What the World Needs Now: Empathy. A Powerful Conversation with Comedienne Judy Carter

I first saw Judy Carter about five years ago at an all day Women’s health event here in Jacksonville. She was the keynote speaker and had me laughing more than I recall laughing in years! Later in the day she was there selling her book, The Message of You. I bought a copy and enjoyed meeting her. She was so authentic and although that was a few years ago now, I have never forgotten Judy. Fortunately she connected with me on LinkedIn and agreed to be my guest here on Courageously Go! 

When I booked Judy to be a guest on my show, I assumed (and one should never assume anything I suppose. Ha)… that our talk would mostly be about her comedy and the courage it takes to get on a stage and do stand up comedy. 

As it turns out, this conversation I had with Judy took a different direction. I don’t won’t wish to give anymore more away. Listen to our conversation or read the transcribed excerpts of our moving and powerful conversation. I would like to thank Judy for giving her time and sharing her thoughts and wisdom with us.

Debbie DiPietro:               Welcome to Courageously Go!, where we will venture into places we’ve been afraid to go. Women of the world, we are going to start a movement. A movement towards courage.

Debbie DiPietro:               Hello, everyone. My name is Debbie DiPietro and I am your host for this show Courageously Go! This is the place where we have a global conversation about courage. Why do we do this, you ask. Well, I believe that when we live from our hearts by choosing courage, the life of our dreams and a better world for all are possible. No matter our age or circumstances, we never need to feel stuck or alone.

Debbie DiPietro:               These are a few of our essential truths: I choose courage. I use my voice. I embrace the new. I welcome challenge. I continue to grow. I am a woman of action. I courageously go. If any of that resonates with you, then you are definitely in the right place and we are glad to have you on board here.

Debbie DiPietro:               And today I have just a super extra special guest to introduce all of you to. I am definitely a fan and I’ve been a fan of hers for a number of years now. She’s an author, a comedian, a speaker. Her name is Judy Carter. You can find purpose in a stressed out world with Judy Carter’s message of using comedy techniques to decrease stress that makes her such an in-demand speaker for Fortune 500 companies as well as women’s business and leadership groups, and healthcare events where Judy’s keynotes entertain and inspire.

Debbie DiPietro:               Endorsed by Oprah Winfrey and featured on over 100 TV shows, Atlantic City’s Entertainer of the Year nominee, and featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and on CNN. As a speaking coach, she teaches people how to improve their presentational skills by finding their authentic message and making it funny. Her private clients include TV stars, pro wrestlers, celebrities, non-celebrities, and a United States Senator.

Debbie DiPietro:               Judy’s bestseller, The Message of You: Turn Your Life Story into a Moneymaking Speaking Career, teaches readers how to use life stories to inspire others. The power in humor of your story. The Comedy Bible and Standup Comedy The Book still rank in the top 100 for comedy books on Amazon. Oprah Winfrey recommended The Comedy Bible to anyone who wants to lighten up. She also has a nice journal companion for The Message of You.

Debbie DiPietro:               So Judy Carter, welcome to Courageously Go!

Judy Carter:                        Wow, after that long intro I think our time’s up.

Debbie DiPietro:               Well, I’m just glad we connected. We had a funny morning, but we’re here and I’m just honored to have you here. I was mentioning before we got started here, I saw you in person here in my hometown here in Jacksonville, Florida about five years ago, Judy. You were the keynote speaker of an awesome … an all-day health event that was co-sponsored by Baptist Health and our WJCT, our PBS TV station and it was just a wonderful day. And you were the keynote. And I have to say, and I still remember to this day I don’t think I’d ever laughed so much in years. You were so wonderful. I just loved it.

Judy Carter:                        That’s amazing in these troubled times how laughter has taken a back seat to a lot of concerns and
that certainly creates a lot of stress..


Debbie DiPietro:               And I think we all could use more humor and laughter in our lives. And as you can pick up, the theme of this show is courage, and honestly I think what you do and what comedians out there do … particularly ones that get themselves up there on a stage, I think that really takes a lot of courage. I can’t even imagine. I mean, it would be a lot for me just to get up and give a talk, let alone do comedy and be funny.

Judy Carter:                        Well, I disagree a bit, because I feel that courage are the people who are every day standing at cash registers and every day waiting tables till 2 a.m. working for very low wages. I think those people have a lot of courage. Single mothers have a lot of courage. I do teach that whatever people are doing in their life that there is underneath all of it, even though if it seems very mundane, that there is a message that they were born to tell. So what I do is I help people find that story, that message, so they can on one level realize life has meaning, their life has purpose. And on the other hand, use it to inspire others.

Debbie DiPietro:               Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. No, I agree with you. And in your book you give a lot of great ideas on how to piece together messages from our stories. And indirectly I mean, you inspired me five years ago.

Judy Carter:                        Well, look at you now. You’re doing a podcast.

Debbie DiPietro:               I know.

Judy Carter:                        This is a real component of courage.

Debbie DiPietro:               Thank you.

Judy Carter:                        The taking the action part.

Debbie DiPietro:               Yes.

Judy Carter:                        It’s the action part.

Debbie DiPietro:               Yeah, exactly. And I’m actually a pretty introverted person. And I got a book published shortly after I saw your presentation. You know, I’m not out there doing a lot of big public speaking yet, but that’s definitely I think is in my near future, Judy. I really aspire to do some of that. And I know that you’re doing … because I’m on your email list, so I know you’re helping people create their TED speeches. How is that all going? That’s pretty exciting.

Judy Carter:                        Well, there’s always a TEDx near people and that has a theme. And so I help people look at their lives and what they’ve been through, and see what they have to teach others. Because our purpose … I’m also doing a podcast, The Power of Purpose, to give exercises to help people realize what their purpose is in life and spread it around.

Judy Carter:                        And what I find is that the courage part and the purpose part really does come from not the successes in our lives but from those times in childhood that were painful, and connecting to those times gives us what our purpose is.

Debbie DiPietro:               Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I remember well you shared some personal stories from your past when you interacted with that group that day. And maybe if you wouldn’t mind sharing with our audience today a little bit about that, because in many ways it seems like that got you into this career choice of yours and just coming from a painful place and it was quite a story you have.

Judy Carter:                        Well, here’s something odd about my story, is that I was that kid who had a very severe speech impediment. And it was assumed I was … we didn’t call it then “on the spectrum,” we just called it … kids would shout out, “You retard!” Back then, before people were more sensitive. But what’s so interesting to me, what I’ve realized since I’ve shared this story of growing up with a disabled sister who was unable to speak, so we developed our own language together, and then being made fun of for that and not understanding why and all of that.

Judy Carter:                        But I found after sharing that story that a lot of speakers had had difficulties speaking as a child. So I started to really go into that and interview a lot of people. And what I found is that essential mess in one’s childhood actually forms their purpose and their passion. So a lot of people who have, let’s say, they grew up extremely poor and with maybe parents who are not financially responsible … that is the story for a lot of people who have become professional accountants. So a lot of people who grew up in chaos or maybe families who are hoarders, they become very good at professional jobs that include organization, keeping track of data entry, tech support, things like that. People who keep order.

Judy Carter:                        So it’s our basic way that we make a living in life actually comes from a mess. So your success in life is not really the acronyms after your name, but is really what I call your journey from mess to success. And we rarely stop to look at where we’ve come from, because we’re always trying … you know, everybody feels like, where I am is not OK. I’m not good enough, I’m not successful enough. But if you truly understand and examine your life, you’re going to find that where you are right now was a journey to get to. And once you can see that and get in touch with that time when you felt powerless, that means that when you get in touch with your own sense of that childhood powerlessness and how you felt, that creates what this world needs so desperately, which is empathy.

Judy Carter:                        Now, once you connect to your own self and empathy for yourself and an understanding for yourself. An understanding of where your fears come from and why you’re stuck, you can not only breakthrough your own stuckness but then you have compassion to other and spread the message to others because I believe our purpose in life is not just what we think or what we do or what we decide about ourselves but … and I think this is where your theme of courage comes, is taking action. That action step to affect another person’s life and sometimes that extremely fearful, scary … you can have panicky feelings putting yourself out there like that.

Judy Carter:                        So, that’s what I work out with my clients is when we’re working on a TED talk or anything, I’m going like tell me anything about what happened to you. It’s so interesting to see how those stories form everything about our current life.

Debbie DiPietro:               That would be an interesting process. Typically, how long do you work with someone?

Judy Carter:                        Well the process of … it depends … the process of putting together a TED talk is usually a 8 week process of mining your life for those stories and the message. Because what TED is interested in is not just your story but what is the message behind that story that will make everyone else’s life better?

Judy Carter:                        Now, you can imagine once you find that message all of sudden life has new purpose, life has meaning. Sometimes the most smallest events in your life can be laden with a lot of meaning. Once you’re in this process, for instance, you’re at the dry cleaners and your clothes aren’t ready and they told you it would ready and you get mad and you get angry. You’re getting angry at these people who are just working for nothing and you’re just yelling at them. Once you engage and take responsibility for your entire life, you will realize how perhaps that situation reflects back to a time where everybody lied to you, lied about some big things.

Judy Carter:                        So anytime anybody lies about anything that’s a trigger for you. So, rather than going through life angry, getting angry at people for not being who they’re supposed to be, once we discover our own story we can then heal and have understanding about ourselves and then share that information with others.

Debbie DiPietro:               Um hmm (affirmative). This would be a good exercise really for any of us even if for those of us who don’t have any ambitions to do ted talk or make a career out of speaking but … I mean this is really a good exercise, reflective exercise, right?

Judy Carter:                        Yes absolutely. I’m going to give your listeners something for free.

Debbie DiPietro:               Okay.

Judy Carter:                        That will change their life in 21 days, and it’s called The Message of You Journal. So, the first step to have courage and to find your purpose in life, what you’re going to do with that after that … usually it just spontaneously happens after that is a journal. This journal is designed to find extraordinary stories in an ordinary day. You’re going to start to find the message in those stories that happen to you every day is really the message of you.

Judy Carter:                        So this is called The Message of You Journal, and if your listeners email me free@judycarter.com and that’s just F-R-E-E @ my name Judy carter J-U-D-Y C-A-R-T-E-R dot com. You just email that to me, say can you send me that journal you talked about. You’ll get it automatically, and I’ll be happy to send it because it’s something I wrote to actually help myself discover what my life was all about and so now people are doing this program, and I’m getting so many emails about how amazing it is for them.

Debbie DiPietro:               Well thank you. I hope everyone heard that. Why don’t we say that email one more time. That’s a generous offer.

Judy Carter:                        Free@judycarter.com

Debbie DiPietro:               Okay. I’m a big fan of writing for a long time on my first blog The Journal, a lot of … that website was about getting a good nights sleep and a lot of anxiety and social anxiety issues and stress that I dealt with for most of my adult years but a lot of those blog post, Judy, were journal writing prompts. It’s amazing I really fund my healing through writing, through writing that blog and now I’ve kind of moved on to this newer platform of Courageously Go! but there’s a lot of healing in just writing. Then, what you’re guiding us to do in finding the insights in the stories that come from our lives, I just think that sounds really great and really powerful, very empowering for people.

Judy Carter:                        Yes. I think it’s a time in the world where we all have to stop reacting, there’s so much anger and hate in the world. It just happened to me and I just wrote a story about this last week, when we had a terrible, terrible and it continues, the violence in the world. This man … it was in my driveway, and he was looking very shabby and very dusty and he came up to me and he goes, hi and I just turned my back and said, “I’m busy.” I turned my back, and then he was like, “Oh I’m sorry to bother you, I’m just, I’m your neighbor and I’m working on my house and I just want to make sure it wasn’t too noisy for you.”

Judy Carter:                        That was a wake up call to me because I’ve always complained how cold my neighborhood is and heres a guy who’s coming over to introduce himself, really sweet. Yet, I realized how with all the violence in the world, any man who’s a little shabby comes up to me, I turn my back on him. The same thing happened at the bank, where a guy says, “Hello, how’s your day?” I went, “Yep, fine.” He said, you know the response might be, how was yours.

Judy Carter:                        Again, this is a super nice guy and I realized that people are constantly coming up to me being kind, being nice and because of all the fear in the world, it’s affected me. I’ve lost my … I have a fear of strangers, and I don’t let people in. I put this wall up of protection based on what they look like. I realized that has to change because we all have to hold on … and this is what real courage is, is not giving in to what people are saying about how the world is.

Judy Carter:                        The world is how we make it. If we want to go around extremely fearful of each other, that’s not a way that we can sustain. Anger and hate does not sustain anything, love and caring does.

Judy Carter:                        So let’s just say for right now and the world the way it is, mass shootings, ugliness, the anger that is not real courage but perhaps real courage is not turning your back on someone who is coming over to say hi, not assuming they’re going to attack you and take everything away from you. But real courage right now is to maybe spend one day with an open heart to everyone who passes your path.

Judy Carter:                        So those little steps of courage. I talked in the beginning about standing on stage and speaking, that’s perhaps a bit too much for people. This is how courage works, it works with the minutia of your day; every single day you have an opportunity to turn your back on fear and embrace another person, I don’t mean touching them but embrace them in terms of not turning your back on them.

Debbie DiPietro:               Yeah. Yeah. That’s a good insight. I think … I agree, the word courage, it comes from the heart and I think that that’s something we can work on, that’s my essential theme in this whole show of course is leaving courageously even if it is taking those little steps and as you say it might just mean being kinder to a stranger. Saying hello to someone on your street or maybe taking a moment … someone, you know you had mentioned earlier in this conversation, our real courageous people are the people making minimum wage at a fast food cash register.

Debbie DiPietro:               Taking a moment and rather than maybe being impatient standing in the line, actually asking how their day is going or just showing some kindness. I think kindness-

Judy Carter:                        Empathy.

Debbie DiPietro:               Empathy, right? Exactly.

Judy Carter:                        Okay so, here’s the greatest give you could give someone. Okay.

Debbie DiPietro:               Okay.

Judy Carter:                        The best give you anybody including your husband or the cashier at In and Out Burger is to see them and to say these words, it must be hard blah blah blah blah. It must be hard standing on your feet all day, how are you doing. So you’re not just asking them how they are, ’cause they’re just going to go fine, how are you? You’re not going to get anything from that but what you will get when you actually see someone is you’ll wake them up and you’re giving them the best gift.

Judy Carter:                        So when you go down into like somebody who’s working in a parking garage, is it hard not being in the sun all day? Someone who scoops ice cream, is it hard … you’re not getting carpal tunnel in one hand? Is it hard just always using the same hand or do you switch? You’re seeing them.

Debbie DiPietro:               Yeah. Yeah. People need to be acknowledged.

Judy Carter:                        [crosstalk 00:23:20] waitress, is it hard dealing with difficult … you always ask a question because you don’t want to assume you know about their life but ask is it hard, that’s what empathy is.

Judy Carter:                        So I think that step of courage to do that is something that can be very transformational, to see other people because right now we have this movement to see immigrants as others not human, different. To see somebody and to truly see them and to truly ask, ” Hey, is it hard?” And see something about them rather than seeing everybody else as the other.

Judy Carter:                        Watch how things change in your life because that’s when you step over the line from hatred, fear and hostility to caring, love and kindness and that’s truly how we can make a difference in life.

Judy Carter:                        If you go back and maybe see how you were treated harshly as a child, this will ultimately … and if you’re not seen in life become the person where you treat others the way you want to be treated. We all want to be seen. We all want to be acknowledged. Start acknowledging others.

Debbie DiPietro:               I like that. That’s a great message Judy. Thank you.

Debbie DiPietro:               For everybody of all ages I know that’s something we want to teach our kids but it’s a good reminder for each of us because as you say there’s so much going on in the world you’re right. It is easy to kind of put that shield up and say, no. I think a lot of it is just having the news on a lot or looking at our news apps a lot.

Debbie DiPietro:               Sometimes I have to because I’m a writer and I manage social media and I’m on my computer, my technology like so many of us all the time and it’s easy to just … it’s a lot of negative energy if you’re just tuned into that too much. I mean I like to keep up and know what’s going on. Sometimes I have to give myself a little media diet at least at bedtime, put the phones away and do what I can to be centered.

Judy Carter:                        Yeah. I mean I was horrified to see how it affected me, how it has changed me because that’s not who I am and it’s conscientious.

Debbie DiPietro:               I agree.

Judy Carter:                        People are stopping going out. They don’t want to go to malls. People … I mean that’s what courage is now.

Debbie DiPietro:               We are going to have to end there but this is such a short show. We will have to maybe have you back in 2019. I appreciate your honest sharing. I knew you were going to be a great guest. I really wanted to get a little more into comedy and humor but perhaps we’ll just table that for future conversation.

Judy Carter:                        In a future time when … I’d be happy to Debbie. It’s been great. Congratulations on what you have done, that’s awesome in getting this message out. Take care.

Debbie DiPietro:               Thank you so much. It means a lot to me. Thank you Judy.

Judy Carter:                        Bye.

Debbie DiPietro:               Bye.

Debbie DiPietro:               All right everyone. Our time is up. Thank you for joining us today on Courageously Go!

Debbie DiPietro:               Ladies until next time, remember this, it’s our time to shine, let’s make it so and courageously go.

If you would like to try something new for 2019, I invite you to participate in my brand new challenge, Courageously Go! into the New! You can learn all the details here! Courageously Go! Into the New Challenge.

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