beat herself up that she isn’t doing as much as she would want for the world?
And lastly I suppose could she imagine any other life, or was it destined from her very first days on the earth?
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs in todays Free podcast, with the one and only Jo Roberts.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Jo Roberts such as:
How as a child Jo Roberts was inspired by her father who taught her to love and appreciate the natural world, politics and to savour the differences that we all have in the human race!
How she lives her life by the mantra of “What is success for one person is not necessarily success for someone else”!
Why she feels that the world lacks tenacity and we all believe that we have a right to a short cut to success and greatness…guess what we don’t!!
How we should teach our kids to accept failures as part of growing up, and the struggles will just make them tougher!
How she never wants to be a FOMO….yep you will have to listen to find out what that is!
How a simple hand on her knee seven years ago, has left a huge impression on what she needs to achieve in her life!
How To Connect With Jo Roberts
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Audio Transcription Of Jo Roberts Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:26]
Yes, hello, bear world. This is Episode 131 of Join Up Dots, but daily motivation or conversation or chat, which brings the zigs and zags of the world into one place. And we’ve got a lady today who is it’s a fascinating storey I love this show when when I started it sort of over 100. And whatever episodes ago, it was, I kind of had this idea of what I wanted to achieve. Once I got into about 3040 shows, I started looking around at other people’s shows, and I started seeing the same names appear. And so I consciously went in a different direction to bring you the kind of guys in many cases, and the ladies are shy and don’t really like doing this kind of thing. But they have got a towel, which is actually purely inspirational. And today’s guest really falls into that camp. She was born in South Africa and spent her childhood enjoying the amazing wildlife of the continent. So I suppose it’s not a surprise, really about her life has stayed close to nature. And since 2004, she’s held a position of Director with the wilderness Foundation, developing ways that we can link wilderness trails, to peace and reconciliation. But her connexion with the foundation actually goes back a lot further to 1998. Now, she believes that the effects of protecting the wilderness is a great way of developing sound Youth Leadership, built on environmental awareness and ethics, especially the youth that might be considered as at risk. Now, if you take kids who might have lost their marbles, their focus, or perhaps a belief that the world is a wonderful place, and get them to challenge your ideas pension into protecting and establishing the world, it seems to me a fantastic way to bring the Lost Souls back to us in a hugely positive way. And it’s something we need more and more of across the globe. But let’s find out where she channels our efforts on a daily basis. And whether this lady was spending a time providing such a value to the world is actually content with her efforts are like so many wonderfully caring people does she beat yourself up that she isn’t doing as much as she would want for the world? And lastly, I suppose could she imagine any other life? Or was it destined from her very first days on the earth? But let’s find out as we bring on to the show to start Join Up Dots, the one and only a Jo Roberts. How are you, Jo?
Jo Roberts [2:36]
Haha, good. Thank you, David, thank you for a great write up.
David Ralph [2:41]
They did i do justice to you. Because it seems to me that you have got so much on your plate, just that I was speaking to you a moment ago, and you’ve flown in from Canada. And most people would go to bed for a few hours. But you went straight to work, which kind of sounds like madness to me. But is that the kind of not some bolts of what Joe Roberts is about?
Jo Roberts [3:03]
I guess so. I guess. So I think that life is an extremely exciting, wonderful thing. And I try and pack it in. And everybody will say to me, you are completely insane woman because I think life is so full of experience, and so full of opportunity. But I don’t want to miss out. So I’m called the phone though the fear of missing out. So I make good use of my life. It’s good at that point.
David Ralph [3:31]
I’ve never heard back. So that’s a fun mode a fear of missing out.
Jo Roberts [3:35]
Yes. That was obviously a young person. You told me that. So it’s quite funny
David Ralph [3:41]
is your vocabulary. Because Because you spend a lot of time with youngsters do you actually find yourself using different words, but other people have a similar age. And I’m being very polite, how i’m saying is don’t actually use because I’m surrounded by kids on a daily basis. And half the time, I can’t understand what they’re saying now. It’s like this new language that I’ve created, which I think it’s specially for old fogies like me, so they can talk in front of me, and I haven’t got an idea, are you clued up on these kind of vocab that they use.
Jo Roberts [4:11]
And we’re going to be really careful that I don’t try and sound like a teenager 54. But I do say awesome, a lot, which I get told off about my children. I do say, they’re, they’re the odd things that I do say that, in fact, none of the young people I work with pick me up on but my children go on me, you can’t say that. That’s just awful. And I think that, sadly, a lot of the kids I work with probably have the most explorative vocabulary that you’ve ever heard. And I really try and role model not swearing. So it kind of that’s one of the things I don’t pick up. But I do say awesome. An awful lot. Isn’t it? That’s something that last, so I think life is awesome. Yeah, yeah, I can kind of get away with these funny things. That being a southern frickin clash. When I was growing up in South Africa, if you catch that meant you were violently sick. Whereas English kids talk about having a coaching time, which means they’re chilling. So
David Ralph [5:12]
you gotta learn fast. I’ve never heard that one catching.
Jo Roberts [5:17]
Cut, you know, we had we were really touching. So if you think that we’re throwing up behind the bush, but actually, they’re just having a chill time.
David Ralph [5:26]
I always wonder who has created this language and how people know about it is like, it’s like when I’m at a football match. And suddenly 5000 people suddenly start singing this song at exactly the same time that I’d never heard of. And I think to myself, how will they got together and learn to face Do they have like evening classes secretly where they go and do these kind of things? Because there seems to be this kind of a movement that happens around me. And as you say, catching I think, Well, okay, one person’s made better. But how do so many people get to know it?
Jo Roberts [6:00]
Anybody could find that little secret David, we could be could do the best marketing job on the planet. Now, they’re not quite hard works. But it’s very funny. It is very funny.
David Ralph [6:09]
So So let’s take you back in time, you are obviously not in South Africa at the moment, give it give us an indication of where you are before we do take you back in time.
Jo Roberts [6:19]
Right. So I am based in Essex. And you know, that was by fluke because of my husband’s job. It wasn’t somewhere that we said, Oh, we really really want to live in Essex, UK. It was again one of the dots of life that just happened and I am sitting in my office. And I am so blessed and so lucky because we are a 400 acre farm and nature site. So looking out of my window, I’m looking at farm vehicles and bonds and a beautiful walnut tree and we’ve got a lovely Visitor Centre just next to us. We’ve got four young people doing employment, training, and making bushfires and craft and stuff. And so I’m very blessed some I’m about 25 minutes from Stansted Airport, which a lot of people know in the countryside outside of Chelmsford, as a main town.
David Ralph [7:15]
I used to live in Jobs, but didn’t you? I spent a few years in Chelmsford, I’m this you are actually the closest interview I’ve ever done. I’m in Essex at the moment. Where are you? I am about well, did you know can be island? Yes, I’m just outside can be Island. So like five miles away from Southend on sea just on the River Thames.
Jo Roberts [7:36]
Wow. Well, that’s great. Well, you’re very close to a lot of areas we work with young people from we work with a lot of youngsters from South End. So yeah, that’s really interesting. And so we’re in between Johnson and Braintree. in the countryside,
David Ralph [7:51]
deeper, give us the name so I can really pass
Jo Roberts [7:53]
on Chatham green. So the the site is a small village called Chatham green. And we’re on a beautiful, we’re farmers have diversified this farmer, which is strata and Parker farms, which is one of the biggest grain producers in the country, have renovated old farm buildings. And so we’re in a beautiful sort of converted barn, and on the most beautiful place, and so we’re very blessed. We’ve got Skylark singing, and metres and props. And it’s just beautiful, very lucky.
David Ralph [8:26]
Well, what I like about you already, Joe is but you seem blessed at on the simple things of life, the kind of things that we would just walk past, you seem to focus in on those, you know, the sort of the natural world is that because of your childhood, growing up in South Africa, where you you obviously be surrounded by quite amazing wildlife, as that simple approach to what is beautiful in the world come from there.
Jo Roberts [8:53]
I think so i think that i was born lucky, because I think I see beauty in small things. I think I see the world in natural beauty. So wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I’m always going oh my god, that’s so beautiful. And that could be just the sunlight falling on leaves that make them glow, or it’s it could be a bird flying over my head. And I think maybe it came from my dad who is a great philanthropist naturalist. And so with grew up almost being quite meditative about nature. So you would look at something and be completely mindful with it and totally absorbed by it. But I also love people immensely. So I think I’ve kind of get the pleasure from, from the good things in people and the good things in, in what the world brings us. We think
David Ralph [9:48]
when you look back to yourself in South Africa, can you remember when you were first aware of that, that’s the enormity of the area. Because I kind of grew up in Essex, we’re in Essex now. And you have pockets of countryside. And actually, when you fly over this county, you realise it’s a lot greener than you imagine when you’re in a car you saw go from town to town to town, you think it’s quite built up? But being in Africa, that’s totally a different way, isn’t it? There’s hardly any roads in certain areas, and it’s just wilderness wilderness wilderness? Were you aware of that kind of vast expanse? Or was it just something that you naturally thought happened, although all across the globe?
Jo Roberts [10:29]
didn’t really know. I mean, I think I grew up in Johannesburg in a very sort of ordinary suburb, with a big garden as a child. And are, you know, I know, I’m sort of digressing slightly, but I remember thinking our garden was about 1000 acres. And obviously, when you grow up and you go back, you’ll realise you’ve gardens only maybe a quarter of an acre. So I think as a child, you see the world that’s very big, and everything is much larger than when you see it when you’re an adult. But I think I was very lucky because my dad we kept a lot so we would leave Johannesburg very regularly on weekends and, and go up to the bush, where we would camp and birdwatch do walks. And so I think I just it was my reality. I don’t think I knew anything different. And then the first time I ever left South Africa to go overseas, because my father’s Danish was when I was 14, and we went abroad. But I still don’t think I was kind of aware of it. I think it’s only awareness comes later. And perspective comes later. I think at the time, it is just what it is. And you don’t know any different. Really?
David Ralph [11:45]
Did you love of nature, Bane come from your dad, it seems that he was hugely inspirational in your life taking you camping and, and doing that kind of thing as a young girl.
Jo Roberts [11:55]
Yeah, I think I was like a complete little shadow. So you know, I really followed my father around like a little kind of hungry lamb. And he was a very inspiring person. He still is, I mean, he’s just 90, Nick this month, and he’s actually arriving next week for his 90th birthday. And I think that I think he was an inspiring person. And I just, I think I was a very lonely child in some ways, but I kind of completely lapped up his, his knowledge and attention. And I just completely absorbed him like a little sponge. And that was a great, that was a great gift to have a father like that was pretty inspiring.
David Ralph [12:39]
I think that’s an amazing gift. And I think that’s one of the things why you seem to be such a nurturing person for the youth of today, who are kind of lost in many ways and haven’t got that parent to really support them and hold their hands and show them the right ways of doing it. Is that just me thinking off the top of my head? Or do you think there’s any sort of elements of truth to that?
Jo Roberts [12:58]
To know, I just finished want to share, and that’s why I do what I do. I think that I feel I was so privileged. And I was very privileged as a white, South African. And I think that stays very heavily in my in my psyche. But I think I have been given tastes of life that I want to share. I don’t, I don’t want to hold it for myself. And so I think I try and share what I’ve got with others, I kind of think I was very, very, very lucky. And so when I sit on the edge of a mountain with a young person, and we are looking across at wildness or we’re looking across at the sun setting, and it’s beautiful, and I can feel that in some way I’ve helped them to be able to have that experience, then that is what makes life really meaningful. because not a lot of other people would sit on top of a mountain within and just sit in silence or Okay, go is that awesome? So it’s a sharing, I think I want to be able to share what I’ve been lucky enough to have. That’s what motivates me
David Ralph [14:10]
and do kids. And I’m going to talk about the ones that have turned around because I imagine doing a programme like you’re doing, not all kids turn around. But do you have some kids that will sit there and go up, this is boring, this is boring, and whatever you show them and whatever kind of experiences you try to offer them or parts that you sort of develop for them, but they don’t embrace it at all.
Jo Roberts [14:34]
Yeah, that happens. But I think that we’re very careful.
I think we intuitively and instinctively meet young people who somehow want to take a stick with us, I don’t know what it is, I think we we make we have some magnetic pole, that they kind of want to do something, maybe it’s the excitement of life that we present to them. But I think the we have a pretty good success rate. But you know, it’s back to our discussion about success, what is success, and what is successful for one person is not successful for another. And so we have to be terribly careful when we working with a range of human beings about being able to measure what success is for them, rather than a blanket of what success means for the world. And I think that every one of our young children that we work with our young people is are successful in something. But one of our measures is how many of them will go on to further education or employment, I’m really keen on people sustaining themselves being able to, to earn enough to, to live a life of meaning for them that they can cope and manage. And I’d say that on the whole, a lot of them do very well in that. And it might not be what the next person would choose, it might be doing bar work it’s working in Tesco is it’s maybe studying more, but but they do okay. And that’s that’s finding their own level of success. And that’s what what I sometimes need to watch is I, you know, I was brought up with a very strong work ethic and a very strong ethic of intellectual development, which came a lot from my historical background. And I have to watch myself, but that’s not what I’m sort of nurturing and nudging people towards. Because that’s my reality.
David Ralph [16:27]
The fascinating thing on the on that statement you were making was about the kids kind of find you at the right time. But that’s that’s interesting, isn’t it? But it’s something that’s you can’t really put into words how these kids kind of find that first step towards you. But it happens.
Jo Roberts [16:46]
Yeah, it does. I mean, I would say that, you know, we’ve been running our turnaround programme for 16, to 21 year olds since 2007. And I think we have maybe had one child, who’s actually pulled out of the programme in all that time. So they are young people stick with us. And when we say we stick with them, so it works both ways. We don’t give up. And if something goes wrong, we bounced back, and we come back and we say this is life, life knocks you back. But what can we do about it? How can we, we repair that and keep going? We’re very much around resilience and building strength from knowing that because you’ve had an argument or something hasn’t worked out, it doesn’t mean that you stop. And I think for a lot of young people, and I think this is kind of what what is happening across the world as a whole, is I think we’ve lost tenacity as a human trait. We’re not very tenacious anymore. And people give up very quickly if there’s a pain element to it. And I’m ready interested in how do we move through pain? And how do we come out the other side, having learned and benefited, but that it doesn’t mean we stop completely. And I mean, in the body pain is to say stop, something’s not working. And I think that’s the same in humans pain is to say, Stop, something’s not working. But it doesn’t mean that you don’t keep moving forward. Keep moving forward, but doing things differently.
David Ralph [18:27]
I agree with that. Totally. And I think one of the problems that we’ve got in the world today, kind of links down to the I suppose it’s the the glamorous X Factor, the American Idol thing where kids and adults almost buy into this myth, but you only need to sing a couple of songs. And then suddenly, you’re playing Madison Square Garden, but success and sort of drive. Anyone who’s got to anywhere. It’s not a straight line, is it but I think so many people now think that it is A to B to C to D to E and a new where you are but you know, you sort of moving around and you’re trying different things. And that doesn’t quite work. So you try something else. It’s it’s the overriding passion, but you need to have to kind of get to where you want. And if you hit a closed door, you’re trying another door and another door and another door, and then you’ll get through about one and then you’ll move on a bit. And he’s just that is it tenacity? Or is it that desire for I suppose, overnight success, Joe?
Jo Roberts [19:27]
I think I think you’re absolutely right. I think we’ve become very short framed, I think we think that with a little will get a lot. And I think life isn’t really like that I think life is I always say one of my boring statements. And I’m sure if he spoke to our young people that say, Oh, god, that’s a job statement. You know, I believe what you put into life is what you get out of it. And if you putting effort in, you don’t always get the result you expect. But something will come out of that. So there’s kind of quite a strong philosophy, I think that you do, you do need to put put the work in. If you really want to get not come that’s a value to you. And I think that you’re right, I think become very short termism and very minimal input. Because a lot of stuff doesn’t take a lot of striving. And I think young people do, are pulled in the direction of a celebrity culture, which I think is a really sad thing. Because it’s based not always on the greatest of values. And I’m a great person around values and trying to really understand what what a good values what what values do we need in this world, to make us live well together and to respect each other and to care for each other. So yeah, I agree with you. I think we’ve become very short termism, and we’re not prepared to put the effort in.
David Ralph [20:52]
I’m just gonna play a little speech now. And this is from an American comedian, we all know who Jim Carrey, but it’s been sort of going viral on the internet. So I want to produce on the show, because we always get these points on in the conversation that this this is a natural dovetail fit. So I’ve listened to this and see what you think about this.
Jim Carrey [21:09]
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an account. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [21:36]
He sent a message that we should be teaching in schools.
Jo Roberts [21:39]
Absolutely. I think that we’re very frightened of failure. And I think that failure is probably our biggest gift. And I think it’s the things that we fail it that we learn the most from. And, and I remember, we had a patron, quote Norman phone, and he was at 93, he was the last survivor of the other no blood expedition to the South Pole. And he gave me his book, and in the front, hit, hit, hit inscribed it, it’s a dare to fail. And I think that is the most beautiful quote of Jim quote, carries, I’m going to kind of put that above my desk, it is beautiful. And it’s absolutely spot on. Because he’s right, you can fail at doing all the stuff that you didn’t really want to do. But take the risk. I think that there’s something very powerful about risk. Because without risk, we never grow. And I, you know, watch parents said, don’t climb that rock, you might fall, don’t do this, you might this might happen to you. And I think the Native Americans have a wonderful philosophy which we use with our programmes called the circle of courage. And that’s how they raise their kids. And and one of the things that they talked about was you needed children to learn and fail before they learned that before they grew. So they would watch it small child struggled to open a door, and they wouldn’t rush up to open the door for the child, they’d let them go through that learning experience. Because that’s how they develop their skill set. And I think we we and I hate to kind of ways of living because they really good stuff. But I think one of the things we we do too much, because we want to make it easy for our children. And actually, our children need to have it not so easy. So they learn and grow. Its and strengthen. It’s like, you know, plants grow strong. When the wind blows on them. They learn to adapt and grow and be strong, they strengthen themselves, and you don’t want to stop the wind blowing. So you’ve got to learn to grow and strengthen. So you can cope when the wind blows. I’ve been
David Ralph [23:50]
that’s true as well. I was as you were talking, I was thinking about my own kids and my younger kids are what 12 and nine again and a boy. And last night I was teaching them to make spaghetti Polonaise. And are they going to be making it tomorrow on their own Nova not but I’ve got this vibe that they’ve got to, if I suddenly die, are they going to be able to survive, and hopefully they will now be able to survive on crisps and spaghetti balkanise. And so I’ve kind of done my job in that regard. But yeah, the DC Knicks really struck home the other day when my daughter came back from Sports Day with like this medal. And I said to her, oh, you won, then she went, No, I went, well, what was the medal for our just for taking part? And I thought, That’s rubbish, isn’t it? That’s rubbish. Everyone gets a medal. So how do you define the winners to the losers, and I know it’s not nice to lose, but you’ve got to lose. I mean, you because when there’s no achievement,
Jo Roberts [24:45]
but I think life is life has always got some element of competition in it, and one’s got to learn. It’s one’s gotta learn. You got to learn from the defeat, as well as from the success. And I agree with you, I don’t think once you just get medals, just for the sake of it, I think life is going to throw competition and success and failure at our kids when we are not there to shield them. And they’ve got to learn to deal with it. And funnily enough, we’ve got one of our young lads from our programme here, who I just am celebrating his ability to cope with being knocked back because we did a big expedition up into the ponies and his passport just did not arrive there promised it on the by the Friday before we left, and it never turned up. And he got left behind. And the number the ability and the ability of this young boy who’d never travelled abroad, he’d never been on an aeroplane, this trip was so massive for him. He held up with such dignity, and then supported all the others when they got back by listening to all these storeys patiently and sweetly That to me is just real ability to cope with a throwback, and says so much about him as a person. And I have a firm philosophy that we we actually are animals, we buy black to not think that we are but we are actual animals. And animals raise their children to survive. That’s what animals do you not your little wobbly need lamb upsets leg strengthen. So if danger comes, they can run. And and I think that’s what we need to do with our children is to love them and nurture them, but to actually get their legs strong so they can run. And and we forget that the more civilised we think we are, the more we grow away from the very things that keep us safe. And and and enable us to be resilient and strong.
David Ralph [26:44]
Now back that kid, he’s gonna do it himself, isn’t he? He’s got How old is he the one who’s
Jo Roberts [26:51]
16 he was 16 at the time. And he is a beautiful, beautiful young young man. And that level of value says is something he will carry with Him forever. And we were just so proud of his ability to take a knock like that and not be nasty and not to be sorry for himself and not to be resentful towards the others for the experience that they had this lead really role model to a really good set of values and and personal strength that I think was phenomenal. absolutely phenomenal. Have to sing his praises all the time. Because beautiful.
David Ralph [27:32]
Well, absolutely. Should we give him a name check on the show?
Jo Roberts [27:36]
Yes. What does that mean? Give him his name.
David Ralph [27:39]
Yes. Let the world know this person’s names and a time when he’s suddenly doing amazing things, which he’s already doing. People go on remember that boy’s name?
Jo Roberts [27:50]
This young man is called Brendan Norris. And he’s from Braintree. And I think he’s a very courageous, very special young man.
David Ralph [27:59]
Well, I would like to be able to connect with him afterwards, if that would be all right. Because literally, I know,
Jo Roberts [28:05]
he’s here today doing doing his employability course. And I will definitely connect you with him. David. He’s a very special person.
David Ralph [28:13]
Yeah. And I’ll send him a nice little email and a little voicemail. And I’ll tell him how proud I am of him as well. Thank you know, that’s
Jo Roberts [28:21]
beautiful. Normally we’re very protective of our young people’s information. But I think with this success, and worthy of praise, let’s just get it out there. I love that. Thank you.
David Ralph [28:31]
That’s absolutely okay. And that’s good for me as well. So So how does it work? Then we’ve kind of touched on what you’re achieving. But how did this idea come? First of all, what was it something that the wilderness foundation grew around? or What did the wilderness foundation come first and then think what should we do with ourselves?
Jo Roberts [28:52]
Okay, I’m gonna have to summarise what could take hours because I can talk for Africa, am I gonna say this? Okay, so there, there is a very wonderful conservationist good in player who I sort of grew up within the background. As a child, he was my father’s age. And he was a very prominent conservationist in South Africa. And he founded several wilderness organisations, and he was passionate about wilderness. And I’ve grown up very passionate about the outdoors in nature. And I picked up a book of his when we were living in Luxembourg for a long time, and I picked up a book of his called shadow and soul. And read this book was great interest. And it was really around the spiritual value of wilderness. And, and I’ve grown up in a very pragmatic sort of game range everywhere around wilderness, and nature. And I was brought up very much by my dad to sort of everything had a name, and I understood all the names of birds. And I didn’t actually know much about the spirit of all the noise. And through reading this book, it exposed and brought me to a much deeper connexion around why wilderness has such a spiritual connexion for people. And I’d also was then moving from Luxembourg back to England. And I’d read an article about a project of taking young kids from the townships back into the game reserves. just real briefly, for those who don’t know it as a South African in their part, it is black South Africans didn’t go to game reserves, any white people went to game reserves. And in fact, my father fought for the first camp for black South Africans to be able to stay in a Game Reserve in the Kruger National Park. And this project to me made ticked all my boxes because it was taking urban youth who’d been disconnected from what is the ecological heritage, the birthright of wild nature, and it reconnected them by taking them back into the parks was retired game Rangers, black and black game Rangers. And both pride and love for nature. And so I’ve been roped to the wilderness foundation and said, I wanted to raise money to, to raise more money to put more kids on to the programmes. And that’s how when I came back from Luxembourg, I got involved with the wilderness Foundation, and started to grow a project funding here called in blue, which means the seed in Zulu. So it means you plant a seed which grows and we’ve now got the same project running in Scotland, Colombo with Scotland, and taking urban kids from Glasgow and Edinburgh, from inner cities back out into nature meeting into generally into January intergenerational II, with people who live on the land, and he can share the love of it. But that’s how I got involved in the early days in 1998. was around raising money to get young black kids back out into game reserves.
David Ralph [31:54]
And what was a need? Or was it just a passion for you? Did you have being out there? Did you just kind of think, no, this is wrong. And other people don’t know, this is how it was supposed to be? It’s always been like this.
Jo Roberts [32:06]
I grew up in a really political home. I think we had a very strong conscience about the the absolute tragedy of what South Africa did and and presented, it was fundamentally morally, completely wrong. And so I was kind of kind of funny, moving to England, where nobody really talks about politics at all. You know, I grew up cheering politics at every single meal. And you you were not friendly with people who had different politics to you. Because it was some moral, it was a deeply moral issue. So someone sort of party it was a good thing, and that black people were bad and white people were good to me. That was reprehensible because it wasn’t just thinking whether free trade is okay, or capitalism is okay. This is deeply moral. And it still feels I am still a great protector of things that I’ve been if I’m morally wrong. And I have very strong feelings about that.
David Ralph [33:06]
And but but your your conviction, did you think it comes from the dinner table sitting around having those conversations? Because I think most of us are examples of our childhood in many ways. And certainly in this show, we call it connecting our past to build our futures. Because so much of what we do, and we love as adults, when people say to me, yes, I found my path, really a closely linked to the things that they did as children when they didn’t get paid for it. And the fact that you’re doing what you’re doing now seems to me just the sort of larger version of what you were doing when you was a child. But both dinner tables, the conversations night after night after night, that must have shaped you.
Jo Roberts [33:46]
Oh, I think it did. I mean, I think my grandfather was in Russia during the revolution. He was head of the International Red Cross evacuated evacuating prisoners during the Russian Revolution. So I think my father got it from him. And he was a district surgeon, my grandfather, and, and my mother was a social worker. And she died about 15 years ago, my mother was a social worker. And so as a little girl, I used to go with her to the window, because she was part of something called the African self help programme. And we used to be taking nutrition and foods into some of the little crushes, they used to run crushers for children in Soweto. So very, very poor families would send their kids were there, get a meal every day, and they’d be taught in a really, really lovely nursery school. And so the little girl I trotted all over, you know, with my mom, ransomware toe, and then my father was very, very involved in medicine, he’s a doctor. And so he worked in rural areas. So I would be in the car, driving into travel landscapes and being in in huts, listening to people having conversations, nutrition, and, and then I studied to become an anthropologist, at university, and I think it was, because I was fascinated by culture and custom. And that was from growing up sitting in mud huts. And, and, and, and found that, but then again, I’m such a contrast person, because I also grew up loving art and cities, but I am passionate about rural people and landscape and what makes life work for people. And the beauty of what their lives are about. And and, yeah, I think I was very, very privileged, very privileged.
David Ralph [35:39]
Fascinating. The deep project, what are the kids doing on a daily basis? When so how do you structure their day to sort of get the most out of them?
Jo Roberts [35:49]
Let’s say sadly, we don’t have them every day. And I think that’s one of the things I’m working very passionately towards at the moment is I’d really like to create a residential Academy. Because I think that we can only touch a certain part of these young people’s lives, we see them weekly. So some young people will see more than that, depending on their need. So we’re very reflective reflect we’re very flexible and very responsive to what the needs are going on in their lives. And we go the extra mile in everything we can do. So we see them weekly, for an hour or more a week. And then we see them as a group, next one to one, and then we see them as a group every two weeks to have some kind of social time together. And then we see the monthly, which is a workshop on personal growth, and nature. So they’ll do something in the outdoors. But it’s got a big personal development element to it. And that will be for anything from a year to forever. Because we still working with graduates who come back when they need need us, or needs support or just checking in with us. So we don’t see them enough, in my opinion. But we’ve got a structure that keeps a very constant thread in their lives for the times that they with us.
David Ralph [37:17]
So So is there kind of similarities with the kind of scout movement.
Jo Roberts [37:23]
It’s funny enough in player who was our founder once said, because people will say to me, oh, you’re just like Upward Bound, which is a big movement for young people in the outdoors. And in said, No, we’re not. We’re an inward Outward Bound. And I think that is the difference. I think we are very much around reflection, evaluation, communication, learning to share looking at values, looking at ethics, growing a person to really understand what makes them tick. I mean, I’m an NLP master practitioner, I’m very interested in what motivates one’s behaviour, and helping people to evaluate their own behaviour, you know, what is it serving? Why do I behave like that? What am I getting from it, because, you know, all behaviour has a motivation. So we’re very reflective. And I think that makes us different. Because we will sit and talk, we do a lot of talking and sitting and sharing, and encouraging people to start to express what they’re feeling. Because a lot of people don’t have words to talk about how they’re feeling, particularly young people that we deal with the language around emotion and feeling can be very restricted.
David Ralph [38:39]
So did you on a key moments when you can see that the penny has dropped with these kids. And now that they’re in the programme, and maybe the first few weeks, they’re finding their feet, and they’re looking around? And I imagine, David, with the kind of children that you’re dealing with, there is a desire to push back if I if I been sort of mistreated or by haven’t had the best of times that they’re not going to trust people who are just going to come in and help them. So are there moments when you look at it? And you go, yes, I can actually see a crack occurring there. I think this this is going to be okay.
Jo Roberts [39:16]
I think so. I mean, life is an evolving process. And what you get at one minute grows into something else in another. So I’ve become a firm believer in allowing life to unfold. Then I’ll give you a wonderful example. And one of the young lads that I’m mentoring at the moment, and I’m not going to give him any kind of naming because he’s been struggling, okay. And he gets himself into trouble. He’s sabotaging himself a lot. And I said to him on the phone, just before I went to Canada, I said, Come on now, because you’ve got to start to step up and help yourself, because you can’t expect everybody else to help you. And he said, Okay, so what you’re saying is, what’d he say? It was something like, if you, if you, you can help me if I can help myself, and then you can help me again, it was, I wish I could capture it. Exactly. It was so beautiful. I said, All struck on the phone, because the way he said it was so beautifully getting it that actually, if he can help himself, then it helps me to help him. That’s what he said. So if I help myself, then it helps you to help me so I can help myself better. And it just got it. And I’ve just been catching up and how he’s been getting on. And he said a great 10 days while I’ve been away, really knuckling down. And that is a penny to me. And sometimes the penny David comes in a way that that just makes you want to break down. I mean, there was a young lad seven years ago who couldn’t make eye contact, you know, he had a good hood up all the time. And we went sailing one day, and he really missed me around. And I was tired and frustrated. And I had to put my glasses on because I was about to burst into tears because I was just so frustrated. And then I came and sat down next to him a little bit afterwards. And he just patted my knee. And he said I’m sorry. Now for for kids who function well, that’s not a big deal for this boy to have an empathy level and to sound sorry, was such a breakthrough in terms of empathy and connecting human to human. And it was really beautiful. So I think we very zoomed in the sense that we we take moments of great success and achievement. And that’s the breakthrough moments when you think actually, if you’ve got empathy, if you read another person, if you’re able to articulate it and, and make up for something, etc. that that’s that’s really beautiful stuff.
David Ralph [41:56]
You started off the conversation saying that you take it the light in the small things in life, and bad hand on the knee. Bear in mind, it was seven years ago, it was such a small gesture, I it’s remained with you. But how powerful is that storey?
Jo Roberts [42:12]
Yeah, it will never leave me. And I think it is the tiny things that actually matter. And it’s looking for the tiny things that when we so ambitious for the big things, we very often miss the small things. And that’s what really, they very powerful, the small things. And I think when you’re parenting children, you’re so busy looking at the bigger picture of what you want them to gain and achieve and grow towards that you very often miss the subtleties that actually are actually all about meaning life meaning and and that’s, that’s so, so relevant.
David Ralph [42:51]
When when I started this job creating a show, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Hopefully, I’m a lot better than I was at the beginning. But it was just step after step after step. And I look back at some of the shows, and they were good. And some of them I think are missed a trick there. But it was absolutely as you say it’s over little things that have built up to when you suddenly get momentum. And it’s it makes things easier. But we come back to tenacity, again, if I hadn’t have had that tenacity if I hadn’t had that ability to just do the small things if I hadn’t had that desire to provide what I am providing to the world and earn no money off it. And I was doing like 17 hour days, but but nothing, you know, but was it for nothing. It certainly wasn’t Because ultimately, I’ve created something that I’m hugely proud of. But it is it’s all about small little things that build up, isn’t it?
Jo Roberts [43:42]
Yeah, absolutely. And I think again, you know, dots, dots can just be dots, okay? It’s what you do with the dots. It’s what you learn from the dots in a way that I think really matters. And that’s about life, if one takes time to think and reflect. It’s a huge gift. Because normally and I mean, you know, I’m a I’m a real pack horses, as I’ve said, but I do think a lot, I do reflect a lot. And I try and learn from myself a lot, because I don’t get it right. All the time. And in fact, you know, as a child, I had some really painful things that happened that, you know, really hurt. But I said, Okay, so what can I do differently now. And again, you know, there’s that great NLP saying about, you know, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got. And again, that’s one of my things I put on everybody. But it’s so true, isn’t it, you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’re just going to get what you’ve always got. And if you want things to be different, you have to really think about what you’re going to do differently. And it’s very powerful. When you think that way?
David Ralph [44:58]
Well, it would let’s play the words. Now, Steve Jobs, because not only does he talk about dots in a profound way, but he was certainly somebody who believes whole life did things differently. So this, this is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [45:09]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards. 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [45:44]
Now you’ve got a lovely big heart. I can I can hear it in everything that you say. So do those words mean anything to you at all?
Jo Roberts [45:52]
Oh, yeah. I mean, it’s just beautiful, beautifully put. And, funnily enough, we were looking at doing something around wilderness leadership. And, and I remember writing a piece about being on a trail, a wilderness trail, which we do, which is kind of completely simple just to pack on your back for five days in the middle of the wild. And I remember saying, you know, there was a buffalo in the path that we were taking took place where we wanted to sleep once. And we had to walk all the way around this flipping buffalo up a hill and down the other side, because it would not budge. And I remember thinking that’s what leadership is about. And that’s what Steve Jobs is just said is if you have some idea of it, of who you are what you want, and then you willing to divert off the course, because there’s an obstacle, but you keep going to where it is you want to be. That’s a real life lesson. So he says it beautifully, really beautifully.
David Ralph [46:49]
And have you found Joe Roberts, have you found the about the absolute unique version of yourself?
Jo Roberts [46:55]
No know, I know, I don’t think I’ll ever be completely satisfied. I think I’ve always got a quest for learning. And I think constantly evolving. And constantly on the lookout for new growth. And and that’s what nature does. You know, you have your autumns and you have your springs, and I’m always looking for spring, what new shoots will come up. And I’m also interested in that strong, strong branch that grows stronger, but it’s pushing out new shoots all the time and growing. I’m very much around growth. Hopefully not expanding waistline, but an expanding life force. That’s Yeah, definitely.
David Ralph [47:41]
I asked a question right back in the introduction, and it is, I’ve been leaving it till sort of the end of the show, really, because I do find but so many people that are doing wonderfully caring things, and helping people in the world, actually quite often beat themselves up that they not quite doing as much as they would one in their head. Are you similar to that? Did you look at what you’re doing? And are you totally satisfied? Or do you think, Oh, no, if only I could get this residential course going. And if I could only do base, and if I could only do that.
Jo Roberts [48:15]
I’m very satisfied in some things. I never want to be complacent. So I have a kind of a agitation around complacency. Because I think that we never know enough. I don’t think we ever do things completely. But that leaves possibility. And in fact, I’m a great believer in possibility. And I never want to stop believing in possibility. I’m very creative. I’ve got a over creative mind. And in fact, you know, our new chairman, keeps telling me off. Because, you know, I’m constantly seeing new ideas and thinking new things. Do I beat myself up? Yes. Do I beat myself as much as I used to know. But I always think that it’s possible to do it better. And I’m kind of glad about that. Because I would hate to just I could never be static. I’m believing growth. And that is about possibility. And that is always challenging yourself a little bit to say, could I do this better? You know, what have I learned from what we’ve been doing up to now, that helps me realise we could do this differently, and therefore do it better? So I’m probably pretty exhausting to be around. Because I’m kind of interested in, in in growing and constantly growing.
David Ralph [49:42]
Well, why do you think you are like that? And why do you think but all the quote unquote, successful people are like that, because it’s a similar theme. But the whole world is full of people who are just going through the motions, they’re going to jobs that they don’t like, just because they feel it’s the only job that they’re ever going to get, when that’s quite obviously not true. And they’re in relationships with rubbish, boyfriends and girlfriends and stuff. And now I’m willing to give it up because I think it’s the only person they’re ever going to get. And it’s a kind of limiting mindset. Why do you think that is successful people keep on pushing forward all the time, where so many of the people in the world will just settle with what they’ve got?
Jo Roberts [50:20]
Oh, I think it’s because somehow they’ve got a possibility gene. I do think it is about this. willingness to risk and to try. And I don’t know what creates it. And I think if, you know, I’ve talked a lot about If only we could capture the essence of that it would be an amazing thing to capture. I think that it’s a, it’s a little bit, I think, David about stretching someone just that little bit forward. And I think that’s what we try and do an artwork on the leadership side. And on the youth at risk side. It’s about saying just try it, you know, just take a take a nibble at that biscuit you don’t like and see what you think. Try life, you know, and I think people grow up maybe with the messaging not to try. But I believe if you try, you can always say Actually, I’ve tried it. I don’t like it. But people are frightened to try it. And I think there’s a cautiousness about overextending or not liking or being in pain. And to me, that’s really sad, because life is such a rich experience. But you’ve got to try and believe in possibility. I think
David Ralph [51:40]
I speak to so many people who are quite simply bored, I say to me, How’s work when, and I got a job. But you know, that kind of mentality. And I was talking to a chap last night, and quite often when I’m having these conversations, theories will just burst into my brain and is kind of like I’ve never said it before. But once it started coming out of my mouth, I think, I think I think I’m channelling something here. And this is a new idea. And we came up with this theory last night, and I’d be interested in your, your idea on this. But when you were at school, as kids 90% of it is boring. And you’re just there with uninspired teachers, kind of just getting through the day until quarter past three, whatever, but you can go home. And every now and again, you get a teacher who is amazing, and they just inspire you. And you’re not sure why they inspire you like nobody else, but they just do. And you almost want the whole classroom and the whole school to be filled with this teacher. And you can have them time and time and time again. And so we’re kind of trying that we have to be bored in life as kids. And then when we go to work, we’re getting bored, but we’re getting paid to be bored. So we kind of accept it as well. And we never shake up that status quo of going No, actually this is wrong. I know I had to do it as a kid. But I don’t have to do it as an adult, I can actually change, change my own reality and build future.
Jo Roberts [53:02]
Yeah, I don’t think boredom is a bad thing.
in certain contexts, and I think that we’ve got things in life that we just have to do, don’t we, and I think I hate going to Sainsbury’s and shopping. I hate it, hate it, hate it, but you’ve got to do it. So I think I’m trying to think carefully with my words here. I think that there are things in life, like going to school and having to sit in a math class, when you hate maths that you just have to do. And that’s again, one of the things that we would talk a lot about with young people is there things you’ve just got to do, and you’ve got a stomach hurt, okay? And get through it. But you need to make sure that the other things that you build around those tedious things that do bring you meaning, and joy, and a sense of,
Unknown Speaker [53:56]
Jo Roberts [53:58]
But you can’t have a you can’t get away from the fact that sometimes there are the tedious chores that just have to be done. And it’s learning to find a way of doing that stuff and managing to cope with it, but also ensuring that you’ve got meaning elsewhere. And I guess for some people a job is a job. But they need them to do salsa dancing in the evening, or, you know, go to the pub with their mates and have a really set of really meaningful friendships around it. That’s got to have those elements in it. Because otherwise Crikey. It’s like, you know, eating chocolate all day. So you’re gonna go to eat chocolate cherries, I guess.
David Ralph [54:43]
But I don’t think we’re talking Well, I’m not talking about tedious chores, I’m talking about tedious life. And more often than not, but people that say to me, oh, it’s a job, oh, it’s a job. When I say to him what you’re going to do tonight, they just go home, and they sit on the sofa, and they watch a movie or whatever. And it’s the same kind of thing. It’s almost that that inability to shake themselves up, goes into their social life as well. And I say to him, you know, when was the last time you saw someone, so I haven’t seen him for months? And when was last time you did this. So what you’re saying is absolutely perfect. If you’re going to balance it off with stimulating social activities and and sort of activities in the evening, then yeah, you can stomach it. But I’m finding more often, but not, that doesn’t seem to be the case. People are just grouping all of it together, and are just accepting. And I think that is a crime.
Jo Roberts [55:31]
I agree with you. I think it terrifies me, I think maybe what motivates me is my terror. of that. To be honest, I’m very frightened of a grey life. And I wonder whether they know anything different? And, you know, what, what, what could stimulate them to feel something different? And maybe, you know, as we’ve kind of discussed as well, you know, that maybe you need something really big that happens, that then shifts your gear. Because as you say, maybe people are just happy to go along and second gear all the time. And never try up the different speeds. Because maybe they don’t know what it’s like or they’re frightened of it, or they’ve never been role model that or they’ve never needed to do it. And I’m I’m fearful of, of that kind of very boring, mundane life, that that would terrify me. Because I think but I think I would make a very boring job interesting in some way. I think I’m, I’d always create something that would make it more interesting, but that are made up. But I agree with you. I think it’s, it’s in our opinion, it’s a very sad way to live. But for them, maybe they happy. You know, it’s kind of different strokes for different folks. But for me, it terrifies me. I wouldn’t want to live like that. I need to have meaning and and I need to have a sense of purpose. And I need to feel that that I’m living deliberately. There’s there’s a great philosopher called Henry Thoreau. And he talks about going into the woods. He says, I went into the woods to live deliberately. And then it continues in the quote, and something about never to find found that I lived but I hadn’t lived at all, which is exactly what you’re saying. It’s it’s to live life deliberately and to make the most of it.
David Ralph [57:31]
It terrifies me, Joe. It certainly does. So So the last question just before I send you back in time on the sermon and Mike to have a one on one with your younger self is, do you think that everyone should and can have a kick ass life if I if I wanted,
Jo Roberts [57:46]
absolutely, completely besotted with possibility and potential, each one of us, each one of us has got the potential and the possibility of life to make life meaningful for them to do something different and to get out and seek Allah. But it’s a choice we make. And it’s it’s it is always done to what we decide to do with ourselves, not what life does to us. It’s what we do with our lives, that really matters.
David Ralph [58:16]
You see the 16,000 listeners, Joe, Robert says you can have a kick ass life. So that’s what you gotta do. Go out and do it now why I’m going to send you back in time. Now, Joe, and this is the bit that we call the Sermon on the mic. And if you could go back in time and have a one on one with yourself, what age Joe would you choose? And what advice would you get them where we’re gonna find out, because I’m going to play the tune. And when it fades out, you’re up, this is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [58:42]
Jo Roberts [59:10]
think I’m thinking about a time when I was probably around, I think I must been around 12. And I was very, very fact, I was a very overweight child, and bullied terribly for being fat. And so badly wanted to be a princess and beautiful and have all the boys fancy me on holiday. And I just remember that real feeling of never being of not feeling good enough. And trying very, very hard to to be okay. And now when I look back, I think I would have said to myself that I was just fine. And that actually what other people think about you is not the most relevant thing in the world. That’s what we think about ourselves. That if one can be true to yourself, and value yourself, it then allows you to be truthful to the world and to value the world. But that’s a very hard thing when you’re young and vulnerable. And, and wanting the sociability of social acceptance. But I think I would have been kinder to myself. And I would have kicked asked my parents to have made sure that I was given more support to lose weight, which they eventually did do. But I think I would have said that it’s how we value ourselves is more important than about how other people fail us. But that’s that’s a big, that’s a big one.
David Ralph [1:00:40]
Joe, how can our listeners connect with you?
Jo Roberts [1:00:44]
Right, well, we’ve got Facebook, wilderness Foundation, Facebook, we’ve got wilderness Foundation has a website which has got everything on it, which is www dot wilderness Foundation, or one word.org dot uk I’m, we’ve got an info email address, but people could contact me directly, which is just Joe Joe at wilderness foundation.org.uk. And we’d really, really love to hear from people. As I’ve said, we’ve got a great site here where people can do team building personal development, you know, phone up for help or discussion on issues that they they having with their teenagers or their families or themselves. And we’re here we’re very open, very accepting organisation to work with all sorts of people. And and we love luck. So hopefully we can share that out.
David Ralph [1:01:43]
Jo Roberts, you’ve been an absolute delight on the show you are an absolute inspiration to me, you are thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining up the dots of your life. And please come back again when you have more dots to join up, because I do believe it but joining those dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Jo Roberts. Thank you so much.
Jo Roberts [1:02:01]
Well, thank you.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become so he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up Dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.