My Winding Path...

“You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.” ~Brene’ Brown

My life, like most of ours, is made up of stories.  The most powerful elements of our stories are punctuated by our defining moments…those times when we had the greatest lesson or when we were at the proverbial ‘fork in the road’ or a pivotal moment.  The following are two defining moments that has shaped my work and my life….


 My 1st Small Business and Business Partner

I grew up in Camden, New Jersey…one mile from Philadelphia.  The environment was blue collar and inner city.  When I was 12 and my brother was 10, like most kids that age, we asked our Mom for an allowance, but as a single parent, my Mom could only provide the necessities.

Being the innovative kids we were, we made a deal…if she put up the starter money to buy an Italian Ice barrel…which was around $10, we would manage the rest…she agreed.  Our deal?  We would pay her back and for safety sake…we’d sell it in front of the school yard across the street from our house.

So that summer we took our Red Flyer wagon, a barrel of cherry Italian Ice, small cups for our confection, an ice cream scoop, a large umbrella, $5.00 in change and started our Italian Ice business.

Within a month we were selling cherry, orange and lemon Italian Ice in three different sizes.  That summer we made $600 and in 1968…that was a lot of money…that was our 1st business…a partnership.  My learning curves and lessons included understanding the value of money, the ups and down of supply/demand, and the benefits and challenges of a partnership.



 Leading by example

Fast forward four years to 1972.  At that time in a blue collar neighborhood, being a professional and a woman meant you were a secretary, a nurse or a teacher. 

At 16, I had the opportunity to work for the Board of Education in City Hall as a co-op student, meaning, I attended school in the morning and in the afternoon, I went to work.  To my surprise, there were women wearing suits, in charge, making decisions, traveling around the country and the world.  They were my first glimpse of women in leadership positions…managing departments…replica rolex watches people reporting to them for guidance.  Seeing these women, of all races, running things allowed me to see that the world was much larger than the diameter of my inner city environment and broader than the scope of my circumstance.

I remember declaring to my Mom, “I am going to college and become a business woman, with my name on the door and travel around the world!!!”  I’ve been on the leader track ever since.

That summer had so much of an impact that I changed my high school academic track from Business Courses to College Preparatory.  My experience at City Hall was a defining moment because it exposed me to different styles of leadership and especially in that time period…it validated that becoming a leader was possible for me, not just as a woman, but as a woman of color.



Bernadette Johnson

My Evolving Story

My defining moments have shaped my beliefs, molded me as an entrepreneur and developed me as a leader.  My work as leadership consultant and collaboration strategist calls for me to help organizations leverage their leadership teams by aligning their practices with their desired essence, helping teams get out of their own way.

I believe we have a responsibility, as leaders, to create fertile ground for developing greatness in others by creating an environment that nurtures the human spirit while simultaneously achieving business results. I’ve witnessed proof of it time and time again.

With three decades in the leadership, learning and organizational development fields, I have the opportunity to serve numerous industries, in the areas of culture alignment, leadership development, performance improvement, change/transition management, group process and intentional dialogues.

The wisdom, challenges and paradoxes emerging led me to create a platform on LinkedIn called LEADing from the MIDDLE. We wanted to build a community for those leaders who are at middle-level leadership. My experience tells me there is a great opportunity for our organizations to thrive by leveraging the untapped ingenuity of our middle managers.

In 2013, I gave birth to my first book, a Special Printed Edition of insights and quotes entitled Waves of Influence: Words that Speak to Your Heart and Lift Your Spirit! The Special Printed Edition of Waves of Influence has beautiful photographs, at the beginning of each chapter, and at the end of each chapter you will find "Waves of Wonder".  In 2016, the companion book, WOW! Insight into Your Highest Self, was created to assist readers further on the self-development journey.

When not guiding leadership teams, speaking and writing, I can be found in a neighborhood restaurant noodling ideas, laughing out loud with my friends, reading my Kindle at the local pancake house, or practicing being a citizen of the world.  #leaders#books#lovestravel