Rha Goddess on passion, purpose and profit

Rha Goddess, CEO and author, has a core belief that every person can stay true, get paid and do good.  

By Christian Feuerstein

Rha Goddess is an “entrepreneurial soul coach” and founder and CEO of Move The Crowd

Over three decades as a cultural innovator, social impact strategist and creative change agent, Goddess has drawn on the power of creativity, culture and community to move hearts, minds and policy. Her work has focused on issues of racial justice and equality, electoral politics, offender aid and restoration, mental health and youth and women’s empowerment. 

She has been featured in Time, Ms. Magazine, Variety, The Source, Redbook, Forbes Magazine, Fast Company and the Chicago Tribune. In 2017 Goddess was chosen as one of “50 Founders to Watch” by Essence magazine. 

Goddess will speak  about “The Future is True, Paid, Good” at Mount Holyoke on Monday, Feb. 17, at 5:30 p.m. The talk is free and open to the public. 

You’re a soul coach who has worked with breakthrough change-makers, cultural visionaries and social entrepreneurs. How do you tailor your message for young people who are just starting, or haven't yet begun, their careers? 

There is no age prerequisite for having passion and purpose! Young people are mad entrepreneurial and just like everyone else, they want to feel happy and fulfilled as they pursue what excites them. We are in exciting and chaotic times. College is the perfect place to be having a soulful conversation about your values, your convictions and what inspires you. Students will be making some of the most important decisions of their lives right now,  including what they want to contribute to the world and how they will make that contribution. They are the next generation of global citizens and now is the perfect time to consider what it means to stay true, get paid AND do good as they make their marks in the world.

Why speak at Mount Holyoke College? What have you found to be true with this generation of students? 

Mount Holyoke has such a rich history in producing cultural leaders, political game-changers and social visionaries. And this generation of students is primed to blow the lid off in terms of the kind of contribution they can make to our society and world. When we consider the brilliance they are nurturing through their education, matched with their imaginations and all of the tools they have at their disposal, the sky is truly the limit. However, it’s going to take more than brilliance to succeed. We’ve got to dedicate ourselves to the kind of personal growth and development that will enable us to heal and transform the legacies of trauma and oppression we face, along with those we seek to inspire and serve. I believe on some level this generation is feeling the tension of this promise, as well as the anxiety of our current state of the world and everything that has created it. How do we navigate all of this, succeed and remain sane? That is the million-dollar question.

What do you mean when you say you want people to become agents of change? 

Every single one of us has a purpose and a calling. An opportunity to make an important contribution to our society and world. It’s the reason why we are here. And our contribution doesn’t just live in what we DO, it has everything to do with who we ARE. People are inspired to change by our example. And the more that we can LIVE in alignment with our vision, the greater chance we have to transform the systems and structures that threaten to limit our potential. I want every single one of us to be actively engaged in creating the kind of world we want to see, because that’s the only way we’ll get there. 

In 2018, women’s median earnings were 82% of men’s median earnings, according to the American Association of University Women. Besides staying true, getting paid and doing good, what can aspiring leaders do to address this issue? 

I believe that the work to transform any system of limitation lives in breaking through the limitation itself. Entrepreneurship has been a massive pathway for women to not only level the playing field but to actually out-earn their male counterparts, while solving important challenges and providing phenomenal employment opportunities to those who would normally be overlooked in our current job market. This is part of our activism — to take our economy back and participate in ways that create more opportunity for more everyday people to thrive and prosper. 

Beyond entrepreneurship, aspiring leaders have a role to play in cultivating the courage to challenge these disparities with bolder visions for success. For themselves and for us all. It is not enough to critique the status quo, we’ve also got to foster new ideas, create room for greater creativity and inspiration, and learn how to build relationships that are founded in a deep respect for one another’s humanity. 

When leaders develop inner wealth, it becomes much easier to operate with integrity. There have been examples where CEOs of major corporations have seen these divides in earnings and with the swipe of a pen, chose to close that pay gap for all of their employees across race, class and gender. We don’t hear these stories, but they do exist. 

If you could leave Mount Holyoke College students with just one thing to keep in mind, what would it be? 

You have the power to co-create a reality that honors and reflects the things that really matter to you. Whether it’s equality or creativity, or liberation, the work begins with YOU and your ability to transform the way you engage with yourself, the world and the change you want to see.