One Woman’s Crash Course in Virtual Networking

Cate Luzio

Cate Luzio worked in corporate America for 20 years when she decided she was ready to do something very different and become an entrepreneur.

Her dream was to create a networking space for professional women in New York City—and she did it, using her own money to create a 15,000-square foot space, complete with nursing rooms, a salon/beauty bar, fitness studio, and more.

In late 2018, she opened the doors to Luminary, a membership-based career and personal growth platform and collaboration hub for women.

One year later, Covid hit.

After already having to navigate what she said was the most significant new experience of being an entrepreneur—everything came down to her—she now faced the challenge of running a collaboration hub during a pandemic.

The silver lining, she said, was that she learned to innovate fast. The result: She turned Luminary into a global, inclusive collaboration hub, with both physical spaces and a robust digital platform that delivered more than 400 programs in 2020.

Along the way, she observed several things about women and networking that might help you as we continue to operate in a virtual world of work. Here are highlights from a recent conversation with the Conferences for Women:


Three Ways to Improve Your Networking

  1. Reframe your idea of it. “I think there has to be a mind-shift change around networking,” Luzio says. “Men don’t use term ‘networking.’ They just do it. They say: I’ve got to talk to this person. They tap into relationships.”
  2. As women, she adds, “we have to remove the mental barrier that networking is tough. All you are doing is creating a conversation, taking part in a discussion, building relationships. That’s what networking is—and doing it strategically.”
  1. Make the most of Zoom. “When you are on a Zoom call, it is the easiest time to connect. It is spoon-feeding you networking opportunities,” Luzio says. But many people don’t take advantage of them, she adds. To make the most of Zoom meetings, Luzio recommends two things:
    • Take a picture as soon as you see everyone’s name. Scroll through and take a screenshot, or use your phone and take a picture. Then go back, connect on LinkedIn, and say ‘We were in that session together. I’d love to connect.’ There’s instant rapport.”
    • Introduce yourself in live chats. “What is the harm?” says Luzio. “You’re not putting yourself out there verbally. Just say, ‘Here’s my website if you’re interested in connecting.'”
  1. Be prepared with an ask. “You always have to have an ask ready,” says Luzio. “Most people want to help. But telling people what you need is so important because people are busy, and they can’t read minds. So, don’t beat around the bush. The worst somebody can say is ‘I can’t help now.’ And then you can move onto the next person.”

Cate Luzio will join Malcolm Gladwell, 5-time bestseller; Ijeoma Oluo, author of So You Want to Talk About Race; Thomas Friedman, 3-time Pulitzer Prize winner; and Rana Foroohar, CNN analyst at the National Workplace Summit on May 6, 2021.


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So, You Want to Talk About Race? A Conversation with Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo, author of The New York Times bestseller, So You Want to Talk About Race, spoke recently with the Conferences for Women about the difficulties of talking about race with people we are close to, how to maintain a sense of urgency about addressing racial injustice, and more.

Excerpts from the conversation, lightly edited for brevity and clarity, appear below:


Q: You’ve said that many of your white friends were uncomfortable when you first started writing and talking about race. But many other people who you did not know reached out to you. Do you think it is more difficult to discuss race, across racial lines, with people to whom we are close?

Ijeoma Oluo: It’s incredibly difficult to talk with people we are close to about race. As a society, we have put expectations on people of color to bridge whatever gap we have in our relationships.

You see it in TV shows. People of color are always taking blows to remain close. It is expected in intimate relationships, work relationships, close friendships.

The problem then is when you are having a conversation about race, you are setting that aside. And when you don’t live up to that expectation, let go of the agreement, there is a question: Does our relationship still stand?

Often it doesn’t, at least at first. People of color know this. You try it once or twice and see how it ends up. There is always something fraught about it. By your mid-20s, you know it is incredibly difficult.

Many white people don’t get why things are changing. They don’t get the inherent expectations. They don’t get asked to leave part of themselves at the door.

Q: With all the serious issues our nation is dealing with, what are your thoughts about how people can best maintain a sense of urgency around addressing race this year?

IO: It’s vital to look at the workspace and say: How is it someone can be promoted and not advance equity for the team? How is it someone can be culturally incompetent and have a leadership position? How is it someone can celebrate a productive year when none of your customers are people of color? We need to start looking at all of that.

It’s also really, really important to recognize that there is intrinsic value in the lived experiences of people of color that stands alone in the workspace—it’s not just that they are people of color. It is that they have unique skills because they are people of color that need to be valued.

Q: Are you more or less optimistic about the state of race relations than when you wrote your book? And if you were writing it now, would you change anything?

IO: I have the same level of optimism I have always had. I’m a natural optimist but in a really practical way—not like everything will be great. I was influenced by Kurt Vonnegut, who taught me about the ability to be perpetually heartbroken by human beings.

I have the ability to be heartbroken because I am open to it. Every year I say it could be different, and I work toward that. Because it’s not different doesn’t mean it won’t be someday.


Ijeoma Oluo will join Malcolm Gladwell, five-time bestseller; Thomas Friedman, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner; and Rana Foroohar, CNN analyst at the National Workplace Summit on May 6, 2021.


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Reader Responses from Women’s History Month Poll: Women You’d Like to Take to Lunch

For Women’s History Month, we asked: Which women from history would you most like to take to lunch? Many of you suggested a wide range of women from performers to changemakers to spiritual leaders. Highlights appear below, slightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Josephine Baker. She lived out her values and principles with courage and with dignity. I admire her spirit in the face of adversity over time and continents. From childhood, she could survive and thrive, which led her to places where she created and optimized opportunities. She took risks and developed instincts and networks that were supportive. She sang, danced, became an international star based in Paris, a spy for France, and then surrounded herself with a large family of orphans that she adopted. She also visited people in the hospital to lift their spirits when she got older. She is a badass and an inspiration. Rob O’Dwyer, MA

Octavia E. Butler. I have been influenced by her stories but also her devotion to telling the stories she found were missing in the genre. She was known as a shy woman but found her voice and used it to embody the story of Black women. I started reading Butler’s work in the early 1990’s. Octavia Butler seemed to get me and write stories that I could parse for months, stories that stayed with me for decades, stories that I reread periodically to see what else I could get from them. Her writing style is beautiful and fluid. I would like to talk about the courage it took to write those stories at a time when she was the only Black female author writing science fiction, and she was definitely the only author with Black female protagonists in speculative fiction settings. In reality, I think I would just gush like the fangirl I am if I ever had the chance to talk with her at length but I can dream. Sue Hawkins

Pema Chodron. She has helped so many people find their way and improve their lives. She has a great life story. She comes across as warm and personable in her public talks. And if worst came to worst—just sitting in silence with Pema Chodron would probably be as amazing in its way as having a good long chat with her. Jessica Holland

Amelia Earhart. I did a report on her when I was in elementary school. I had to dress up and present it to the class. Back then, I just thought she had accomplished something pretty great. I didn’t even think about the fact that she was a woman doing this. Now, as an adult, I think about what I didn’t know then. How truly amazing her accomplishments were when you consider she was a woman in a male-dominated profession, at a time in history when she was probably among very few women in the entire world attempting this. And of course, I’d like to know what happened to her. Sandra Faust-Mesropian

Queen Esther. She was prepared to lay down her life to help save her people by asking for an audience with the king. In those days, anyone not summoned by the king would be executed for doing so unless the king held out his scepter. Her whole story is a wonderful chapter in the life of the Jewish people and a remarkable testimony of how one woman changed the course of history. Carolyn Pfeiffer, PA

Kasturba Gandhi. Kasturba Gandhi was supported her husband [Mahatma] and lived the ideals of nonviolence and peaceful non–cooperation against the British Empire. She rallied the women to join the movement while encouraging indigenous economic means. Lo and behold, these methods led to independence from the British. Bela Pathak, NJ

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I am sure that RBG is a popular choice, but she symbolizes so much for me as a woman. She was strong in character and broke the glass ceiling long before it was a thing. She stood by her convictions, faced gender inequality head-on, and persevered. She took care of her husband when he was sick. She went to class for him, took notes, continued her classes, and cared for her young daughter. Before becoming a Supreme Court Justice, she successfully argued several landmark cases on gender equality before the U.S. Supreme Court, where she was eventually called to serve. Even while aging and being sick, she continued to work out every day and sit on the Supreme Court. I cried the day she passed away. I felt like I had lost one of our greatest advocates, and it truly broke my heart. I try to remain inspired and remember what she fought for. Being quiet is being complicit, and I hope that is never me. My Mom is another woman of unbelievable strength and character. She is famous to me, and I would invite her to sit at the table with Ruth and me. Jocelyn Rineer, NJ

Ada Lovelace. Working in I.T., and specifically information security, I think her analytical mind and her life experiences would be so interesting to learn about! And, to give her an update on all we have accomplished since she wrote the first algorithm! Tina Schmidt

Rosa Parks. If it were possible and I had the opportunity to take one woman from history to lunch, it would be, of course, Rosa Parks. I really don’t know much about her other than what is publicly known by everyone. I would like to know what she was feeling and what was going on in her mind. Vivian Bowles

Chef Lena Richard. Not a lot of national attention is given to Lena, but she broke barriers. I would ask her about her time in Boston, where she attended a culinary school founded by Fannie Farmer. We would discuss how Boston was different culturally from New Orleans but still the same. As she had to get each of her classmates to write a letter stating they agreed to let her attend classes. We would talk about her founding her cooking school in New Orleans and some of her famous students, including Leah, Chose of Dookie Chase Restaurant. I would ask where I could get a copy of her cookbook (New Orleans Cookbook) and how it came to be that she had a cooking show in the 1940s in New Orleans that was televised. By the way, she would cook the lunch, and I would clean the kitchen. Maricia D C Johns, TX

Mother Teresa. It would be Mother Teresa for me to have an opportunity to feel her unconditional love. I would know how that feels to let me want to pass the feeling onto others. For love is an act of kindness that can only make the world bloom more love. “Let us all meet each other with a smile as the smile is the beginning of love” is one of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa. Another is: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile. The more I see the chaos of the world and wanting to figure out ways to solve issues, the deeper I feel I fall into the hole. Let’s maybe switch gears and focus on love instead of issues. Love, to me, is a universal law; it can dissolve issues and melt everything into more love. Yihsing Pan, PA

Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman refused to ignore the fire and light that lived in her. Well-knowing that she could be killed at any moment for her actions, she continued to follow her life’s mission and purpose, leading hundreds of thousands of slaves to freedom. Harriet Tubman represented the type of “hard-headedness” and “good trouble” that could only be poured into one’s unrelenting spirit by the wholly Divine himself. How did she find the courage to push on despite “man’s” law? How did she know who she could and could not trust? How did she first realize her life’s mission and figure out the first steps to take to set her precarious, life-long success in motion? These are the things I would ask. LeKisha McKinley


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3 Words for Financial Literacy:
Freedom, Independence, and Opportunity

A Conversation with Becca Hajjar of Commonwealth Financial Network

Becca Hajjar

Q: You’re known to be passionate about people becoming financially literate. Was there something in your own life that first woke you up to the importance of it?

A: Well, my favorite game as a child was Monopoly, so I guess that should have been a sign!

I was very fortunate to grow up in a family where my parents talked about the importance of money, hard work, and the value of the dollar. My mother taught us never to waste, and my father would talk about investing. He watched the Nightly Business Report every night, and since the family room was next to the kitchen, I would hear them talking about companies and their stock prices as I would set the table for dinner. I started to learn through osmosis.

At a young age, my father taught my brother and me how to count money and opened a savings account for each of us. He put $25 in to start, and then it was up to us to save from there. Every time I received money for my birthday or Christmas, I would add it into my savings account, and I would see it grow monthly. I loved watching it grow without any effort. I should mention that interest rates were around 8 percent back then; boy, how times have changed!

As I started working summer jobs, I would save as much as I could as it was also my spending money. When I started working after college, I could barely afford rent and expenses, but I would still prioritize saving, even if it was $20 a month, and put it into an IRA or a Roth. I started my career in financial services and learned about how your money could grow for you tax-deferred and, if you started saving in your 20s, you had to save less over time since you would gain the value of compounding. I loved that concept.

Q: Personal finance is such a big topic. What exactly is financially literacy—and how can those of us who aren’t financial professionals become financially literate?

A: For me, it equates to freedom, independence, and opportunity. I always wanted to be able to take care of myself. I believed if I had enough money to support myself and do what I want, then I would always have the freedom to choose how to spend my money and give it to others.

There are so many ways to learn about investing today, and you do not have to be an expert—you just need to save and invest as you can. Many people fear the market and therefore avoid it. One way to get comfortable is to start tracking companies you are familiar with and put together a mock portfolio using Google Finance or another tool and watch how their stock prices go up and down depending on the company news. I did this with friends at my first job, and we made it a competition. This way, you are learning without putting your money in the market, and you do not have to look at it daily. Set it and forget it.

I firmly believe in the value of a financial advisor. Just like you would choose a doctor or contractor, the relationship with a financial advisor is built on trust, and they help you plan for your future—it’s never too late to start. Even though I work in the financial services industry, I still choose to work with a financial advisor. I trust experts and long-term planning.

Q: Many people have spoken about the financial literacy gap among women. What do you think keeps some women from making an effort to become financially literate? And, how would you encourage them to overcome those obstacles?

A: Fear of the unknown, lack of interest in investing, thinking that it is too complicated, and leaving it to their partner. Knowledge is power, and this is true in all facets of life. The more you know, the more you can do.

Keeping it simple and not trying to understand everything all at once is the key. First, focus on your budget and figure out where you can save. Do you need to buy a coffee if you can make it at home? Do you need that new pair of jeans or a new top? It is all about choice and what is important to you. When I am buying something, I always ask myself if I need it or want it. It always makes me think twice, and 80 percent of the time, I do not buy it.

In my opinion, it is good to start small and focus on building knowledge. I remember reading One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch as one of my first books on investing in my 20s, and I think his advice still rings true. I also believe that you get what you pay for, so if you are willing to pay for advice from a financial advisor, I think there is a higher probability of success.

If you choose to save and focus on putting some money to the side every month, and you have more than six months of expenses, you can start thinking about investing. The idea that money can work for you without you doing anything has always intrigued me. You need to understand the level of risk you’re willing to take, why it is worth the risk, and that you can lose it all. However, if you don’t take the leap and put all of your money in the bank, you will miss out on the upside. Over time, the stock market is the best way to grow wealth.

Women are great investors as they are not chasing the hot stock tip, but they invest over time and focus on their financial goals. They are more concerned about meeting their financial needs, supporting their families, and saving for a rainy day.

Q: How would you recommend parents approach teaching their kids about financial literacy?

A: Start with a conversation about money, how it is earned and how bills always need to be paid first; this includes savings. We have all heard about paying yourself first and, as a child who does not have any bills, it is a great lesson to learn at a young age.

I believe the most effective method is when parents teach their children about the three buckets and the importance of each. I have listed my percentages for each:

  • Savings – 50 percent
  • Spending – 25 percent
  • Donations – 25 percent

You might think the savings bucket is high, but I think it is important to teach children that saving is the most important when they are young, so that stays with them as they grow into an adult. Once they learn about the three buckets, they can start to learn about investing their savings. When it comes to investing, you can help your children to buy stock in their favorite companies. Even if they can only afford one share, it is worth the experience.

Also, if the parents have a financial advisor, they can ask them for a recommendation. Many offices are starting to put their own programs together to share with their clients’ children and grandchildren.

There are programs all around the country that promote financial literacy, and you need to see what is available in your community or online. Education and philanthropy are important to me, and I believe teaching children about the importance of giving back at a young age is just as important as learning to save.

Q: COVID-19 woke many people up to how essential it is to have savings because you never know what might happen in the future. From a financial literacy perspective, are there other lessons you have taken from what we have all experienced since 2020?

A: COVID has amplified the need for financial literacy, and it’s touched people in many ways—economic standing, job status, and mental state. Many women, for example, have had to take a step back from their careers to help manage their home life and now must reimagine their lives. For people who lost their jobs or are down to one income, the hardship is real and scary. The lesson learned is to take control of your finances. You can choose to save going forward, so the next time a hardship comes along, you are prepared. I believe that financial literacy is important for everyone so that you can take care of yourself, your family, and your friends.

Becca Hajjar is senior vice president, field development at Commonwealth Financial Network®, the nation’s largest privately held Registered Investment Adviser–independent broker/dealer, where she leads the team in charge of recruiting advisors to the firm.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Financial Fitness Tagged |

How to Get Good with Your Money — with Tiffany Aliche (the “Budgetnista!”)

Tiffany Aliche

“Do you have children? Do you have a partner? Do you pay your bills? Do you manage at a workplace? Those things are hard. Investing is nothing in comparison to living your life as a woman. I promise you. You’re already killing it, and so you can invest. It is a confidence issue but not a capability issue.”

—Tiffany Aliche, personal finance expert and author, Get Good with Money

Over 1M+ women live richer because of Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche – former teacher turned personal finance educator and best-selling author. This episode, perfectly timed for Financial Literacy Month, will explore how you can find peace, safety and harmony with your money no matter how big or small your goals and no matter how rocky the market might be.

From budgeting to investing, saving plans, and her newly released book Get Good with Money, we will cover a lot of ground so you are prepared to take control of your finances and make your money work for you now!

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Posted in Podcasts, Financial Fitness, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged , , |

What it Takes to Make History—with Dr. Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall

“I think an awful lot of what I’ve done is dependent on the amazing mother I had. I mean, she supported this crazy dream I had when I was 10 of going to Africa. When everybody else laughed at me, there was never any question that, because I was a girl, I couldn’t do these things, which is what everybody else said.”—Dr. Jane Goodall

With strength, determination, purpose and passion, iconic scientist, conservationist and humanitarian Jane Goodall followed her dreams to an unconventional career, despite gender stereotypes.

Just in time for Women’s History Month, we will hear from this remarkable pioneer who has been making history for over six decades. To lead this conversation, Dr. Goodall is joined by author and MSNBC anchor Alicia Menendez, who will explore her journey—from chimpanzees to wildlife to environmentalism—and her commitment to anti-poverty and education for women and girls.

Offering important lessons on leadership and messages of hope, you will walk away inspired and ready to make history in your own way!

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Posted in Podcasts, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Life Balance, Health & Wellness, Innovation Tagged , , |

One Small Word that Can Help You Advance Equity at Work

Nina Shaw

How can you speak up for equity in a way that brings other people along rather than risks an unproductive battle?

Nina Shaw, the entertainment lawyer who The New York Times has called “The Hollywood Power Behind Those Seeking a Voice,” has one simple magic word: “We.”

More broadly, she calls it “We Speak.”

“It’s where I talk less about the personal situation and more about the organization,” Shaw says. For example, she might say:

  • “I’m concerned that we’re not sending the right message.
  • I’m concerned that we’re not living up to the things that we believe in.
  • I’m concerned that we’re not running the business in the way that we want.
  • I’m concerned that we’re not getting the best from all of us, that all of us are not allowed to do our best.”

Shaw says she often couches equity in “We Speak”—and works hard to set a tone and standard that values everyone, even those she is in disagreement with.

Applying “We Speak” to Working Parent Issues

Over this past year, Shaw said fostering inclusivity around working parents was a big issue where “we speak” helped.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions during the pandemic about people whose attention is split—primarily working parents, who are trying to oversee their children’s education and trying to do their work within the workday. And, it’s impossible when it comes down to it. They can’t do two things at once. And the time that they have to give to overseeing their children’s education is very specific.

“So, there’s been a lot of discussion about how to help those people, how to cover the work that they’re not often able to do. And, there have been people, especially people who don’t have children who have, I don’t want to use the word “resentful” because that’s too strong, but a kind of lack of empathy.”

How did she use “We Speak” to break through this?

“I find myself saying, ‘What kind of people do we want to be? We all care about children. Most of us have been parents or guardians or caregivers. How would we want to be treated in this particular situation and how can we be leaders? How can we be the firm that’s different?'”

Shaw discusses this and other issues in the March episode of Women Amplified, where she also shares a woman from history who she would most like to have lunch with during this Women’s History Month.

What Woman from History Would You Have Lunch With?

“I would pick Ida B. Wells for any number of reasons,” Shaw says. But the main reason?

“She had a life that spanned the Civil War to World War I. And, she was such an outlier. How do you, as a woman born during that time who is both a wife and a mother, become such a crusader—so much so that you’re willing to endanger your own life? I mean, where do you get the courage from?”

“I would love to hear what it was that made her just say, “No more, no more lynching, and I will do everything humanly possible towards that end.”

What woman from history would you most want to meet, and why? Send your answer to [email protected]. We will share highlights in next month’s newsletter.

Nina Shaw is a founding partner in Los Angeles-based entertainment law firm, Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano. She spoke at the 2021 California Conference for Women.


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What One of the Highest-Ranking Women in the Military Learned about Leadership

Michelle J. Howard

It seems fitting that Michelle Howard—famous not only for being the first woman to become a four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy but for facing down Somali pirates to rescue Captain Philips—has this as one of her favorite quotes:

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”

So, how do you cross the sea—or, more to the point, lead in challenging times?

Here is one of the experiences Howard had early in her career that she says taught her some important things about leadership.

She was a junior officer, largely working below deck, when some female officers began complaining about a new captain they said was biased. Then one of them stepped up to her and said:

“Michelle, it’s time someone talks to the captain, and we voted that you should be the one.”

“I was stunned,” Howard recalls. “I wasn’t sure I was up to it.”

But she thought about it. “Then I realized the problem was mine. I was afraid. And then I was disappointed in myself.” She was afraid that if she spoke to the captain about her colleagues’ perception of bias, she might sink her career.

Her next thought was: “I need to get the courage up. If I can’t talk to my skipper about something hard, how will I ever get the courage to lead sailors in combat?”

So, she got an appointment, put on a clean uniform, and went to see him. She talked for 15 minutes while he listened without interruption.

Finally, he thanked her for coming to see him and added: “I don’t necessarily agree with what you said. But I’ll be the first to say, let’s get an equal opportunity team out here. Let’s assess the crew. Let’s have some training, and I promise you I’ll sit in the front row.”

It was an important experience Howard says, that taught her that leaders listen and have confidence in themselves. They also, she learned, have to self-motivate.

It’s not always easy, of course. “But some days, you’ve just got to get your warrior on and take that first step,” she says.

“And when you do, bring everybody behind you and don’t care what they look like –because the diversity of the team is what will allow you to lead through change and surprises. They’ll get you to the right place and the right ideas that will allow you to be successful, allow the team to be successful, and allow the organization to be successful.”

Michelle Howard spoke at the 2020 Massachusetts Conference for Women. This article is based on her talk.


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The Iconic Jane Goodall Shares Her Winning Strategies for Creating Change

Dr. Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace

Jane Goodall’s unique style—which has been described as “genteel but impossibly difficult”—has served her well over six decades of groundbreaking work.

From revolutionizing the world of science at the age of 26, despite having only attended a secretarial school, to continuing to teach a new generation of conservation leaders across the globe at the age of 86, Goodall is a legendary powerhouse.

So, how does she do it?

Here are highlights of what the U.N. Messenger of Peace, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, and co-founder of the Roots & Shoots Program shared at the 2021 California Conference for Women.

Three Ways to Create Change

  1. Avoid confrontation. “I don’t see that there’s very much value in actually confronting people—especially if you are a tiny bit aggressive, you know ‘I’m right and you’re wrong and you’ve got to change.’ Because as soon as you start in that way, you see a wall come up. You see people slightly withdrawing. They are now thinking, I’ve got to refute this woman.”
  1. Tell stories. “I have to reach the heart not the head, and the way you do that is very sneaky. You tell stories. You try and find out a little bit about the person that you are talking to and then you find the stories that will reach their heart, that will touch them—because I truly believe that people must change from within.”
  1. Listen to people with opposing views. “My mother taught me what I think is a very wise lesson. When you meet somebody who has an opposing view, listen to them—because maybe they’ve thought of things that you haven’t. And to try and affect the change you need to understand where the other person is coming from.”

How to Stay Hopeful

Asked how she stays hopeful—and thinks others can too, Goodall had this to say:

  • “Find out what you are passionate about or concerned about and get involved in some program—something that will help you to feel ‘I am doing something to try and make a difference.’ That’s what takes us out of despair and despondency.”
  • “Once you see that you are making a difference, and you know that more and more people are waking up and making a difference, then you can have hope.”

Goodall also said she believes in an indomitable human spirit that says “we are going to tackle things and we won’t give up.” And that, she added, is what gives our lives meaning.

Tackling the Root Cause of Issues, From the Environment to Equity

Speaking about some of the pressing issues of the day—from climate change to racism to the mistreatment of animals—Goodall suggested that there is a common denominator: “It’s all based on lack of respect,” she said.

But she emphasized that there is so much that can be done, including by individuals.

“Every single one of us on the planet, we make some impact on the planet every single day,” said Goodall. So, when you shop, she suggested, ask yourself did the creation of the product:

  • Harm the environment?
  • Cause cruelty to animals?
  • Depend on inequitable wages, or child or slave labor?

“And if the answer to those things is yes, don’t buy it. And this will put consumer pressure on big businesses. But the big but here, we need everybody to make these ethical choices to make a difference.”

It’s even more important that economically privileged people make ethical choices, she said, because people living in poverty don’t have the luxury. “They can’t afford to ask those questions,” she said, “because they have to stay alive.”

Jane Goodall recently launched a new podcast: appropriately enough, called the Jane Goodall Hopecast.


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Ocean Spray’s Senior VP Katy Galle – on What’s Inspiring Her Now

Katy Galle

Katy Galle is Ocean Spray’s senior vice president of research & development and sustainability. Here are five things that are inspiring her now (including some of her favorite books.)

  1. The Power of Mentoring. As a people leader and especially as a female people leader, I deeply appreciate my role as a mentor, in particular knowing my actions will pave the way for others that follow me. I have had a number of colleagues and trusted friends that have guided me throughout my career. And the common inspiration point in those relationships is that they challenged me. They pushed me to be better and have the courage to step outside my comfort zone.I do believe in good Karma, authenticity, and transparency. At this point in my career, it’s important for me to pay that forward in my own mentoring relationships, providing that similar support and guidance to others in various stages of their careers.
  2. Following Your Dreams. I’m always impressed with individuals who have a vision, make a plan and just go for it. My eldest daughter always sets long-term goals for herself. She creates a plan to achieve what she wants and sets milestones along the way. As a CrossFit trainer, my husband is passionate about helping others achieve their fitness goals. He always wanted to open his own gym, which he followed through with despite the challenges of launching a business in a pandemic.
  3. The Balance of Health and Indulgence. I make time to exercise and celebrate that I can physically do it. I enjoy jogging, CrossFit, yoga, and outdoor sports. I also love to cook — my kitchen is my laboratory where I experiment and create. Being in the kitchen also brings my family together, so it’s incredibly rewarding. My philosophy to nutrition is moderation: I believe you need a little bit of everything. It’s important to feed your both your brain and your soul.
  4. Leading with Science. I remain in awe of all the brave frontline healthcare workers and researchers who have accelerated the development and commercialization of viable vaccines throughout the pandemic. I’m inspired by the teachers and institutions who swiftly pivoted to remote ways of learning and working. It’s been amazing to see the emergence of virtual communities and the strong bonds created in our various living pods. I’m also inspired by the resiliency, ingenuity and perseverance of small business owners. The world has changed overnight, and we have all changed as a result of it. I am optimistic for the future and excited for what is to come post-pandemic.
  5. Continuous Curiosity. I am constantly trying to learn new things. There are so many books that have inspired me over last few years, including:

    • Year of Yes
    by Shonda Rhimes
    • Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal
    • Survival of the Savvy by Rick Brandon and Marty Seldman
    • Educated by Tara Westover.

    These texts have been wonderful tools that have challenged me and taught me how to lead with integrity.

 

Katy Galle is Ocean Spray’s senior vice president of research & development and sustainability. In this role, she cultivates cutting-edge new products to fill the innovation pipeline for Ocean Spray that are underpinned with science, nutrition and technology.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Success & Leadership Tagged |

Women Making History: with Time’s Up Co-Founder Nina Shaw

Nina Shaw

Show Notes:

It’s Women’s History Month, and we’re talking to a woman who’s been making history for decades: renowned entertainment attorney and co-founding organizer of Time’s Up, Nina Shaw.

As one of Hollywood’s most powerful dealmakers, Nina has been elevating the voices of women everywhere. This special, candid conversation explores the past, present and future of gender equality in the workplace.

Part inspiration and part actionable takeaways, learn how to break the unique barriers you face, have influence with impact, and pave the path forward for generations of women to come.

“I remember one day I walked into a conference room and there was a older gentleman I had been negotiating with [over the phone] for an extended period of time. I walked over to him and he looked at me and he said, ‘I’ll have my coffee with two sugars.’ And I called the receptionist and said, ‘Mr. So-And-So would like a coffee with two sugars.’ And then I sat down at the head of the table.”—Nina Shaw

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Posted in Podcasts, Success & Leadership, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Tagged , , |

It’s Time to Talk about Black Fatigue

black business woman fatigued while at work

While leading diversity and inclusion sessions in corporations, Mary-Frances Winters repeatedly heard Millennials say they were exhausted.

“I was like, exhausted? How are you exhausted? You’re 30 years old,” recalls Winters, a Baby Boomer and longtime diversity and inclusion leader who spoke in January at the Justice, Equity and Inclusion Speaker Series event, Black Fatigue: Racism and Its Impacts on Mental Health. The event was presented by the Massachusetts Conference for Women, The Boston Globe, and State Street.

But as she pressed further, she heard them say they were exhausted from microaggressions, continued acts of racism and discrimination, and the amplification of it all over social media.

“That got me thinking,” says Winters, founder and CEO of The Winters Group and author of Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit.

“What I am learning from my younger brothers and sisters is that we are fatigued, and we have to take care of ourselves,” says Winters. Since researching the topic for her new book, she adds, she has also learned that scientists are increasingly recognizing a correlation between racism and physical and mental maladies.

That is why it is critical, she says, that we finally have real conversations about racism by understanding the cycles of Black Fatigue, the striking lack of progress on racial equity, and the words we need to be willing to use to have meaningful conversations about racism now.

The Cycle of Black Fatigue

Winters defines Black Fatigue as the “repeated variations of stress caused by centuries of racism resulting in extreme exhaustion causing physical, mental and spiritual maladies that are passed down from generation to generation.”

Stress caused by racism is passed down, among other ways, by getting into the cellular system, she says.

And, that leads to inherited disparities in health, with new studies showing that discrimination leads to aging faster, a lifelong buildup of stress, and eventually higher levels of disease and mortality.

A Striking Lack of Progress on Racial Equity

“People have asked why have there been protests? Because we have not made progress,” Winters says. “They ask: Why haven’t we made progress? It’s because of systemic racism.” Consider highlights of the socio-economic snapshot Winters presented:

  • Homeownership
    • In 1976, 44 percent of Blacks owned homes.
    • In 2015, 43 percent did.
    • All other groups increased their rate of homeownership.
  • Median household income
    • In 2007, it was approximately $40,000.
    • In 2017, it remained approximately $40,000.
    • All other groups increased their median household income (with the exception of Asians, who started with a significantly higher income.)
  • Unemployment: Black and brown people are 30 percent less likely to get a call back after an interview.
  • Incarceration
    • Black people represent 12 percent of the population.
    • They represent 33 percent of the people in prison.
  • Education
    • In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. the Board of Education that state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional.
    • Today, schools are more segregated than they were in 1954.
  • Voter suppression: It was not only rampant in last year’s election. It has been since 1865.

Words We Need to Be Willing to Say

“We haven’t had the conversations about racism in the past because of white fragility, embarrassment, shame, guilt,” says Winters. “I think we have to get over that and have the conversation.” And to do so, White says there are certain words we need to be willing to say that many have hesitated to say before. They include:

  • White supremacy: “Many people think when you say ‘white supremacy’ you are talking about people in hoods and neo-Nazis but there is a culture, an ideology of white supremacy we have to talk about,” says Winters.
  • Equity. “Some organizations won’t put ‘equity’ in their diversity framework. But equity recognizes that there is not a level playing field.”
  • Anti-racism. “Organizations don’t like to use ‘anti-racism’ because they fear someone might file a lawsuit,” says Winters. But it has to be acknowledged that anti-racism efforts are required to change the system.
  • Privilege. “I often hear from white people ‘I don’t have privilege because I grew up poor.’ But ‘privilege’ is not binary. You might not have it in some aspects and have it in others.

“For me, I have privilege because I am a member of the middle class and because I am educated; and we overvalue those characteristics. I don’t have privilege as a woman or a Black person because we have undervalued those.”

  • White fragility. This is the phrase popularized by sociologist Robin DiAngelo, to describe “the disbelieving defensiveness that white people exhibit when their ideas about race and racism are challenged—and particularly when they feel implicated in white supremacy.”

Finally, Winters advises white people not to think “I am here to ‘fix’ and ‘dismantle’ racism.” More useful, she suggests is to think: “I recognize that I must understand who I am in relation to the system of racism in order to disrupt and dismantle it.”

To that end, she says, we need more white people to understand how core their race is to their identity. (Studies show 75 percent of Black people think race is core to their identity while only 15 percent of white people do.) People also need more exposure to difference, more experience with difference, and more education—all of which, she suggests, will lead to more empathy.

Mary-Frances WintersMary-Frances Winters joined Kimberly Atkins, a senior opinion writer at The Boston Globe, and Kem Danner, a senior vice president with State Street Corporation, last month at “Black Fatigue: Racism and Its Impacts on Mental Health.” The event was presented by the Massachusetts Conference for Women, The Boston Globe, and State Street. Want to learn more? Listen to the entire conversation.

More from the February 2021 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Tagged , |