Aug. 23, 2022

Kyle Elliott courageously drops his social mask and his professional life soars


Kyle Elliott had a variety of social masks that he wore in his professional life.  He had his career and his coaching side hustle and he had been under the impression that his personal life was not relevant to his professional life.  But, when he stepped through his fears, doubts, and anxieties and began to remove the social masks and allow his followers and clients to see him for who he really is, he was surprised at the outcome.  Whether you are employed or are an entrepreneur, this story will likely apply.

Kyle is a career coach specializing in Tech and Silicone Valley.

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Transcript

Coach Maddox  0:03  
Hello, Kyle Elliott, and welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcast. It is great to see you and great to have you here.

Kyle Elliott  0:10  
Yes, thank you so much for having me. I'm excited for our conversation today.

Coach Maddox  0:15  
Yeah, me too. I've been looking forward to this. So I just want to tell you know, the listeners that the way, Kyle and I know each other is that we are in a an organization called the gay coaches Alliance. And we met face to face at a retreat in upstate New York in the spring, and spent several days getting acquainted, we sat at breakfast together, and we were in workshops together, it was absolutely amazing. And that's how we connected. And so here he is, being a guest. And I'm really delighted and excited to have you here.

Yeah, I'm so excited to be here. And you were actually the first person I met at that retreat. We were both trying to find the office. And yes, we were the very first people that meet that person I met and I was out on the trail trying to find the place to check in to this little retreat place. We were both lost. It was it was great. I had forgotten it. But yes, we were the first person I laid eyes on when I got there.

Kyle Elliott  1:22  
That was a fun retreat. So many good memories.

Coach Maddox  1:25  
I'm still talking about it. And I've already got the dates marked off on 2023. Is calendar.

Kyle Elliott  1:31  
Me tell you absolutely. I'm

Coach Maddox  1:33  
excited. Absolutely. Unless, you know, something big stands in my way. I will be there. So the one last thing that I want to say before we jump in is just to tell you guys that Kyle is a career coach specializing in tech and Silicon Valley. And even though I didn't really experience the career, well, yes, I did. I guess what you what he was a presenter, did an all day workshop at the conference. And it was, it was amazing. He was the only all day workshop all the rest of them were like, like an hour and 15 minute long, minutes long. His was a whole day. And it was, well, it was quite possibly the highlight of the conference. For me, it impacted me in a very, very deep way. And so grateful for that, and what you what you brought to me and the support, it was amazing.

Kyle Elliott  2:28  
Yeah, thank you for showing up and showing what it means to be an authentic gay man, you volunteered to go first during the workshop, and it was just such a fun experience to share that with you.

Coach Maddox  2:39  
Thank you. It was a fun experience. Thank you, Kyle, I appreciate that. So tell me, what does it mean to you to be an authentic gay man.

Kyle Elliott  2:51  
What it means to me is to show up, externally, outside my home, outside my relationship with my partner outside my friendships outside the relationship I have with my parents, really externally to not have a mask and show up the same as I do with those people that I trust and hold close to me. And that's my goal in this world is to show up as my fabulous, unique self. And everywhere that I go, and then every interaction so that when I'm meeting someone random at Starbucks and saying hi, or when I'm doing a workshop, or when I'm talking to my partner, I'm the same person and all those interactions, and I'm not putting on different masks, or different identities, depending where I'm going. And that's what I shoot for in my life. And that's what being an authentic gay man means to me.

Coach Maddox  3:42  
You know, I love that you said fabulous and unique. I'm so excited that you know that you're able to honor yourself in that way. And, and there's nothing about that. That's braggadocious that is owning who you are. And I just want to call that out and say, Wow, I'm inspired. Thank

Kyle Elliott  4:04  
you. And that's something I do with my clients, which is so fun helping them figure out what's unique and fabulous about them. And I think that's one of my gifts, being able to pull that out of people and figure out what's special about them and then helping them share it as well with the world.

Coach Maddox  4:18  
I don't think it's one of your gifts. Oh, it's one of your gifts. Absolutely. Because I saw you do that with me and I saw you do it with so many men in the workshop that day you definitely have a gift. Thank you at what you do. So down to the million dollar question the big kahuna what is the most challenging thing that you've gone through in this life or are still going through?

Kyle Elliott  4:48  
I would say that mask and choosing to take off that mask. So as a gay person deciding okay, I'm gonna come off, come out and take that mask off and not pretend to be straight, or when people say, Oh, are you gay? I'm gonna say yes. And then taking that mask off again, when I shared, okay, I live with mental health conditions and sharing very publicly about it writing and doing public speaking engagements. And then again, taking that mask off and sharing that I'm a male sexual assault survivor. So repeatedly going out and saying, here's who I am and not hiding behind these masks. And that's something that I'm constantly doing coming out as gay as someone with mental health conditions as the sexual assault survivor, and that's scary. It's a constant risk, and there's constant reward. And that's something I'm constantly balancing as do I share my story? When do I share my story? How do I share my story? And,

Coach Maddox  5:50  
Kyle, what has been the hardest part of that? That taking the mask off? And in sharing those things? What's what's been the hardest part of that for you?

Kyle Elliott  6:01  
For me, it was not knowing what's on the other side. So I live with anxiety. I'm very type A, I'm a Virgo. So I like control in order and knowing what to expect. And for me, it was scary. I have this successful career. I had my career coaching side hustle and going when I decided to share these three aspects of myself, I didn't know what was going to happen. Were clients not wanting to not wanting to work with me, if I say I'm gay, are they going to think I'm, quote unquote, crazy? If I say I live with a mental health condition, our best friend say that when I told her I went to therapy, so it's scary, really thinking, Oh, my gosh, what's going to happen? Once I come out? Are people going to disown me? Am I going to lose my business and career am I going to lose this positioning where I placed myself, and it was scary, not knowing what was going to happen, and not being able to control how other people reacted. And as a person with anxiety, and perfectionism, I wanted to be able to control what happened?

Coach Maddox  7:00  
Well, there was a great deal at stake. You were established in a lot of different arenas that weren't aware of those aspects of your life. So yes, there was a lot at stake,

Kyle Elliott  7:12  
a lie. And it's scary, not knowing how people are going to react, and then constantly doing that after way. Okay, what are the benefits and costs of coming out in this situation? And then deciding how much I want to come out to? It's just not do I come out? But then do I share a picture of my partner? Do I talk about my partner? Do I talk about living with mental health conditions? Am I allowed to say I've disassociated for several hours? What am I allowed to share? And what can't I share? And is it safe for me to do this? And then what's the value to myself and to other people's? Well,

Coach Maddox  7:44  
I get it, you know, I came out many, many years ago to my all my clients, but then again, you know, I was a 40 year career hairdresser. And it's, that's almost a very, I mean, come on, you know, a male hairdresser. The other are some straight male hairdressers, and I've known them. But it is an industry that attracts gay men. And so it's just kind of wasn't a big deal. It was never a big deal. But I can see in the arenas that you were working in, how iffy that might have been. So in that first wave, when you started to let the people that you were working for See, or you started to share that story or stories. What was your experience? What was the result or outcome?

Kyle Elliott  8:40  
It was scary at first. That's the first word that comes to mind, scary anxiety producing. And then as I started sharing more, it was empowering. Knowing that I was in control of this story. I was the author of this story that I was writing and how I was sharing it. And then what was so amazing, was really each and every reaction I received people saying, oh my gosh, Kyle, can you help me come out in my job or come out to my parents? How do I navigate this? Yes, I did get the F word quite a bit. People weren't nice. People have sent me and things about my partner JV. But overall, it was so empowering and so uplifting to have all these amazing positive messages. People have shared

Coach Maddox  9:25  
well, and I think it's important to call out that when you do what you did. It's a has a polarizing effect. And although that can be very scary, and it can be very challenging. In the long run, I see that is always being a value and benefit. Because when you polarize people like that, you find out who your people are, you know, it sends the people that are not Your people, it sends them screaming and running in the opposite direction. What a beautiful thing.

Kyle Elliott  10:04  
Yes, it pushes away those people and then it makes room for the people who are my people?

Coach Maddox  10:09  
Yes, yes, it does. I've always said that, you know, people either scream or screamed or ran, or they wanted to come and sit right next to me. And when they screamed and ran, hit made room for those people that wanted to sit next to me, it's always been a positive thing for me, once I crossed that barrier, you know, there's that glass ceiling that we kind of have to have to break through. And then we, when we find out the sky is not falling, and we're not going to die because somebody disagreed with who we are. You're right, it is incredibly empowering. And I'm curious, because in my own experience, you know, I can remember a time when I had to, like, have a coming out, you know, with every person. And then there was a point when I realized, I don't think I have to do that anymore. There was a point when maybe a client would say, oh, you know, brand new client don't know where from Madam. I'm doing her hair, you know, and she's saying, Oh, my boyfriend or my husband does this, and it really annoys me. And I might say, Oh, girl, my boyfriend does the same thing drives me nuts. And it was this matter of fact, I talked very matter of fact about my life, just the way she had just talked, making it a no thing. I made it a no thing. And nobody ever batted an eye. Mm hmm. Did you experience anything quite quite like that where there was this point, you're you were coming out. And then all of a sudden, you realize that you didn't really need to do that you could just subtly like weave it into a normal everyday conversation. I guess what I'm saying is, when I made it a no thing the rest of the world seemed to make it a no thing. What was your Yeah,

Kyle Elliott  11:57  
yeah, mine was similar. I felt like it had to be this big, momentous experience for people and for myself. And now a lot of times it isn't, I just say, Oh, my partner JV. Or all I'm a member of the gate coaches Alliance and recognizing it doesn't have to be this huge thing. And just talk about it. Similarly, as you said, how other people talk about their partners. And over time, I felt more confident in my skin. So I can just say, here's who I am and not ask for permission. Really, when I was coming out before I almost felt like I was asking for permission to continue to interact with this person. Oh, I'm coming out. Now. Let's see if they want to continue to interact with me.

Coach Maddox  12:37  
Yes, and talk to me a little bit about what that meant in the way of freedom.

Kyle Elliott  12:43  
I now no longer feel like I have to hide my mannerisms, how I talk with my hands or my tone of voice. People sometimes say have interesting tone of voice. I no longer have to hide anything about myself or make justifications. It's just here's who I am. And I can say I'm a gay career coach, I was just talking to a friend and she said, You're not just a career coach, you're a gay career coach. And it's okay to say that there's nothing wrong with that. You don't have to justify it, you don't send out an explanation. You don't have to have a caveat. It's okay to just say, here's who I am. And that's been really empowering for me and so much less stressful and less anxiety producing.

Coach Maddox  13:21  
Yeah, that's beautiful. Yeah, I've experienced something very similar. It just, I mean, certainly being a gay man is definitely part of who I am. But it became kind of like I mean, I don't want to say not important because that's not it at all. I'm I'm having a hard time articulating what I'm thinking it just became less front and center. And more matter of fact. And it's amazing how the world responds to that. They respond to that very differently than you know when we're trying to justifying like you said, what who we are what we are. So tell me a little bit more about how that's an unfolded. I know that at one point you you shared a story with me about putting a photo up on social media of you and your partner showing affection. You know, it's kind of interesting when you I host a podcast called the authentic gay man podcast, and it's out there on the airwaves for the whole world to hear. It's like, is there any way to hide? Is there any, even any closet in existence anymore? I hope that the world is not going to go in a way that I'm regretful that I put that out in the airways the way I have. I don't think that I will. I hope I won't, because it's out there now. And I felt extremely comfortable with that. But we're seeing so much bigotry right now. It is a little bit I was talking to my brother yesterday. It's a little bit disarming. But, yes, please, share, because I think that we're all whether it's about professional or non professional, we're reluctant to put our lives out there for the whole world to see. And I love the story that you had shared with me about you the photo of you and your partner.

Kyle Elliott  15:39  
Yes. So my partner and I were at Pride several years ago in San Francisco. I believe it was the pride right before the pandemic. And there's a beautiful photo, our friend took a bias. She's a professional photographer of JV, my partner kissing me on the cheek, and I said, Oh, my gosh, this photo is so beautiful. I wanted to share it on LinkedIn in particular, because I spend a lot of time on there. It's my first social media platform. And then I got a little nervous. I said, Oh my gosh, what if clients to grow on gay and they didn't already know I'm gay? Or what if they don't like seeing this in our racial, multicultural couple together? What if they don't like this affection. And then I realized all these heterosexual couples share similar photos of having a baby, or getting married all this stuff online. So I shared this photo of JB and I, and I received so much love and affection and compliments, and so many people are uplifting us. And of everything I shared on social media. I'm a career coach, I share great resume tips, interview tips. This one out of every post I've ever shared resulted in the most people reaching out to me to work with me as a career coach, even though I had nothing to do with coaching people and simply said hashtag Love is love. And that's it. Yep, people wanted to work with me. And it was so powerful. There were some followers who said really mean things. So I pushed them away, blocked them. But it brought out all these new people who said, Oh, my gosh, Kyle's living this life where he's really happy. I want that to how can I have that and they reached

Coach Maddox  17:12  
out. That's beautiful. Once again, it polarized things. It drew people to you. I can see, I'm amazed, you know, not anything that dramatic. But I post all kinds of videos and things that are teaching moments and inspirational stuff. And but then I can post something where it's just oh, here's me and my friends seeing a musical it. So in so theater, and the reactions are over the top, the most simple of things get way more reactions and comments than the things that we think would really have value or impact. It's very, actually weird to me in some ways. And then in some ways, it makes sense.

Kyle Elliott  18:06  
Yeah, people want to connect on that human to human level, I find

Coach Maddox  18:11  
well, and when you did that, you gave every one of your followers permission to do that. And we're all waiting for that permission, in some way, where few of us have the ability to give ourselves that permission. So we're waiting for your friend that just said, Just say you're a gay career coach, she gave you permission. Because we're reluctant to give that to ourselves. I'm not exactly sure why that is. But we are. So this is an amazing story. And I'm thinking about what question I want to ask next. Do you have anything about the story more about the story that you'd like to share? While I ponder over what more I want to hear?

Kyle Elliott  19:07  
Yes, I find what's interesting too, is this can apply to anyone sharing an aspect of their identity. So I was really intrigued. And I'm still intrigued, the more I highlight the fact that I'm gay. So having the gay coach's Alliance photo on my website, I've added a rainbow filter to my photo on my homepage. I've mentioned Oh, I spoke at the skate coaches retreat. Each of these was scary kind of putting my sexual orientation more out there. But each time I do it, people are more drawn to me. And what's most interesting is a lot of my clients are not gay. And they're not members of the LGBTQ plus community. And so what's really powerful I'm recognizing is I'm not just drawing people in who are like me, I'm drawing other people who are diverse or belong to other historically oppressed groups and some other ways. So someone that's like, Hey, I'm a black woman. I can see aspects of our story that overlap, even though I'm not gay, Kyle, there's a lot of overlap here, and I admire you sharing your story. So that's why I find so powerful about short storytelling is there can be a lot of overlap, even if our identities are completely different.

Coach Maddox  20:17  
Well, and you're building allies. And that's really, really a powerful thing to do. You know, I have had a pretty strong number of straight male and females reach out to me about the podcast, even though it's entitled The authentic gaming podcast, telling me that they're listening to it. And they've even said, Well, this stuff that you're sharing and teaching is, is universal, I'm getting, you know, one person said, my wife and I are listening to these episodes together and getting lots of stuff out of it. And yes, most most of the stuff I talk about are our universal topics. And at the same time, my focus is having an impact in my community. And yes, I, I'm actually working right now to produce an episode that's going to be about allies. I'm literally seeking guests that are GBT, pq, and then to bring their closest, straight male friend on the podcast with them as an ally to unpack that and, and look at how that works. So I love that you're telling me that other people are reaching out to you, that are not part of our community, yet, they still get it. Because they're perhaps part of a marginalized community,

Kyle Elliott  21:55  
then all of us have a story to share. And I've yet to speak to someone that isn't or at some point, hasn't been wearing some sort of masks or they interact one way at home another way with friends another way at work another way when they see family at a family reunion, and my goal is to hopefully help people alleviate the need or the feeling that they need to wear these masks and say, Okay, if I Kyle can show up without a mask, hopefully you can as well.

Coach Maddox  22:23  
You know, I was amazed when I asked you that question what it meant to be an authentic gay man, you You started off? I mean, that's exactly what I wrote when I answered that was it's the stripping away of social masks. And I've gotten a gazillion different answers on what it looks like or means to be an authentic gay man. And not all of them have included, not in fact, not very many of them have included the comment the language of social masks, but that was one that I really, really identified with. And I think that's hard for us. It's hard for us to put those masks down. Because as as a marginalized community, we that was what we did to survive. That was what we did to be social masks where our safety or self defense mechanism. Yes, for us.

Kyle Elliott  23:24  
Yeah, as I look back at middle school and high school, that was my safety thing. I'm straight, saying I'm not an F word. All those things. That's how I survived Middle School in high school, and then having to retrain myself and say, Actually, no, I am gay. And this is okay. And to fight through that and realize on the other side of that mask is so much more happiness and joy and freedom.

Coach Maddox  23:48  
There really is. I'm amazed at how many of my guests have talked about a suicide attempts. One of my guests who is now pretty close friend, in fact, I sat in the park with him this morning in nature, and he attempted suicide over 10 times. And every ounce of it was about his sexuality because as soon as he finally came out, which was only two and a half years ago, he's 54. Now he came out, you know, at 51 and a half approximately. All that went away. Just a little bit went away. It was all centered around the suppression of who He really really was. That social masks, the social masks are deadly. I was just gonna say they can literally be deadly, and we don't oftentimes even realize it.

Kyle Elliott  24:52  
Yeah, and I'm not saying everyone should come out. It's up to you. You have to weigh the benefits and costs but for me personally, it's been empowering And once I had the psychological safety to do so, the benefits outweigh the costs of coming out every single time now

Coach Maddox  25:10  
I would have died if it didn't come out. Like I don't have any any doubt about it, I would have. Because I felt my my light dimming. I was in my early 20s, I came out at 24. And I could literally feel my light dimming, I would have either just probably ended up with some type of really bad mental condition meant some mental illness. Or I would have perhaps taken my own life. But I was seeing a real fall off a diminishment. Dude, it was just the light was was going out. I really do think that if I hadn't come out, I would not be here. I don't know really what that would have looked like, I just have this strong sense that I wouldn't be here. And you're right, every person has to figure that out. for themselves. What do you think was the biggest determining factor? The factor that what was the biggest? When you weigh out the pros and cons, the benefits and the drawbacks? What was the biggest thing that was like? Yes, I'm going to do this.

Kyle Elliott  26:32  
I've been out for over a decade. No one's ever asked me that question. So I love that. The biggest benefit, or the biggest perceived benefit they had me coming out was I just couldn't imagine myself living a life any other way. I couldn't imagine myself moving through life just hiding the secret. And being in this place of dissatisfaction, I remember when I wasn't just being unhappy, not being able to share it. And always fearing I was going to be outed, whether it was at school outside of school work and just having this fear or hanging over me, and not wanting to be in that place the rest of my life and just not being able to imagine doing that forever. And I think the biggest benefit was saying I just can't live like that and imagining the relief that would come with that. And once I did come out that first time just so much relief, just this wave of relief coming over my body.

Coach Maddox  27:32  
living a lie sucks the life out of us. It really does. Yeah, I can remember working with a therapist, and I lived in a small town. You know, I said to my parents, I think I need some help. And they said, Okay, we'll get you some help. And there was no such thing is either was, you know, no good, no gay section in the yellow pages. So they just found a therapist, and I don't think he'd ever even worked with a gay person before. But there was a point where I came to my parents and I said, I'm, I'm going to come out. Are you sure? Are you sure they said, because you can't do this, once you do this, you can't undo this. And I said, you know, my therapist has helped me realize that I need to stop wasting energy, trying to be something I'm not, and to spend my energy accepting and embracing who I am. And they got it. And that's exactly what happened. And God knows, it hasn't been a walk in the park. It hasn't. You know, I came out in 1981 it was a very different time. You know, AIDS had just been discovered. And I was living in a small town gay was not okay. And yet I have no regrets about doing that.

Kyle Elliott  29:03  
And I imagine this is why people who aren't gay man also enjoy your podcast is because there's these games that can translate to anyone like accepting who we are. And realizing living this lie is so exhausting and so tiring. And on the other side of that lie in that truth, there's so much empowerment and so much happiness and so much joy.

Coach Maddox  29:27  
Exactly. And and the social masks are abundant. It's not just masking that you're gay. There's a million different masks you can put on masking something that you don't understand about yourself or something that you feel shame about. Yeah, there's where I want to go for a minute. When when you went through all this the fear the DO I DO I DO THIS can And I really come out in my professional life. And did you where was Where were you on the shame meter and all that

Kyle Elliott  30:11  
there was not a lot of shame actually did my doctoral dissertation on self stigma, and storytelling and in that I looked at shame a lot. And I didn't have a lot of shame, I more just had fear and anxiety of how people may react. And if the successful life by adult would come crashing down. So when something happened to my career, my business, my friendships, that's what I was more afraid of. So there was less internal shame, which I was really thankful about. Because that can be a lot to unpack, I didn't have a lot of shame, thankfully. I was more afraid of how other people would react. And that's what was really scary.

Coach Maddox  30:55  
You know, I really identify with that I talked to so many men that are so burdened by shame. And I like you didn't really have a lot of that there were things that I had some shame about, but I don't really think that being being gay and being attracted to men was particularly one of them. There was a lot of fear, like you said, but not a lot of shame. I, I didn't I didn't really buy into the it's wrong thing. Even though everybody around you is saying that. Yeah, there's definitely some similarities in our, our way of navigating this.

Kyle Elliott  31:38  
You know, when it comes to my upbringing, I think that really helped a lot. I grew up in a really welcoming household. My parents had very diverse friends. I was part of a men's group recently, and they said, who were the gay influences in your life? So I reached out my parents, I said, growing up, did we have any gay? Or did they have any gay friends and we have gay neighbors, a lesbian couple that were neighbors, my parents are friends with gay people. Also people that were just diverse in a lot of different ways. So I think that helped a lot. My parents just normalized that. My grandma had a, I think AMPA was a lesbian who identified as lesbian. So I think there was a lot of just diversity around me. So there wasn't any internal shame really, around my identity. And there wasn't a lot of fear coming out to my family as well, which I'm really thankful about. And I realized it's something that's a privilege that I have and unique, so there wasn't shame there. There's really just a lot of external fear that I had beyond my own family.

Coach Maddox  32:41  
And yes, and how fortunate you are to be able to tell that story because there are so many that don't have that. That story to tell. Well, tell me a little bit about where you are now. And what's going on now.

Kyle Elliott  32:59  
I am so thankful to be able to keep sharing my story and keep realizing where am I wearing masks. I was just talking to a friend recently about this when I show up on my coaching calls. Okay, why am I wearing a polo? I mean, sometimes I like wearing a polo but why am I trying to dress nice, quote unquote professional and said I love Disney. Why don't I just wear Disney shirts and Disney jerseys? During all of my coaching calls, that's what I wear day to day, why don't I do that? So now I'm still looking for Wear I'm wearing a mask catching myself and saying okay, let me pull that off. Let me recognize that and get rid of these masks and realizing where they show up in big ways, possibly small ways. Like what shirt I wear during a coaching call and is this just another mask that I'm holding on to

Coach Maddox  33:45  
you know, I'm identifying with that. I don't do that in my coaching calls, which are on video. You know, I I just tell them okay, don't expect me to be pretty. You know, I'm sometimes I'm in workout clothing or Yeah. But I do notice that when I prepare for a podcast episode recording, I've got a shirt with a collar on. You know, right now I've got jean shorts in a and a pair how she's doing, but I got a collared shirt on because I don't know why I don't you know, it just that's part of I guess that mask thinking that that's what I need to do to appear professional.

Kyle Elliott  34:31  
Yeah, my therapist calls it the shed monster and I've become really aware of it. And I'm constantly looking for the sheds, where am I thanks should whereas that should monster showing up? And how can i Quiet and keep him in retirement?

Coach Maddox  34:45  
You know, some, I guess it was maybe 2019. I worked with a marketing guru. And he was absolutely phenomenal. You know, because he said to me, you've worked very intuitively And he was gay. And he said to me, you need to start trying to be professional. You know, he said, let that go, you know, because he said, first of all, you are hysterically funny. And you have all these what he called Maddox isms. Mm hmm. And he said, You, you need to bring that forth in everything you do, whether it's a coaching session, or whether it's, I was talking about a podcast at the time, it just took me a while to get there about the podcast. You need to drop this facade, social mask, however you want to word it of professionalism, and just be you and he did the most amazing thing. He gave me his homework assignment. He said, Okay, by next weeks, I was I was in a course that he was teaching. My next week, I want you to every time you Mattox ism comes out of your mouth, I want you to write it down. And so I wrote him down. And the next week, he said, Did you write your Maddox isms down? And I said, I did. And he said, How many did you write down and said, 105. And he absolutely loved it. But he made this beautiful point, in that people don't expect you or care that you act or look professional. What they care about is that you're a real person. That's where all of the know like and trust comes from. And let's, let's face it, people hire and work with people that they know, like, and trust. And when we're doing this professional stick, they can't see that they can't see whether they know like and trust you because you you're hiding behind a mask.

Kyle Elliott  36:55  
Exactly. I love that. That's such a good activity.

Coach Maddox  36:59  
It was a great activity. I still have all those, that list of all those Maddox isms. And they're they're totally conversation starters, connections. You know, people go, Oh my God, I've never heard that before. Or they'll, they'll burst out laughing. Did you just make that up? And I'm like, Well, no, I wish I could say I did. But I've heard it all my life, you know? And they're like, What kind of family did you come from or something like it's always got a lot of humor around it. But he did me such a great service in telling me to ditch the just be me, waving my arms around like I do. My my boys get it when I get excited. Just just be be me. And I love that you. I mean, you know, our listeners can't see the videos right now. But you very much like me, your voice gets really a different tone when you get excited and you wave your arms around kind of like I do, and I wouldn't. I wouldn't trade for that part of myself. Yeah,

Kyle Elliott  38:09  
I think that's such good advice right there just be me. And that applies to so many things, not just our sexual orientation, but really everything in life.

Coach Maddox  38:17  
It does. It does. So what wisdom bombs would you like to draw on the audience, something that you've learned from all this experience of bringing your taking the social media stuff and bringing your personal life into your professional life? What we're going to sum it up in one or two, wisdom bombs, what would you share?

Kyle Elliott  38:47  
I would say take risks, the greatest moments in my life. getting engaged to my partner moving here to Santa Barbara, starting my business, sharing my sexual orientation, the best moments of my life on the other side of the biggest risks I ever took. So if you want more great moments, take more risks. So that's the biggest knowledge bomb I could drop is to take more risks.

Coach Maddox  39:17  
Well, in part of what you're talking about, you take risks we put ourselves we've have to become vulnerable. There's anytime we take a risk. Must I mean there's always some element of emotional risk involved in there. And I'm not talking about jumping out of planes or off cliffs or anything, that's a physical risk. But so much of the things that you just shared proposing to your your partner, that's vulnerability because he could laugh in your face or say no, you know, and yeah, I love that. Take risks. And that can look a lot of different ways. And I just lost my train of thought. So I'm not going to go there. But it can look a lot of different ways can it when we take those risks? It can be small stuff, like, I know, there's, there's my thought it came back who, you know, one of the riskiest things that I do on a regular basis is I say the things that nobody else is willing to say. In any given conversation, I will say, Oh, can I give you some feedback? Or would you like to seeds from a different perspective permission to speak the truth, I worded a lot of different ways. And it's incredibly vulnerable, because it could totally blow up in my face. But that's part of that risk taking that you're talking about. And, yep, rarely, rarely, rarely, rarely, rarely, rarely does it ever turn out bad. Does it ever pop in my face, it almost always brings forth something incredible.

Kyle Elliott  41:10  
And you have to get over though, but initial risk to get that amazing outcome that sounds like

Coach Maddox  41:16  
amazing outcome. Even when you are confronting somebody you know that you've got your delivery down, when you take the risk and confront somebody, and then they thank you for confronting them. And it's gotten to where that happens more often than not. It's kind of bizarre, interesting and fabulous all at the same time. It sounds like well, I love your your wisdom bomb, and that is truly words of wisdom. Take risks. You know, it's like I heard somebody say instead of instead of a mother sending your children out and going, be careful. You know, it should be take lots of risk, darling. You send them off to school or whatever. Take lots of risks. Wouldn't it be awesome if that's the way we really like treated our children when their children? Yes, darling, make sure you take lots of risks today.

Kyle Elliott  42:15  
Yes, take lots of calculated risks. Have fun.

Coach Maddox  42:19  
Exactly. Exactly. Well, I love your story. I love your wisdom bomb. You have anything else you'd like to say before we step into some rapid fire questions.

Kyle Elliott  42:31  
I would just build upon that as to share your fabulousness with the world and that is a risk. One of the biggest risks you can do is share your fabulous mess. People might laugh like you said, they might reject you. Or you might get this amazing community that supports and uplifts and empowers you to keep sharing your story.

Coach Maddox  42:50  
Well, that that prompts another question. We'll get another wisdom bomb here. So for the person that doesn't recognize anything about themselves that they would consider fabulousness. How might they see their own fabulousness

Kyle Elliott  43:09  
and my favorite activity? It's simple. Everyone listening can do this text three people ask what makes me fabulous, crowdsource and get some insights from those people around you. I do this with my clients a lot. And not only do you learn what makes you fabulous, but it's just a nice confidence boost to have these nice love bombs or fabulousness bombs coming your way.

Coach Maddox  43:32  
Well, and you're also suggesting without saying yet an opportunity to take risks and to step into vulnerability because is it vulnerable to send a text to three friends and say what makes me fabulous? Yes. Yeah, that's, that's scary.

Kyle Elliott  43:52  
It is a lot of my clients are like, do I have to do this? I said, Yes. Yes, you hired me. Let's go.

Coach Maddox  43:59  
I love it. I love it. Wow. Thank you for that. So question number one. What is the one thing that you most wished that you could change about the queer male community?

Kyle Elliott  44:20  
I wish it was easier to make friends. And I don't know if this is the queer male community, or if it's just myself, I find it challenging as an introvert. To make friends and like we're male community, I feel like a lot of it is focused on romantic relationships or sexual relationships and just making true friendships with other LGBTQ plus men can be challenging.

Coach Maddox  44:47  
I think you're right. I don't know. I don't think you're right. I know you're right. It is challenging. And I think that while it may be challenging on some level, no matter what your orientation is, I think there's an ad The layer of challenge for us as as as queer, gay, a gay man, I think that we don't first of all, just don't even know how don't have the first clue what that looks like. And I think you hit the nail on the head, there is such a really strong percentage of our population that is so focused on having a love relationship. It's this belief that if I have a person who loves me, a romantic partner that loves me, all my problems will be solved. And we're so I can recall years where I was so focused on on that, that if you weren't that person, get the fuck out of my way. You know, I was so touched tunnel vision focus that I and I look back and realize how many potential friendships, I prevented myself from even exploring because I had tunnel vision and was so focused on romance. I think that's really big that you call that out? That's beautiful. What is the one thing that you hide or keep secret? Because you fear that if someone knew they would judge you?

Kyle Elliott  46:20  
I feel like at this point, there's not a lot of masks that I wear anymore. So it's tricky for me to think of what this wouldn't be.

Coach Maddox  46:30  
Well, and it's, you know, it's an it's an okay answer to say, I don't have anything like that. Yeah,

Kyle Elliott  46:36  
I really can't think of anything. Because I'm trying to think I really don't have secrets. I don't have something that I'm hiding, I really feel like the answer is nothing at this point. And that's something I'm proud of, I don't have those things that I hide anymore.

Coach Maddox  46:50  
Well, well, who let's celebrate you in a moment? You know, because that's beautiful. And once again, you know, I hope that the listeners realize that, you know, yes, your career coach. And when you take that hat off, your human being just like the rest of us. And what you have done is available to all of us. If you've gotten to a place where there's no social mask, and a place where there's not anything the secret that you fear people would judge you for. That's available all of us. We just have to get vulnerable and and move through that and share it. Final question of your life that you've lived so far. What are you most proud of?

Kyle Elliott  47:45  
Proud of. There's a few different things that are coming up, I think the number one would be the ripple impact I'm having on the world. Through my work, I work with some really amazing people who are literally changing the world, I could never see myself working in tech. And a lot of my clients are big executives and tech, and nonprofits and social impact, who are literally changing the world through their work, whether it's providing access to developing countries, whether it's leading diversity initiative, surfing social media companies, and to see my clients go do that work, I had a client who led a campaign that reached millions of people, it's really cool to see that and be like, Oh my gosh, I played a role in that I helped him get this job. And now they're doing this, literally life and world transforming work. That's what I'm most proud of as being able to have this ripple impact and leave this legacy through my clients that will be here for centuries to come.

Coach Maddox  48:55  
Well, and once again, you're you're honoring and owning your, your genius. And what a beautiful thing. I just want to call that out again, you know, it's the beautiful example that you set and the permission that you give all of us. You know if you can do that, so can I thank you, and so can everybody else. Wow, beautiful. Kyle, thank you. This has been amazing. I've really enjoyed our conversation and thank you so much. It's been a pleasure having you on the podcast and and having you just so openly share. It's been a delight.

Kyle Elliott  49:34  
Yes. Thank you for having me. This has been so much fun.

Coach Maddox  49:38  
Yes. And perhaps there'll be an opportunity for you to come back for one of the group discussions.

Kyle Elliott  49:45  
Yes, that'd be a blast. Awesome.


Kyle Elliott Profile Photo

Kyle Elliott

Career Coach

Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His goal is simple – to help people find jobs they LOVE (or at least tolerate). His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. Kyle is known throughout the industry for helping Silicon Valley’s top talent get unstuck, own their fabulousness, and achieve what they never imagined was possible.

As a result of working with Kyle, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Apple, Netflix Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine. They have also found happiness.

A trusted career expert, Kyle’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, Fortune, Glassdoor, The Muse, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications.

Recognized for his incredibly captivating and adaptable speaking style, Kyle regularly presents to Fortune 100/500 companies, hyper-growth startups, and universities on professional development, personal branding, and mental health in the workplace.

Deeply committed to the art of coaching, Kyle is an official member of the invitation-only Forbes Coaches Council, a member of the Gay Coaches Alliance, and a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). He holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Education & Counseling, Master of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management & Philanthropy, and Doctor of Education in Educational Practice & Leadership.

And finally, while Kyle has received national and international recognition and awards for his work, he is most proud of being dubbed ‘Mr. Loquacious’ by his fifth-grade teacher.