Evidence of Things Not Seen with Laverne Saulny

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Laverne Saulny joins us today to share her wisdom. She talks about the power of our words, being proud of who we are, and being a woman of integrity. She shares stories of her time serving a Senator. What was happening behind the scenes of the relief effort after Hurricane Katrina? 

Highlights:

{03:43} Don’t be ashamed to say you are enough.

{09:45} When we see our flaws mirrored back to us by our children.

{12:45} The power of our words.

{17:41} How working for a Senator changed Laverne’s view on America.

{30:50} Working on the Affordable Care Act.

{54:27} What makes Laverne a Titan?

{55:57} Advice for the struggling.

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Laverne Saulny Bio

Laverne is the current VP of Development for the American Heart Association. She is also a former senior staffer for a US senator and was the chief admin officer of a parish in Louisiana.

Connect with Laverne:

https://www.instagram.com/lavernetoombs/?hl=en

Hey, welcome to another fun episode of the Titan Evolution podcast. I’m Travis. That’s Carol, and we’ve got Laverne Saulny here today. Laverne, how are you doing?

I’m doing great Travis and Carol, thank you so much. I’m looking forward to getting this **** rolling. I guess you could say.

Yeah, let’s get this **** rolling. Laverne is the current VP of Development for the American Heart Association. She is also a former senior staffer for a US senator and was the chief admin officer of a parish in Louisiana. They don’t have counties, they’ve got parishes. Laverne, how the hell you are? Like, it’s really nice to see you.

It’s good to see you. The last time we saw each other, we were in Houston, TX for “she talks”, took some great pictures, and hit social media. And you know, there was this little rumor mill, is that your boyfriend?

At best, I’m a side chick so.

Looks like that isn’t my boyfriend. He’s a married man, so if he was not married, I Don’t know…

Fair Game

You know, I do not, I do not. I’m not often jealous of other people in their attire like I largely. Don’t care about fashion. As evidenced by my wearing AT shirt. Done every episode I. But yeah, I’ve got a. Pretty nice Sport coat that I wear around when I. I rarely do I feel challenged or threatened with the coat that Laverne was wearing… Man out of this world is that one you bought from Janae.

Yes, yes, and I was. Glad to be able to sport her wares. So yeah, and I got a lot of compliments on it. That jacket as well.

As you should, it inspires confidence and jealousy among all the people in attendance.

Well, she actually spotlights the jacket on her website to direct people to go to her site to purchase it. So hopefully she was able to benefit from me wearing that jacket so.

I hope so. There are not a lot of speeches that I remember anywhere you go, right? You’re working on your stuff, and you might get a nugget here and a nugget there. But your speech on being ashamed and didn’t feel confident enough to wear the T-shirt you were wearing like that is something that really grasp to hold off because not a lot of people expect that. Kind of like kind of a talk that kind of a thing, especially from someone as confident as yourself. Tell us a little bit about that talking with. What T-shirt were you wearing?

So, what is your T-shirt that says I am enough? And actually, I received a recording just last night from Julie. So, I had an opportunity to watch it, and I must admit I’m my hardest critic, right? I’m really hard on myself, but I have to admit, I enjoyed that speech myself. I was like, who was that person? The person’s makeup was flawless. I was like, wow, what the hell is that? But no, you know, when I received that T-shirt when I unfolded it because I didn’t really know what was.

When I unfolded the T-shirt and saw that it says I am enough, I was like, I can’t wear that T-shirt and I really tried to put that T-shirt on, and I just could not put it on. And as I shared in my talk, I talked to my girlfriend. We were having coffee and she was like; you can’t wear that T-shirt. I can’t wear it. That T-shirt. 

And it really was an eye opener for me to really examine myself and really understand why I am having these issues with me, you know, not feeling not having the confidence or the assurance that I am enough, right? And so it was, it was a wonderful internal search. Cleansing if you will rehabilitation type of process. And just really beginning to gain confidence and be thankful and grateful as well. So, I can wear the T-shirt now. I still have some challenges. It’s not something that happens overnight. It’s a process, but at least I can wear it with confidence.

With confidence. And when I first heard the statement, I am enough. I heard it from a gentleman in town here in Oklahoma City, Ace Laveau, and I didn’t believe him when he said. He worked through it in a speech, and he talked about it like. When will you learn? He’s putting this out to the world. When will you learn that this is it? This is all that is, and all that matters is that you are enough. There’s nothing you have to add. There’s nothing you have to change. There’s nothing you have to do to become that other than realization and acceptance. That you are enough. 

And I like you but don’t believe it every day. I don’t believe it all the time I wake up in. Days and I’m like you know what? I wouldn’t put that T-shirt on today. I’m not feeling it. It’s so interesting that even a grown *** man that retired from the Navy is like, you know what? I’m not feeling it today and I think that says a lot about who we are as people and the ebbs and flows of life and what we do. What do you think, Carol?

Well, I think we’re kind of victim victims to comparison because we’re constantly comparing ourselves to other people, and if we can just be happy and content in knowing that, you know, we are perfect. For who we are, we are each perfect in our own way, even in the imperfection imperfections, and at that point of our life, in the circumstances you’re in, you’re doing the best you can. 

So, you just got to go with the flow and you know, understand. Hey, you’re going to have good days and bad days. It’s life. It’s just freaking life. You’re going to deal with Life, right? So as long as you can understand that. I think you know. We are perfect the way we are. And we are enough. Every single day, and as long as we can lead with that foot. 

I see so much right now, negativity. And I think it’s because of our own dissatisfaction with ourselves and that bleeds out into the world. And so, if we can, you know, kind of find a way to be more positive with ourselves. And I think it’ll bleed also into the world. That, you know, we have more positivity and things will look up instead of everybody kind of pointing towards the negative side.

Yeah, I definitely love that. When I look at how we interact as humans, it’s one of my favorite topics, everything that I’m curious about is like I want to know how you. Did it? Why did you come to this? Does it matter all these things?

Ever curious Travis!

And some people are. Like I don’t stop. Go away. Go look at somebody else like. I’m not interested.

Stop asking questions!

Much for my secrets. I’m like, I’m curious. And so, I have one thing. That really gives me is, is traffic, right? People are in traffic. Something happens in front of them. Someone changes lanes. Cuts you off. Stops short, goes too fast, and all this stuff. And when it happens and you’re there and you’re seeing someone else do it, you’re. Like oh, man. This guy, guys, clowns, guys, guys, jerk. Whatever name.

But, if you do it. Right. If you’re like, oh, God, I missed the exit. I got to get over right here or you’re. Like, oh, I’m so sorry. Like you expect grace for yourself in that error, but anyone else that’s doing it, you’re you have no grace. For, I see people that do this. I know my wife is a chronic offender of a graceless, graceless driver. I didn’t know it was a problem. I didn’t really know it was a thing until I started driving the kids around some places. And like, no kidding. I stopped short like I decided to go through a light and the guy in front of me didn’t decide to go through the light. 

And I was. As you know, OK, whatever. And then my kids are in the back and they’re like, come on. And the kids are like 7 or 8. I’m like, where? Are they getting this from? I was like Megan. What are you telling the kids while you are driving? Because that’s just how it goes. Sub drives, right? They take their models in front of them and then they go out and do this not till you get the reflection of what they’re doing back at you do you realize? Oh man, that’s. My fault. Have you ever had that experience? Learn where your kid models or copy something then you’re like, is this what I look like? Is this what I sound like when they do it?

You know, that’s interesting, Travis. Did you say that? Because just a few years ago, my daughter Mary, and if y’all ever have an opportunity to watch her show on HGTV, sounds exactly like me. But the interesting thing about it is, is that she acts a lot like me and so her husband laughs at us because we have the same mannerisms, right, our jesters, our laughter, even down to the words we say certain things. 

And one day I would just sit there and I was listening to her talk about the house. You know, she was fussing about, you know, things that needed to be in ways and I just sat there. I just was just like, oh my God, that looks like me. And I really didn’t.

I was like I mean; it was almost scary because it was exact and I was like, Oh my God. Is that learned behavior? Or is that inheritance? I mean that is a trait that she was born with.

Don’t you think it’s a little bit of both, Laverne? I mean, of course, see it from you, but I think there’s a little bit of the inherited part as well. It’s got to be a little bit of both. God knows somebody’s got the research on it please know, please share because I’m curious as well.

Yeah, I mean, you know, I’ve been talking of people whose son sounds just like their dads, right, or their daughter sounds like their mother. And it’s just like, OK, but when you experience it yourself, when you actually see your daughter’s sound, jesters, conversations, mindsets, it’s really an experience.

And even like with my son, my oldest son, his likes, you know he has his really high-end type of lifestyle, right? Even though he may have the shape of a somewhat bear/champagne pocket. But he’s always being very creative and thinking really big. And that’s how I think, right? Even when I had nothing, I was still thinking big.  And even to this day, at my age, I still dreamed about it, you know? And I always ask myself, what are you just delusional? I mean, it’s really.

No, no, no, no. No, no, please don’t say that because I think if you dream big you kind of step up to the plate. If you don’t have to aspire to dream bigger, then you’re OK with you know, mediocrity and mediocrity is not where I want to be I want to be way up there and I’m. Going to dream as big as I can. Because even if I miss the mark, it’s better than mediocrity.

Right, I agree. And you know, it’s interesting. I heard this message from this Pastor this past weekend. About our words. And you know, and I think I mentioned that in my speech about we can speak life or death, right? And so, he was just talking about the fact that we have the same power as our higher power and that when he’s in the Book of Genesis, the fact that he spoke this world into existence it was spoken, it wasn’t thought about. It wasn’t an undertone. He spoke it with his mouth, and it came into existence. 

And so, I rushed after the service and I said the message I said, I’m going to write everything that I desire, the big the dream big list. So, I actually wrote it and I read it out loud. And I said, you know what? I’ve spoken about it. It’s in the universe. Hope is part of my purpose for part of why I was created on this Earth. And if so, it will happen. So, I wrote down everything I could think of.

And you verbalized it, so it’s out there.

And I verbalized it.

go, girl.

I spoke it into existence.

Oh, I love it. That it even says faith comes by hearing now by watching now, not by seeing, not by writing, by hearing.

hearing.

It’s interesting that has a special line right in our heads and into our hearts. Exactly what that means. There are some lines in the Bible that talk about not saying anything bad about other people. And when you think about why that is, there are a couple of reasons that pop up. 

One is like when you speak it, it’s, you know, it’s in your heart and then you’re feeling bad about it. There’s another thing that science is proving. That is that our subconscious only recognizes that there’s one person on the planet. And that’s us. 

So, anything you say about yourself or anyone else it assumes is talking about itself because as far as it knows, there’s no one else out there. So, when you say terrible things about people, harsh words, whatever the thing is, you subconsciously translate that to yourself, and you start stacking those things up. It’s really a bean counter, a clicker, just like the bouncer has. As the nightclub right count how many people are in there taking them away when they leave? Their subconscious is stacking all these things up. 

So, if you’re listening to this, you’re not in a place that you. Want to be it might be that you’re. It’s got a counter that’s a little bit too high on the wrong side and you need to speak some life-affirming life-changing words to yourself and others in order to get that balance to go the other way.

Yeah, words are extremely important. Whether we express it or we talk to ourselves like, you know, the inner chatter. And if you’re negative, what do you think you’re going to be on a daily basis? Negative.

So, if we can have that inner chatter be positive, then everything that comes out will be positive. Just like I said before, you’re like. Hey, let’s stop this. Everybody’s you know. Well, I don’t know where and why it’s happening. I know there are a lot of people that are discontented. I also know in the age of social media, we tend to make comparisons to one another, and then we sit there. And we go well, why do they have that?

They don’t work nearly as hard as I do. And again, that’s the inner chatter, right? Instead of being jealous of those individuals. What about going? Hey, I don’t know what the. ****, that guy is doing or that guy doing but I. ******* want to do that because. That is a bigger difference than saying. They don’t deserve that, right? And it’s assuming that you know. What it took for them to get there. Because we can’t know what it takes for each one of us to get to where we are currently. So why be jealous of it? It and go ****. I want to do that. I got to figure out how to do that instead.

That’s where that curiosity comes in. There’s a line from Zig Ziggler when he talks about positive words and talking to yourself. He said he was on the golf course, so when he’s golfing with, you know, made a terrible shot and he’s like a good shot, dummy. And then he watches the guy lined up for the next shot. And he’s like in his head, he’s like. Let’s see what the dummy will do after he’s just told himself that’s what he is. 

It just kills me that people treat themselves that way. We always talk about how people treat each other and how terrible it is. Sometimes it’s even worse when you don’t see that person doing damage to themselves every single day saying they aren’t enough. They’re not good enough because they’ve done something terrible or something, even mildly out of line, and they don’t deserve a good life and good people around them.

Laverne, I wanted to ask you. I’ve never talked to a senior staff or to a US Senator before. You’re my first one. Be gentle. But I’m curious to learn. Is it really like, do you believe it’s really cool having done the job? Are there things that you had no clue about that when you’re in that doing it, you were like, wow, I didn’t even know this was a thing? And how did that change? How did that role change how you looked at America and the executive, the legislative? Yeah. How they. Change your view of America as an entity.

Well, that’s a good question. You know, when I was hired in this position, first of all, nobody could believe that I belonged there because I didn’t fit the norm. The majority of the people that worked there were highly, highly educated. They had obviously master’s and Ph.D. and they come from well-established families the opportunity to do internships. Some of them had majored in political science, you. I was a kid you know grew up in the country, barely graduated from high school, and struggled in college, right? 

I know that my life is a miracle and being able to. Working for United States Senator was truly a miracle. OK, so I went into this job in the blind, and because of the support of this elected official, who entrusted in my abilities to be able to serve her… but one of the greatest gifts that I did not know, that I had, that I learned later, is that I had a servant’s heart. That I was willing to serve the people. And that the fact that working for United States Senator was really a big deal. But at the end of the day, for me, knowing that one, people didn’t want me there. And #2 I didn’t always feel as though I belong there. I had to always Prove something. Until one day I got to the point that I don’t have to prove anything to anybody because I’m doing the greatest gift that was given to me and that is to serve. 

And so, in my 13 years of being able to do that, it is because of my servant’s heart, it reflected in my job performance. I actually staff the senator more than any other staffer in the state of Louisiana because her parents live here in New Orleans. So, I was responsible not only for her, but I was responsible for her children, I was responsible for her siblings, which was nine of them total, and her mom and Dad. 

They come from a somewhat Kennedy-like family. Her father was the mayor of the city of New Orleans, and for two terms he was the Under Secretary of HUD or Jimmy Carter. Her brother went on to be the mayor of the city of New Orleans for two terms. She was the state representative, the youngest state representative. She then went on to be a state treasurer for two years. And then she went on to be a three-term United States Senator. 

Being in politics like that really helps you understand the issues. And really help you understand how laws are put in place, how they’re implemented, how they come about, and in the city of New Orleans, as you all know, we were impacted by 1 catastrophic experience from Katrina to an oil spill to massive Ice storms, which is not the norm here in our state or in South Louisiana.

So, because of those catastrophic events, we were able to revamp SBA, revamp FEMA, and a number of other organizations within the federal government to help people not only in the state. Of Louisiana. But across the country. And it was such an honor and a privilege for me that I was a part of those laws being changed for the betterment of people. 

So, it was a humble experience for me and also, you know, being able to be in the company of some of the most powerful people in the world that I do not take for granted. OK, I had the privilege of going to the White House meeting with President Barack Obama. I’ve been in the presence of Bill Clinton and actually, I had been in the presence of Bill Clinton before I worked for the United States. Being in the presence of first ladies like Jimmy Carter and his wife and Bill Clinton’s wife, just her name escapes me, which is unbelievable. Hillary, Hillary, Michelle, and Barbara Bush.

So, you know. I guess the senator, I don’t know. She has some sort of discernment. She was a special type of woman, and her heart was a serving heart too. She worked day and night, and the harder her staff worked. So, all of us were worker bees. We wanted to work, we wanted. To fulfill her main objective and which was to serve the people of the state and she didn’t care if they were Democrats, Republicans, or independents, black, white, or whatever, she was willing to serve. And that and that rubbed off on all of us, but it really rubbed off on me. 

And so, it was an experience. And when I left the Senate, a number of people. When you leave the Senate you have certain privileges, right? You don’t have to park a certain way. You can park anywhere you want. You’re recognized, you know, and you can get. You can get used to that. 

However, a dear, dear friend of mine gave me some hell of a piece of advice. And I am so glad that I had this sense to listen, and she says, you know what, Laverne, you’re on this awesome ride, right? And it was a ride, all right. I mean it Was a ride. She said, “but when you get off that ride? Just know that that ride is going to come to an end, and when it comes to an end you get all and you look for the next ride. And don’t be sad. You guys celebrated that ride because it was an awesome ride.

And when it ended everybody else was depressed and worrying about why I couldn’t, you know, get access to this ticket and access to that. And that I didn’t care. I was like, man, this was awesome. But the interesting thing that came out of that is favor. People that I interacted with and became friends with, and I was very involved in the community and engaged and still helped people and served on boards and committees and raised money for worthy organizations. I took advantage of my role in the United States. OK, you work for the United States Senator. You look for ways that you can benefit, but also benefit others. So, it’s a win for everybody. 

When I left the Senate. I still had all those relationships attached. You know, people were looking for work for me. And when Natalie Robottom, who was the first African American parish president. First, African American female parish president, of the entire state of Louisiana, called me, which is parish is right up the street. 20-something miles from here and said, hey, would you like? To come to work for me. Now I knew her right. I knew of her. I had visited her when I was in the Senate, but I never thought in a million days this woman picks up the phone and say, hey, would you like to come to work for me?

The thing about it is that she had been observing me. All that time that I had worked in the United States Senate. And she was like. You know, I want somebody like her to come and work for me because one of the attributes that she was so impressed with is my loyalty. I was loyal to the senator. I mean, when I said I was loyal, I wasn’t one that talked about it behind her back because I would be one saying y’all not going to ever hear nothing Laverne’s and saying nothing. Do you know what I mean? That’s people who come back when you said Laverne didn’t say ****. OK, I’ve never, ever ever said anything bad. And the interesting thing about it is I never called her by her first name to this day.

It’s absolute respect, Yep.

I always called her senator, and until this day, she always said. Laverne, you can call me Mary now, and it’s really hard, even though she’s no longer your name.

You made the association. That’s hard to break the association, yeah.

And so, you know, other people would be all common. No Senator, senator, senator. 

So, Travis, I know I probably went 1000 miles further than expected, but you know, when I think about my experience. It was a miracle for me. It really was. And I am so thankful and grateful. And, you know, people look at me and think that I should. After a certain way, because I worked for the United States Senator and, you know, have that privileged type of…. No, my behavior is thankful and grateful behavior. 

Your behavior suits you because you’re being authentic to yourself. 

And I don’t have to. I don’t. And you know I am who I am. I remember telling somebody, they kind of rubbed me the wrong way and I told them, I said. I’m Laverne Saulny I’m going to burn too. I don’t have to. I’m I am who I am. I don’t have to go out there and do anything. Am I have a brand and that’s my brand and I’m going to protect my brand? I’m Laverne Saulny. I don’t have to do anything else but just be me. That’s it.

Isn’t that refreshing?

It is. It is refreshing.

That’s one of the main reasons that people end up on the show is I can always tell if someone is ready to be a guest on the show or not because they’ll tell me if I want in. And if there? Not ready, they’ll say. Well, what is a tight? Ah, that’s not up to me to decide. That’s for you to decide what qualities of you that make you a Titan. 

And when I look back on some of the stuff you shared with us, things like privilege, title, and gratitude, it’s hard sometimes getting off that ride when you had all those perks, I retired last year as a naval officer, and you know the rank that I had is no longer there. No one you know calls me Lt. Like, hey, LT what’s going on? Like that’s a Respect and an endearment term for Lieutenant and call Lt. right like Lt. What’s going on? Like, that’s fantastic. I also miss walking out to my airplane and throwing my bag and putting my feet up and not having to wait for nobody. I am going to the airport now. I’m like, man, what? Do I get to why I got to do all this?

Why do you care what’s in my bag? I get it. I get it for the public, say, Dad, I fully get it, but I’m like, you know what, it was pretty nice just rolling out to the airplane, throwing my stuff on, having to see wherever and get ready to go right. Working with the crew, working with the team.

 But I love that you always referred to her as a senator. I know you see shows like The West Wing where, like, you know, Mr. President, Mrs. President, like you, the professional, the respected title and the title of the office. And you’re never doing that. 

I’ve got a Master Chief that I used to work with, who retired from the Navy, and became a state. Senator and I are Like what the hell do I call you? I call you. Senator, do I call you Paul? Do I call you Master? It was like this, you know, that’s what you know. My professional staff is he’s like, you can call me. ******. I was like, all right. Hey, ******* let me get some BBQ.

He was like Hell yeah, I do, you know, like.

OH that’s funny.

That’s one of my things. If you’re listening to this and you really don’t know me as a person, you want to get to send me a selfie of you flipping me off. That’ll just make my day. That lets me know that you get it. I don’t know everyone’s way, right? I know that bothers a lot of people, but for me, I’m like… All right. They’re in. They get it. They know that that we can actually be together in a meeting together in communication together in brotherhood, sisterhood, whatever. As we get to each other, that’s what that means to me, and I just love how that works. 

I wanted to ask you if Laverne Saulny is there any like? Piece of legislation that you and the senator tried to get pushed through and it just didn’t go. That was kind of like a, you know, business left undone when you were no longer with her.

Yeah, there are several, but one in particular that we all are familiar with that we work on that we eventually passed but not under when she was there was the Affordable Care Act.

Affordable Care Act, yeah.

So yeah, we worked tirelessly on that and then there was a piece of legislation I want to think was legislation in 1628, but I don’t know if that’s the correct number for that bill. But as a Katrina, we have four major public housing here. When Katrina… people left their homes, right, they were evacuated and scattered all over the country. Unfortunately, the people who lived in those BIG4, as we call them, which is public housing, were not allowed to return. 

So, we worked tirelessly to pass a piece of legislation for those individuals to be able to return home. The saddest thing is to leave your home. And not be able to come back home because there’s nothing wrong with your home but the federal government had wanted possession of those properties and they made this big thing about the fact that they wanted to rehabilitate or rehab in particular areas, which is not really true. OK. And that’s the other thing too Travis, is that you find out the real… you know the real truth when you’re in this inside. Right where the outside is assuming, or the media is blowing things bigger than what they really are or lying. There are people who work in politics who really do know the truth, right, and we will keep that to ourselves.

That’s hard. That’s a burden.

It can be, and so you know one of the saddest things that I experienced is that I’ve experienced a lot of sadness in this position. People don’t realize how hurtful it can be as a staffer or as a real politician. If you really care about people, it could be a very sad thing. And that was one of them. 

So, I had the privilege to go to some of the big four and visit. Now, of course, you know, people live in public housing, they’re stereotyping public housing. But at the end of the day, that’s where those people live. It doesn’t matter if they live in a shack or a tent, that’s them, that’s their home. The way they left it when they evacuated for Katrina is the way that it looked when I walked in there. No mold, no nothing. They could have returned home, but they weren’t able to. 

And So, what happened to those homes? Those homes were torn down and rebuilt. And justified other words. Less density. So, if you have 800 units now, you only have 300… half of the units. So, what happens to those families? And in the city of New Orleans, which is interesting, the culture is that families live all in the same proximity. So, Mama might live on the corner. Brother might live a block down. They all live and so does the entire family. Had to pick it up. And lose some. Aware and not being able to come back.

So, they were displaced, And they weren’t even allowed to return to collect their belongings.

To get their things, they couldn’t even go back and get their things OK.

So how did the federal government then reimburse them for all the stuff that was in? They didn’t.

OK.

That’s a joke. No, ma’am.

So, this is.

I find it extremely interesting that they wouldn’t even allow them to move out.

  1. That little FEMA check and whatever or whatever, whatever. And, you know the sad part about it. It was black and brown people that were impacted by it. At one point they were thinking about just turning certain areas like the lower 9th Ward into green space. 

Just bulldozing it and planting grass.

Just like so than Brad Pitt. Fortunate and unfortunate and I and I explained what unfortunate is. The fortune is that he did build some homes. Inner Lower 9th ward. The unfortunate part about it is those homes years later started falling apart, so he had to be sued and he just now settled that suit. But you know, again, at least somebody was trying to help people. 

But if you go to a lower 9th court right now, Trina happened in 2005. We’re talking about almost, what, 16 years? It looks like a war zone. It looks like it’ll have no grocery store, so it’s a complete food desert. OK, it has no pharmacy. OK, so it’s a drug desert as well. People don’t have the proper transportation for those that live there to go downtown, to the nearest grocery store, and tell you this New Orleans East. And New Orleans is no different from any other city across the country. 

You know the thing that. Mine just blows my mind. I lived in Broadmoor, which is Uptown. New Orleans went to this. We’ll go to this gross, go to a particular grocery store. And our particular area. And it, you know, it was just a grocery store when I sold my properties, I moved to the white side of New Orleans. And they had everything, the same grocery store. Has a coffee shop, has everything and I’m like… Oh, this is interesting. 

Now understand this. Not that I hadn’t experienced this. But I’m saying to myself, the same grocery store in one community has the bare minimum. But I go to another side of town. And it has everything. And I say to myself, is anybody else paying attention to this because this is in just a grocery store alone? So, when we look at the people that were in the Big Four and they lived in public housing, those people were penalized because they lived in public housing.

But let me tell you something people that live in public housing 85 to 95% of those people have jobs. They have stereotyped them to make them think they’re lazy, and that they live on food stamps and welfare, but that’s far from the truth. The food stamps that they get are not even enough to feed one person, let alone two or more. And the welfare check that they get is not anything, so they have to go and get a job.

And so, we have allowed society to go back to what you were saying, Carol, about the negativity. I talked to these people. I have gone into the projects. I have a lady that bakes the best cakes in the projects and moved to other projects because of the fact that she started her own little business and because she took advantage of the federal government and what it had to offer, she took advantage of it. Moved out, bought her own house, and started her own business. But everybody. Does that live in subsidized housing? It’s not lazy and not and not living off of subsidies, that is far, far from it.

It’s just a stereotype, isn’t it?

Oh, absolutely. And we have bought into it.

Oh yeah, well, some people have other people who know better.

Well, not everybody, no. Not no, I would not dare say that everybody has. But I will say that when it comes down to some of our Elected officials and one in particular here in our state, that’s all he talks about. I mean, he doesn’t talk about anything else than food stamps and subsidies. And I’m like.

How about? How about? We consider this. If the shoe is on the other foot, right and you were living in that. How about looking at it from a different perspective? Instead of talking about it as if you understand it.

That’s a good point, Carol. And let me tell you what we tried to do once with our elected officials when I was in the Senate, there’s an organization called Second Harvest, and one of the fundraisers that we wanted to do because a lot of our children and obviously they didn’t become a reality until COVID when they realized that children’s only meals that they receive are in school.

Oh, oh, that’s heartbreaking.

And they go home and they’re hungry. So, you can’t learn if you’re hungry, right? So, at the end of the day, what, the Director and I were thinking about doing is packing enough food for the weekend. And there they couldn’t eat anything else but the food that was packed for the weekend. And that was all the food that they had. We wanted them to experience what children experience on a weekend when they don’t have any food to eat right, we have.

In abundance, we can do whatever. 

Right. And throw stuff away. And so, I had. And you know, I’m always, like, wanted to have that experience. Right. So, Covenant House has a fundraiser where you sleep, and you raise money to sleep on the street for a night to know what it’s like for teenagers to sleep on the street. So, I did it because I wanted. I wanted to know. OK.

You can’t experience it. Yeah, until you are actually.

Do it Right. And so, I actually did it. I slept on that cold concrete, and it just so happened it rained that night, so I had to find a hard box to cover me from the ring, but it was such. An experience and that was just for one night. Just think about this is common. This is every night, you know, listening to the street cars traveling and strangers passing by, and you know it was interesting. It was. It was interesting. 

So again, go back to your point, Carol is that, you know, it’s easy for us to stereotype or label a certain group of people, and then people buy into that and drink that Kool-Aid. And like that Kool-Aid.  But it’s far from the truth. 

Yeah. All I can say is we got to tell them, go out and experience it, then come back and report to us whether we truly believe in that stereotype. Now come on. And do you really believe everything is going to be OK, no? So, let’s make some changes so that we.

Yeah, well, you know, that’s easy. I mean, that’s for us on the outside, on the other hand, they’re not. I mean there, you know this. This politics that we’re dealing with right now is not the politics that I was a part of when I was in the Senate. At least both sides of the aisle were willing to work together. Now it’s, it’s out of control. I mean you guys get it?

Like fighting against each other. And that’s not how we.

Marjorie Green with her crazy self.

There’s only one issue where they’re even working together, right? Isn’t that a veteran issue?

Oh yeah. I mean when we’re talking about veterans.

I got to speak about all of this stuff. I’m sitting over here, waiting politely for you all to finish. I’m a guy that’s moved 50 times.  36 before I graduated high school. Our multiple streams of income or child support welfare, food stamps, Wix alimony, Social Security, SSI. I grew up in trailer parks and foster homes, I get. I know that I am a rarity. 

I know that my experience and where I am today are so rare that most people wouldn’t even consider it unless they are told directly by me what happened. I remember being homeless. I remember hiding out with my mom and sister at a battered woman’s shelter. I know what that is, so I always like to go to the food pantry and get Garbage to go home and eat. I understand it. 

No, but people wouldn’t believe it by looking at me because I got a smile on my face and I’m. And where I am, it wasn’t easy, I know how awful that stuff is, I know. That there are people there working their tails off for our situation. 

My mom had probably 4 grand worth of medicine every month that she needed back in the 80s and 90s for bipolar disorder, and there was no way that she could work her way out of that situation. I know a lot of situations where you really can work with a little bit of guidance, direction, a little bit of encouragement you can work. Your way out of it. Some people just can’t. 

They can’t stay mentally well enough days in a row to be able to create the stability they need and or have to do anything. And she’s also in northern Minnesota. What the hell is she going to do for a job that covers just the medication alone each month, 4 grand a month? From where she’s at to no degree, no services, no connections, no. It’s nearly impossible. 

She’s just now. She’s in her 60s now, working her way off of support. She’s taking care of herself, being mentally well most days, and creating a speaking business around all the stuff that she’s endured in her life. But has taken 60 years to get there. 

People that are listening to this, that that don’t understand, talk to people in your community, talk to the people that don’t look like you. Talk to the people that are serving you. Talk to the people that are out and about that maybe don’t smell so good. Understand at least a bare minimum of human compassion for what they’re dealing with. What I’ve dealt with, what I’ve known, we’ve all seen and heard, and different levels of understanding in our head and our hearts, they’re different. Understanding what it really takes to do some of this stuff, I’ve been praised as a chain breaker for a long time, and I didn’t really understand it until right after I left Houston to talk to Laverne because I Brought my daughter with me. 

And there was something that she said that was so profound that hurt me and helped me so much. There was something that she said that it’s not your fault, that no one taught you how to do love? And I might have broken the chain financially. I might have gotten out of the trailer park, but there was still a lot of me that was caged in as a person because I didn’t understand emotions. 

When you read in the Bible what love is? And what people talk about that had no meaning to me up until that point and we’re recording this in the middle of April. So that was about six weeks ago. I’m 41 years old. Six weeks ago, I learned what love is. 

So yeah, it may be whatever situation those people are dealing with, but to get out of that thing, it takes more than just a hand up. It takes a lot more than just some therapy, it takes a lot more than any one of us is able to do in our lifetimes. Takes real people that serve. Like Laverne and Carol, real people that care about each other want to invest in the people around them. I got asked earlier today. I was a guest on another show about why I supported nonprofits so heavily, because all of those groups, all those people that dedicate their life to service, who keep me sheltered, clothed, and fed. Without them, there’s no chance I would be here. Not a chance.

And you know that. That’s powerful that that is. That’s powerful. You know, my life is somewhat similar to Travis’s. Believe it or not, you know, I was raised, I was adopted, and learned that I was adopted when I was 14. Raised by an older woman, got married when I was very young, and at 18 went through domestic violence for a number of years. I was raped when I was 19. 

And so, I grew up largely by the time I was 36 years old. I didn’t really think that I had anything to contribute to life. Because all I ever knew was abuse. Physical and verbal abuse. I didn’t know how to love either because I never saw it, never really experienced it. The person whom I thought loved me may have but didn’t know how. And actually, in my book, I actually said that… that person just didn’t know how because they never were taught that never saw it. 

And so, it was four women who don’t… They don’t look like me. Four wonderful white women saw something in me. And all of these women are women of influence. And they weren’t. All of them were influenced then, but they became big-time. Years later, one became a parish president. Another one became an owner of a construction company. One was a renowned speaker and another one was at a major company called Red Runner, which is red beans and rice. 

Those women took me under their wing and introduced me to a world that I didn’t even know existed. I was primarily the only black person, surrounded by women with individuals with wealth but I. Started from the bottom. And work my way up. And because I listened, and I observed, and I asked questions. And then when I was able to just barely, you know, stand on my own 2 feet, I made a vow to myself. I made a vow to myself that I will not see people hurt or suffering. And so, when I went to work for the Senator, I made a vow. Because I know what it’s like to call somebody and they don’t answer. 

So, when I went to work for the senator. I didn’t care what it took. I made sure I returned those people’s phone calls. When I see a homeless person on the street, Jade is a quick story. I was in my fancy designer suit and my fancy designer shoes looked cute. Pass by this man say. Hey, baby. How are you doing?

I’ll stop because I was Like oh, hey, you know, I mean, I didn’t. Think of the fact that he was flirting, which he was. But you know, I was like, I entertained him. I said, hey, how are you doing? And he was like. What you’ll find self-going. I told my son I’m going to a meeting, I said. Why are you? Out here because. I was always curious. 

So why are you out here? He said, well, I need $5 to go in so I can take a shower. He was a veteran, Travis. I gave him my card because he was trying to get his benefits, and nobody would help him. I said… you see that building right there, that big building right there. I’m on the 10th floor. I want you to come to see me as I’m going to help you. He said, “Are you really going to help me? Yeah, I’m going to help you. I’m going to help you get your benefits because that’s what we do. That’s what we do. We work with veterans and help them get their benefits. He took me up on that offer.

And man is no longer on the street. And so, when I think about it, God bless me to be in that position because I believe that God knew that I was going to do the right thing. And when I think about all the people that I have helped. Because I wanted to, not because I was in that position because I wanted to. Because I know what it’s like to hurt. You know, I know what this feels like. I know what it feels like. Having a roof over your head and not knowing if you’re going to have a roof over your head. If you’re going to have food to eat, if you’re going to have money to pay your utilities and your bills, I have been there and done that. 

So, when people see me now with my fancy bag driving in a Mercedes, they have no idea the life was like before that. And I tell people I don’t make any excuses. Pull the handbag that I carry and the car that I drive. Do you know why? Because I’ve worked hard for that. 

At the end of the day, I want to make sure. I give when it says about a cheerful giver I give. I do give I feel like I give all my money away because I am like Travis. I work with nonprofits that are doing great work. They give people hope and opportunity, so that’s what my life is about. My life will always be about that. 

And I know with the type of heart that I have that God would always bless me because he knows that my heart is in the right place and will always be in the right place. When it comes to people. So, you all with that being said, I have about 10 more minutes. Because I have another meeting, I need to go to but… This has been great. Great therapy. For me, yeah, about to make me cry.

Well, as we’re getting to wrap it up, I got a couple of Questions for you I wanted to try something out today and I delayed this question until the end when I asked the guest what is it about you? What makes you a Titan? And what qualities of you make you a Titan? You’ve alluded to them all episode long.

Yeah, what makes me a Titan is my life struggles. Lessons that I’ve learned from those last struggles. From my mistakes. Or things that I’ve done to self-inflict, and even those that have been inflicted upon me. 

In my Ted talk, Carol, I don’t know if you remember my speech was the F-bomb. I talked about forgiveness. And how I had to learn how to forgive someone who was very near and dear to me. I, who just celebrated the 16th year of her death. Which was my adopted mother.

Every single day I hope that I die daily from things that are contrary. I hope that I can be a better person. I want to be a good person. I really do. I want to be the best person I can be. I want to be sweet, kind, and gentle. Feminine. Graceful. Beautiful. Inside… More than outside. Be the best mother and grandmother’s friend. Colleague. Employee. I just want to be a good person with a good heart and that my motives and everything that I do is right. And it has to be a win/win situation. It can’t be just about me because it’s not about me. It really is about a win/win here. 

Well, let’s be honest burn the win-win is if you do it for yourself, you’re doing it for others too. What people don’t understand is we’re so incredibly intertwined and we forget that we affect each other. So, if we treat ourselves a certain way, we are really treating others just like we said in the beginning, right, Travis?

So, you know you had another question, right?

Another question I got two more.

Oh yeah, one more.

Few more. The question that I have that we try to wrap up every show with is what would you tell someone right now that’s in the struggle, right? They’re struggling. They’re trying to make their way and they can’t figure it out. What would you do? What would you tell those people?

Well, I think it goes back to something that you said earlier, Travis, regarding faith and it’s really hard, you know when people are struggling to grab hold of faith, right? But one of the scriptures that I constantly remind myself of is that faith is the substance of things, hope for, and the evidence of things not seen. I believe in the power of prayer. I really do. And I would hope that whoever that person is they were not and understood this. I’m not one that goes to church every time the doors open and I’m not a Bible-caring person, but I do have faith, right? 

And I just believe in it wholeheartedly. And the other thing that I would advise individuals to do depending upon their situation is to talk about it, to talk, find someone that they trust to talk to. What happens a lot of times when people are struggling, they keep it to themselves and have no conversation. 

So, when you don’t talk about it, you can’t really get the help that you need and it may not be the person that you’re talking to, who can help you, but they may know someone that can. And that has happened to me. So, I know what it’s like to be in a situation and do not know what to do. But I found enough courage to talk to somebody and they Were able to help me through it. 

So, prayer, faith, and trust in someone to talk it through, and then when someone gives you advice or gives whomever advice. Take it and try it and see if it will work and nine times out of 10 it will, and we’ll see change and that. That would be the advice that I would give and that’s the advice that I’ve given. Individuals as well, so.

And then the final question is really a layup. This is easy. Where can people get ahold of you, Laverne?

Well, I believe it or not ours working on my website right now. 

So, I have a fancy website. But they can friend me on Facebook, which is Laverne. Type in Laverne Saulny and there I am, and Instagram Laverne Toombs type that in. And there I am. So, just type in Laverne toombs and Lord have mercy. You all see all kinds of stuff. I do it quite often. Seeing what people get up on there or Laverne Saulny it, I just did it the other week actually, and I was kind of surprised by what I saw. 

So yeah, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and my website. I think LTrightforyour is my website LTrightforyou.com.

Thank you so much, Laverne. Appreciate you being our guest today.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This was so good.

Oh my God.

I can’t imagine anybody not liking this one.

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