I think one, as I said before, is Internal Knowledge. I think if you want people to be more resilient, you really have to know yourself. Because in knowing yourself, you get a really true idea of your strengths and your weaknesses. Once you identify them, then you can actually begin to repair them. Then you can work towards strengthening them and eradicating the weaknesses that get in the way of your ability to achieve.

Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Nancy Dome.

Dr. Nancy Dome co-founded Epoch Education in 2014 to provide leaders in education and business with accessible professional development to support conversations around diversity, inclusion, and equity. As an educator for nearly three decades, Dr. Dome taught in the Juvenile Court and Community Schools and has served as a Distinguished Teacher in Residence and faculty member at California State University-San Marcos. She is a renowned speaker, author, and equity consultant, whose transformative approach helps educational agencies and businesses throughout the country navigate complex topics, build bridges, and work together for inclusive, impactful change.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

I’m a twin and second to the youngest out of five kids. We grew up in West Hollywood when it was an unincorporated community and before it was the WEHO of today. It was a wonderful place to grow up because we felt very safe as young black girls in L.A. There were many diverse people, with different sexual orientations, ethnicities, and racial backgrounds. We had to start working very early after my mother moved to Europe and my grandmother had a stroke, I remember feeling very comfortable as a 12-year-old girl, walking home from work at 2 a.m. It was really a community where we all looked out for each other and cared how each other was doing. I can look back a feel very blessed that with our home conditions we lived in a place where we could flourish safely

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I think one of the most interesting things I have experienced since starting Epoch was how it seemed the universe conspired for its success. I know that probably sounds strange and I am sure there are plenty of people who will say that faith and spirit have no place in business, but I would disagree.

From the beginning, people appeared at the perfect time, for exactly where we were, and for what was needed. I would mention something to someone in passing, or speak of a need out loud, and the next day or so, someone would reach out, mostly out of the blue, with the skillset. Or we would receive an email ad talking about what I was looking for.

I would say that overall, in my life, that is how it has been. I have come to understand that if it is a real struggle then something is not right about the way I am doing it. It doesn’t mean it will not be hard at times, but that deep struggle means I am out of alignment and need to shift gears and regroup. I’ve come to understand and listen to my inner compass and when I do things will tend to work out.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think what makes Epoch stand out is the overall structure of the company. I really pride myself and the work of the organization to try to be as flat as possible, meaning that we truly and sincerely value the input and the voice of everyone who works here. We hold an expectation that they “use it and share it”. We know we are very clear that our success is going to be rooted in creating a climate and culture where everyone feels like they belong and that they’re valued.

When I think about love languages, I think specifically about how being heard and being compensated fall into that category. That is the way most people feel that they’re valued. We try to do both of those things to make sure that your voice is included in our decision-making process. We create a space where you can disagree and share another perspective and know that there will be no negative repercussions to that. We understand that our work is messy, and we have an expectation that we all just lean into that with the willingness to come through on the other side. I would say that is probably what makes us stand out. At least for me, I know that I have not worked in an organization that, while it said it valued my voice, I’m not sure that it always did. I’m also clear that valuing voice doesn’t mean that my voice is going to be taken and put into practice. But this idea that I’m really heard and that my contributions are appreciated is what I need to feel belonging.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There have been so many people who have positively impacted me and contributed to where I am today. But if I must name one, I would say my sister Dora. We are twins and did not always get along. I usually joke and say that we hated each other for the first 30 years of our adult lives. In truth, I think we were both just trying to separate, to establish our own identities. When you are a twin, folks get in the habit of treating you like you are one person. One is good at math so if the other is not it has to be because she is lazy, it can’t be because she is dyslexic! (Real story).

Anyway, I digress. Once we got over our relational hump, we became huge advocates for each other in so many ways. When I quit my job with no backup plan and no warning, she did not judge, she simply went into action and helped me birth Epoch Education. She figured now was as good a time as any and she knew without a doubt that I had it in me. So she put up the capital, helped with the business docs, and supported me to follow my passion. I have not looked back since.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flush out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

I think a quick definition of resilience for me would be a stick-with-it-ness. Not just to stick-with-it, but to thrive as you stick-with-it. I think to be resilient, some of the characteristics are rooted in this idea that a resilient person has had to do a lot of soul searching and a lot of deep internal work.

You have to understand, for instance, that rejection isn’t necessarily about you. It could be the wrong time, It could be many things. But in general, I think resilient people know they’re doing their best in the moment. It’s more a question of asking, “what can I do to be better?”, so the next time they get it right.

As opposed to letting those failures, or perceived failures, dictate our ability and willingness to put ourselves out there again. I think that stick-with-it-ness, that true self knowledge is that you are worthy. It’s that self-esteem piece that you belong. That you have this true desire to say, “I know that I belong here, and I know that my contribution will make a difference.” That helps someone stay resilient and know that they’ve got something to say and that it needs to be heard.

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion, how is courage both similar and different to resilience?

I believe courage is like internal fortitude and, in the light of maybe obvious or not so obvious obstacles, something that keeps you going. I think that is how it’s like resilience. But the difference is that resilience is a growth thing. Resilience is: “I’m going to grow, and I’m going to learn from each one, and I’m going to apply it, and I’m going to use it to be stronger and better the next time.”

Courage is that internal thing that says, “regardless of the outcome, I’m going to do this.” It’s that true willingness to put yourself out there regardless. I think that is how it differs. Courage basically says there’s no guarantee at the end that I will get this, or that it will work, but I’m going to put myself out there anyway. If I were to make a different correlation, I would say that to be resilient, there must be a level of courage, if that makes sense.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

When I think of resilience, I think about the students that I taught in juvenile court community schools with all the obstacles that are piled against them. Many are in foster care, broken homes, low socioeconomic, forced gang involvement. There are so many barriers that I would say, try to ensure that they are not successful. In some cases, they don’t even make it into adulthood. My kids would tell me all the time, “I’m not going to make it to 21, so why does this matter?”

And yet they do. There are many that with all the obstacles that are against them, they persevere. I can’t think of a more resilient group of people, at least in my work experience, than my kids who I worked with in Alt Ed.

One student comes to mind. He was a young Latino man that I taught in my first couple years of teaching. He was a really, really good kid. He got his girlfriend pregnant, started coming late to school and not doing his work. When I would try to hold him accountable, he would say, “I’m just trying to do the right thing. I need to provide for my child. I need to provide for my girlfriend.”

I understood that but I couldn’t have him coming late to my class because it was sending a message to the other kids that there were exceptions. We had a program within the county office that was called School to Career. It was a program where kids would do independent study and they would be able to work full time to develop skills within a career area, while they were concurrently getting their credits.

I had a meeting with the student, and I let him know that I was going to transfer him to that program. He was angry because he wanted to stay in my classroom. He said that I was one of the first teachers that he had made a strong connection with. He really felt like I was letting him down. He felt like I had been lying to him about how much I cared about him, and he couldn’t understand how I could send him away if I truly cared. I remember it was almost like my grandmother reincarnated saying, “This is going to hurt me, more than it hurts you, but it is the right thing for you.” I told him “I know with all my heart, that this program is going to let you become the man that you want to become, to be a good father and a partner for your girlfriend.”

I remember specifically that the last words out of his mouth were “F-you”. I was so sad, but I also knew for sure that I had made the right decision. Over the next year, I kept tabs on him through connecting with the teacher who was running that School to Career program. The student never reached out to me, and he never had any contact with me. I know that he was angry for a very long time.

Fast forward about five or six years, as I was coming to an end in my career with the court schools and I got a phone call. It’s my student. He asked, “Do you remember me?” I laughed and said, “yeah, I think the last words you said to me were ‘F-you’”.

He proceeded to tell me that his now wife, who was his girlfriend, that he had gotten pregnant, was tired of hearing him talk about me and what an impact I had. He also talked about his regret for having those be the last words.

He said that his wife finally said, “stop talking about her and call her and tell her.”

He did his research to find me and to tell me that it was the best decision that was ever made. That he was so angry at that time but in the end, it was really what was right for him. Then he proceeded to tell me that he was a probation officer at the local prison and was happily married and I think expecting another child. For me, that was the moment when I knew the work I was doing, was really making a difference.

It also was at that moment; I knew through those high expectations that our kids were able to tap into their resiliency. Their past, their history, their current experiences do not have to dictate what they can become. We need to let them know, as educators and people in their lives, that they are capable.

That’s that first thing, that internal belief, knowing yourself and for me, knowing for sure that he was going to succeed if he followed this path. He began to understand and know that he too could succeed. He is a perfect example of resiliency and what it takes to stick with it and overcome the barriers and obstacles. He proved almost everybody he interacted with wrong. We must be willing to look beyond the surface of individuals and really know that every single one of us is capable of greatness. We just need to have others believe in us, but we also need to believe in ourselves. That’s that internal piece.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

I remember I had an experience at the junior college I was attending. I actually got arrested my freshman year; it’s in my book, so if you want more details, you can look there. Basically, it was racial profiling and I remember really wanting to just quit and go back home to California, but I knew that the only way I could go to school was to stay in school. I wanted to do whatever I needed to do, to be able to transfer to a Division One University back in California so that I could play volleyball. That was important because volleyball was going to be the only way that I was going to be able to attend college because my family was extremely poor and there were no resources for us to do that.

When I looked at what I needed to transfer, I was told I needed 24 units in my second semester to be able to qualify for and be eligible to play Division I Volleyball. I went to my counselor to register for my classes. I had to get special approval because there was a limit to how many units a student could take without special permission. 24 units is a lot of units in one semester. The university requested that I go to every professor that was going to be working with me and get their permission to take these extra units. I went to every professor, and everyone said, yes, except for one. The irony of the one who said no, was it was the only black professor on campus. He told me that there was no way that I would be able to handle a load of 24 units and pass.

He denied my request and I had to go back to the provost of the school and petition on my own behalf. This professor didn’t know me, and I was pretty incredulous and indignant, as only an 18-year-old can be. Seriously, how dare he tell me that it was IMPOSSIBLE for me to do this. I was able to get his decision overruled with the assistance of another full-time professor, who advocated on my behalf and said that he felt that I was more than capable of doing it.

I persevered; I actually passed all 24 units. My lowest grade was a C, for the one class with that one professor who didn’t want to give me permission to take it. I was never in doubt that I could do it because I know that when I put my mind to it, that I can accomplish most things. It was also a level of definitely wanting to prove him wrong for making that judgment about me, without ever knowing me or ever having me as a student in this class.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

I think the founding of Epoch Education is actually that story. I was working in another institution prior to founding Epoch Education, and I don’t know if I had ever been more dejected. Just really feeling out of place and directionless, in a sense that I didn’t see where I belonged and felt what I was doing was having an impact. I also was very dependent on the salary. It felt like I was a hostage in the moment. I knew that I didn’t belong there anymore, but I was unsure about how to move forward because I needed the job. I had a mortgage, I had bills to pay. There was a moment when I realized that fear was driving my decisions and that I just needed to trust my instinct and intuition, which was telling me that it was time to go.

At that moment I literally quit my job and the rest is history. I remember calling my sister the day after, or the same day after the meeting and just saying, “I just quit my job”.

She was like: “okay then, what are we going to do?” That was the founding of Epoch Education. I know that I now have the opportunity to create what was missing in that last job that I was in. I can take all the things that I learned that didn’t work for me and see if I can create an environment and culture where no one feels like that working for me at Epoch Education.

How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

I think it’s just my nature. I am a fighter. I also know that it’s from the influence of my grandmother, who was born in 1912, in Alabama, during Jim Crow. Her influence was part of where my resiliency came from because she made it clear from a very early age that nothing was going to be easy. Because we were black girls, we were going to have to work harder. We were going to have to be more educated. We were going to have to show up differently. There wasn’t a lot of leeway for misbehavior and things like that. She ensured that we knew how to be when we were out in public, and that we knew that if we didn’t get something we wanted, or if we failed at something that the only option was to get back up and try again. There was no other option that existed in our family. I know that early lesson and her continued lessons really impacted how I approached life. I see failures as growth opportunities, and I see challenges as exciting. I want to figure this out. I want to overcome this. I want to thrive here. I approach my life through that lens of knowing that those things that challenge me the most, make me a better person and make me stronger in my ability to do whatever it is that I’m trying to do.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

I think one, as I said before, is Internal Knowledge. I think if you want people to be more resilient, you really have to know yourself. Because in knowing yourself, you get a really true idea of your strengths and your weaknesses. Once you identify them, then you can actually begin to repair them. Then you can work towards strengthening them and eradicating the weaknesses that get in the way of your ability to achieve.

Second would be Risk Taking. I think that in order to be resilient, you have to get used to taking risks, which leads to, I think, being number three, Building a Relationship with Discomfort.

If we are always conflict avoidant and avoiding discomfort, then we never take the risk. We can’t be resilient because we never follow through because it’s uncomfortable. This idea of leaning into that discomfort and knowing that “this is okay, I’m uncomfortable and it’s okay”. It will pass and then do it anyway. That allows us to take risks so that we can prove to ourselves that we could do things that we didn’t even think we could do. We never know if we can do those things if we never lean out and step out of our comfort zones and try.

A fourth one would be There’s no Guarantee at the End. To normalize and understand that just because you tried to do something, doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to have the thing in the end. If you work hard, you’ll get this doesn’t always happen. I think that’s probably the hardest lesson for people in general. To know that just because you did your best and you put all your effort in, it’s not your job or your position. It’s this idea that just because you put that effort in doesn’t guarantee that you can obtain it, but resilience means that you still do it again and again and again.

I think part of it is depersonalizing and realizing that if you don’t get what you want, or you don’t get your way in that moment, that it more than likely doesn’t have anything to do with you. It has more to do with the moment if that makes sense. Of course, all of this is within the context that we’re not talking about any kind of discrimination, whether it’s gender, race, identity, sexual orientation.

But if we’re just talking that all things are equal, I would say the fifth thing is just literally normalizing, understanding and accepting that failure is a part of life, and there is no reason to quit. In fact, it’s a reason to go back and try again and do it better and do it differently. Not necessarily even better but differently or whatever it is that needs to happen.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

What’s really interesting about this question is, I think the initial idea that comes to my mind has already been done. I think it’s in Scandinavia, and it’s the “living library” where rather than checking out books, people go in and just sit and talk with people. That idea has stuck with me for years because I am a firm believer in Contact Theory. This idea that the more contact, the more intimate contact that we have with people, the more we’re able to break down the perceived differences and barriers that keep us thinking that we’re separate from one another.

The idea that we could just create space to talk and get to know each other and ask those questions that we want to ask and be curious about one another. That we could build bridges and build relationships rather than looking at what we think holds us apart or separates us and using that as a mechanism for divisiveness. It’s not super original, but I would love to figure out how we could expand on that. I honestly believe that our survival is dependent on our ability to not just get along, but to figure out how to love and respect each other, in spite of the differences that we perceive we have between us.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

Barack and Michelle Obama, which sounds pretty cliche. I have so many questions for them and so much respect for what they have done in their lives.

I also have this other side of me that wants to sit down with someone who I would identify as a polar opposite in beliefs and spend some time talking and sharing our experiences and perspectives, and that is Mitt Romney. In recent years, with my limited knowledge of him, I have come to respect him as a man of integrity regardless of whether we agree on issues or not. I definitely was not in support of his campaign, but yet I support his ability to come out and say what he believes in with integrity.

Like I said before, we all have different life experiences that form our opinions about different issues. I felt like he cared about people, and so I would really love to have a conversation with him to seek understanding and to seek to be understood.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Dr. Nancy Dome Brand- https://www.drnancydome.com/

LinkedIn- https://www.linkedin.com/in/nancydome/

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/DrNancyDome

Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/drnancydome/

Twitter- https://twitter.com/NancyDomeEdD

Epoch Education- https://epocheducation.com/

LinkedIn- https://www.linkedin.com/company/epoch-education-inc

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/EpochEducation

Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/epocheducation/

Twitter- https://twitter.com/EpochEducation

YouTube- https://www.youtube.com/c/Epocheducation4Equity/featured

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.