The best leaders lead by example. Although we have been steered to believe the boss is always right, this is not true. When you make a mistake, admit your faults. This builds a rapport of transparency with your team members. It also invites them to be transparent and take ownership of their mistakes.

We are living in the Renaissance of Work. Just like great artists know that an empty canvas can become anything, great leaders know that an entire organization — and the people inside it — can become anything, too. Master Artists and Mastering the Art of Leadership draw from the same source: creation. In this series, we’ll meet masters who are creating the future of work and painting a portrait of lasting leadership. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing A. Raheim White, The Transformation Wizard.

A. Raheim White earned their Masters and Bachelors of Fine Arts degrees in dance performance and choreography from New York University Tisch School of the Arts and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a semester study at the Taipei National University of the Arts. Raheim earned a Windy City Times’ 30 Under 30 Award for their contributions to Chicago’s LGBTQ community. As a 200-hr certified yoga instructor, social-emotional learning facilitator, educator, and energy healer, Raheim desires to be a beacon of light to aid others in becoming more authentically empowered.


Thank you for joining us. Our readers would enjoy discovering something interesting about you. What are you in the middle of right now that you’re excited about personally or professionally?

Professionally, I am so excited about the release of my first book! It’s titled: Mindfulness Matters: How To Live The Joy-Filled Life You Desire & Deserve. It has been a dream of mine to publish a book for years and I’m overjoyed. Really looking forward to sharing this work with my global community.

Personally, I’m feeling really accomplished in advocating for myself and setting clear boundaries.. It is vulnerable voicing your needs in any relationship. And as the eldest of thirteen children, I learned to be self-sacrificing for the benefit of my family. But those ideas no longer serve me and I choose to treat myself well.

We all get by with a little help from our friends. Who is the leader that has influenced you the most, and how?

My friend, “sis-star,” multi-hyphenate artist, educator, entrepreneur, and wisdom keeper, Aniysa Alexander, has been inspiring me since the moment we met. She is the embodiment of big, bold vision. She leads by example. Her authenticity reminds me to be my fullest self in every space that I occupy. What impresses me most about Aniysa is how she doesn’t limit her dynamism. Her rejection of being pigeonholed into any one category is liberating. She owns her multi-dimensionality.

Also, Aniysa will always give you the medicine you need. Even if it’s a little bitter. She’s unafraid of uncomfortable truths. Everything we desire is on the other side of fear. Aniysa has helped me conquer my qualms and walk into the life I’ve created with grace.

Sometimes our biggest mistakes lead to our biggest discoveries. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a leader, and what did you discover as a result?

One of my biggest mistakes was believing I could do it all by myself. As a solopreneur, I was so used to handling everything from planning, to execution, to finances, social media, and everything else. But it took significant time away from the things and people I cherished. There comes a point in every leader’s life when they have to decide on what they will pay for the life they want.

Employing others to do important but tedious tasks allowed me to focus on what I love to do most: create. There’s an adage somewhere that goes, “If you don’t have the time, pay in money. If you don’t have the money, pay in time.”

How has your definition of leadership changed or evolved over time? What does it mean to be a leader now?

I used to think of leadership as one person at the front and everyone else following them. What I’ve discovered is effective leadership is more so one supporting the many.

My primary role is a “leadership cultivator.” Everybody has a role. And everyone is a leader in their own right. My inquiry is always, “how can I get this person to shine their brightest? How can I cultivate a space for them to be their best? How can I help this individual embody their own leadership qualities?” I push individuals beyond their fears so they can move toward their dreams, hopes, and destiny.

As a company dancer, I was a vessel for many choreographers’ visions. There was a pivotal point when I became a vessel for my own. From those invaluable experiences, I discovered the importance of cultivating and empowering those who work with me to continue to reach for their own dreams. By doing this, my team members feel inspired, challenged, and closer to achieving their personal goals. We all win.

Being a leader now means that I facilitate a space for my team to thrive with and without me.

Success is as often as much about what we stop as what we start. What is one legacy leadership behavior you stopped because you discovered it was no longer valuable or relevant?

That’s an easy one. The “break-you-down-to-build-you-up” model. As a young artist, I experienced various teachers who taught from this perspective. They believed using negative reinforcement and “breaking you down” was necessary for you to receive their wisdom.

When I first began teaching, I would oscillate between being joyful/supportive and dismissive of my students’ accomplishments in order to “keep them humble.” I perpetuated the same toxic ideologies passed to me. No one wins in that scenario.

Now, I celebrate all wins, big and small, and affirm my team members’ accomplishments. I am the biggest cheerleader of anyone who desires better themself. I want to cultivate an environment where individuals feel encouraged to make mistakes and push past fears. How else will they grow?

What is one lasting leadership behavior you started or are cultivating because you believe it is valuable or relevant?

Holding an intentional moment for grounding and centering as a collective. Being with other freelancers, educators, and artist, I saw the difficulty of maintaining clarity when bouncing around from space to space. It can be overwhelming dealing with lots of different people in one day, especially if you’re a highly sensitive person.

Using a grounding, breathing exercise and a round-robin check in, this practice helps everyone arrive in the present moment. I’ve seen it increase productivity, transparency, and overall communal alignment. If you nurture a space of care for your team members, they will also care for each other.

What advice would you offer to other leaders who are stuck in past playbooks and patterns and may be having a hard time letting go of what made them successful in the past?

I’d say everything has a cycle. As humans, we operate in a life, death, rebirth cycle. We can say the same about businesses. The workings that brought your business to life could kill it today. People are ever evolving, ever-changing. So, the models and structures that support them also must change.

It’s OK to be afraid. You’re being asked to do something you’ve never done before. That’s innovation. And you want to be innovative, right? You desire lasting impact, correct? So think of this as an opportunity of rebirth, refinement and less of an epic tragedy.

Many of our readers can relate to the challenge of leading people for the first time. What advice would you offer to new and emerging leaders?

Get comfortable making decisions and receiving the reactions to those decisions. As a leader, you are graced with making choices not everyone will agree with. If you’re used to being given directions to follow, this can seem daunting. Yes, you will make mistakes. But with awareness and intention, you will learn from those mistakes and make more informed decisions that will benefit your work.

You’re exactly where you need to be. You’re placed in this position of leadership for a reason. Honor that you have the wisdom, know-how, and ability to fulfill this role successfully. What you don’t know, you can learn! Don’t let imposter syndrome or self-sabotage keep you from growing.

Based on your experience or research, what are the top five traits effective leaders exemplify now?

Know How To Collaborate

Working in collaborative companies, I’ve witnessed firsthand how everyone has a different type of genius. When you allow individuals to share their insights and perspectives, we create masterpieces.

While working with Lucky Plush Productions, we created a heavily scripted, evening length work of vigorous dancing and singing, all while set at a roller rink sans skates. Trippy, right? Everybody contributed to this beautifully bizarre and satisfying world. We worked together to create it. We all added our own flair, idiosyncrasies, and nuances that made the piece come to life.

Our fabulous co-directors, Julia Rhoads and Leslie Buxbaum Danzig, relied on us to add our specialness to the mix. The leader who isn’t willing to collaborate with their team members misses magical moments that can elevate the work to new heights.

Trust Your Team

No one likes a micromanager. They don’t inspire fresh ideas or creative solutions. Also, they’re a fun-suck. If your team members are doing effective work, trust their process. Just because it doesn’t look like your process doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Again, you want to cultivate a space for all to thrive. How can you encourage your team members to be their best? Are you willing to release some control to inspire their creativity and direct them with your astute guidance?

Department comprise different individuals, with different roles and different perspectives. All of those perceptions are necessary, valid, and can enrich the work.


The best leaders lead by example. Although we have been steered to believe the boss is always right, this is not true. When you make a mistake, admit your faults. This builds a rapport of transparency with your team members. It also invites them to be transparent and take ownership of their mistakes.

It can seem shameful admitting when you’re wrong. But vulnerability is one of our greatest strengths. That vulnerability will help to foster deep trust and appreciation for you. Be scared, and do it anyway.

Saying, “I Don’t Know Yet,”

From childhood, we’re groomed for making quick decisions. However, creativity and innovation require space and time. Also, rushing can cause us to make detrimental mistakes that delay our progress.

While recording a documentary directed by Nova Cypress Black titled (DEY/DEM): A CHOREO-DOC, we shot many scenes with various moving parts. Intending to be helpful, I wanted to get ahead of my director by asking questions that prepped me for our upcoming scene. When they’d say, “I don’t know yet,” I felt a calm wash me. Instead of making it up, Nova was allowing themself to process in the moment. The energy of “being on top of it” was not conducive to a thriving creative environment.

When you have a team of 5, 15, 30+ people asking for answers you don’t have, it’s important to say, “I don’t know yet.” These four simple words show to your team that you, too, are processing information in order to make the best decision. A wise being once told me, “when you rush, you waste time.” Don’t rush to force a decision that’s not ready to be made. You’ll be sorry later.

Supporting Your Team Members with Stress & Anxiety Management Tools

In a post (ish) pandemic world, mental health is all top of the charts. Attentive leaders honor their team members as individuals with their own challenges, dreams, fears, and stresses. When team members are stressed, they cannot positively contribute. To encourage members to take control of their wellbeing, inspiring leaders provide wellness experiences from impactful specialists; targeting the needs of their team.

According to Wellable Labs, rates of depression and anxiety are up significantly, as are all physical problems that these mental ailments can induce. Education is one of the top 3 choices for promoting mental health. By offering opportunities for your team members to gain some new tools for their wellbeing, you’re assisting them in every area of life.

We must treat people as whole beings. Not simply employees.

American Basketball Coach John Wooden said, “Make each day your masterpiece.” How do you embody that quote? We welcome a story or example.

I wake up in gratitude, prioritizing my paradise and protecting my peace. As the warm weather is breaking, I take my hammock to the park and swing into the sunlight while reading. In order for me to be effective in my work, my well-being must be in tiptop shape. Meditation, a personal yoga practice, writing and maintaining my state of ease are paramount.

Then, I ask myself, “what am I doing today to get me closer to my dreams tomorrow?” From here, I follow the impulses that nourish my curiosity and elevate my joy.

I struggled a lot in my formative years. As an adult, I’m making better choices.

What is the legacy you aspire to leave as a leader?

That work can be joy-filled. Many people are miserable at their jobs. That same miserable energy poisons environments, products, and production. Everything feels better when it’s in joy. Naturally, people want to be well. I desire to empower team members with tools they can use to live the life they desire and deserve.

How can our readers connect with you to continue the conversation?

The best way to connect is by signing up for my newsletter. Here, I share upcoming classes, workshops, and inspirational messages with my subscribers. You can email me via my website and I’m on all social media: Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter @RahTheWizard.

Plus, I am releasing my first book, Mindfulness Matters: How To Live The Joy-Filled Life You Desire & Deserve, at the end of March 2023. I’d love any feedback on how the work is assisting you in creating your desired life.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience a leadership master at work. We wish you continued success and good health!