Adam Torres and Chris and Shacoya Graham discuss creating healthy families and communities.
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Creating healthy families and communities is important and should not be overlooked. In this episode, Adam Torres and Chris and Shacoya Graham, Coach and Marriage and Family Therapist, explore the platform Chris and Shacoya are creating to build stronger communities and the book they will be launching with Mission Matters. Chris previously released the book, THE T.E.A.M.: Character & Integrity of Manhood, which focuses on the stories of eleven men who share their unique stories, fascinating experiences, and priceless lessons learned that shaped them into confident, influential, and purpose-filled Christian men of the 21st century.
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About Chris and Shacoya Graham
Shacoya have always been a social activist at heart. Having the privilege to travel alongside families during their fertility journey has expanded her value in trust, empathy, and humility. During my career in the medical field, She witnessed a gap between medical and mental health, this inspired my desire to bridge the gap by advocating for Mental Health & Wellness.
Shacoya obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Queens University of Charlotte and my Masters of Marriage & Family Therapy at Pfeiffer University. She is excited to connect with people to create healthier individuals, families, and communities.
Chris is a native of Myrtle Beach SC, and has lived in the Charlotte community since 2005, serving as a business director, business owner, Holistic Coach, community organizer, and advocate for urban causes. He has served as the Executive Director of The 4F- Holistic Coaching Group, since 2017.
In addition to his local community leadership, he serves as a certified trainer with The National Center for Fathering based in New Bern North Carolina. His name is synonymous with various fathering initiatives throughout Charlotte as he has volunteered his time to serve as Director of Diversity for Wash Away Unemployment and Lead Liaison for Men Who Care Global. He is a sought out speaker for issues related to fathering and parenting on radio, TV, print media and in conferences.
Full Unedited Transcript
Hey, I’d like to welcome you to another episode of Mission Matters. My name is Adam Torres, and if you’d like to apply to be a guest in the show, just head on over to mission matters.com and click on Be Our Guest to Apply. All right, so today is a very special episode. Today we have Chris and Sequoia Graham on the line who Chris is a coach, and Sequoia is a marriage and family therapist, also known as M F T, and I am so thrilled and proud and happy to announce.
That they will both be authors in our upcoming business leaders mission Matters book, bestselling series. Chris Sequoia. First I just wanna say hey, welcome to the show. Thank you. Thank you for having us, Adam. Alright, so we got a big topic today. So creating healthy families and communities. Big topic, big deal.
And we are going to dive right into that. But first we’ll start off with our way that we start all of these shows, which is with our mission matters minute. So Chris Sequoia, we at Mission Matters, we amplify stories for entrepreneurs, executives and experts. That’s our mission. Chris Sequoia, what mission matters to you?
I guess it is what is in our title. You know, it’s creating healthy families one step at a time so that we can create healthy communities. Yeah, and she’s right, Adam, our, our number one goal man is not just to work on our own personal family, but also improve and educate and empower other families in our communities and possibly across the country.
Yeah, it’s great. It’s great and it’s one of the reasons why I was really excited to have you join the book and to create content like this and of course for this interview today, because I think it’s something that, in my opinion, just we don’t, we don’t talk about it like enough in the media. I feel like there’s a lot of other things other.
Things that pull us a lot of different ways, but what, but talking about the core of the families, the households, and, and keeping it not just and keeping us all moving forward, I think as a society. So I’m curious for both of you, as you mentioned, okay. Obviously most people hopefully wanna do this within their homes, and you were already kind of focused on that.
But what kind of gave you this thought of, you know, we wanna help more people with this? Like, where did that begin? I’ll let you answer that. Well, Adam pretty much for me, I, I mean I come from a very, a very big family and we actually have a very wonderful blended family, father of seven. Mm-hmm. So the mindset of, you know, it started with our own grassroots of building that improvement and.
Educating our understanding. We started out as kids, having kids, and now we are adult families and parents. So pretty much want to increase our personal wellbeing as parents and families. But now, you know, becoming a subject matter expert of being a parent for the last, going on 30 years now, I pretty much.
You know, I want to partner with my, my best friend, my partner in life, to actually, you know, uplift, empower, you know, the families around us in the, in our community and possibly across the country. Yeah. Yeah, it’s amazing. And I, and I, the way I see you too is I say it’s like, it’s like the duo there. I see that.
And, and Chris, I know you’re, you’re more on the coaching side of things, and I think many people have maybe heard of, you know, coach and what coaching, but I don’t wanna assume that everybody knows what A M F T is or what M F T does. So maybe Sequoia, like, give us, give us a little bit of background on that and, and the role.
Yes, I love to. It’s one of my favorite subjects. So marriage and family therapists. A lot of times people just think that we are just see couples and families, but we see everybody. It doesn’t matter. We see whoever comes in the room. The more people that come in the room, the better. Yeah. What makes us different from other therapists, I think, is that we have a systemic view.
We don’t just look at one person in the system, we look at the whole system and how we relate to each other. Mm-hmm. We believe that our relationships are what keeps us healthy. Mm-hmm. And I think that’s part of what, like our mission is recognizing when we have healthier relationships mm-hmm. Starting within our families, we can bring that out into the community and have healthier communities for everyone.
It’s just, I don’t wanna say it’s that simple, but it kind of is. It can be. When you say the whole system, like, let’s unpack that just a little bit more. Like what? What do you mean? So I always look at where people come from, like where were they born? Mm-hmm. So their social location system, their family of origin.
How they grew up, where they grew up, who they grew up, who was in their homes, where they work is a system. Our society is a system. Mm-hmm. Our families, our community, like all these things are little systems. That work together. Mm-hmm. Yeah. And, and as I see as you and as yourself and and Chris, as you develop your methodologies and your platform to be able to tackle this from two different sides, if you will like tell me a little bit more about your vision as you kind of build out your platform and you build out this idea.
’cause I, I love, one of my favorite things is as in our pre, I mean, you know, this. But I’m saying for the audience as well is that I love when where Mission Matters is helping to get the message out about a platform, about a business, about something as it’s being formed and as it’s growing. So, I wanna hear it because then we can look back at this.
We’ll look back in a couple years and we’ll be like, I remember I was on that, hold on, you were on my show. Don’t you owe me a check.
But tell me, tell me a little bit more about the vision for, for the platform overall and what you hope to build. I. Sure Adam. So from my standpoint in life, you know, they, the, a typical mindset of you here in the, in the world today, you have a street smart system and you have a book smart system. So with my mindset of being a coach, I want to build those two avenues, increase the opportunities, but also put a holistic aspect on everything.
So the concept of coaching. You want to be able to touch and attract opportunities around an individual’s mindset on a 300 to 60 degree level. So, you know, you creating that subject matter expert, you know, from, from me being a father at the age of 16 to, you know, coming from a broken family as a kid to growing as a parent.
To an adult man at the age of 45. That’s history. That’s a journey. That’s a, that’s opportunity. That taking all that stuff and becoming a subject matter expert in those areas, mm-hmm. Is pretty much ideal to pass along to a young man between the ages of. 15 to 25, or even 25 to 55 because you know, they got their own individual mindset.
They want to have that confident mindset from a subject matter expert to enhance them, empower them, and uplift. And so one of the things that I, I like to preach at Mission Matters, and I, and I’ll do it so I’m blue in the face, is I think that everybody should be sharing their story because like what you just shared just now about being a father at, at a young age, about raising a large family, about like all these different things your voice is going to resonate differently to somebody else.
Than my voice and vice versa, right? Mm-hmm. But the idea is the more of us that share our stories, or even just share the human experience the more of us have the ability to, to connect and to feel like, you know, hey, we’re, we’re either not the one going, the only one going through this. Whether it’s a, by the way, a good or a bad time, right?
A lot of different ups and downs, but just period, like the human experience. Can you maybe, Whoever liked to chime in on this one comment a little about like the importance of sharing your story and like, and like why people should do it. Because I want, I want more voices out there saying that like, your story matters.
That, that might be the next tagline. Yeah. Because I think I like that too. Just by the way your story matters. As a therapist, one of the theories I use is narrative therapy. And what that is, is literally learning how to tell your story and how our story changes and. I really believe in people can heal together when there is connection.
Hmm. And stories connect us like they, like people can resonate with stories, we can feel stories, we can, we can connect on stories. Hmm. And when we are able to do that, there is so much healing. I see it. In the therapy room. I see that there, like that’s where this, where the healing just begins. It’s a beautiful thing.
It is. Just in sharing a story, I don’t do much mm-hmm. In the room except for listen and hear someone else’s story. So I think Chris is, I. I love his mission of being honest, how he is honest. Like we both were teen parents and I was a little nervous about that in the beginning and he’s always like, no, it’s what made us better.
Mm-hmm. And I believe it has made us better. It, it made us stronger as a couple. It made us stronger as individuals and it just helps us. And when other people can hear that like that they can do this too. Mm-hmm. Like I’m sure there’s other teen parents out there right now. You can. What, what about you, Chris?
I want, I want your, your, your input on that one too. Well, to piggyback off what my wife is saying, you know, it’s, it’s even a generational mindset or, you know, my first book that we wrote, that my first chapter was on understanding what a generational man is. And so not just from a general generational man’s perspective, but also a generational woman.
So the mindset of the generation before me, you know, coming with my parents or their parents and being able to bring that lineage together to understand how they were. You know, my mother was a teenage mother at 13. You know, my father became a a father at 21. So the concept of understanding their reasoning, of understanding, you know, family and how, you know, my father is well known in the community where he lives now, you know, and the mindset of.
You know, I walk in the store with my father at this age of 45 and a, a individual from another race be like praising him like, oh man, you, you need to be just like your father. He’s like, old man. So being able to take that generation and catapulted to my children or to other individuals, children’s to understand that, Every individual in this world needs to understand the value of their character and integrity.
Mm-hmm. And that needs to be taught. You know, we looking in the media today with, you know, celebrities and superstars are getting in trouble and the content of, of their character, but it didn’t start with them. It had to start with the generation before them. So we wanna enhance that, you know, catapult.
And engage, you know, it’s, it’s all about a physical attribute as well too. You know, see, she has to go by a theoretical line and guidelines, but I’m taking it to the streets. It’s all gloves off. Yeah. You know, really getting raw with it, of understanding where it goes, what to do, how you get this stuff. And I feel like the good part of that is, is the balance side of it, right?
So I, I think it just, with your platform, just overall, you, you can help more people, right? Mm-hmm. Because some resonates, just like different voices resonate to one thing versus the other. And, and somebody may be like, narrative therapy, what are you talking about? And then somebody on the other side might be like, Chris, what are you talking about?
Exactly. Not looking for street smarts. I need narrative therapy. I heard your.
And mind blown. By the way, I didn’t even know narrative therapy was a thing, showing my ignorance here. So that’s where I like this. This is my free consulting. I like to say that. Right? Exactly. Oh man. So, You know, there’ll be some people that watch this show and they’re, they’re looking for tools, they’re looking for things, and they’re also looking for, you know, like, where do I start?
Like obviously, and, and of course we’re gonna generalize a little bit ’cause everybody’s gonna be different, everybody’s situation. But like, if somebody’s looking at this and they’re thinking about, you know, what it looks like if they wanna improve the relationships in their family, like what are some ideas or some things they can do to maybe start going down that path.
I think the first thing is just recognizing that you want to do that. Mm-hmm. That’s the first step. That’s fair. Yeah. That’s the first step to everything. Mm-hmm. Also, like I think around, especially people of color, we have this stigma against going to therapy. Mm-hmm. We think something that means something has to be wrong with us, but it’s not, you know, it is just more of.
Understanding ourselves mm-hmm. And learning about ourselves. And especially during family therapy, people learn so much about their family that they didn’t even know. Mm-hmm. And so just that the sharing of the stories within the family in a different way is so healing. And I, I do, I am a big proponent of therapy.
It changed our lives. So I, I am a big proponent of go, go find somebody and get some help. Yeah, to bring your family together, if that’s your goal, or even teach you how to find new families. Mm-hmm. Because sometimes that’s okay too. Mm-hmm. What about you Chris? What do you think? Like if somebody gimme, gimme the street smart side of things?
Well, starting from the street side of it I do pick, like I said what my wife is saying exactly right. However, you know, on the mindset of it. Realistically, it also has to start from an the generation previously. Mm-hmm. So you want to go back ’cause that’s one thing. When I first went to therapy, my therapist said, listen, I need you to write on a piece of paper.
Mm-hmm. Tell me from the day you was born till you turned 44 years old. Mm-hmm. And I was like, oh man, that’s gonna take a whole book, months itself. I mean, I got a lot of story, I got a lot of stuff going on, but it pretty much, it made me get engaged to go back where, you know, I used to be upset with my mom.
Shooting at me at the age of 12 years old, or leaving our family when we was teenagers, trying to burn us up in the house. I, I held all that inside for years. However, it made me realize that it took me to actually go back and think about it, to forgive my mom finally, you know, to forgive the concepts of around, you know?
Yeah. My dad was a wonderful provider. However, he didn’t come to my sports or activities or be at school for me. You know what I’m saying? However, he’s a great man, you know what I’m saying? So be able to capture that stuff and engage it with another young man of color or even, you know, of all the races.
Mm-hmm. The mindset of being able to be able to be on their level because everybody don’t have hood smart and everybody don’t have book smarts. Some people will have a little bit of both, but they’re missing something. The reason why their families are not. A hundred percent great. Or they’re missing something because they having personal or family problems in their community.
Hmm. And you know, that’s another thing Chris just made me think of something that he, he’s always created like small men groups and been a part of main groups and I think. Especially for men, how like that is therapeutic in itself. Yeah. And I think those are always powerful, especially with men, but with all people.
I think it’s easier for women sometimes to have those small groups, but I like that he does that and that’s also how we build healthier communities. Mm-hmm. And yeah, I’m a, I’m a big fan of that. And so speaking of that, I mean, tell us about team. So, t e a m well that’s a great acronym that I learned from other young man at one of our men’s group.
Used to be a part of a nonprofit called Men Who Care Global and a, a young man there. He, he wrote a book and he made that acronym, and I changed it up. I just, to, to me, team stands for together. Everyone achieves more. Mm-hmm. Now, sometimes I’ll say it in a way to my wife, she get all clingy and stuff like that, but it’s powerful, man.
It’s really powerful. If someone can understand those simple letters and the evaluation of what you’re truly saying to them, that man, it can catapult them to understand on getting their true trajectory in life. You know, because, That and, and ca and pretty much helps them to understand into those next two powerful words of understanding what your character is and understand how valuable your integrity is.
You know, my dad always told me, you know, your word is your bond and you have to live by it, then you have to die by it. So you know, if you’re not willing to understand. Yeah. We’ve all had flaw. I’m not gonna lie, I’m not a perfect person. Yeah. However, I understand forgiveness. And I understand that, you know, once you get off track, you gotta get back on Jesus died and gave all his blood for us to then forgive us for our sins.
Why are we gonna sit here and be judgmental and hold grudges against people? You know what I’m saying? Because if he can do it, we can do it. Yeah. Amen. Amazing. So I wanna switch it up a little bit here. I know, I know we, we have a book coming out together. We’re not gonna go too, too far into it today for everybody watching this.
Don’t worry. We’ll be bringing Chris and Sequoia back onto the show for part two of two of this interview series on them. But keeping it high level today tell us a little teaser. What, what do you plan to present? You go first. Well, you know, we started off talking about how we met and so it’s a lot about the, it has a little bit of that and how our mission started, you know, which was very small means in the beginning it was just like him every, I think our first date, I’ll give you this Smidget.
Yeah. Our first date. Our first date he was, It was like him put, didn’t you give me a business proposition? We did. We, we, he had me working when I first met him and he was like, we can make money. You do this, you do. That was like one of our first dates and that’s the best. He, he’s been dragging me along ever since and I’m always grateful for that.
But, That that’s in the book. Hey Adam. If you can’t collaborate with your partner and your best friend, who you gonna collaborate with? No. That’s the best. That’s the best ever. The first date was a, was a business proposition. Hey, let’s go. Let’s go. We can make money doing this. Are you ready? Do you wanna go right now?
I was like, Okay. Oh my gosh. That’s amazing. All right, well, we’re, we’re gonna, you want, do you wanna add any bit to that, Chris, on what’s going on? Well, not only from, from that very first day of going out on a date and meeting her, you know, going over, you know, we’ve known each other going on almost, what, 20 years?
So 20 years of growing. We were both, you know, early twenties, you know, we both come from. You know, broken pro situations, broken families, our own personal individual, broken families. You know, she had two wonderful kids when I met her. I had four wonderful kids when I met her. So the mindset of it is we brought, we both brought brat baggage in.
Like, I laugh with people, they’re like, yeah, I. You know at church on Sunday, our church on Father’s Day, they say, alright, every dad, they start counting on the dad that got one kid, one got two kids. When they get to Chris, sit down, wait down. So when they get to seven, there’s only about five of us. And then there’s a couple guys got 10 plus.
However, we brought that Brady Bunch family together and that nucleus came together and we started, you know, our older kids right now, they like dad. Well, you know, are they asking her like, how did y’all do it? Or, you know, y’all treat, are y brother better than us? I’m like, well we were kids when we had y’all, so we had to learn, you know what I’m saying with y’all.
So, you know, but bringing all that together in that, you know, in our chapter, but not only that, understanding what our true mission ’cause. One, number one thing is most valuable in anything in our relationship is God. Yeah. And if you don’t have a spiritual being that’s going to motivate you and empower you, it’s never gonna work.
Mm-hmm. A family’s not gonna work, A community is not gonna work. So, you know, we tucked that, I mean, I was, you know, in church heavy I mean, You know, praying to my God, praying to my dad, praying to her family. You know what I’m saying? So we made it, you know, and yeah, and, and that snippet of the story of our personal life, we also transcend that to understanding what business was.
You know, I, I mean, coming from, you know, having you know, some, some personal per background problems in my life. I couldn’t, I had to, I had to fight that situation of getting a job. You know, I couldn’t work at certain places. I couldn’t do certain things. So I had to, that pushed me to, into entrepreneurship.
And when I figured out that, man, I don’t need to work for anybody. I can make more money working for myself. What God bless me with was my mind and soul to create it. I showed people I can wash vehicles with 20 ounces of water. Mm-hmm. And I can wa you know, and they, when I went to and did a. Pretty much like this.
We did an interview and had to do one of those like Ted talks or, you know, incubators where they get you on there. I mean, a lot of people came and wanted me to want it to invest, to take it to another level. However, I wasn’t ready. God would, I said, God, you know, doing what you’re doing. So I stayed focused on this, and this is the number one brand that I’m focusing on.
In communities I can, I got plenty partnerships and business opportunities with other people, but this is the number one for us. Mm-hmm. Oh, that’s great. I it, it’s a great story and I’m thinking to myself as you’re telling the story about about, you know, all the men standing up in church after the, at the number count, and I’m like, I bet you when you got to that seven or that 10, you were looking around, like there goes our next men’s group.
Hey Adam. I be having people to this day. They, when they see me at church, you gonna be there for Father’s Day? You know? We know you gonna be standing up there. I was like, yeah, I be there for Father’s Day. Oh man, that’s too fun. Yeah. Oh, well, Chris Sequoia, really, it has been an absolute pleasure having you on the show.
I can’t, we’re gonna do this again once the book’s out, of course. But for today, I mean, if somebody is, you know, watching this or listening to this and if they wanna, you know, follow your journey, like where can, where can they find you on social media or otherwise? Yes, I’m on all social. Well, I don’t have a Twitter.
I do have it, but I don’t have it active. But yeah I’m pretty much on all social media platforms. It’s Chris Graham on Facebook LinkedIn. It’s under Chris Graham also I’m on Instagram. It’s you know, all of ’em are under Chris Graham, and it’s spelled g r a h a m. I mean, you’ll see this wonder handsome, light-skinned bald head right there.
So I’m there. Awesome. Sequoia, if anybody wants to follow you, are you? Yeah, a little bit. You can find LinkedIn. LinkedIn. We’re on, I’m on link. Yes. I’m on LinkedIn and we’re gonna, we’re gonna work on that. I think you’re on LinkedIn. Yeah. We’ll put your LinkedIn down there. I’m All you gotta do is Google, Sequoia, Graham, and Google, and she’s in the top five therapists in Charlotte, North Carolina.
There you go. It’s so humble. I already know. That’s why I had to pull it out. I, I don’t normally pull it out like that, but I, I had to because I know you do great work and I want people to see that and to know that and to also follow up and connect with you on LinkedIn as well. Yeah, so we’ll put, we’ll put the the links to your LinkedIn and, and some of the other stuff in the show notes so that our audience can just click on the link and head right on over and connect and to, to follow your journey.
And speaking of the audience, if this is your, First time with mission matters or engaging in an episode. We’re all about bringing on business owners, entrepreneurs and executives, and having them share their mission, the reason behind their mission, like what gets them fired up to go out there into the marketplace and into our communities and to make a difference.
If that’s the type of content that sounds. Interesting or fun or exciting to you. We welcome you hit that subscribe button because we have many more mission-based individuals coming up on the line and we don’t want you to miss a thing. And Chris Sequoia, really again, it has been pleasure. Can’t wait till we get to do this the next time.
Yes. Thank you. Awesome man. Great talking to you Adam. Yes.