Dyan DeNapoli wanted to be a marine biologist since she was a child. Working with dolphins and penguins called to her, from the inside. At the age of 30, as she was working as a silversmith making jewelry, her parents gifted her a month long EarthWatch Expedition working with Dolphins in Hawaii.
As she stood at the airport in Hawaii, waiting for her flight home, Dyan made an important decision: She didn’t know how and she didn’t know when but she WAS going to dedicate herself to working with marine animals. And boy has she! From getting a second bachelors degree, to finally getting hired at the New England Aquarium (after years of volunteering), to running the world largest animal rescue mission in history, Dyan’s commitment to animal conservation has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Join us as we discuss:
- How she found the courage to follow her dreams, despite a total lack of guarantees
- What to do when you fail miserably at the job you’ve always wanted to do
- Why she loves sharing her story and the story of the animals she cares for, whether that’s on a TedXStage, in an elementary school, or via her books.
About the Guest:
Dyan DeNapoli is a penguin expert, TED speaker, and award-winning author. Her first book, The Great Penguin Rescue, chronicles her experiences helping to manage the rescue of 40,000 penguins from an oil spill in South Africa. Dyan teaches audiences of all ages about penguin conservation, and about pursuing their wildest dreams. Her favorite gig is as a guest lecturer on National Geographic’s ships bringing adventure travelers to Antarctica!
On social media (FB, LinkedIn, and Twitter) as @ThePenguinLady
Dyan’s Two Books:
- The Great Penguin Rescue: https://www.amazon.com/Great-Penguin-Rescue-Devastating-Inspiring/dp/143914818X
- All About Penguins: https://amzn.to/34IiI6x
Mentioned in the episode
About the Host:
Dr. Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist, speaker, author and coach changing our perspective on the world of work. It IS possible to do Great Work– launch a successful business, make a scientific discovery, raise a tight-knit family, or manage a global remote team– without sacrificing your health, happiness and relationships.
Amanda is the Author of the forthcoming book, Great Work: Do What Matter Most Without Sacrificing Everything Else, and the creator of the Great Work Journals. Amanda’s TEDx talk has received more than a million views and has been featured on TED’s Ideas blog and Ted Shorts.
Her ideas have also been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, and Thrive Global.
Sponsored By The Aligned Time Journal
The Unleashing Your Great Work podcast is sponsored by the Aligned Time Journal! The Aligned Time Journal is here to answer the question “But HOW?” How can we figure out what our Great Work is? How can we get started, stay with it, and finish our Great Work so it can go out in the world and have an impact?
Click here to learn more, and try it out for yourself!
For more information about the Unleashing YOUR Great Work podcast or to learn more about Dr. Amanda Crowell, check out my website: amandacrowell.com
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Welcome to unleashing your great work, a podcast about doing the work that matters the most to you. I'm your host, Dr. Amanda Crowell, a cognitive psychologist, coach, and the creator of the great work journals. Every week on this podcast, we are asking the big questions. What is great work? And why does it matter so much to us? What does it take to do more of your great work without sacrificing everything else? And how does the world change when more people are doing more of the work that matters the most to them. So whether your great work is building your own small business, or managing a remote team at a multinational company, you'll find insight and answers here. Welcome everybody to the unleashing your great work podcast today, I could not be more excited to welcome Dyan DiNapoli. She is a penguin expert, a TEDx speaker and an award winning author,Dr Amanda Crowell:
her first book, The Great penguin rescue chronicles her experience helping to manage the rescue of 40,000 Penguins from an oil spill in South Africa. Her second book called all about penguins, is a children's book about Penguin, biology and behavior for young kids. Dyan teaches audiences of all ages about penguin conservation, and about pursuing their wildest dreams. Welcome to the podcast. Dyan,Dyan DeNapoli:
thanks, I'm so excited to be here with you today.Dr Amanda Crowell:
I'm so excited that you're here. I love the work that you do and how uniquely or how effectively you are able to combine this very traditional, like, conservation work like I'm a scientist, and I do this work alongside really inspirational messages about, you know, following your wildest dreams despite any setbacks or unexpected starts. So tell me a little bit about your great work, Dyan.Dyan DeNapoli:
I think my great work is sort of twofold. So the foundation of it and how it really started is I worked at the New England Aquarium for nine years took care of the penguins there. During that time, as you said, I helped manage this massive rescue penguin rescue in South Africa. And that really sort of galvanized me moving forward from that, like, I just, I want to do whatever I can to help penguins. And so when I left the aquarium and started my company, the penguin lady, my mission statement is raising awareness and funding to protect threatened and endangered penguins. So I donate part of my proceeds of everything I do, you know, from my books, from my appearances to penguin conservation. So that sort of is the foundation. But what has happened as sort of this unexpected result of doing this work and getting out and speaking and sharing the story is that people kept asking me, yeah, this is amazing stuff. And I want to know more about you. And how did you carve out this, like, really unique, fascinating career? And so they wanted to kind of hear my story of, of this career, like, how did that happen? Yeah, it was just sort of very organic. And I was asked to give this talk to kids to grownups all ages. And, and what I found was that people were getting really inspired by it, and I get letters. And still to this day, I'll get letters from people saying, you know, I saw you speak, and it made me want to go into marine biology or pursue whatever my dream is. And that, to me is the most moving and gratifying thing to know that my sort of finally pursuing my dream because I did this late in life, I was a late bloomer, but that that has inspired other people of all ages as well to pursue what they're passionate about. So it's sort of two things.Dr Amanda Crowell:
Tell us then, Dyan , how did you get here? What is this amazing story that's inspiring people of all ages.Dyan DeNapoli:
So I always loved animals. I always love the ocean. I grew up near the ocean, but I was bonkers for dolphins. So penguins were never even on my radar until I was in my 30s. And I always dreamed about working with dolphins, but it seemed like this totally impossible dream. Like how do you get to do that? You know, anyone could tell me that. And, and so that just sort of went into the back of my mind. But it was always if somebody said what's your fantasy job if you could do anything? No, you know, whatever. I always say oh, I'd be a dolphin Rainer, I can't do that. And then finally, and so I did a bunch of other things. I was a ski bum and Colorado, I was a waitress, I was a silversmith. I did all these things. For Smith, I was a silversmith and made jewelry for eight years fascinating. And actually part of that is what led me to finally doing this because the last few years of making jewelry, I created a line of endangered species jewelry, because I loved animals, I wanted to help them and I donated the proceeds from that line to Penguin, animal conservation groups and environmental groups. And and I did sort of start thinking I want to be doing something more tangible, more concrete to help animals. And then for my 30th birthday, my parents gave me an Earthwatch expedition. And for people that might not be familiar with Earthwatch, it's a nonprofit organization. And you essentially go, it's like a working vacation. So you pay to go someplace in the world. And it's usually science based. And you're helping a research gather their data. And there was a four week expedition to Hawaii to work with dolphins. And I said, Sign me up for that. Oh, wow. Yeah. And what that did, that was a transformational moment. You know, it was one of these. I was there for a month. It was the best month of my life. And when I was leaving, I thought I have to do this like it reactivated that dream. And I knew they had internships, full time, full semester internships. And so I applied when I was rejected, because I didn't have the right degree. I had a liberal arts degree. Uh huh. Well, I actually went back to college to get a degree that would allow me to apply for the internship, not even a guarantee IDr Amanda Crowell:
would get it. Wow, like another four year bachelor's degree a four yearDyan DeNapoli:
yeah, I got a bachelor science degree and Yeah,Dr Amanda Crowell:
crazy. Yeah. Yeah. So then what happened? You got the internship, got it.Dyan DeNapoli:
I got the and in fact, I didn't even reapply I just had been sort of I made friends with one of the researchers and we just sort of been in touch. And all of a sudden, one day I get this letter in the mail saying, congratulations, you've been accepted for a summer internship. Wow, that was how the whole thing started. But then we're, I always say the dolphins led me to the penguins because I had that internship. I had that internship before graduating, but my senior year was all internships. And my last one was at the New England Aquarium in Boston and the penguin department. And that was my first introduction to the and they kind of do they captured my heart, my imagination. And, and what happened really, when I graduated, I had to make this choice. Do I stick around in Boston and work with the penguins at the aquarium? Try and get a job there? Yeah. Or do I go back to Hawaii or maybe the Bahamas and work with dolphins, which really is my first love. But what kept me in Boston was that my parents were aging. Yeah. And I had this feeling this intuitive sense that I was going to be needed nearby. And in fact, that is what ended up happening. So you know, that decision sort of based more on family obligation? I never in a million years could have predicted all the incredible places that would have taken me.Dr Amanda Crowell:
Yeah. So you ended up actually getting a job at the Boston aquarium. And then did you were you a lowly intern there? Did you work your way up to being the head of Penguin rescue?Dyan DeNapoli:
Yeah, I started off as an intern. So I had that four month internship. Yeah. And then, at the end of that internship, I stayed as a weekly volunteer, because I saw that the people that got hired were the people that were still around as a volunteer, right? Yep. Yeah, they are. You know, most people are hired from within that pool of volunteers and interns. So I stuck around. I was after graduating, I had a job in a small animal hospital as a veterinary nurse. So I was doing that. But I was volunteering my one day a week at the aquarium. And then finally, because Jobs did not open up often, finally a position opened up. So I think I was volunteering and interning for a year and a half before position openedDr Amanda Crowell:
up. Wow. And what was that position? Was it just a coordinate pairs?Dyan DeNapoli:
Yeah, it was sort of, you know, first level pick aquarist.Dr Amanda Crowell:
department so okay. Yeah. In the penguin department. Yes. All right. Wow.Dyan DeNapoli:
And then yeah, you kind of work your way up. And so I think I became a senior penguin aquarist. Oh, no, you're you know what you're reminding me I was assistant aquarist at first I forgot about that. aquarist. And then I was an aquarist. And then finally, I was a senior aquarist. And I think that happened around year three or four which traditional Passing reallyDr Amanda Crowell:
moved up pretty fast actually.Dyan DeNapoli:
Yeah, but that I don't think that was unusual there.Dr Amanda Crowell:
Okay. Wow. And then off, you went to South Africa.Dyan DeNapoli:
Yeah, the senior parents. So that was my third year as staff. I'd been there for five years working with penguins. But my third year of staff is when that oil spill took place. And so two of us left to go to South Africa to help manage that rescue effort. There were eight of us on our team from different zoos and aquariums, but two of us from the New England Aquarium that were on that first flight over to Cape Town to help with the restDr Amanda Crowell:
of Wow, amazing. So I want to hear more about like, what it was like for you, because these sound like hugely brave decisions, to go back and get a I mean, get another four year degree with the hope that you would. And you know, it's fascinating. It's like, you're very well known in the world of penguins, from what I can tell, and you don't have a PhD. And yet, you're really making amazing things happen in this space. So I'm just, I feel like you're such an inspiration for the people who just love something and want to go for it. So I want to just hear like, was that easy for you? Was it hard for you? Like, did you struggle? Like, what did it feel like to take such big leaps in the direction of your dreams?Dyan DeNapoli:
It was, I don't know if it was brave or crazy. I feel it was certainly scary. It wasn't, you know, there were no guarantees. Yeah, right. But I think maybe the advantage of being a little bit older when I started this sort of a late bloomer is I had finally and what really, I think enabled me to do it to finally pursue it and to take these crazy risks is I finally had found belief in myself and competence, which I did not have when I was younger. And what also happened was when I was at, you know that internship, the Earthwatch in Hawaii at the end of that month, and I realized as I was standing there crying my last day, because I just didn't want to leave ever. I was like in heaven squared, you know, like, imagine anything greater than this. And I was sitting there crying, and I remember thinking, I have to pursue this because I don't know if I can make it happen. I'm much older than, you know, all the other Apple cancers. So many reasons. This wouldn't happen or work. But I knew in that moment, that I did not want to get to the end of my life, and look back and regret that I hadn't at least tried to do it. Right. Because that would feel really crappy. Always want what if? What if could I have done it and not knowing would have made me crazy?Dr Amanda Crowell:
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.Dyan DeNapoli:
Yeah. I mean, you talk about No, I listened to most of your podcasts. Great. And you start off by talking about death, right? Yeah, I do. And that was sort of one of those moments like anticipating, yeah. What if I'm at the moment of my I'm on my deathbed. Yeah. And I didn't go for it. I didn't at least try.Dr Amanda Crowell:
Right. Right. But you and you did. And it's such a great example of like, I don't know, it's like a 1980s movie that wasn't even that great. Called sliding doors with one of ourDyan DeNapoli:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah,Dr Amanda Crowell:
she like in one alternate universe, she goes through the door, and then catches her husband in a, in a fair or whatever, and the other one she doesn't, and we watch both of these play out. I feel like your experience is such a good example of like, you can kind of see where it was headed. Like, you would have done interesting things. I mean, while you were being you know, uncertain about yourself or whatever, you were making amazing jewelry and giving back that you were gonna be an amazing person either way, and yet to not have had the opportunity to do what just was calling you from the inside from the beginning is, man, what a good story. So good. And you know what I really love about it. Is it like you did it right and off, you went to South Africa, and then you came back and you wrote a book and you continue to work there. And then now you had a new dream, you're gonna do a new thing. It wasn't the end wasn't all there was to you. It was really just the beginning. So tell us about the next iteration of Dyan DiNapoli. The Penguin lady.Dyan DeNapoli:
That, you know, I've been thinking a lot about that, like, interesting, and I've been having this conversation last few weeks because, you know, when I left the aquarium, it wasn't that I wasn't happy and my job wasn't that I didn't love what I was doing. I mean, I did have a toxic co worker that made the job very stressful, and was the reason every single person left that position. Yeah, that department. But it was really sort of this. I think my mother dying. Yeah, that made me realize this just even though I love what I'm doing, I'm passionate about it. I my for my mental my own mental health right now I just need to step back. So I didn't know what I was going to do when I left, I had no idea and that was scary to wow. I mean, luckily at the time, I had a partner. So you know, we could support each other through these times of insecurity and job insecurity. But I knew I wanted to still do something to do with animals and teaching people about them, you know, probably penguins. And it took me I went to a workshop, the next year, run by Valerie Young who did this thing called work at what you love, she'd have these courses and, and it was sort of there that it all crystallized like I know, I'm gonna bring up the penguin lady gate thing on the road, I'm going to teach other people about penguins, I'm going to donate part of my proceeds to conservation. And that was sort of the beginning. And what I think is so fascinating when you're i and especially I think when you are doing your great work, is, you know, you have this dream. And it seems like oh, that's way off. And that's gonna be how am I going to do that? I don't even know. And it seems like, is it even possible, right? Yeah. And then you work, you do the work, you do the thing, you figure it out, and you finally get there. And then you can have the next step in the dream like, Yeah, you can't, and you know, but it's sort of like climbing a ladder or steps, right. And each, each rung in the ladder, you climb, or each step you climb, you then have the courage to go, oh, wait a minute, there's something bigger I can try are different. And, and it's sort of everything I've done is sort of been like that. It's sort of keep dreaming bigger, keep dreaming, dreaming bigger, keep dreaming bigger. And a lot of times, it's other people saying to me, you can do bigger things than you're doing right now. Wow. You know, like, really? Yeah. Yeah.Dr Amanda Crowell:
You know, it's interesting, because like that, I feel like what you're describing is exactly right. And I wonder if this resonates with your experiences, how it's been for me, every time I reached that point where I'm like, I'm doing the thing. That seems so impossible. And I look and I turn and I look at the next thing. And it seems completely impossible. And I feel like I am. It's like, I haven't grown at all. It's like, I'm still like, there's no way I can't figure it out. But the only thing that's changed is that like, over time of reaching for these bigger things, the only thing I've really gained is a sense that I can figure it out. It's as Marie Forleo was say it's figure out double, I don't know how I don't know who I don't know where it's going to take me. But I can start walking in that direction. And that's really the has that been your experience as well.Dyan DeNapoli:
100%. And I think that's the scary and exciting part of the journey. Yeah. Right. Like, if you can let yourself like feel the fear and do it anyway. Right, like, just believe that you'll figure it out. And, and for me, too, it kind of goes back to the penguin rescue where during that experience, I mean, that was the most incredibly difficult thing I've done in my life. It was so massive. I literally the day after we got there. My colleague and I from the New England Aquarium, were put in charge of a room that had 4500 oiled penguins in it.Dr Amanda Crowell:
Oh my gosh, what did you do with them? Tell us briefly like what were you doing with these penguins, washing them down with Dove soap? Well, thereDyan DeNapoli:
were people in another air in the washroom, washing them down with a local thing that they use. I didn't use stuff. But our roles in our room was basically keep these penguins alive until it was their turn to be watched. I mean, there were 20,000 penguins that oh, my gosh, and 16,000 of them were in this one building that we were in. And so the day after we arrived were given this job of get them fed, train the volunteers manage the volunteers, we had a few 100 volunteers a day in our room alone, there were four maps of rooms in this warehouse. And honest to god, I mean, it was the most terrifying moment of my entire life when they said, Okay, this is your job, go do it with no training. I mean, just do it. Right. You know, use your experience that you have, and extrapolate from there. Figure it out, figure it out. terrifying. Terrifying. But in the end, what happened was, you know, because we were in their beginnings there in the beginning, so we were sort of helping to set up systems and train people and put things into place. And we ended up in the end. You know, we were there for the first three weeks. The whole thing was three months long. But ultimately 95% of the penguins were saved. And yeah, it was I mean, it was Yeah, yeah, I mean, amazing. Yeah, it was the largest and most successful Animal Rescue that's ever taken place. Wow. And halfway through, I was actually moved from those centers at to a different center to for a sort of a higher management position there and put in charge, you know, given even more responsibility which again freaked me out. Are you sure? They're like no, we have faith in you, Dyan , we know you can do this, we know you have the skills and like I'm not so sure. And I went and I was I mess things up the first day or two that I was there, I totally screwed things up, quickly learn from my mistakes, figure things out. And by the end of my nine days at that location, they were begging me to stay and what I realized from this because again, it was other people who saw potential in me that saw these abilities in me that I wasn't sure I had that made me believe in myself. And what that experience did. It left me with this unshakable belief in myself and my abilities. Wow, I learned I was capable of so Oh, much more than I'd ever dreamed possible.Dr Amanda Crowell:
Wow. That's a huge gift.Dyan DeNapoli:
Huge and everlasting. Like I that will never go away. Ya know. And so I think that is a big part of going back to your original question. I think that is a big part of what has allowed me to take these chances on these risks and to keep aiming higher, and to keep trying the next thing and to keep you know, thinking bigger. I'm not saying that I don't ever feel incompetent, or I don't know how to do that, or that's impossible. I'm not saying that. But, but I, you know, I still know like, I if I can dig down deep enough, I can get there. I could do it.Dr Amanda Crowell:
Yeah. So very practically, thinking of a moment when, because I feel like I love it too. But the any of these quotes or whatever, like feel the fear and do it anyways, like just so inadequate, when you're really, really scared to do something. And so I'm wondering, like, if you think about a moment when you are feeling inadequate, like what literally goes through your head, like, what do you do to help yourself kind of acknowledge what's happened, and I'm gonna tell you that I'm gonna lead the witness, but like, you know, like, what, what do you do to get through moments like that? Because when you're doing huge, important critical things, and you mess up, it feels like, like the whole world stops for a minute. Yeah. And then recovering from that is quite the skill. So tell us a little bit about maybe even tell us a story about that.Dyan DeNapoli:
Why? That's a really difficult question. I've thought about what do I literally do? So I'm thinking back to that first day where I just screwed things up. And South Africa, I literally almost caused like a bunch of penguins to drown in the pool when they were. Yeah, like what happened?Dr Amanda Crowell:
Tell us tell us. So it was about your worst moment in the penguin rescue.Dyan DeNapoli:
Yeah, my worst moment in the penguin rescue was, you know, every day you had to the penguins were being washed. And then normally under normal situation, when you don't have 20,000 penguins to clean, you give them a 20 minute rinse with high pressure hoses. Well, we couldn't spend 20 minutes rinsing every penguin right after getting all the right. Recoil their feathers until all the soap is off. So you would swim them every day for like 45 minutes. All right, to help them rinse that soap off themselves. So one day that one of the reason I was sent there was that the birds weren't all getting swum they weren't going to be released soon enough, you know, all this pressure was building. So go there, figure out what they need. Come back to us the RESCUE directors and let us know what they need. And get those birds swarm you need to get more bird swarm so Okay, Monat birds. Yeah, so I go and I basically put more penguins into the pool than they had been doing, which essentially caused panic amongst the penguins. Oh, no. Yeah. And then as I'm trying to escort them out of you know, there's this ramp that goes into the pool and it's a shallow pool, you're standing in it to its waters up to your knees, right? But the penguins can't stand up in that it's a little tall for them to stand. And so there's a doorway that goes against the pool wall to this ramp and what was happening were some of these penguins in their panic to get out. We're getting caught behind that doorway and sort of trampling each other underwater. OhDr Amanda Crowell:
my gosh, watching each other fire in a club. Oh, itDyan DeNapoli:
was awful. And, and, and I'm thinking oh my god, they sent me here to help and I'm gonna cause all these penguins to either drown or get aspiration pneumonia from failing all this water. Like, it's so bad. And then I finally realize that What's happening is the the volunteers are standing there right at the gate and they're actually scaring the penguins from getting yelling and swearing it. No, that's not what you do. But I did. Right, right, right. And just everything like that could go wrong went wrong. There was more. And I think, you know, I was, I got reamed out the next day, actually, back to the rescue director said, okay, they need more pools, you need to build more pools. They need this, they need that they need this, I kind of said, these are what they need. What happened when I went back that next morning, this had gotten back to them. And they accused me of being a spy. And you know, like, all this crazy. I'm like, I'm just trying to help them. You know, I felt like a lamb being led to slaughter. It was brutal. And I cried, I didn't want to go back and eat. They said, Look, we really need you there. We know you can do this. We know you can figure it out. And I said, Okay, if you really believe that, and you really need me there. I will go, I'm sort of against like under duress. Yeah. But you know, what happened was I just sort of recalibrated. I, I just sort of I think I took a step back is what I did. Yeah, I took a step back to observe more, instead of like, going in guns blaring, right. I can do this, I can fix it. I, I kind of stepped back observed and really sort of thought, Okay, what is really necessary here? Yeah. And then by day three, I'd kind of figured it out. And by day three people were now starting to come to me and ask me questions and ask my advice. So there was a shift, I think, in my approach, yeah. That sort of made all the difference. Yeah.Dr Amanda Crowell:
It's like, so there's a couple of things here and there. Like when I'm like, what is it really? And I feel like first of all, it wasn't that day, you know, we like you cried. Because, because when you make a mistake, it hurts you too, right? It's not like you're blindly making mistakes and thing, it's fine. Like, you don't want those penguins to get aspiration like you were there to help them. So I think there's a way that we like, we try to skip the part where we're upset, because everything's fine. And that never works. So be upset first. And then it's like, go back and let people have their feelings. And you know, you have whatever reaction you're gonna have. And then I think it's like, I think one of the hardest parts of doing great work when after you've made a mistake, is that you have to then show up and retread your path for a little bit like, and in a fast moving penguin rescue. It's three days. People are like, Okay, fine. She's back to being the penguin lady. She's got the answers. We all make mistakes whenever we're over it. So that's really interesting. Thank you for sharing that story with us. I'm sure it was very difficult.Dyan DeNapoli:
Thank you for asking. It was very difficult in the moment. It was, it was a big low point like I yeah, I was the I struggle that I'll tell you that day was bad.Dr Amanda Crowell:
But you know what, you would not have the same unshakable belief in yourself. If that hadn't happened. Don't you think?Dyan DeNapoli:
That's a very good point.Dr Amanda Crowell:
Yeah. Because we are all cast in fire and stone.Dyan DeNapoli:
Right? Because of because then afterwards, I did figure it out. Yeah. Right. And so those were those moments of when you do the thing you think you cannot do? And that was I mean, boy, I'm telling you, was that rescue a thing? I don't think anybody's thought we could do. It was the largest rescue of animals that had ever been attempted in the history of the world. Amaze, no one knew if was even possible. Yeah. And to do it, and to actually do it well, ultimately, you know, together. It's not just me, obviously, like huge collaboration and international collaboration. But I you know, there were things that I was responsible for, and I did figure them out eventually. And so yes, that I think when you when you confront yourself, when you sort of confront the thing you think you absolutely could not ever do, and you do it, and you don't die. And then you actually do it. Well, you're like, Oh, wow. Okay. If I can do that, and this is how I the thing I thought after that was if I could do that. I could do absolutely anything. Mm hmm. I really, I mean, I thought that many times if I could do that, because I was so freakin hard. I could do anything.Dr Amanda Crowell:
Wow. Amazing. Amazing. So I'm going to just switch gears a little we've talked a little bit about the struggle I want to hear about the joy of being the penguin lady both getting to be around animals, which sounds like it just brings your heart joy, but also when you're talking into groups of people like, tell me about, what do you love about this work?Dyan DeNapoli:
I think what, one of the real joys for me, I mean, I love sharing these stories I love sort of raising people's awareness. And hopefully, you know, they're going to start caring maybe about something they didn't even think about before. But what's been really, really gratifying is whether I'm talking about the penguin rescue, or I'm talking about, you know, my sort of career journey, right? Yeah. Is, is having people either come up to me at the end of the talk, or write me a letter afterwards. And, and just say that it either it changed them somehow it inspired them, it moved them. I mean, I remember when I, my first TEDx talk was TEDx Boston in 2011. And at the end of that talk, I, you know, I'm telling the penguin rescue story. And there was a moment that wasn't even in the script, because you have to do a script when you do 10x. Yeah. Which I'm not used to doing. And, and there was a moment that was not scripted, but I just sort of threw it in there in the moment. And it was, I said, you know, last week, a 10 year old asked me, what did it feel like, when you first walked into that huge rescue center and saw all those oil penguins. And I literally, when that kid asked, I kind of, I brought me right back there, and I got choked up, I started to cry. And when I repeated that at my TEDx, I kind of got a little choked up. I'm like, No, hold it together. Dyan, you can start crying, right? So I kept going. But afterwards, at the reception, four or five men all walked up to me and said, and did the exact same thing. They all put a hand on my shoulder and said, That was amazing. You made me cry. Ah, right. Yeah, wow. It, I was so stunned every time I just I was floored by that. And I thought, Oh, my God, like, there's a power in this story. And clearly, there's a power in the way I'm telling it. And I think it was that moment of vulnerability, right? When I shared that, that emotion of it, and that moment of vulnerability was what touched them. Mm hmm. And I think that is, you know, whenever I am, I still happens from time to time when I'm giving a talk unexpectedly, I'll start to get choked up. Yeah. Because it was such a transformational, unforgettable, powerful, powerful experience. And so when I can touch someone else with that, when they feel it, when they or if it reminds them, you know, of something in their life, or something they want to do that is is so it's very moving. Whenever it happens, I cry every time I get a letter from someone who says, I went back to college to become a marine biologist, you know, because I've always wanted to do this, or whatever it is, like, I get letters like that, and I do every time it kind of brings me to tears. Like, I can't believe that. Me just doing like, following my heart following my passion doing what I love, that that inspires other people in this way. Yeah, you know, yeah. And I think this is true for anybody, right? Like when we do what lights us up? Yeah, we cannot help but light up people around us. Right, in some way. And and I think if we can all kind of do more of that and spread the light. Yeah. You know, like, yeah, the world's gonna be a better place for all of us. Oh,Dr Amanda Crowell:
so true. Well, I think that how so many people since I've started this podcast, and I mean, I started this podcast because I was hearing from so many people that like, I yeah, I want to do what I want to do, like, I want to do what calls me from the inside, but also like, I'm trapped. I've got golden handcuffs, I have a powerful, competitive, difficult to get job that I hate but, but nobody else, you know, I make a lot of money and my partner doesn't want any more disruption or, and yet, in our heart of hearts, what we really want is to do what lights our own heart on fire. And you are a living breathing specimen of somebody who said, You know what? Bucket, you're gonna do it. And so you're so inspiring to so many people because it's very clear that it really is what you loved. Not some like game that you're playing. Like, out here like you ended up randomly in a place where something amazing happened and you're trying to like parlay that into some sort of like, this was your actual passion. It's one foot in front of The other following the light. And then you turn around until all of this, it's so obvious that you really did do it. It gives so much hope to the notion that we can, that if we are brave, like you were brave, we can do it too. It's a miracle. Gosh, this is maybe one of my favorite interviews ever. I love it so much. So Dyan, I am thinking that a lot of people are wondering how they can learn more about you. And I want you to tell us your standard stuff about your website and all of that too. But tell us who you talk to. Because I I think I know, but I want you to tell us like so all of us listening can be on the lookout for opportunities for you to bring this inspiring message to whoever it is you talk to. So tell usDyan DeNapoli:
Sure. So my standard stuff is website is the penguin lady.com I'm on social media as the penguin lady haveDr Amanda Crowell:
all those links in the show notes. Okay, great.Dyan DeNapoli:
And, and my email is Dyan spelled dy an at the penguin lady.com. And I, I speak kind of to all different ages, all different audiences. I speak to schools K through 12, universities, libraries, conferences, corporate. I'm doing a few corporate speeches next week. And then my favorite gig is on ships going to Antarctica, I've been a guest speaker for oh, God, it's amazing.Dr Amanda Crowell:
Sounds like the best gig ever.Dyan DeNapoli:
It is the best gig ever. Yeah, the last two trips I've done been to Antarctica four times. It's like my favorite place on the planet. It's incredible. And my last two trips were as what's called a global perspectives guest speaker for Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic. Which, by the way, was like the big goal right? When I was I was still working at the aquarium. I'm like, someday I want to be a lecturer for them, like no idea how that ever is gonna happen. It did. And and this is an important thing I will say about that is because it happened because of a high school classmate that I reconnected with at a high school reunion like six years earlier. And we'd been on Facebook together and he said, Hey, I'm doing this thing at the Explorers Club with Lindblad NatGeo. Do you want a ticket? I'm like, Yes, please. And he introduced me to you know, I, the Lindblad. Guy and I by Glenn Lindblad. Guy friended me on Facebook the next day.Dr Amanda Crowell:
Facebook, it all comes back to Facebook.Dyan DeNapoli:
Yeah. So you know, there's that sort of, you never know like, what connection you might have who you might know, sort of that it's going to turn into something that you never dreamed. So anyway, I'm getting way off track with myDr Amanda Crowell:
you're not you're not this is a track I want for sure. SoDyan DeNapoli:
yeah, so I do I speak and now of course, everything is on Zoom. So I can speak internationally, wherever they speak English, I can I can do a zoom presentation. So that's what you know, the last couple years, everything has been on Zoom. So the advantage of that is, you can speak in so many other places that normally you might not so yeah, so I travel locally, internationally on Zoom, nice to talk to kids and adults of all ages.Dr Amanda Crowell:
And I love it. Very cool. So if anybody out there knows of a school that wants to have inspired children who are interested in STEM, in ways that children really resonate with, I think that would be a great thing and colleges and universities and their career fairs. They need keynote speakers to talk about following your dreams and not just the yellow brick road, you know, great opportunities.Dyan DeNapoli:
Yeah. And I should say too, because and I didn't quite get into this, but I do speak about there's a lot of topics. So I talk about Shackleton's journey and leadership. I talk about women in STEM and girls in STEM, about volunteering and mentoring. about penguins, of course biology, behavior, conservation, virtual journeys to Antarctica. There's a whole range of topics are awesome.Dr Amanda Crowell:
And those were all sort of listed out on your website. They are Yeah. Okay. That's great. Well, you have blown me away. Thank you so much for taking the time for being on the podcast today. It's been very inspiring for me, and I'm sure for everyone who heard it as well. So thank you so much for coming.Dyan DeNapoli:
My pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me. It's been it's really great to talk with you today.