An interview with Breakthrough ADR founder Damali Peterman
Introduce yourself using your most favorite word. Why does this word resonate with who you are as a person?
My favorite word is Breakthrough! It is no coincidence that I named my company Breakthrough ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution). This word resonates with me because breakthrough has two meanings (1) a sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development and (2) an instance of achieving success in a particular sphere or activity.
I’m recognized as a conflict resolution expert both nationally and globally. I have been featured on NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, In Touch Weekly, MadameNoire, and more. My podcast, Breakthrough Barriers with Damali has been listened to in over 50 countries. I have had many breakthroughs in my life and throughout my career.
How did you become the person you are today?
My parents instilled many values in me as a child that primarily revolved around being respectful, listening carefully, being observant, and giving people a helping hand when they were in need. My parents and grandparents encouraged me to believe that I could do anything that I set my mind to, and that I could become anyone that I wanted to become.
Essentially, I was told to dream big and reach for the stars.
As a professional conflict resolver, I always listen more than I speak. I think the way to really show someone that you understand what they are saying is not to say “I understand.” But rather, to show them that you understand by summarizing what they have told you and really tapping into the emotions and underlying interests and needs of the speaker.
My parents also had a sign in the kitchen above the doorway that said “The Golden Rule: Treat others the way that you want to be treated.” Seeing that sign every day made those words my mantra even before I knew what the word “mantra” meant.
I treat people the way that I want to be treated. How that translates into my work is that I show up for people the way that I want people to show up for me.
I always give 110%.
Tell us about your business?
Breakthrough ADR provides me with the platform to resolve conflicts of others and/or teach them how to address their own matters. At Breakthrough ADR, we teach people how to listen, negotiate and resolve conflict in the workplace and beyond. I want to reduce personal conflict — whether at the workplace, home or anywhere else — by empowering individuals to become conflict resolvers.
Conflicts lead to inefficiencies, the loss of good employees, stress on relationships and, at times, the involvement of law enforcement in non-emergency matters. Much of this can be addressed by people trained in conflict resolution. I started Breakthrough ADR to be a source of creative solutions for training people how to navigate conflict and for being a trusted third party to help resolve conflicts.
When is the last time you took a leap of faith in your business?
Right now! At Breakthrough, we pride ourselves on delivering highly interactive and engaging synchronous trainings. Given the shift to virtual offices, we transitioned seamlessly over to virtual live trainings. Now, due to the demand and increase in organizations learning about what we offer, we are about to introduce a new product — asynchronous on-demand trainings.
I am taking the leap of faith that this is the right time to introduce this offering and that it will be widely received as a way to expand our business to business reach and introduce it to the direct to consumer market.
Who or what inspired you?
My mother has always inspired me. She always told me to reach for the stars and she encouraged me to be anything that I wanted to be.
Tell us one current business goal that you are working on?
I am working on direct to consumer products. Our highly interactive trainings have been popular with organizations. I would like to make these products available to individuals via our website, social media, and a subscription-based newsletter.
How do you handle hardships when things don’t go as planned?
I remind myself that everything happens for a reason, not everything is meant for me, and what is meant to be shall be.
At what pivotal moment in your life/business have you experienced a breakthrough?
When I had the opportunity to train hundreds of New York police officers in conflict resolution and de-escalation techniques.
I had an opportunity to see how the work that I did directly tied into making a difference in the lives of so many people.
How did that experience shape the person you are today?
I know that learning these essential life skills can make a difference regardless of your age, profession or background.
Where do you find beauty?
I find beauty in silence. It’s the quiet, or as Miles Davis used to say, “In music, silence is more important than sound.” I love music and play the piano, drums and guitar. But to me, while others are focused on the sound, I revel in the rests, pauses and shifts created by the silence.
Why are you the person to do what you do?
As an attorney, mediator and negotiator, I am often called to help resolve conflicts involving others. While working through these conflicts, I recognized that there were crucial steps that individuals could have taken to prevent their disputes from escalating. I saw a need to teach people active listening, effective communication, conflict de-escalation, and mediation skills. Think about the last time that you had a conflict and how you handled it.
Would you have handled it differently if you had the techniques at your fingers to help you or a neutral and trusted advisor on call to help you weigh the options?
What is your saying/mantra for this 2021?
Tomorrow is not promised. Make the world a better place today!