Defining Hospitality Podcast

In an environment designed to be anti hospitable, it is a daunting task to create a space of warmth and comfort. Today’s guest is someone who helps bring a sense of hospitality to otherwise unwelcoming spaces. She is an activist who fights for justice and advocates for those whose voices have been silenced. Joining the show this week is author of her memoir “Waiting to be heard” and the Host of the “Labyrinths” podcast, Amanda Knox.
Amanda sits down with Host Dan Ryan to share how she was an advocate for her community while in prison, the steps for resolving conflict with others, and the ways someone's background shapes others’ perceptions of them. 

  • True Hospitality is identifying someone's needs, and using the resources available to you to meet those needs. This can be enacted through giving someone a comfortable place to stay, or simply being an advocate for them.
  • Someone's background creates a lens through which each interaction they have will be viewed. For people who are previously incarcerated, they face a lens of inherent suspicion and distrust from others. 
  • While tough situations require positive outlooks, those outlooks vary person to person. For Amanda, her positive outlook was accepting the circumstances, and making the best out of them. Her mother’s outlook was fighting for what was right without giving up. 
  • There are four steps to resolving conflict with a person. Set the stage by finding common ground you can agree on; identify the strongest form of their argument they are trying to argue; show them compassion; and ultimately, allow yourself to be open to change. 
  • When large impacts happen, they affect everyone around the individual. Families are put under undue emotional, financial, physical and emotional stress as they work to assist those affected.  
  • While Amanda was incarcerated, she sought to overcome the limitations of the situation and assist others as best she could. She became a writer and translator for other prisoners, helping them write home and read court documents. 

Quote of the Show:
  • “No matter what circumstance you are in, no matter what condition you're in, there's always the opportunity to connect with people and to make some kind of positive impact in other people's lives.” - Amanda Knox 


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What is Defining Hospitality Podcast?

How do you define hospitality?

Dan Ryan has been working in the hospitality industry for nearly 30 years, and he‘s just as fascinated by it as he was on day one. Join him in this weekly podcast as he invites industry thought leaders to discuss what hospitality means to them - in the built environment, in business, and in our daily lives.

Dan Ryan: Today's guest was imprisoned in Italy for almost four years after being wrongfully convicted of murder. She's an activist who fights for justice and advocates for those voices who have been silenced. She embodies empathy, shining a light on the human experience with unwavering compassion.

She's the author of her memoir Waiting to Be Heard and the host of her podcast, as you can see from behind her labyrinths. Ladies and gentlemen, Amanda Knox. Welcome, Amanda.

So, I was just saying to you, I'm just grateful that you're here and I wanted to just clarify to the listeners because it's an unusual, I, I would say that you would be an unusual guest.

For here, for all of our, nor for all of our regular listeners. But I wanted to fill everyone in because I was recently at m i t and you came in to speak to the group of us entrepreneurs from around the world. And I, I, I just, I didn't really know what to expect when you came to speak to us. I, I, I don't really know that much about your case, just from what I remember, like way back in the, in the day.

But I was so struck and moved by your co, by the talk that you had with us of just being so vulnerable, which comes up in this podcast so much. Um, and as a way to like be true to yourself, but also really hear and feel what others are going through. Um, but then I was really struck by this idea of purpose that you found.

And, and I remember asking you the question cuz you said as you were in prison, you know, waiting for your trial or for, or for your appeal or during your trial. You would do certain things within yourself, like learn Italian, do 900 sit ups, and you know, so many different things. And I was very, I was struck by the internal purpose, like the strength that you had to get through.

But then I remember asking you, and maybe you could share with everyone, um, how you found purpose externally from the people that worked in the prison, from the prison, um, and then your fellow prisoners because like there, you, you told the story and I was just very moved as well. And, but, but before we get to that, I'll just ask in light of this whole idea of hospitality, which is kind of where I would like this conversation, I think we both want this conversation to what does hospitality mean to you?

How do you define it? And then maybe we could use that sense of purpose to get you through as kind of the, the,

dialogue to go on.

Amanda Knox: Sure. Yeah. So if I had to define hospitality, I might say it is creating a space that meets another person's needs, um, and into doing, offering a gift to another person. Um, and. It's, I I love that I'm here to talk about hospitality because, uh, prison is kind of the opposite of what you think of when you think of


It's kind of designed to be anti hospitable. Um,

Dan Ryan: But, but the human condition, I think forces all of the, all of you and your fellow incarcerated people to find, and maybe not for everyone, but I, I really got a sense that you guys kind of created your own, it was like a need, a human need, uh, like Maslow. Like you just have to, we, we need that kind of connection.

But anyway, I'm taking the

microphone from you. Go.

Amanda Knox: well, yeah. So, uh, what I was actually referring to at the time is, um, I never really had thought about it as hospitality. It was more a hustle.

Dan Ryan: Yeah.

Amanda Knox: it, I, I feel like in the, in the world of prisons, people would call it the hustle, but. Really what it was was finding the intersection between the resources that I had available to me and the community's need.

And you, you'd think that like, what, what possible resources could I have in such an environment, especially when I had been stripped of so many possessions and so much, uh, power over even my own body, much less my space. Like I, I, I couldn't, I had like the number of pairs of underwear I was allowed to have were, were counted.

Like it was, it was very, very limited what my resources were in terms of things or in terms of space. But what I did have in abundance, which I noticed my fellow prisoners did not have in abundance, was literacy. Education. Um, I mean, honestly, I even had all of my own teeth. The vast majority of the women around me did not have, they just, they came from circumstances that were vastly different than mine.

I grew up in this middle class household. I went to school. I was going to college. Other people in the prison around me. My community was people who had maybe gone to elementary school, had been abused and neglected and victimized throughout their entire lives. Um, had been victims of crime long before they had ever committed crimes themselves, and we're longing for connection.

And one of the things that I was able to do just because of what I walked in, in terms of what I had in my own brain, was the ability to maintain communication with my family and friends. I was writing letters, I was doing all of that. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the other women that I was in prison with were illiterate.

They couldn't read, they couldn't write. They were given, you know, their court documents that they didn't understand and they were asked to sign

and it was

Dan Ryan: And they weren't necessarily, they weren't necessarily from Italy either. I, I was the feeling I got from,

uh, when you were speaking with all

Amanda Knox: Yeah, absolutely. So that's another thing. Um, I would say a good solid half, if not like 60% of the population was not even Italian. They were people who were coming from Africa or Eastern Europe, and a lot of them spoke very, very minimal Italian, if at all. And so, Eventually after I, I, it took me about a year in prison to become completely fluent in Italian.

I also started, working as a translator. So I was the unofficial translator in the prison. I would be called in to help people explain their medical symptoms to the staff. I was called in to help people read their court documents for them, and every evening I was escorted to a different cell so that I could help people write letters to their family members.

So that was, that was my hustle or my hospitality as we'll call it for this purpose.

Dan Ryan: Yeah. And, but in that hustle I like so much of all the conversations that we have, it's really about, I. That need for connection, right. To only connect And uh, you know, I talk to people who are building hotels, um, from architects to designers to other entrepreneurs where they're building a culture, you know, to you who is in, in a prison.

Like if you look at a spectrum of the whole human condition, there's just this un, I think an undying need for that level of connection. And

how did, like, how did you get through the shock of, okay, holy shit, like, I'm getting carted off to this prison and, you know, you're, you're in shock. And then realize like, what were those first kind of green shoots of being able to connect or the desire to connect once you've like, kind of made it through or not, not made it through, but just gone through what you were experiencing to find those little green shoots and how did

you build off that?

Amanda Knox: Yeah, that's a really great question because it was a long process for me. Um, it, it was very surreal for me at the time. It's not like I, you know, had actually committed a crime and I was therefore in, it was understandable that I was, in the circumstances I was in, I had not committed a crime. And so it was very surreal and honestly, uh, shocking for me to find myself in that situation.

And it was hard for me to understand what exactly was happening to me and the, the depth of the amount of trouble I was in because I walked into this scenario having. 100% faith in the authorities, trusting them and being really, really confused about why I was being treated like a suspect and like a criminal when I was not.

So I have to say that like it took, it was a long process of coming to terms with my situation and I honestly did not fully, fully grapple with this was the place that I was stuck in until I was convicted two years after my arrest. But I want to say that in the meantime, um, the first eight months of my imprisonment, I was held in isolation, which is not the same thing as solitary confinement.

I wasn't just locked in a room by myself, not able to leave for eight months. I was. Locked in a room by myself for eight months, but I was allowed to go outside into a private space where I wasn't allowed to interact with other people. So I was allowed to go outside for an hour every day, but I wasn't allowed to talk to anyone.

And I spent, so I spent a lot of time just like walking in circles around this little courtyard. And it just so happened because they didn't, it was a women's facility. They don't get that many prisoners who are women prisoners. They didn't actually have a section that was, uh, devoted to isolation. They sort of just plucked me into a courtyard in the center of the female prison that was sort of away.

It was technically the, the chapel garden, although garden is a really, uh, uh,

generous word.

Dan Ryan: green sh green shoots, not a lot of

Amanda Knox: No, There was a lot of just dirt and, um, and, you know, pavement. But it was in the center of these hallways, and the hallways were bars, and they had plexiglass between the bars and, and the hallways. So technically I could even, as I was walking around this courtyard, I could see people walking by.

I wasn't allowed to talk to them. I couldn't talk to them. They couldn't hear me anyway, but I could see people walking by. And the thing that I really latched onto at the very, very beginning was the fact that every day, Around the, around the time that I was brought into this courtyard to walk in circles for an hour was also the time that the nuns would go and collect the very, very young children who were imprisoned there with their mothers and would take them for a walk.

So in the prison that I was at, if you were a mother who had a child that was under two years old, you were held in a separate ward and your child was there with you. And every day the nuns would come and take the kids for a walk around the hallways of the prison just to get them out of that ward, and they would walk by that hallway every day and every day.

I looked forward to that moment because the little kids would stop and look at me. And I love kids. I've always loved kids. I'm super pregnant with a kid right now. Um, and number two, and. I grew up the oldest of, uh, four sisters. I have tons of cousins, like I just love children, and I would see them every day and it just came naturally to me to try to entertain them.

So here I was in this like dirt filled courtyard and I was doing cartwheels for them and I was dancing for them and I would make faces at them and they would just stand there and watch me and laugh. And that was my first sort of, Introduction to the idea of no matter what circumstance you are in, no matter what condition you're in, there's always the opportunity to connect with people and to make some kind of positive impact in other people's lives, even if it's just pretending to be a ridiculous person across a plexiglass window and steel bars.

And it made their morning better. It made my day way better. Um, it made living through eight months of isolation something that I could survive.

Dan Ryan: That's amazing. And I remember bringing this up as we, as you were talking to all of us, but in, in the little q and a that we had, um, with the group, it reminded me of. This cuz I think we're, what we're really talking about is purpose and finding meaning in where we are. And you know, oftentimes connection is ne a necessary ingredient in that, in that stew, if you will.

And I was, I brought, I was brought back to reading, um, man's Search for Meeting by Viktor Frankl, which was like a pivotal book for me. I remember reading that and I think before I read that book, it's not very many books that are like, these clarion like changes. But before I read it, it was, I was like, what do I want to get out of life?

And then I realized after I read that I was like, well, what does life really want out of me? And it was, and in finding that it's purpose, it's connection, and it's kind of trying to be living within our, our purpose and our passion. And I kind of got the feeling that, so these little green shoots that you had and then the other connections that you grew into, Or, or that you, you kind of nurtured, it kind of helped you refocus your purpose.

Right? And so now you're doing all this work with the Innocent project and, and other people who are incarcerated, um, or formerly incarcerated. Like walk us through like from that time of like those little green shoots to what are some of the real pivotal moments along that path to kind of where you, you and I are sitting here

talking right now.

Amanda Knox: Yeah. Well, I I love that you brought up Man's Search for meaning, um, because I think one of the really key things that, or one of the key takeaways of that book, which I did read in prison, um, was that. You can't, like, there's this weird paradox of if you think you're going to be getting out tomorrow, if you like, maintain this like positive attitude of like, I'm gonna get out tomorrow, or it's gonna be over tomorrow, like, or in a month, or when, you know, when Christmas rolls around, there is, you are sort of setting yourself up for disappointment.

You're living in this world and this reality that depends upon the outcome or the circumstances changing instead of finding a way to accept your circumstances and try to make the best out of them, and really embracing the fundamental uncertainty of the human condition and. I remember coming to this realization myself, particularly after I was, I was convicted and I was sentenced to 26 years.

I was facing, you know, the, the most productive developmental years of my life in this incredibly limited space. And there were two ways that I could think about that I could think this is not the life I should be living. And I could get really bogged down in that, which would lead me into feelings of de despair and, um, loss and grief and which are not very motivating feelings.

Or I could say there is no life any of us should be living. I. We are living the life that we have. And in life there are always opportunities to be the best version of yourself you can be regardless of what the circumstances are. And in fact, you know, stoic philosophy would argue, I don't know if you're familiar with the book, the Obstacle is The Way,

Dan Ryan: No,

but I do like Marcus Aurelius.

Amanda Knox: I love Marcus Aurelius.

I also love that he was just like coming up with these little sayings for himself in his diary as he is like, I'm the emperor. Like, you know, I love that he is just like, hmm, ponder, ponder. Um, yeah. So the idea is that a stoic is going to embrace the obstacles or the challenges and misfortunes even that they encounter, that get in the way of their plans because those are always opportunities to.

Exercise virtue to be your best self, to, so if something happens and someone harms you, it's an opportunity to practice forgiveness. If, uh, if something that you were planning falls apart, it's a really valuable learning opportunity or teaching opportunity. And the thing that I have discovered is that, and again, it's been like this long process because I figured out in prison that, that that was the scenario that I was in.

I was, these were my circumstances, these were my limitations. What do I do about it? And I became a translator. I became a writer for people. Um, that was, that was my hustle. But then I came home, right? I was acquitted, I was released. I came home and I had, uh, For some reason, I don't know why I thought this now looking back, but for some reason I thought that once I was, you know, acquitted and vindicated and freed, I would get to go back to the life that I had before I had gone to prison.

I just, I don't know, I spent so much time in prison just wishing that I had my life back and I felt like I was living someone else's life by mistake. And then once I was delivered back to my life, I realized that, oh crap, my life as I knew it no longer exists. It's not that I just get to go back to being an anonymous student who was never accused of murder.

I was. I was Amanda Knox now, and I was that girl who was accused of murder. And I had to now reconceptualize my life within that framework. And once again, I had to, I had a choice. I could think to myself, oh my gosh. I am so utterly limited by this, by these circumstances. I'm walking into a world that has spent the past several years judging me based upon falsehoods.

Those falsehoods don't just disappear overnight. I am trapped in a scenario where literally nothing I will ever do in my life will come to define me more than this horrible thing that happened to me that I had nothing to do with. So here I am under these limited set of circumstances, a life I shouldn't have to live, or I can say to myself, Here's an opportunity for me to find an intersection between what resources I now have as a result of my experience and what needs do I see in the world that my resources can contribute to.

Dan Ryan: Hmm.

Amanda Knox: And again, it's taken me a while to like find that place. Uh, but I found a whole community of other wrongly convicted people and people who are working to overturn wrongful convictions, who are trying to like convince people that this is a real problem. And lo and behold, people actually start to realize that it's a real problem when a little white girl goes through it.

Dan Ryan: That's also shocking, but you know, almost expected in where we live. right.

And, but, but in that, in that horribleness of that one thing, I get the feeling that you found a megaphone and using that to your advantage for all of

these other people.

Amanda Knox: Yeah, I try my best because of course it's not a perfect megaphone, right? Like it's not the same. I think a lot of people think that, a lot of people ask me what it's like to be famous, and it's like, well, um, I'm not famous for some awesome thing that I did. I'm not like some, I'm not a celebrity. I am notorious, like people know about me from some really tragic and horrible circumstances, and so

Dan Ryan: It's like the three amigos. You're infamous.

You're more than famous as, as Steve Martin said, we're infamous. We're more than


Amanda Knox: Yeah. And so with that platform comes a certain lens that I always have to interact with. Um, I'm viewed with a lens of suspicion. I'm viewed with through a lens of, for instance, I'm a very lighthearted person. I like to make jokes. And when people have come to know me solely and exclusively, and primarily through the context of a horrific tragedy, when I make a joke, it comes across weird to them.

They, they doesn't, I, it's almost like I'm not allowed to joke the way that other people do because it doesn't match with people's understanding of what my role is in the universe, and I am, so, I'm constantly facing the challenge of having to push back against people's. Again, limited perceptions of what I am and who I am as a human being, even as I have a platform to share my own story and also share bigger issues that impact other people's lives in a very similar way.

Dan Ryan: So thank you for sharing all that. And again, it's like we're all on this journey and the journey is what it is in a way. Like we have some control, but oftentimes we don't. And it's how, how do we react and adapt there? And you said something that was interesting. It was, um, you know, kind of having this positive mental outlook, right?

Um, oh, I'm gonna get out, I'm waiting for this external si situation to change. And in a way.

you were digging at finding your purpose of con finding connection, and helping others. Um, but when you were sharing the stories, you, I found like a tension or a conflict between finding this purpose, but then also you had to put on the happy face every time that you would see your family.

Right. And that, I, I got the feeling that that was, that that was really, uh, tearing you up, but it was almost like this, kind of fake it till you make it, but you were also very concerned with how they were feeling. Right. So how does that kind of tie into the whole thing as far as like this Rubik's

cube of complexity?

Amanda Knox: Yeah,

I mean, I'm glad you asked that because of course, these kinds of scenarios don't just impact the one person who happens to be at ground zero. It impacts everyone around it them, and then, you know, it's not just a wrongful conviction scenario. It's anybody who's diagnosed with a terminal illness or whatever it may be.

Like when someone is. Diagnosed with some deeply, uh, disturbing trauma or problem or dilemma that needs to be solved. Um, it's not just them that's impacted. That said, the trauma that I was going through was not the same trauma that my family was going through, so I was put on this path that over time, I realized was taking me further and further away from the people I loved, despite the fact that we were doing everything humanly possible to stay connected.

And it was simply because we were experiencing radically different things. So my dilemma was here I was trapped in a prison cell for something I didn't do, and there was really not a whole heck of a lot I could do about it. I could just sit there and wait and hope that the circumstances would change.

But in the meantime, I had to make the best life I possibly could make out of what was in front of me. And what was in front of me was the prison and environment was a life in isolation or away from the world. Um, that was what I had to accept. My family's dilemma was save, Amanda, do anything you possibly can to save her, and as a result, they.

You know, put themselves under a tremendous amount of strain financially, emotionally, intellectually, physically, uh, relationally. Like there were periods of time where my mom or my stepdad or my dad would be gone in Italy for months at a time away from his family, or, you know, my, my sisters who were growing up in the midst of all of this were not getting as much attention as they normally would have been able to expect.

Because everything about everyone in my family's life was, what do we do? What do we sacrifice? How do we save Amanda? And the primary, um, sort of conflict that arose between me and my family was this problem of acceptance. My family could not accept that this was my life. They could not. I, I remember having so many really, really difficult conversations with my mom, um, about my sort of journey of trying to accept what was in front of me and my mom, not understanding why that was important to me, and in fact, trying to argue with me not to accept it because she couldn't accept it.

She was gonna fight until the last, like the ends of the earth for me. And she saw me talking about acceptance and saw me talking about finding a way to make life worth living within that environment as a kind of defeat, as like an admission of defeat. And, and I could not convince her otherwise. And I think that's largely because as much as my mom would have loved to have trade places with me, she couldn't.

She just couldn't. She had to walk in to those one hour visitations and walk back out and leave me there. And she didn't know what it was like to have to live there until the next time I could see her again.

Dan Ryan: mm.

Amanda Knox: Um, she had to go back out into a world that was vilifying me and, and trying me for a crime I didn't commit.

And she was doing everything. She was so, so active and trying to prove my innocence and fight for what was right. And she had that power in a way that I did not. And so as a result of that, I. Came into a different sort of realization of what a positive outlook looks like. My positive outlook was accepting circumstances for what they are and making the best out of them.

My mom's understanding of a positive outlook was fighting for what was right and never giving up. And I either, because of my lack of ability to articulate myself at the time or because of my mom's like deep, deep need to bring me home. There was a lack of understanding there that felt like this deep philosophical and emotional and intellectual divide that was only becoming bigger and bigger and was really, really hard to, to cross and, and to build bridges over.

Dan Ryan: But, but ultimately that divide is really about empathy and feeling what that other person is feeling. And as much as she couldn't understand or feel, I, I bet you in a way, on a Ghana spectrum, she felt a little bit about like what you were going through. You understood what she was going through. And then that's kind of that point of.

Connection, if you will. Right? And then you bring that to the other side. You're finding purpose, like as soon as you leave that weekly meeting, you're back in your cell, you're amongst the prison population, uh, your fellow prisoners, and you're finding or starting to find your other purpose of helping others through there.

And it, it's, it's ju it's like, it's very complicated, but it's really just about putting yourself in someone else's shoes, which I think that's really at the core of what

hospitality is.

Amanda Knox: Absolutely. Yeah. And you know, if I had wanted to be more hospitable towards my mom in those moments, maybe what I would have been, maybe what would've served our. Our discussions better would have been for me to understand, to really, really fully understand her need to feel like I there. I, i still had hope.

I, I really feel like the thing that she wanted me wanted to know and wanted from me was hope, and hope was a very, very difficult emotion for me to, um, to maintain and hold onto, because with Hope was pain. With hope was this. Desire for my circumstances to be other than what they were. And because it took every ounce of strength that I had to just survive the circumstances that, that they were, I didn't have a lot of extra, uh, psychological and emotional energy to put towards the, uh, the project of having hope.

Whereas, and so if I were, I, I could have been a better communicator and a, and a better host. Towards my mom if I was able to provide a space for her in which I could genuinely feel and express hope with her. Because in her world, she was needing hope in order to find the energy and the capacity to keep fighting.

And on the flip side, if my mom wanted to be more hospitable to me in those moments, she would've found a way to have shown more of an interest and more of, um, and more optimism about my goals of finding purpose and meaning within the environment and within the circumstances as they were. And I think we both were just so stretched thin

Dan Ryan: Yeah.

Amanda Knox: it was really difficult.

Dan Ryan: So right. You, you, you failed then. Right? But you're taking that, but you're on this journey and experience and. Um, another thing that, what I was struck by was that tattoo on

your left

wrist, I think where it's, it's, your left wrist, right.

You had another one.

It was a resistor

Amanda Knox: have. Yeah. So the resistor is one, which is all about, um, the resistor symbol from electrical engineering is about restricting the current, uh, what goes in what goes out. For me, that's the idea of being mindful about what kind of energy or ideas you allow in and you allow out. So not, don't just take in everything that comes your way.

You don't have to, you know, take in a, an a really mean comment that someone says to you. You don't have to incorporate that into your sense of self. You also don't have to express or, or be thoughtless about the kinds of things that you put out into the world. Um, the other one that I did, which did you take a

picture of it?


Dan Ryan: I did take a picture of it. I'm actually gonna put it up on the, in the video part of this one because I think it's, it's cool cuz to me, a again, like with hospitality being about empathy, the other one, if I remember correctly in our conversation, it's really about having difficult conversations and bridging some kind of an understanding.

You might not sway someone else's opinion, but in a way it's this idea of, um, putting yourself in someone else's shoes, steel manning the other side so that you can, again, it's all empathy. It, it's all. And I think that whatever, whatever you didn't accomplish in those meetings with your, with your family, right, or that you see in hindsight, I think that it's kind of embodied in that tattoo and having these difficult conversations and, and ultimately finding understanding and forgiveness.

And acceptance and acceptance is really at the heart for eons of, I think what makes people special and why hospitality has been a theme throughout everything. But I probably didn't do your tattoo

justice, but walk us

Amanda Knox: Sure, sure. Yeah. So I suppose, um, it's, for me it's a, it's a clear set of steps and reminders for how to. Effectively engage with another human being that you're in conflict with. So whatever that conflict may be. And I found myself because I was put through a situation of, uh, intense adversity from a very young age, I've encountered a lot of conflict in my life with a lot of people who had power over me.

And I've had to learn strategies or come up with strategies for how to effectively engage within those kinds of situations. And I have discovered that actually that's a very useful tool for anyone. Um,

so I like

Dan Ryan: And not just conflict. It's, Yeah.

it's, it's conflict, but it's also just general understanding. But Yeah, walk

us through the, it's four or

Amanda Knox: yeah, those, so there are just four simple steps. Um, the first one is represented by the Venn diagram. Um, and that is simply the idea of finding common ground. And it really like sets the stage for an effective conversation with somebody if you, just from the outset, find one thing. That you can agree on, that you have in common, that is common ground.

Even if it's just, I'm really uncomfortable sitting down to have this conversation. You are too awesome. We're both super uncomfortable. Great. The second step, it has to do with listening. So it's a helmet, and you mentioned the term steel manning, which is, I don't know if everyone is familiar with that term, but it's the opposite of a more common term, which is straw manning.

So when you attack the strawman, um, what that means is that you. You basically take the worst form of someone else's argument and you attack that so you, you know, reduce whatever a person believes or thinks or said into its worst possible form. Its weakest, the weakest way that you could present it and you only attack that steel manning is doing the opposite.

So it's being a good enough listener that you are able to hear what the person has to say and repeat back to them what they believe or think or want in such a way that they would say yes. I could not have phrased that better myself. So you, you construct the strongest form of their argument or feeling or belief.

So, That you possibly can from having absorbed or listened to the person. The next step is a heart, and the heart is representative of compassion. So before again, you even think about arguing with the person first. Allow yourself to feel compassion for how that person sitting across from you arrived at that belief or that conviction.

Understand that every human being has a context, and that context leads them into the present moment where they believe or do or behave the way that they do, and have compassion for that. Understand that. Ultimately, everyone is kind of trying their best to meet their own needs, and whether they are successful and effective at, at that or not is irrelevant.

You just have compassion for what is ultimately the universal human desire, which is connection and love, and appreciation and acceptance, all of these things. Finally, the um, the last, um, symbol is a triangle. It's a delta symbol, which is the symbol for change. And the idea behind that is if you ever hope to change someone else's mind about something, you have to be willing to change your own mind first.

You have to be willing to be in a space of having your own perspective. you have to be willing to change your own mind or have your own mind be changed before you can expect someone else to be willing to change their mind.

And creating a space where everyone feels the ability to be vulnerable and to change is really fundamental to having an effective conversation.

Dan Ryan: Ultimately, I think what's really interesting about that and the, and the methodology for these complicated conversations is all about compassion and meeting someone else,


Amanda Knox: Where they

are and accepting them where they are too. Like, I think that's the big thing is if you're willing to accept yourself where you are, like that's a huge step for personal wellbeing and, uh, and finding the ability to grow from your circumstances. And I think the, uh, the flip side of that is being willing to accept other people where they are and helping and in so doing, facilitating them to be able to grow.

And, and you know, there's this idea that like if you, if you're not fighting against somebody, then you're. Permitting them to be, you know, making the mistakes that they're making. And I don't think that that's necessarily true. I think that you can accept where a person is at in the moment or in the same way that you can accept the circumstances you're in in a moment.

But there is always within that, the opportunity to say, but what are my needs and what, how can I make the best of this situation? How can you make the best of this situation? Who do you want to be And what? In this circumstance, what sort of, what resources do you have that can meet another person's or another community's needs?

And it's only by first accepting and having compassion for another person that you can help get them to a place of being open to that mindset instead of becoming defensive or becoming someone who takes steps back instead of steps forward.

Dan Ryan: I totally agree. And again, I, that's, I believe the essence of hospitality and making how you make others feel. And then as you've discovered this about yourself through your complicated circumstance, right, which is also the subject of your subject matter of Labyrinths. Right.

Amanda Knox: Yeah.

Dan Ryan: and if you think about like these, it's hard to think and talk about a, a wrongful imprisonment or an imprisonment or being, having a friend murdered or, um,


Amanda Knox: Losing


Dan Ryan: losing that, like all, all of that stuff, it's um, it's real, it's a journey, right.

But it's an, it's a circumstance. And I'm curious, like to speak about your drive now with this podcast and the work you're doing with the Innocence Project. Like it seems to me that this developing, this understanding and forgiveness for. Your situation and surrendering to it, you're also finding a new path.

So how, how is that, how do you see that, that your experience now is really pushing you forward on this, you know, labyrinths podcast, which everyone should listen to because it's pretty cool. And then also this work with Innocence Project and your writing and just your life in

general right now.

Amanda Knox: So in the same spirit of the obstacle is the way, um, I've, in the very best that I possibly could, tried to find opportunity within the circumstances that I have found myself in, for better or for worse. And what that has translated into over the course of these years since I was released from prison and fully acquitted was first of all, um, doing a lot of work for trying to advocate for criminal justice reform, doing a lot of support work for the Innocence Project, which, um, are a bunch of different innocence organizations throughout the United States and now actually throughout the world, that attempt to overturn wrongful convictions, prove people innocent by doing new DNA testing.

Um, just trying to right the wrongs of the criminal justice system one person at a time. Um, and. Beyond that, I have discovered that, again, for better or for worse, I've been through such a public, uh, trauma that people now know me through the context of the worst experience of my life, which makes people feel like they can talk to me about the worst experiences of their lives.

And the reason they feel that way is because they think that I will understand and I do. It's like the, the fortunate thing is that I do, and so what I do on labyrinths is I talk to people about the time in their life when they have been most challenged, when they felt most lost, and. Sometimes people have got all the way through it and they've figured it out and they just wanna share the lessons they've learned along the way.

Sometimes people are right still in the middle of it and they're grappling with it and they don't know what to do. And sometimes they're seeking my advice. Sometimes they just want to be heard, um, and accepted for the circumstances that they're in. And sometimes people are just at the beginning of a really, really challenging journey, and they just want to know that somebody survived their own and that they're gonna find a way through it.

And so I really enjoy the opportunity to speak with people, not just to help them articulate their experience to themselves, because that's part of it, but also to give them the acceptance. That so many of us struggle to even give to ourselves because we, we all at some point in our lives feel trapped in our own lives.

We've been going down a path and maybe one day we look around and go, how, how did we get here? And, or, I was doing just fine. Where did this meteorite come from? Like, and, and we've been there and all of us have been there. And so really, I feel like all of us can be supportive of each other and accepting of each other when we've found ourselves and others and, and encountered others when they're going through that same experience.

Dan Ryan: And again, it's, it's compassion and I love that. Also the v Venn diagram. It's really. Finding that common ground and again, helping others. Like, uh, what lights me up is shortening others' journey, like sharing others' experience and what I've learned and connecting people. It's really to elevate, um, and connect and I think that we could all do better at refining and living within our, our purpose and our why.


so here you are about to have another baby. You're in Seattle. Like what's exciting you most about the


Amanda Knox: I mean, besides being a mom, which is awesome, like talk about hospitality,

you know, you're making not just a home, but a life for somebody and the opportunity. I've just been so, so mindful about that. One of how the fortunate th ways that I was brought up, the sort of love and support that I've always been able to enjoy, um, how I've learned not to take that for granted because I've absolutely been, I've encountered other people who have not been as fortunate and I've seen how much of an impact that's had on their lives.

But like, I'm also the kind of person who at this point, after everything I've been through, questions, everything. And so the project of being a parent is something that I am constantly asking questions about. And I am, and the biggest, like, the biggest thing that I just feel so strongly about, that I love about being a mom is trusting my kids, like trusting them, trusting my daughter to two.

Find her path. And my job is not necessarily to build her path for her, it's just to be there with her, to be present, to offer her what I have, but also to not like, take it personally if she doesn't need what I have and to just like be so super, super present and willing to engage with whatever my daughter and future son are going to, to want or need or be.

Um, I'm so excited about it. And in the meantime, I am always asking myself new questions and thinking about how I can be the best version of myself for them that I can be. And. I love doing it. It's the best. It's so much fun. It's so exhausting and so much fun.

Dan Ryan: it, it's, it's also just, you know, that idea of to bring, you know, bringing it back to hospitality. It's that idea of home and Hearth and Hearth Hera, that Greek goddess of, she was the goddess of the hearth and home. And I think that's

at core

Amanda Knox: I'm in a very hara space right now. Very hara.

Dan Ryan: Yes. Well, yeah, I totally appreciate that. And you know, I also appreciate that from your complicated circumstance to use that word, I like that

I idea of, of

Amanda Knox: It's, complicated.

Dan Ryan: It's, It's totally complicated.

but it's like if you, all of us have lives on a spectrum, right? And I would say my life on a spectrum, yeah. I've had my ups and downs probably somewhere kind of in the middle there. Um, but I appreciate that. You know, you've been out on this margin for a period of time and how you're taking that journey and advocating for others and, um, using your, using your voice for, for good and to affect change and to, to have a ripple effect with others.

So I, I just appreciate that and I, I really appreciate, um, getting to know you. I mean, that conver the conversation and the talk that you, you.

gave, I just, it was very, um, it was really moving to me. Um, it was, and, and to all of us in that room. So I just wanna say, I appreciate you. and keep doing what you're

Amanda Knox: Well, thank you. I really appreciate it and thank you for having a follow up conversation with me. It's really, it makes me feel. Um, it reinforces my sense of purpose when I can continue having conversations with people after I've bared my soul.

Dan Ryan: Yeah. Well, you know, a lot of the, a lot of the people who listen to this are, um, designers and architects. Um, so I guess one question would be, I remember when you first talked about going down that long hallway of this flat metal doors and the echoing and the sound and the cold. Did you do anything in your cell to what did, what did you do in your cell to make it feel like not a cell or, or was it just a cell and you're just like, I'm

Amanda Knox: Unfortunately, um, there wasn't a lot that I could do because again, we weren't allowed to have extraneous things. Um, So I was very limited by what I could do to make the space more comfortable. That said, um, the best thing that I could do in that environment was cultivate relationships. And so really, again, it was about in because I was not able to, you know, make a cell into a homey little space.

It really was about making connections and trying to help. Other people survive a intentionally inhospitable situation with as much grace and sense of purpose as was humanly possible. And it was difficult and people really, really struggled. Um, because again, it, it was a space that was intentionally inhospitable.

Dan Ryan: Well, I appreciate your open heart for, um, speaking with all of us and sharing your experience. If people wanted to learn more about, um, you or Labyrinths or the Innocence Project, like what's the best, how can you direct them and we'll put it in the

show notes.

Amanda Knox: Absolutely. So for more about me, you can go to knox That's where all of my work is. Um, of course you can listen to my podcast Labyrinths. You can follow me on Twitter and on Instagram. And, uh, for more information about the Innocence Project and the Innocence Network, which is the network of all the Innocence projects, you can go to innocence

You can go to, uh, the innocence Um, there are also, every state or region has its own Innocence project, which is independence. So I highly recommend that people research their local Innocence Projects, um, to see if there's any, any information or ways that you can support it. One of the best ways that people can support the Innocence Community is serving as.

Like is extending hospitality to those of us who do get out because the vast majority of people who are exonerated are exonerated after decades in prison. Um, and they, we do not have, you know, the, the background or the skill sets or, um, or the resources, uh, that we need to pick ourselves up and become productive members of society.

So really like finding opportunities to help formerly incarcerated people, guiltier and alike to, uh, find purpose and to, to establish themselves in a world that they have been withdrawn from for so long, um, is a wonderful way to, to give back to people who have been through tremendous adversity like me.

Dan Ryan: totally.

And, uh, a guest a couple episodes ago, uh, Kimberly McGaugh, Dr. Kimberly McGaugh, she has a company of Grant Boulevard and she's working with, uh, formerly incarcerated people and fa their families to create, um, uniforms and aprons and things. So it's really cool. I'll actually, I'll send you that, so maybe you could like send it around your, Network as well and see if we can get some traction there for her and, and the amazing work she's doing.

So again, Amanda, I just wanna say

thank you. Thank you.

Amanda Knox: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Dan Ryan: Yep. And thank you to our listeners cuz without you we wouldn't be sitting here right now. So I hope this changed your I idea of what hospitality means. Um, it means so many things. There's such a broad spectrum and if it did, please pass it along cuz we've grown by word of mouth.

So keep on trucking and uh, Amanda, Thank you.

Amanda Knox: Thank you.