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Nov 1, 2022

In this episode of the My Kinda Leader podcast, Anna welcomes Amo Raju - CEO of Disability Direct and Entrepreneur. He is the author of the extraordinary book Walk Like A Man, which tells of his hidden journey with depression whilst being a successful CEO.

Alongside his work with Disability Direct, Amo also runs a consultancy company 'Amo Raju & Associates Ltd' specialising in mentoring SME’s and start-up companies focussing in social & health care related services, is a motivational speaker, and is also the author of a book 'Walk Like a Man'.

Amo talks about how he had unexpectedly landed a leadership role heading up a service for people with disabilities. Here he found his purpose. He recalls his mentor Richard advising him to 'feel peoples' pain' so you can help them. Of course, as a disabled person himself Amo, was in thorough knowledge of these pains and challenges, therefore becoming the best person to lead.

Amo describes the beginnings of his leadership like being left with a 'screaming baby' with not enough in the bank to feed the baby, or the workers for much longer. The weight of responsibility motivated him to give it his best shot.

He describes living in council housing and financially having to rely on benefits before he became a leader himself. He worked so hard at the beginning of this role that he had a mini-stroke. He talks about having to become a fundraising expert overnight, and an employment law expert through learning from mistakes made. Having to show the fortitude to continue to learn from his mistakes and not being destroyed by them Amo has forged his own leadership path, he says there is no training manual for leadership. His youth, energy and hunger for knowledge were his tools for success.

Amo talks about how discrimination, harassment and prejudice of any kind particularly towards people with disabilities sits like a demon on his shoulders, because he does feel it for others, and this can be a burden to carry. He tells of how he is full of ideas, and how he captures them.

Amo kindly shares his biggest challenge with mental ill health and what he did privately to support himself through many years of living with depression whilst building a charity that's brought in millions. He also shares his multiple crashes into burnout and how he lives now to prevent it; and noticing the warning signs of becoming overwhelmed.

Amo lets us know why he kept his depression secret for 30 years. The pressures within familial culture and workplace culture at the time. How fear of being seen as weak was so crushing speaking about his health challenge felt too much of a risk, and like many feeling like a fraud, when actually you can be a super CEO and have health challenges of all kinds.

Amo describes all of this in his amazing book Walk Like A Man available here at Amazon:

You can discover more about Amo Raju through the following links:

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