The Biggest Little Word to Ask Yourself Before Holding a Meeting

Priya Parker

Pre-COVID, nearly 3 out of 4 people considered meetings a waste of time, according to a Harvard Business Review study. And some of the most successful leaders in the world, such as Richard Branson, famously avoided them.

But now that many people are returning to the office, we have an opportunity to approach them differently by letting one big little word drive them.

That word is “Why?”

If you’re holding a meeting, think first: Why are you having it? What is the real purpose? If you are networking, ask yourself: Why are you? What is the outcome you desire?

This is the wise advice of Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering, who argues that many gatherings in both our professional and personal lives are lackluster and unproductive. But they don’t have to be.

“The biggest mistake we make when we gather is we assume that the purpose of our coming together is obvious,” she says.

Consider a wedding, for example. The purpose may seem obvious: to get married. But you can go to City Hall for that, as she points out. So, to design a meaningful gathering, you need to think about your real purpose of having a public event. Answering that can take your attention off planning the details and more on creating an experience.

The same holds for a staff meeting.

“So often, we inherit a form, and we try to perfect the form,” she says. “We forget to ask, ‘Why do these people need each other, and for what purpose? How might you bring people together, based on that?'”

Drawing on her experience as a facilitator, she recommends: “Don’t worry so much about shaping things. Shape people. Shape the psychology of a group.”

A New Approach to Networking

In Colorado, two entrepreneurs regularly attended a networking event that never seemed to lead to anything, Parker said. So, after considering their why—or what they wanted to get out of meeting other people—they came up with a novel approach called The House of Genius.

They bring together a group of 15-18 wide-ranging minds and three business presenters once a month.First, the three presenters share their business and a key problem they face in a rapid-fire fashion. Next,eachattendee offers questions, insights, suggestions, or introductions that may assist the presenter.The “genius,” they say, is in the collaboration.

“I love this example in part,” says Parker, “because networking, which is a meaningful connection around a shared purpose, is an outcome. It’s not the form.”

It all began with asking: “What is our purpose? And what is a form that can help us get there?”

Priya Parker spoke at the 2020 Texas Conference for Women. This article is based on her session: “Let’s Get Together, How to Gather Even When We Are Apart.” You can learn more about Priya Parker’s work on her website.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Goals & Priorities

How Civility Literally Pays: Tips from Christine Porath

Christine Porath

After graduating college, Christine Porath thought she had landed her dream job as an intern for the world’s largest sports management and marketing firm.

The only problem: It was a toxic work environment.

That’s when she asked herself a career-making question: What are the objective costs of a toxic work environment, and what are the real benefits of one that helps people thrive?

Based on 20 years of research, she says: “I’ve learned that our small interactions with people every day affect our energy level. As a result, they affect our performance, our organization’s performance, and ultimately the impact that you and the organization will have on society.”

“We hold people down by making them feel small, excluded, insulted, belittled. Now, of course, we don’t necessarily mean to do this,” she says. But people can feel it in ways that run the gamut from being insulted in front of people, to someone withholding information, to someone not acknowledging you, to someone being on their phone the whole time that you’re speaking to them.

“Research bears out how this tends to just chip away at us and our well-being and our sense of identity,” she says. And especially for women, it can lead to really negative health consequences and emotional distress.

Another cost: If you’re working in teams, incivility will cause teammates to shut down and not share their good ideas. It also causes people to be less likely to help others—specifically, three times less likely.

In short, she says: “We lose out on people’s contributions. Incivility also hijacks focus, performance, and creativity.”

How to Demonstrate Civility

Research shows that the single most important behavior for demonstrating civility is respect. In addition, it causes people to be 55 percent more engaged in their work.

More civil people are also twice as likely to be seen as leaders. They are more liked and trusted.

So how do you, as a leader, demonstrate that respect for others is at the heart of civility?

“It’s important that we connect first and then lead,” says Porath. “Use warmth first. You want to set that tone because warmth is primary. People judge you first on warmth.”

Interested in testing how civil you are? Porath encourages a little objectivity since we notoriously miss how our behavior affects others. So, you might ask a few friends. Or, try the assessment on her website.

Christine Porath spoke at the Conferences for Women breakout session, Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for Life. Listen to the session.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Success & Leadership

How to Be an Inclusive Communicator: 12 Tips from Vernā Meyers

Vernā Meyers

Communication is easy—if you’re talking to yourself, says Vernā Meyers, bestselling author, TED speaker, and Vice President for Inclusion Strategy at Netflix.

But when it involves other people, it can be a good deal less easy—especially for those seeking to be inclusive communicators.

So here are 12 tips from Meyers that can help:

  1. Being an inclusive communicator is not a mistake-free process. Connecting is not about perfection. It’s about connection. If you are creating inclusion, you also have to be in the game of embarrassment and vulnerability. But it is also rich with opportunity and relationship and perspective expanding.
  2. Be open and ask open-ended questions. For example, don’t ask, “Are you from Asia?” Instead, try: “Tell me more about your background and experience.” Or: “Let me share who I am and then invite you to share who you are.”
  3. Don’t make assumptions. Treat people as individuals. You want to know that they have group identities. You want to know that they have certain proclivities or customs or cultures and so forth. But you don’t want to assume that each individual is some stereotypical representation of their group.
  4. Stop pretending that you know. One of the most inclusive skills is to assume you don’t know everything, to become humble and thoughtful about where your blind spots are.
  5. Apologize when you make mistakes and don’t use them as an excuse not to engage further.
  6. Small moves matter. Say hello, smile at them. Say thank you, especially to the people who are not the ones who are above you. And get people’s names right. Work on it. It makes a difference.
  7. Expand your dance card. “Diversity is about being invited to the party; inclusion is about being asked to dance,” says Meyers. So look around the dance floor and see who’s on the wall and invite them to the middle of the floor.
  8. Learn unthreatening ways to solicit views. For example, what do you think about this? How could we do this differently?
  9. Share information about how to access resources. That’s the only way that you can make sure that your biases are not corrupting your decisions.
  10. Know your own culture and the culture of others. When you do this work to be inclusive around communication, you’re saying: What are the specific cultural lenses that I have, and how have they shaped the world for me and my interpretation of others? So, you’ve got to say, what is my culture telling me about the way I’m communicating and the way other people communicate?
  11. That means to get everyone to participate, you might need to use a variety of strategies, recognizing that some people will speak, but only if you ask them; some people want to know that you’re going to ask them to speak; some people will always find it terrifying; and some people might want to communicate by email after a meeting.

Vernā Meyers spoke at the Massachusetts Conference for Women in the session: Inclusive Communication: How to Go from Well-Meaning to Well-Doing. Listen to the entire session.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Communication Skills, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

What to Do When You’re Chronically Underpaid | That’s A Good Question

Indian business woman in deep thought looking away from laptop

Welcome to the first episode of “That’s A Good Question,” a new segment in which our host Celeste Headlee teams up with an expert to answer YOUR real-life work-life questions.

In this episode, our listener realizes she is being paid less than her colleagues for the same work, with the same experience. Should she demand a raise? Throw in the towel? Take a road trip?

Listen in to find out what we uncover with Celeste’s sage interrogation and real-word advice from Bentley law lecturer Kiana Pierre-Louis.

Talking about salary in the workplace is taboo, yet it happens. So what do you do when you find out that you are chronically underpaid in comparison to colleagues doing the same job with the same level of experience? In this episode of Women Amplified’s “That’s a Good Question,” we talk through this exact scenario to help a real listener figure out her next steps. Through active problem-solving, practical advice, and shared experiences we will explore legal issues of discussing salary, how to talk with HR about pay equity, and strategies to manage peer relationships when you know they are getting paid more for the same job. You will leave empowered and ready to put solutions in place.


 

Our Host: Celeste Headlee

Celeste HeadleeCeleste Headlee is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as cohost of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @CelesteHeadlee

Our Guest Expert: Kiana Pierre-Louis

Kiana Pierre-LouisKiana Pierre-Louis is a senior law lecturer at Bentley University in the Law, Taxation, and Financial Planning Department. In addition to being a Professor at Bentley University, Kiana is also an alumnus of Bentley University having graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Communications and a minor in English in 1999. She received a Juris Doctorate, from Suffolk University Law School in 2002 cum laude and passed the bar that same year. She equally has a passion for Social Justice and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Her work at Bentley centers on social justice. Kiana serves on several committees across the Bentley Community; she is a Co-Chair of the Teaching and Scholarly Activities Committee and is an advisor to three student organizations. Kiana was the 2017 recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award, the 2017 and 2018 Innovation in Teaching Award and the 2019 Joseph M. Cronin Award for Excellence in Academic Advising at Bentley University. She has also won awards for Exemplary Educator, faculty of the year and outstanding alumni through Bentley University. Kiana also sits on the Board of Directors for KodeConnect, Inc. a non-profit organization helping marginalized youth to get access to STEM classes for little to no cost.


Additional Resources:

More from Women Amplified:


 

Episode Transcript:

Women Amplified Listener:

My name is (beep).

Celeste Headlee:

What do you do?

Women Amplified Listener:

I am a regulatory affairs professional for a large biomedical company.

Celeste Headlee:

So you wrote to us about your pay. Explain what your question is.

Women Amplified Listener:

Sure. So I was in a step above an entry level role at my current company for about three and a half years, during which time I received really stellar reviews, but very moderate cost of living increases. So I was looking for opportunities to develop myself. So I ended up taking a lateral move within the same company. It didn’t pan out like I expected, it was actually significantly more responsibility and significantly more challenging, which was welcomed in many ways.

Women Amplified Listener:

But I asked several months after being in this new challenging role, I asked to have a discussion about the next level. How can I perform at that next level? What kind of experiences and training do I need to pursue? I was told that I was already performing at that next level. So I was promoted, which I was excited about. But when I received the promotion, it came with a percentage increase based on HR policy. I had a conversation in which I asked if there was a band, a salary band for the role. I presented data from Glassdoor that showed the average salary for that role for the area. I also provided there’s a salary report that’s published annually from a respected professional organization in my field, and I presented that as well.

Women Amplified Listener:

I highlighted all my qualifications and my master’s degree and everything like that. It really validated the salary that I was asking for, which was about nine to 10 grand more than what I was offered. I understood that people with similar qualifications and experience had been given what I was asking for, so I was really surprised that it was met with a lot of resistance to being compensated at the level that I asked for. Even having provided all of that data and met at the table with a respectful conversation to request it. So I ended up taking what I was offered because that seemed to be what my option was. It is lower, it was significantly lower than colleagues with similar experience and role, in the same role.

Women Amplified Listener:

So now I’m trying to figure out, “Do I wait for an annual review to see if I’m brought up to an equal level and equal pay?” Is my only choice to receive a competing offer to push the hand towards equal pay or is it really time to leave? There’s the writing on the wall that there’s a lot of lip service that’s being done about valuing employees, but when push comes to shove, that might not necessarily be the case?

 

Celeste Headlee:

Well, if your pay is not equivalent to other people in your similar position, it’s the question of whether they value some employees more than others, isn’t it?

Women Amplified Listener:

Yeah, I think so too. I think that was something else that I struggled with personally, mentally, and emotionally because there’s a lot of talk about how much we value you. You’re one of our top employees, and we want to continue to develop you and all this. That’s really great. But like you said, if you’re not willing to pay me equally, then obviously, that can’t be true.

Celeste Headlee:

So how many performance reviews are we talking about? When you talk about getting great performance reviews, how many have there been?

Women Amplified Listener:

I had three in the previous role, and then I’m coming up on a year in the current role, but I do check in quarterly. I do solicit feedback, appropriately with my supervisor, to ensure that I’m performing at the level that is expected of me. It sounds like I’ve been exceeding it the entire time that I’ve been at the company.

Celeste Headlee:

A cost of living raise is what, like 2%? 2.5%?

Women Amplified Listener:

Yes. So 1% to 2% was about it. So it was very little movement in the four years that I’ve been. Well, the three and a half years that I was in the previous role, it was very small increase.

Celeste Headlee:

One also assumes everybody else is getting that as well, so it’s not lessening the gap between you and others in the same position.

Women Amplified Listener:

Well, it turns out, that’s not actually correct. I kind of discovered that when I was having conversations with colleagues about it. Because like I said, I had done my research, I determined what I expected to receive at this next level. I was told that I was valued and appreciated and all of that. So I didn’t think to ask if the annual increases that I was receiving was comparable to other people. It sounds like it may not have been, It sounds like perhaps there was a bucket of money to be allocated. That was maybe at the discretion of managers to allocate to different people. But no, it doesn’t. It sounds like what I experienced was not typical compared to colleagues.

Celeste Headlee:

So you spoke to your direct supervisor or did you go to HR?

 

Women Amplified Listener:

I went to my direct supervisor, and then my direct supervisor pulled in their director. So I had a conversation with both of them as well.

Celeste Headlee:

They expressed no negative or critical feedback about your performance?

Women Amplified Listener:

That’s correct. I did say that if we felt that I wasn’t performing at equal levels, I would like to know. I would like to have that conversation and figure out what I could work on at work or what I could do differently. So I know I have that rapport with them. I did ask to have that conversation if that was the case.

Celeste Headlee:

Other than the pay inequity, what do you like about your job?

Women Amplified Listener:

That’s a tough question. I really like the the colleagues within the function, within my own function. Then there’s some colleagues with whom I have really great working relationships in other functions. But other than that, it can be really tough to find things that I honestly like. It’s very challenging. I think I’m the fifth person in the same role in four years. There’s some personalities on cross functional teams that are really challenging to work with. So I think that’s a question I’ve been asking myself is, even if I were being compensated at the level that I asked for, what do I like about it?

Celeste Headlee:

Yeah, that’s a great question. The other question, of course, is, how difficult would it be for you to find a different position?

Women Amplified Listener:

Yes. That’s something I’ve been considering as well. I think unfortunately, in the role that I had before, it was a step above entry level. I was a workhorse. So I was happy to work a lot of extra hours and do as much as I possibly could, but I didn’t get certain experiences that I really should in my field, experiences that would help me at this next level. So I think that’s been the challenge of getting my foot in the door at other companies at this next level because they look for that experience, understandably. I’m very capable of it, and I have academic experience, but they’re looking for the number of submissions that you’ve done as a benchmark of your success in that profession.

Celeste Headlee:

You know this because you have applied elsewhere, how do you know that other companies would not feel you are qualified?

Women Amplified Listener:

It’s tough because I’m not a jumper. I’m not great at kind of tooting my own horn. I’m really great at like supporting and uplifting other colleagues. But when it comes to myself, I’m just really focused on what I’m doing. So I have a hard time, to be honest talking myself up for these other roles. I have applied for a few other places at the current level that I’m at and I did receive feedback that they are looking for somebody with submission experience that I don’t have. I understood that. So that was really the only feedback that I’ve received so far from the jobs to which I’ve applied.

Celeste Headlee:

Are you in your current role doing that? Are you getting experience in that area that you need?

Women Amplified Listener:

No, not yet I won’t have that until next spring, which is why I’m trying to figure out what my plan and timeline should be.

Celeste Headlee:

This is the field where you want to work?

Women Amplified Listener:

Yes.

Celeste Headlee:

So when you’re weighing this and thinking about this to yourself, it sounds to me like there’s some competing things going on here. Because number one, you have a job that’s not actually developing you in a really timely manner. You’re not getting experience and training quickly or even in what I would think would be a rational pace – so there’s that issue. There’s the issue of the pay, obviously, but there’s also the issue that it doesn’t sound like you enjoy the job very much, other than some of your colleagues.

Women Amplified Listener:

It’s hard, it panned out a little differently than how it was initially promised. So it’s a high volume and there’s less support than I expected. I’m kind of an island, which is okay, but it was kind of positioned as, “Oh, this will be an opportunity for you to take one or two developmental projects that are going to be extremely challenging and involved.” It ended up being significantly more than two. So it ended up really being the point person for an entire product line. Everything is accelerated and there’s no priorities. It’s very challenging, so I think that compounded it where I’m getting different experience, but then not experience that’s going to enable me to grow, like you said.

Celeste Headlee:

So if they gave you your salary request, if they approved your salary request tomorrow, would you still be weighing whether or not you should stay?

Women Amplified Listener:

I think you’re right. I think on some level, I would be. I think had it been addressed during that conversation that I had previously, I think I would have taken it and been happy. But I think how that was handled and what that communicates about actual action to support and retain what they say are valued employees, it makes me question how invested I should be in this role. Maybe I shouldn’t be working late nights and maybe I shouldn’t be taking on these extra things or doing things outside my lane. Perhaps I really should continue to have the door open and look elsewhere.

Celeste Headlee:

So how confident are you that when you go into the next negotiation, whether it be for the raise and pay that you want from your current employer or let’s say, you do move on, and you need to negotiate your initial salary, how confident are you that you can brag about yourself enough and get the kind of salary number that you need?

Women Amplified Listener:

I’ve been working on it. I think my approach is to present data, so I think I can certainly come up with some data and statistics for the things that I’ve worked on and the challenges that I’ve overcome. I can point to a number of colleagues of equal or up and coming levels that I’ve encouraged, nurtured, and tried to mentor and support. So I think I could certainly provide a case for it. It is challenging having already done that and been told no. It’s something I continue to try and build myself up to do in my head, but I don’t know how successful I will be.

Celeste Headlee:

Have you spoken with any of the other colleagues at your workplace who are earning more than you for essentially the same work?

Women Amplified Listener:

I have. I have and they have encouraged – well not all, but a few select people. It was very much the consensus that what I was asking for was appropriate and actually modest in comparison to what I would be paid if I were to get a job somewhere else. It was actually under what other people had been brought in at the same level. So the consensus was that there was a lot of surprise that I was told no, that what I was asking for was reasonable and equal and should have been a slam dunk to retain and bring stability, continued stability to the role that I’m in.

Celeste Headlee:

What is your idea on why? If it’s the rational thing to do, if it’s the right thing to do, why do you think they turned down your salary increase?

Women Amplified Listener:

I can really only go by what I was told, which was that it was a there was an HR policy that 10% was the max increase – that was what I was offered and what I ended up taking. I don’t know that there was until I disclosed it. Like I said, I had a really candid conversation. So I don’t know that there was an awareness of what I had been making before I came out and said it, and said “This is what I was brought into the company at. In the three and a half years that I was in the previous role, this is what I was brought up to. I’m concerned that while I appreciate the 10% increase, and I understand that’s a policy change, my concern is that if you haven’t received increases over your time at the company, that you’re going to just perpetually be lower.” So I think the HR policy was the rationale that I was given and also that HR was only looking at the time that I was in my current role. I did indicate that, from an employee standpoint, that’s not what you’re considering. If you’ve been at the same company for over four years, that’s the timeframe that you’re looking at.

Celeste Headlee:

So these were separate meetings, the meeting with your director and your director’s supervisor was one meeting. There were other meetings with HR, right?

Women Amplified Listener:

I didn’t actually meet with HR. At the point that I was at, it seemed like I didn’t really have an option and that was the best. What I was offered was what I was going to get and I was welcomed to talk to HR. Considering the stance that had been communicated, my impression when I left that meeting was just to sign the agreement and take it. Because, like I said, I’d already been told that I had already been performing at that role since I took the job, so I just wanted to, at that point, be paid a little bit more even for the job that I was already doing. So I didn’t talk to HR directly, but I provided all the data and analysis and rationale to my own supervisor and and then the director to support the position and the request.

Celeste Headlee:

Now, this is my last question for you, I promise. But I want you to imagine somebody either at this job or another job that you think of as being really assertive, smart, and ambitious. Imagine what they would do in this position, what would that person do right now?

Women Amplified Listener:

I have seen that they generally leave. That’s why we’ve had a lot of turnover. Because if you’re somebody that is ambitious and you’re not receiving the experience that you’re looking for, you’re not receiving the development opportunities that you’re advocating for, and you’re not seeing salary increases that you expect based on the field that we work in, people seem to leave. I’ve communicated that, I don’t think that that’s the culture that we’re trying to create at the company, that we want to retain and continue to develop talent, especially when you have people that are willing to move across divisions, support different product lines, different functions. Those are people that develop tribal knowledge that’s really valuable, we should be looking to continue to develop these people, especially when they’re highly motivated and interested in doing so.

Celeste Headlee:

Okay. So is there anything else you would want Kiana to advise you on? What other advice would you ask her for?

Women Amplified Listener:

What else should I have? What else should I provide to support the case? Is it necessary for me to obtain a competing offer in order to be compensated fairly in my current role or is it time to leave? Should I wait to see if things are adjusted during my next performance review and then make a decision? Like I said, I’m not a job jumper. I like to really finish projects and follow the campfire rule, right, of leaving things better than when you found them. So essentially, I’m just trying to figure out what my path forward should be and what the timeline should be for that.

Celeste Headlee:

I feel less like one of the ways that I sort of help people problem solve is by letting them answer the questions themselves. I feel like the questions are leading you in a direction that you for some reason are not ready to take. In other words, you’re asking for help in how to get your salary increase, but it doesn’t sound like that even with a salary increase, you’re invested at this point.

Women Amplified Listener:

I think that’s a fair question to ask. I am feeling myself having some challenges with starting to disengage, but that really is stuff that started after I had all those conversations and they didn’t go well. So that’s been very recent that I’ve started to think that maybe, just for my myself, that I should really disengage because I’m obviously not valued like they say that I am. But I think that’s a fair point to make.

Celeste Headlee:

You have described somebody and people that you admire and think of as strong and ambitious, you say they would leave. You obviously believe the problems go further than salary. But I wonder if you are falling into the gender trap of underselling yourself when you apply for other jobs? I mean, I’m sure you may be aware of the difference between the genders.

Women Amplified Listener:

Yeah, I agree. My husband and I talk about it at home. He’ll apply for a job if he meets 60% of the qualifications. I’m looking at the same list and saying, “Oh, I need 85%. I’m not qualified for that.” Yeah, I absolutely agree. I think that’s a really tough thing to shake. I think especially as a millennial as well, we graduated college with the great recession, and you were just grateful to have a job. So I think that’s also a pervasive attitude that I’m trying to break. Don’t let your gratitude for a job that got your foot in the door in the industry keep you under paid from the role that you’re currently in.

Celeste Headlee:

Okay. So what does that look like in your own life? Do you think it’s possible that you are letting those subconscious doubts about your own life? I mean, A. Your need to be very, very honest and B. Your doubts about yourself, are you allowing those to get in the way?

Women Amplified Listener:

I think, to some degree, yes. I think also my gratitude. I’m just a person that’s really grateful to have the opportunity to. I was grateful to get my foot in the door in this company. I think that that helped me keep myself where I was, being grateful for what you’re given and being hesitant to ask for more. I think it was a big deal for me to come to the table and say, “This is actually my salary expectation. This is why and this is everything that supports it.” Those were hard conversations for me to have, but I felt like they were very valid and that I was clear and deserving of equal pay.

Celeste Headlee:

Yeah. Have you ever had a friend who’s dating somebody, and you had to have the conversation of, “He’s not as into you as you are into him?”

Women Amplified Listener:

Yeah, of course, of course. I think my friends that, because I am friends with a lot of people in my function at work at the same company. I think no one would blame me if I left. I think that it would not be good for the role and stability of the product line, but I don’t think anyone would be surprised or blame me if I left.

Celeste Headlee:

Yeah, so you’re taking on all this emotional weight on behalf of this employer who is not returning the favor. You’re worried about the stability of the product line, when that really should be your managers worrying about that.

Women Amplified Listener:

Yeah.

Celeste Headlee:

You’re worrying about high turnover. You’re worrying about how loyal you will appear when it doesn’t sound like your employers are spending any time worrying about those things at all.

Women Amplified Listener:

I think that’s fair. It does feel that way.

Celeste Headlee:

Which brings me to the unfortunate role of being your friend who’s saying he’s just not that into you.

Women Amplified Listener:

Yeah, that’s why I am looking for other opportunities. Then you feel like you have to divest yourself right, from working extra hours and trying to be very successful in your current role? You really have to shift gears and say, “Okay, no. This extra time per week, I’m going to devote to myself and to doing what I need to do to be prepared to interview at other places and in getting my resume out there.” So that’s a hard transition to make when you’ve when you’ve been so invested in succeeding in your current role.

Celeste Headlee:

Yeah, although you have been really, really invested in helping the company succeed. Maybe it’s time to help to invest in yourself. If you’re going to take time, maybe this is time to get some online training in other things to get some credentials and certificates. But maybe you need to improve your CV. Maybe it’s time to learn how to go into those interviews and prepare to say, “I can do this role. I meet at least 60% of the qualifications, and I’m going to rock your world in this position.”

Women Amplified Listener:

I agree. It’s a little tough because I’m kind of maxed out. I do have a master’s degree in the field and I do have a professional certification.

Celeste Headlee:

I want you to listen to yourself.

Women Amplified Listener:

I really maxed it out.

Celeste Headlee:

I want you to listen to yourself.

Women Amplified Listener:

I know, I know.

Celeste Headlee:

Because you’re sitting here telling me I’m extraordinarily well qualified. But earlier, you were saying, “I’m not qualified for these other jobs.” I mean, you hear yourself saying that?

Women Amplified Listener:

I know, it’s true. It’s that one piece of experience. It’s that one piece of practical experience.

Celeste Headlee:

Oh, come on.

Women Amplified Listener:

No, it’s true.

Celeste Headlee:

No, come on.

Women Amplified Listener:

You’re reminding me of my husband, and I appreciate it so much. But yeah, he’s like, “No, it doesn’t matter. Who cares? You can you can do it.” I’m like, “I can do it. But I haven’t done it.” But that’s the thing is, I just need to get my foot in the door somewhere else. I can absolutely perform and perform well. It’s just like you said, yeah, I need to figure out how to talk myself up like I’m able to do and routinely do for other people.

Celeste Headlee:

Yeah. It worries me that you’re already downplaying your own credentials and saying, “You just need to get your foot in the door.” Nope. You do not need another entry level job. You are years and years past entry level. You don’t need a foot in the door. When you make a commitment to a job, they’re not doing you a favor.

Women Amplified Listener:

You’re right. Yeah, you’re right.

Celeste Headlee:

I mean, they’re not being benevolent.

Women Amplified Listener:

You’re right. I think like, I said, I think shaking that mindset of being grateful just to have a job. I was also brought up in a household where we’re someone who said, “Be worth what they pay you.” I think those are some things to work on and to shake for sure.

 

Celeste Headlee:

Yeah. I mean, I think you have enough experience, training, and education. If your current job can’t see that, maybe it’s not about changing you any more than you would tell your female friend to change for the sake of some dude.

Women Amplified Listener:

Yeah. I think that’s fair. I’m nodding.

Celeste Headlee:

Yeah.

Women Amplified Listener:

Yeah. Like you said, maybe that’s the solution is that it’s time to leave. Maybe in leaving, it’ll be the reset that I need to feel like I’m being compensated at the level that I’m performing and also really have that concrete understanding and belief in myself. Don’t just quietly do it in the background, but actually do it and be able to say that yeah, that’s the level that I perform it.

Celeste Headlee:

Yeah. I mean, you’ve been kicking butt.

Women Amplified Listener:

I have.

Celeste Headlee:

For years.

Women Amplified Listener:

Yes.

Celeste Headlee:

For years. It’s time that you be somewhere where it’s appreciated. I would never tell anybody, advise someone to, to leave their job. But that’s what you’re telling me.

Women Amplified Listener:

That’s the hard thing is there’s a lot of verbal communication that I’m so appreciated and valued and things like that. There always has been, which was nice. But when it comes down to it, you want to be paid equally.

Celeste Headlee:

Yeah, you deserve to be paid equally. You don’t know that you’re not being paid equally because of their transparency and accountability. You know because you had to do detective work on top of all the other stuff you’re doing.

Women Amplified Listener:

Yes. I did communicate to my boss that I just want to be really clear that that was the ask. The ask was for equal pay, and that was what was declined, so there’s a very clear understanding that that’s what I was asking for.

Celeste Headlee:

Okay. I want you to repeat back what you just said to me. You asked for equal pay.

Women Amplified Listener:

Yes. Directly. Was clear that that was the ask, equal pay. But I was told no.

Celeste Headlee:

They said no.

Women Amplified Listener:

Well, they didn’t say no directly.

Celeste Headlee:

They said no.

Women Amplified Listener:

It was HR that said no.

Celeste Headlee:

They said no.

Women Amplified Listener:

HR said that what I asked for was too high, which can’t be true if you’ve already paid other people that.

Celeste Headlee:

Yeah, I’ve been on the other end of those tables, they can find money. They find ways around things when they want to.

Women Amplified Listener:

Especially when it’s a modest amount in comparison to them trying to replace somebody. Yeah.

Celeste Headlee:

Yeah.

Women Amplified Listener:

It was a no brainer, it would have been a slam dunk, I think. I think the people that I talked to all expected it to be a no brainer decision.

Celeste Headlee:

Yeah.

Celeste Headlee:

Why would they expect that?

Women Amplified Listener:

Because of who I am and how I perform and the role and the challenges associated.

Celeste Headlee:

Because we are asking for should not even be up for debate.

Women Amplified Listener:

No, it was a completely valid ask that was backed by multiple references.

Celeste Headlee:

See, when say, “Because of who I am,” that’s still part of this, this mentality that you earn it. It’s not about what you earn. You can earn other things, but this is just equal pay.

Women Amplified Listener:

Yeah, it’s hard. It’s really shaking my confidence. I’m trying not to feel like I don’t deserve it and that’s why I didn’t get it.

Celeste Headlee:

So here, this is the crux of it. This feeling that your success is something you have to earn. That is not true. That is not true. Your accomplishments, you can earn. Awards, you can earn. But equal pay, you get that. That’s your right.

Women Amplified Listener:

I agree. You should. It should be that way.

Celeste Headlee:

I agree. Yeah, yeah. We’ll have to see how it is going forward. Yeah.

Women Amplified Listener:

I appreciate that. That sounds great. I think it’s tough to figure out what to do next. It’s been an analysis paralysis for me on this.

Celeste Headlee:

Yeah. I can imagine that. [NAME BLEEPED], let’s say that you get advice that is uncomfortable for you, are you ready to follow either my advice or, more specifically, Kiana’s advice? Are you ready to take that step?

Women Amplified Listener:

I think I’m definitely receptive to hearing it. I’m not afraid of hard conversations and tough advice. I do think it’s helpful to even hear it from different people, like outside parties, like yourself with expertise. So yeah, I think I’m at a place where I really need to figure out what I’m going to do. If I do wait, what an appropriate timeframe should be, but I don’t. I don’t want to wait forever. I have communicated that to my supervisor, that I didn’t want to wait forever.

Celeste Headlee:

Well, not only do we have great advice for you also from Kiana, but we would love to follow up and see what happens in the days ahead.

Women Amplified Listener:

Sure, yeah. We can do that. I would be receptive to that. I don’t know if there are other people in similar positions. If there is anything that I could share that could be useful to somebody else, I’d be happy to do so.

Celeste Headlee:

Yeah, I’m sure other people are in this position.

Celeste Headlee:

Awesome. Well, in the interest of time, I’m going to tell you basically the situation that [our listener] is in. Then [our listener] will correct me if I get something wrong, but then I will ask you a few questions. So [our listener] has been at a firm for something a little over four years. She was in a position that was a step above entry level for three years and was promoted into a position that ended up being much bigger than her supervisors had told her it would be, as in they told her she’d be managing a couple projects. She’s ended up juggling a bunch, she’s working on nights. She’s working on weekends. She found out by talking with her colleagues that she was not being paid the same that others in her same or similar positions were making.

Celeste Headlee:

When she went to her, she gathered all of her data, she made the case, she went to her supervisor and also her supervisor’s supervisor, and explained the whole situation to them, said this is about equal pay. They said, “No, HR doesn’t allow us to give someone that kind of increase,” and she was turned down. So she’s in this position where she’s trying to figure out whether it’s time to learn how to ask for the pay raise in another way or if it’s time to leave.

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

Mmm, okay.

Celeste Headlee:

What goes into these kind of decisions? What do you recommend that people consider when they’re facing this kind of question?

 

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

Well, good question. So it sounds like [our listener] did the right things. First of all, researching. When you feel, you get into a position, you realize that they didn’t tell you everything, you’re doing a lot more. You have a feeling that the pay may not be equal. Doing your homework is the best, first of all. Also going around and talking to people which [our listener] did because I think … Well, I don’t know if we know this, but pay secrecy policies are illegal or they’re not okay under the National Labor Relations Act.

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

Whereas if your organization said, “You know what, you can’t go around and talk to people. If you do, you’re going to get fired or demoted or anything like that.” That’s pretty much not okay. You can bring that to the National Labor Relations Board because that goes against freedom of speech, that goes against concerted effort. It doesn’t sound like they did that which is excellent. You were able to gather the data from people you work with, but also I’m hoping outside sources, which is not always helpful because with Equal Pay Act, it has to be so similar. So similar in what you do and all that. But you can gather enough data.

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

The other thing that I’m not sure was done but is also important, is really figuring out what you think you want. So if they come back with the resounding no that you receive, what am I going to do? Am I okay with working this hard and this much without getting some sort of increase? Do I think that they’re actually paying my value? So this goes into that values driven thing, what are your goals? What do you want to do? Are you okay with doing that? Are you just going to … Do you want to stick it out a year? So it really takes some planning on if it’s a no, what are you going to do? Six months, a year? Are you just going to say forget it, I tried. So all that goes into it. She did, I think, about half of it. But I don’t know, not expecting to know or not, now stuck at the second half. Now, what am I going to do?

Celeste Headlee:

[Listener], did you want to answer some of her I don’t knows?

Women Amplified Listener:

Yeah. Thank you for validating that I did the correct thing and doing my research and talking to people and then having candid conversations, I really appreciate that. I have been asking myself, “Am I okay with this?” It is a no. I think the challenges and the frustrations are too significant to not be paid equally for experiencing them. So you’re correct. I’m stuck at that second half of what am I going to do and what’s the timeline in which I’m going to do it?

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

Perfect. Did you want me to answer that?

Celeste Headlee:

Yes, please.

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

So first of all, let me just tell you this, this is not even legal. I’ve been in the situation, been in this exact situation. My resounding was what some women, anyone does, maybe I’ll just work harder and see if they see that, and maybe pay more. That was a no, that was also a no. In my situation, they gave me half of my pay equity. I was getting paid well under what I should have been and doing more than anybody in my department getting paid on. So they gave me half. Then I had to figure out, am I okay with this? It was a resounding no. So I set out a plan, I gave myself a year.

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

I always tell anybody this: I would never just suggest, because I don’t know people’s where you’re at finances, your family situation, your personal situation, so I would never say you go right in and say I’m out. Right? So that takes some planning. That may take some saving, that takes you looking around maybe at a comparable job, or maybe not even a comparable job if you don’t like this job, but it takes some planning.

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

So I think your next step is how long are you willing to do this? Start planning, start saving if you can. Start looking, building your portfolio, talking to other people, really building that network. Network around this area is important. Then if it’s a no, and you can go back to them and say, “All right. Again, I’ve done the data. I’m looking at this and you’re really paying me less and it’s not equal. I don’t think it’s right. I’m going to ask again, are you going to pay me, adjust my pay?” If it’s no, then you can give your resignation then. That is hard. I’m not saying this, that it’s easy. But that is what I would recommend if it’s a no.

Celeste Headlee:

So the other thing Kiana, before I let [our listener] respond to you, is that she was talking about applying for other jobs. Yeah, absolutely forgot about that. So she’s applying for other jobs. But there’s one specific piece of practical experience that she feels is holding her back from getting a job in the field. I wonder what your response is to that. I pointed out to her that women are way more likely to not apply for jobs saying I’m not qualified unless they meet every single qualification that’s listed, whereas men are like, “I can do that.” What do you think?

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

Well, Celeste, you hit the nail on the head. Yes. Women constantly are like, “If I don’t tick off every last one of them, if I don’t work 10 times harder, I’m not going to apply.” Whereas men do not do that. They will show other strengths in other areas. Maybe sometimes cite that they have a weakness, sometimes don’t even do that. But may cite that they have a weakness and say, “But I can do this and I can learn.” If it is one practical area, nobody and I’ve been on both ends of applying for jobs and reading applications, I’ve never received an application where everybody’s ticked it off. Can I tell you the cover letters you will read, and they believe, especially the males, that I can do this. I am an asset for you. That’s how you have to come across.

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

It is up to you, it depends. If it’s recommended on job application, they say it’s recommended or preferred. You can sometimes cite that flaw and do it in a way that it’s not actually. But you can cite the flaw and then just say, “But I have this, this, this.” You have the experience, and you have to put that in your mind and take away everything that you may not think you can have. You can do the jobs, especially if you’re doing it now for not the pay that you deserve. You can do it or you can learn it. You will probably put in that work to learn it. Because women, we also feel like we have to work harder to show our worth, to show that we deserve this pay.

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

So I would just go for it. A friend of mine said to me once, what’s the worst that can happen when you apply for a job? You get to a no. Well, you know that, right? That’s the worst. So I would just apply.

Celeste Headlee:

Are there tips you can give, not just to our guests, but also to anyone in this position for getting equal pay, period? Whether it’s in the job that she’s currently in or as she goes to take a new job, how is she best set up to get the same pay as everyone else in that position?

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

Excellent question. Negotiations. Okay. Again, women don’t tend to negotiate. Which is why again, women get paid 82 cents for every dollar men make in the United States, that’s a gap of 18%. Just not always negotiating, feeling excited and happy that they received the job, no. You go in with your number, your base number. Always three numbers, your base, your mid, and your top. Okay, you’re taught might be what I’m grasping for, what I want. Your middle is probably more along the line of what you want. That bottom is you will take nothing less. But with that said, this is the hard part, you have to be willing to say, “No, thank you.” Okay?

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

That can be hard, specifically if you’re not working or in a situation where you want out. You know what I mean? If you want out, you’re like, “I just want to find a job and get out.” But you can’t let yourself to get into that. Know your worth and regardless that you feel like you’re missing a piece, you know your worth, and you know what you’re going to bring to any institution. You have to keep that in mind and be okay with saying “No, because I know, I’ve done my research. I know that either you, as an organization have paid this amount for this or I know that other organizations that are comparable have paid this amount for this.”

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

So I this is my bottom line. Because they’re always going to give you a number and hope you say no, but they have wiggle room within that number. So first of all negotiation. But again, do your homework. You know what I mean? Know what they’re likely paying, which right now, organizations tend to give you a range. They probably mean that range so look the range up, go do your homework, abd then do your three numbers and then come in. Don’t go anything lower than that base number that you have. But you have to be willing to negotiate and be willing to say, “I know what I deserve.”

Celeste Headlee:

Are there legal repercussions for asking for equal pay? In other words, are there boxes that one needs to check if one plans to make it a legal argument?

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

Yeah, excellent. A couple not on the employee or potential employee side, so the one thing you should know, asking negotiating salary does not give them a right to reject or pull away the offer that they’re making. Usually they make you an offer, right? Then they say, “This is the salary range or this is the salary we’re giving you.” At that point, you know that they’re giving you the job? If you say, “No, can we negotiate?” They cannot pull it based on that. If they do, that is employment discrimination or something. Something is going on, you can go back at that. So the only thing that I would say is on that, it may be you saying no, but they can’t reject you at that point. If you are like, “No, I don’t like the salary,” and you’re willing to negotiate. They can’t just say, “I’m not willing to negotiate and we’re rejecting.” No. They have to say this is our bottom line. If you reject it, then that’s fine. So that’s first of all.

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

Second of all, equal pay is the law, right? There are some issues with equal pay. Then this is anything with the law is one, just figuring out, does it fall in that box, right? Do you even fall in? It is so particular on similar job in similar industry, in similar organizations, but even when it’s similar organizations, they’re looking at similar organizations within probably the same state or area.

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

We know the cost of living varies, so you can say, “I know somebody in New York makes this,” and that they’re going to say, “That doesn’t go with the equal pay.” So it’s really more narrow than most people think. So again, it’s the similar job, in a similar situation, probably similar area. You can look at comparable jobs at other institutions. I would only say that would work as far as well, this is what your competitor’s doing. But again, it’s really based on that organization and what they’re paying and what they’re paying people in your similar job, if there is such a thing.

Celeste Headlee:

[Listener], did you have questions for Kiana?

Women Amplified Listener:

I’ve been taking notes. Yeah, I’m trying to think. I really appreciate your advice to give yourself a timeline and create a plan and especially to go into negotiations with base, mid, and top salary numbers and be willing to walk away and say no. I think I definitely learned, I think what I didn’t realize at the time that I was trying to negotiate the raise that came with the promotion, I waited to sign off on it until I had a discussion with my manager, and then our director, but I didn’t really realize that I could continue to hold off on that indefinitely. I did feel like I needed to move on it in a reasonable timeline or else I was just going to continue to be paid at the same rate. So that was a good thing to learn. I don’t think I have any questions at this time. I just really appreciate your advice and your suggestions. Some really good feedback today.

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

Can I add one thing too?

Celeste Headlee:

Of course.

Kiana Pierre-Louis:

We always think about pay as our check at the end of the day, but also there are times too. This is if you don’t think you want to leave the organization you like it, but you know what you deserve, benefits. Ask for certain benefits. That could be stock options that can be, “Hey, then you pay my medical.” Medical is a lot of money, you can pay my medical. There are other things that you can also look for that may equal it out, but you have to go figure that out and maybe crunch some numbers. But sometimes we get locked into salary or hourly or whatever it may be for whatever you’re in, but also think about negotiating benefits too. So okay, if you won’t raise my salary by 10,000 or whatever it may be, then maybe you will throw in this or throw an extra vacation or do it all, sick pay or whatever it may be. Think outside the box too.

Celeste Headlee:

Great. That’s awesome. I really appreciate it.

Play
Posted in Podcasts, Career Choices, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged , , |

Success, Leadership and Authenticity: A Conversation with Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams

This episode is a replay of an amazing 2021 California Conference for Women Keynote Conversation with best-selling author, nonprofit CEO and political leader Stacey Abrams.

Narrowly defeated as the first Black woman to win a major party nomination for Governor, she galvanized a movement that would register 800,000 new voters. Joined by award-winning journalist Lisa Ling, we will explore Abrams’ road to becoming a true pioneer. From her humble beginnings, to successes and pitfalls along the way, she shares invaluable lessons about ambition, leadership, authenticity and failure.

You will leave inspired and armed with tips so that you are ready to lead from the outside and truly make a difference.


Stacey Abrams

STACEY ABRAMS is an author, serial entrepreneur, nonprofit CEO and political leader. After serving for eleven years in the Georgia House of Representatives, seven as Minority Leader, in 2018, Abrams became the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia. Abrams was the first Black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States. After witnessing the gross mismanagement of the 2018 election by the Secretary of State’s office, Abrams launched Fair Fight to ensure every Georgian has a voice in our election system. The impact of Fair Fight led to Abrams being named to the Forbes list of World’s Most Powerful Women in 2020. Over the course of her career, Abrams has founded multiple organizations devoted to voting rights, training and hiring young people of color, and tackling social issues at both the state and national levels. She is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the 2012 recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award, and a current member of the board of directors for the Center for American Progress. AbramsNew York Times best-selling book Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change, is a personal and empowering blueprint for outsiders who seek to become the ones in charge. Her newly released book Our Time is Now is a blueprint to end voter suppression and chronicles a chilling account of how the right to vote and the principles of democracy have been and continue to be under attack. Abrams received degrees from Spelman College, the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and Yale Law School. She and her five siblings grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi and were raised in Georgia. @staceyabrams

 

Lisa Ling

Lisa LingLISA LING is the executive producer and host of THIS IS LIFE on CNN, now its seventh season. For five seasons prior, Ling EP’d and hosted Our America on OWN. She was also a field correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show and contributor to ABC News’ Nightline. Ling was the first female host of National Geographic’s flagship show Explorer which sent her to cover the phenomenon of female suicide bombing, the spread of the MS-13 gang and the humanitarian crisis inside North Korea. She got her start in journalism as a correspondent for Channel One News where she covered the civil war in Afghanistan at 21 years of age. She later went to become a co-host of ABC Daytime’s hit show, The View, which won its first daytime Emmy during her time at the show. Ling is the co-author of Mother, Sister. Daughter, Bride: Rituals of Womanhood, and Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and The Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home that she penned with her sister Laura. In 2014, President Obama appointed her to the commission on White House fellows. She is an advisory board member for Fostering Media Connections, The Amani Project, and a Baby2Baby angel. @lisaling

Celeste Headlee

Celeste HeadleeCeleste Headlee is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as cohost of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @CelesteHeadlee

 


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Stacey Abrams & Lisa Ling Interview Transcript:

Lisa Ling:

Today, I am so excited, and frankly, a little giddy, to be talking to one of the most compelling figures of our time. She is an author, an entrepreneur, non-profit CEO, and a true leader who has broken boundaries, demanded justice, and opened the doors for millions of Americans. She is, of course, the incomparable Stacey Abrams. Stacey, so great to see you. Thank you so much for being with us.

Lisa Ling:

Now, you rose to national prominence by becoming the first black woman in history to earn a major party nomination for governor. But what I think has really captivated so many people is what you did after failing to win that seat. Many were begging you to run for a Senate seat in Georgia, one that you very likely would have won. But instead, you led this massive collaborative effort to register 800,000 voters in Georgia. In other words, in your words, you refused to let a setback set you back. So can you tell us why you made that decision?

Stacey Abrams:

Well, first of all, Lisa, thank you for interviewing me. I have admired you for years. And if that’s the introduction I get, I would love for you to do my eulogy. It’s a little bit stark right now to use that phrase, but it was really good.

Stacey Abrams:

I want to frame what happened in this way. I’d spent a decade building towards Georgia becoming a competitive state primarily because I believe in justice. I believe that progress is possible and that the weakness of our public health system, of our infrastructure, of our educational system, that the challenges we face in Georgia are solvable. And my responsibility when I became Democratic Leader in 2010 was to think about how do you solve it? But through that, I also very strongly believe that becoming governor, especially in a southern state, would be instrumental to tackling these problems, not just for Georgia, but to really set a narrative for what could happen across the south and around the country. And so when I stood for governor, I told folks, “If you will trust me, if you will run with me, if you will vote in ways you haven’t before, I’m committed to trying to make these things come to fruition.”

Stacey Abrams:

But it was near the end of that campaign where we really became grossly aware of how vicious the voter suppression led by my opponent, the Secretary of State, how effective and vicious it was. And so when I didn’t win, my first responsibility was to either challenge the outcome of the election to try to make myself the governor, or to challenge the system that allowed him to strip the right to vote from so many people to create barriers to their participation. And I was raised by my parents to believe that if you saw a problem, your job isn’t to whine about it. You can for a little bit, but not for very long. Your job is to fix it. And for me, fixing the problem meant that we had to tackle the root issue, which was access to democracy in Georgia.

Stacey Abrams:

Fair Fight has gotten a great deal of credit for the role we played in helping activate voters to register, including a group that I’d started in 2014 called the New Georgia Project. But what we, I think, did most effectively was to actually tackle the system itself. To say that voter suppression has multiple tentacles and we were not going to let any of those tentacles continue unabated.

Stacey Abrams:

So when we didn’t win the election, my first responsibility was to tackle the issues of democracy, to tackle the system itself. And that meant beginning with a lawsuit against the state of Georgia and the elections officials, then Brian Kemp and now Brad Raffensperger. And just yesterday, we received word that the court refused to throw out the case, which is what the Secretary of State’s office sought, because the issues still continue. But another part of it was making certain that when people tried to register to vote, that their registrations were processed. That when they tried to find a polling place, that a polling place was open. That if they needed in the middle of a pandemic to cast their ballots by absentee ballot, that they were able to do so.

Stacey Abrams:

For me, tackling the system itself has always been the most important approach to the work of justice. And running for the Senate, while I think it was an incredibly gracious invitation, and I am so grateful for those who wanted me to undertake that, it wasn’t the right job. For me, being in the Senate is an important position to have. We have seen already how critical it is to have people of good intention in that body as we watched so many abdicate their responsibility during the impeachment trial. But where I wanted to stand was, how do we make certain that it’s not about a single election or a single person, but that we fix the system itself? Because if you don’t fix the system, you may be successful, but someone else is going to lose out. And that person is going to be a voter whose voice isn’t heard.

Lisa Ling:

Well, you truly galvanized the system. After Georgia was called in the presidential election, and then after the two Senate seats flipped, the internet just blew up. Your image was everywhere, accrediting you for mobilizing, organizing, and making sure that people registered and voted. Thousands and thousands of people, many for the first time in their lives. What would you say were the keys to the success? And in particular, how did you mobilize so many different demographics?

Stacey Abrams:

The work started long before 2018. And I reference that because I know there’s so many people out there wondering, how can I do this where I live? And I believe it is possible across this country, but we have to be honest about how hard it is, but how valuable it is. We began the work, I started my work in earnest in 2010 when I became Democratic Leader. So the end of 2010, heading into 2011. I began by really understanding what the impediments were to voter registration. And so often, it was that people weren’t asked or they didn’t understand the process. If you come from a family that has long had civic participation or you live in a community where civic engagement is what’s expected, then yes, voter registration seems easy. But if you live in a community that’s often been isolated from civic participation, where politicians don’t even bother to ask for your vote, where your school doesn’t talk about it because you’re barely getting the education you deserve, you’re not going to necessarily know how to be involved.

 

Stacey Abrams:

Voter registration has to be more than giving someone a piece of paper to fill out. It’s got to be about educating people about what voting accomplishes, because voting isn’t magic. And I think one of the testaments to the work that I’ve done, that so many have done to get more people to the polls, is that we were honest about what we were asking for. This wasn’t going to transform the country. We weren’t going to wake up and the world is absolutely different. But the world gets better when you participate. Change begins when you participate.

Stacey Abrams:

And we really talked about voting. I used the analogy that it’s like medicine. For the diseases, for the ills of our society, the medicine has to be taken again and again for us to get what we need, for us to get better. But the minute you stop taking your medication, things lapse, things get bad again. And so we have to not only vote, but we’ve got to create a pattern of voting.

Stacey Abrams:

And so one of the responsibilities I felt and where I get some of this credit is that I’ve made sure that we invested in organizations, that we built organizations. When I started the New Georgia Project, which is now run by Nsé Ufot, we raised a lot of money, but we gave a lot of money away. And we did the same thing with Fair Fight. It’s not just about building the organizations I start, it’s about using the platform I have to invest in other community members and other groups in smaller organizations that may not have the platform I have, but have the same purpose. And often, we see ourselves in conflict. I believe that this is a collective effort. And when people see you working together and your attention is focused on their betterment, more and more people believe that it’s worth investing and it’s worth trying.

Lisa Ling:

Well, one of the things that many have recognized about your leadership is that you are very deliberate about sharing resources and even credit. Why is that?

Stacey Abrams:

Number one, I heard a long time ago that I’d rather have 50% of something than 100% of nothing. When it comes to justice, when it comes to progress, when it comes to getting things done, I’ve always believed in partnership. It may be the fact that I’m the second of six children. So I was about 15 before I realized Snickers really could satisfy because you always had to share. And for me, the sharing piece, it’s not only sharing credit, it’s sharing the work. And if you’re willing to do one and not the other, then that requires self investigation. I’m not a better person at what I do if I’m the only one who’s acknowledged for it. And for some, that’s the metric of their value, that they are the one who get all the credit.

Stacey Abrams:

I want to see us have the success. And the best way to engender that success is to celebrate everyone who participated, to laud everyone who participates. There’s a saying that victory has 1,000 parents, but defeat is an orphan. Defeat means taking responsibility for where you are, and I take responsibility when I can. But that also then means that you have to celebrate the parents of success, especially those who did work that no one saw. Because if you’re willing to do that, if you’re willing to create space for others to come in, you actually create space for even more people to see themselves as a part of what you do.

Lisa Ling:

Well, certainly, the movement that you helped to create, it was so obvious that everyone really did feel like they were a part of something. And that was really so exciting to watch from afar. I want to talk a little bit about how you became the person you became. What inspired you to public service to begin with?

Stacey Abrams:

I’m the daughter of Robert and Carolyn Abrams. And I talk about my parents so often because they really are the genesis of what I grew up to do. My parents had three rules for us. Go to church, go to school, and take care of each other. They wanted our faith to be a foundation, but they also raised us to believe that faith should never be used to hurt others. It should never be a sword to strike people down. It should always be a shield to protect. And for me, that meant living this faith in a way that was always about helping others.

Stacey Abrams:

The fact that they told us education was critical was because they both came from the abject poverty you hear about in Mississippi. And while they’d made progress, we were still working poor when we were growing up. But my mom and dad said, “Look, we may not be where we expected to be, but we’re further ahead than anyone else in our families have been. And so we’re going to celebrate where we are and then we’re going to push you all to do even more.” And that meant education had to be a part of what we did.

Stacey Abrams:

And the third was that they said take care of each other. And part of it was take care of your five brothers and sisters. And if anybody gets in trouble, everyone’s in trouble, so you might as well do well. But it was also that they would take us out to volunteer. We would go to homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and juvenile justice facilities. We would look at them. We were like, you guys do know we don’t have running water at home or the lights have been cut off for two weeks? But they wanted us to understand that, as my dad said, having nothing is not an excuse for doing nothing. And when you take those pieces together and when you watch the way my parents not only raised us, but the way they lived.

Stacey Abrams:

My parents volunteered, even when they didn’t know where their next dollar was going to come from. They would take us with them to vote, even though they knew politicians didn’t bother to knock on their doors. And they protested, even though they knew that some of the things they were asking for would go to people that were not themselves, and that they would benefit others, but they may not benefit from that protest. I grew up believing that my responsibility, and I shared this with my siblings, that our responsibility is if we see a problem, our job is to fix it. And there is nothing more broken than the waste of human capital and human spirit that comes when people believe that they’re not a part of progress, they’re not a part of society. Or worse, when they believe that no one cares about them and no one cares about their future.

 

 

Lisa Ling:

When they said take care of each other, you really took that to heart and began to take care of everyone, and it’s so incredibly moving. Stacey, you represent someone who is actively changing narrow, outdated ideas of what leadership looks like, not only as the first black woman to run for governor on a major ticket, but as a self-described geek and introvert. So what does it take to decide not to compromise yourself and be authentically who you are?

Stacey Abrams:

As I said, I’m the second of six children, and that meant I grew up surrounded by extraordinary people. My siblings are remarkable in their own ways. But it also meant that we together, we are each other’s best cheerleaders. We create opportunities for one another, we share our successes and our failures, and we’re all very close. There’s 12 years between the oldest and the youngest, but we’re a pack. That’s how we run.

Stacey Abrams:

What that meant for me was that even though I was introverted, I wasn’t shy. I was just more comfortable being by myself than being in crowds. But my belief that things needed to be done, it was stronger than my desire to be quiet and stay away from people. And part of that came about because even in my family, sometimes I was the one who had to speak up. Sometimes I was the person who had to give voice for the younger ones who didn’t know how to frame what they needed. And we don’t have the luxury, we don’t have permission, to not serve those we care about, to not serve the communities we care about.

Stacey Abrams:

I had to translate that in a lot of ways, and part of it was accepting who I am. I talk about being an introvert not because I want credit for being an introvert, but because I want people who find themselves in that space, who are quiet and don’t necessarily see themselves as a voice for others, to understand we can be quiet and loud at the same time. It’s just about understanding who you are so you can adjust your systems to make it work. I go out and talk to people all the time. But when I come home, I’m by myself and I will immerse myself in the silence that I need.

Stacey Abrams:

Likewise, when I was told by some when I was getting ready to run for office that I needed to change my hairstyle, I needed to lose a lot of weight, that I need to get braces, they may have legitimate points. But to tell myself that I’m not prepared to serve because I don’t look like what people expect is not viable for me. And so part of my authenticity is just stubbornness. I’m not willing to wait to do what I think needs to be done, and that means I’ve got to accept who I am.

Stacey Abrams:

I can always work to do better. I want to be healthier than I am, but I don’t think I’m grotesque. I’m not going to fix my gap because it’s my mother’s gap. It’s the gap that I have and that my mother had because our families couldn’t afford orthodontia. And if this gap creates space for me to do even more for people, I’m happy with it. I like my hair the way it is. And while some may not be comfortable with it, I try to make sure there are other parts of me they like. But fundamentally, if we don’t like ourselves, if we aren’t willing to be our whole selves, if we wait until we are perfect to act, then we never do anything.

Stacey Abrams:

That’s not to say that who you are should never force someone else to be different. That’s the selfishness, I think, sometimes with authenticity. I do have to be a part of society, and there ways I have to compromise not myself, but compromise my behavior. I have to go to those lunches and have those conversations. I need to do those speeches. And it’s not that I don’t do the things I need to do, I just create the accommodations I need to make what I do match who I am. But you used the word compromise, and that’s exactly the right word. But you don’t have to compromise your values or your authenticity to compromise for society. You can be a part of without losing who you are.

Lisa Ling:

I’m cheering inside vociferously because I don’t think women can hear enough that you don’t have to compromise your authenticity. It’s just such an important message and mantra. I want to take you back to your college days when you were at Spelman. In your incredible book, Lead From the Outside, you wrote about the time when you are a student at Spelman and when, after a breakup, you went into the college computer lab and put a spreadsheet together that laid out your life plans for the next 40 years. For example, by age 24, you wanted to write a best-selling spy novel. By 30, you wanted to make $1 million, and you wanted to become mayor of Atlanta. So why do you think you did that back then? And how many of those things materialized and what did you learn from this exercise?

Stacey Abrams:

Part of being at Spelman was being in a place that, for the first time, race and gender were not the differences between me and someone else. I was at a black woman’s college. And while some see it as a way to immerse yourself in blackness and in gender issues and gender conversations, it was also a space where the quality of my work, the quality of my mind, was the conversation. It wasn’t barriered by some people by what they saw and what they expected because of who I was from the outside. And let me be very clear. The intrinsic and indelible nature of being a black woman is something I celebrate, but I am that and more. And it was the and more that I had a chance to really explore at Spelman.

Stacey Abrams:

But it was also the first time I got to date, really. I dated a young man near the end of high school, because I wasn’t able to date until I was 16. And so the second time I dated, the second time I thought I was in love, it broke my heart. And one thing he said to me was that he just doubted what I would be because I didn’t seem to be the person he needed. And so I decided to figure out who I was. I’m very goal oriented. And so I went into the computer lab, and we had Lotus 1-2-3, that was the newfangled program at the time. And I wanted to write it down because I’d read a book before about how important it was to concretize your goals by writing it down. But for me, it was even more. It was not only writing down the goal, but writing down how you get there.

Stacey Abrams:

I didn’t come from a family where we knew professionals. I didn’t come from a family where we knew politicians. I came from a family that understood civil rights and protests, where we talked about those things, but those weren’t a part of my daily life. And so I had to give myself a roadmap. I needed to map out how I would get there. It wasn’t enough to say, I see it. I needed to understand how to reach it. And at 18, you’re so full of all of the things you can become and all of the ways you can get there, but we rarely receive guidance on how hard it is if you haven’t seen it done before.

Stacey Abrams:

And so for me, I tried to think of the most ambitious things I could imagine. But even when I thought of the ambition, I put constructs around it. I didn’t just want to write a novel, I wanted to write a spy novel. I didn’t want to be a billionaire, I wanted to be one millionaire because that was the most money I could imagine making. I didn’t think about being President of the United States because that was absurd. The best job I thought a black woman could have in politics was to be the mayor of Atlanta. And so even then, I was trying to be as ambitious as possible, but I was constrained by who I thought I could be. And so one of the reasons the spreadsheet has been so important to me is that it’s allowed me to dream even bigger, to map out how I get there, but to also allow myself to change my dreams.

Stacey Abrams:

I don’t want to be the mayor anymore. I had a chance to work for two extraordinary mayors. They did amazing things. But I do not want their jobs, because the work of being a mayor is different than other type of work. That’s one of the reasons I realized I wanted to run for governor, because the work of a mayor was always constrained in the south by what the state decided. That a mayor in a city where the governor or the state legislature could take away what you had given changes the nature of that job. It doesn’t diminish the importance, but it changes the nature. And we have to give ourselves permission to change our nature too. To figure out that thing that drove us at 18 might still be there, but it might’ve become encompassed by something different, something more, by changes and challenges we hadn’t imagined.

Lisa Ling:

I appreciate that you gave yourself those goals. Whether those particular goals, materialized or not, you set out to make them, and I think that that certainly proved fruitful for you as an exercise. Now, women and people of color have been fighting for pay equity and better representation in leadership for decades. And some would say that minimal progress has really been made. And you’ve made the point we don’t have time to dismantle centuries of patriarchy, racism, classism, and bigotry. Instead, we need to hack the system. So what would hacking the system look like to really achieve equity in the workplace with all the issues that continue to plague us?

Stacey Abrams:

For those who sit in C-suite or middle management, part of it is remembering where you started. We so often focus on what’s happening at CEO level, we forget what happens to the cleaning ladies and the janitors and the secretaries and the assistants, the administrative people. Part of the way to hack the system is instead of championing your own change, work within your organization to ensure that you are doing the best you can by those who are the most vulnerable and have the smallest voices and the weakest choices. That hacking is such a difference because when you start at the bottom, it is that notion of lifting all boats. But in this case, you’re creating a foundation that then ensures that the next level and the next level benefit because you’ve taken care of that baseline. But it’s also about being willing to be the voice of those who don’t have the right to speak up.

 

Stacey Abrams:

The first time I was working at a law firm, and it was fantastic firm, but one of the secretaries asked me a question about what she could do, and she needed me to be her champion. And I thought, well, if I do this, then I’m putting myself at risk. And in retrospect, I think, of course she needed to ask me. I could put myself at risk because they gave me more value, they ascribe more value to the role I played. And it was my responsibility to use that position of power to hack power for her. And there’s so many small ways we can do that. Things we see that we don’t say, or we whisper it or mutter it, hoping that someone overhears us. But we can hack the system by redesigning the system where we are. And it may not change everything, but small changes accrue.

Stacey Abrams:

When I became Democratic Leader at the state, I was intentional. When I first hired my staff, I was the new leader. We had one full-time staffer. I then hired around me people I knew. And it turned out when I finished hiring, my staff was black and white. It completely ignored the fact that Georgia had a burgeoning Latino population, a growing AAPI community, Asian-American Pacific Islander community, and that I had the responsibility to think about that too. So I picked up the phone and called the organizations that serve those communities and said, “I’ve run out of money, but I would love interns, if I could, just to get them in the door so that they could be seen.” And it was my opportunity to hack the system.

Stacey Abrams:

I knew I’d been successful when one of my colleagues from the other side of the aisle said, and I don’t know if he was being complimentary or not, he said, “We can always tell someone from your office. It looks like the United Colors of Benetton or the United Nations.” And for me, that was a perfect compliment, because I couldn’t fix the state, I couldn’t make the GOP hire anyone, I couldn’t tell the Speaker who to hire. But in the posture that I had in the platform that I had, I could do more. And even if I couldn’t pay them immediately, I brought them into a space they had never been in before in number. And I became a better leader, I became a better person. And when it came time in 2020 to turn out voters, we didn’t just turn out black and white voters. We increased participation by Native American, Asian American, Latino voters in record numbers. And that’s because I used my system and my space to hack the system and change the outcome.

Lisa Ling:

Stacey, that’s the thing that I think so many people just so admire about you. Clearly, you are wildly ambitious, but you’ve never lost sight of your surroundings and the people that you have been trying to lift up as well, and that has been so appreciated. You once said that we should have aggressive and wild ambitions that are only anchored by plans, not by doubts. And as women, I think many of us have been taught to temper our ambition. So why do you recommend women have aggressive and wild ambitions? And to the women listening today, what would you say to encourage them to express or make those wild ambitions materialize?

Stacey Abrams:

So over my shoulder is a poster for a documentary that I produced called All In: The Fight for Democracy. And I want to mention it for two reasons. Number one, fighting for democracy, being willing to tackle systems that have been in place literally since the inception of our nation, is wild and in some ways absurd, that in Georgia, a young black woman, or semi-young, is going to tackle this system and try to make it work better. But that was my wild and ambitious dream, but it was also grounded in the plan. Knowing that litigation was a part of it, knowing that we needed to fix legislation, knowing that we needed to build advocacy. Using my skills grown over years of building organizations, hiring people who are smart and thoughtful and capable of greatness, being willing to raise money in order to fund those dreams. But beginning with this very ambitious belief that I was going to stop voter suppression in Georgia. And then we actually, by August of ’19, decided we’re going to do it in 20 States. So that’s one piece of it.

Stacey Abrams:

But this poster also represents one of those secret dreams I had. I am a geek, but I also am well known for my love of media. I love television, film, books, music. I immerse myself in the arts. And I had the ambitious idea that I could produce a documentary to tell the story of voter suppression, because people needed to understand this isn’t a singularity. My campaign and what we faced was certainly deeply problematic, but it was repeated in places across this country in smaller fashion, and maybe not with the same kleig lights. But what I wanted people to see and understand was that this could be done, and so I produced a documentary, and now we’re out there in the ether. I met filmmakers and I was able to plot out how I could be a part of this.

Stacey Abrams:

And so regardless of the scope of the ambition, and regardless of whether it seems to be so personal as to be small or so massive as to be unattainable, our responsibility is to dream it anyway, to desire it anyway. Because you may not get what you want, but you will get something so much better than you have, one, because you tried, and two, because more than likely, you’ll succeed. Sometimes we’re not afraid of our ambition, but it’s not about being afraid of success, it’s being afraid of the responsibility that comes with success, the responsibility that comes with failure. But the only responsibility you have is to understand why you succeeded and multiply it, or understand why you didn’t succeed and solve for it. But we can’t let our ambitions be edited by our own fears. I like to say, take fear out for a drink, get to know it really well, make it your friend, because fear makes you brave. And if fear makes you brave, bravery makes you ambitious, and ambition makes us better. And that’s how we start to create change.

Lisa Ling:

I love that. Leader Abrams, we are about at the end of our time, but I have to ask you one last question. Since you are such a big planner, what can you tell us about your future aspirations?

Stacey Abrams:

I can tell you one day I will run for office again, but I am not thinking about that now, and here’s why. Right now, we are fighting more than 120 voter suppression bills that are popping up all around the country to undo the work that Fair Fight and so many others were able to do in Georgia and around this country. Two, we have a census that has been absolutely decimated by the weaponization under the Trump administration. And it is the narrative and the investment that will dictate the next 10 years of our lives, and really a generation of change. And then we have a COVID recovery that’s going to happen, but has to be deeper and broader and more infrastructure driven than anything we’ve seen before, especially in the south.

 

Stacey Abrams:

When I didn’t become governor, I created Fair Fight to work on democracy, Fair Count to work on the census, and the Southern Economic Advancement Project to work on making sure that the south receives the support it needs to really see progress, and those are things I’m going to be focused on. My work is here in Georgia. My focus is on Georgia. But I’m always thinking about how what we do here can the world, and specifically help those who’ve been left out and left behind. That’s what I’m focused on. I will think about running for office again later. But for right now, that’s the work ahead of me and I’m excited about it.

Lisa Ling:

Well, thank you for your candor on that. Leader Stacey Abrams, we so appreciate you taking the time. We thank you for your wisdom, your insights, and constantly challenging everyone around you to do better and be better. Thank you so much.

Stacey Abrams:

Thank you.

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

Four Simple Ways to Beat Burnout

burned out business woman asleep at desk

Students in the popular Yale University course, The Science of Well-Being, came to class one day and were handed a flyer that said:

“Today’s lecture is about time affluence. To teach you what that is, I’m going to gift you some. There’s no class today.” Their professor Laurie Santos also gave them a list of positive activities they could fill their free time with rather than go to the library and study.

“What was amazing,” she recalls, “was how the students reacted. A lot of the students spontaneously hugged me or one of the TA’s.”

Time affluence—or the feeling of having enough time—is about elusive these days as the quest for work-life balance. As the news tells us, people feel more burned out than ever.

But here’s some good news: “One of the great things that the research on happiness teaches us is that the simple hacks that you can do to bump up your well-being don’t take that much time,” says Santos.

So here are four simple ways to beat burnout and enjoy more time affluence.

  1. Schedule free time. Make it real. And make it sacred.
  2. “We often think that it’s going to be impossible to carve out blocks in our calendar—that time affluence just can’t work for us,” says Santos. “But the fact is that most of us never try. What would it look like if you just today, for [this month and next] just carve out blocks that will be protected?”
  3. Even the idea of doing this makes some people feel a little anxious. But the reality is once you get some free time, you feel like you have more time.
  4. “What we’re learning from the research is that when we’re feeling time-famished, it’s like we’re starving, and so you don’t pick the right kinds of foods,” says Santos. “You’re just like in a really bad state. Whereas if you just gift yourself some time, things can get better. So, gift yourself some. Put it in the calendar. Make it sacred.”
  1. Make time for gratitude.
  2. “This is something we all hear. It’s on Oprah all the time, but we forget how powerful it can be,” says Santos. “There are many cases where our minds kind of lied to us about what makes us happy, and this is one of them. It turns out that the simple act of taking a moment like this to experience what you’re grateful for can be powerful.”
  3. One specific exercise Santos recommends is writing a gratitude letter to someone you care about and then giving it to them. “It turns out,” she says, “that this act of writing a letter of gratitude can boost your well-being for over 30 days.”
  1. Do something nice for someone.
  2. Doing something nice for someone else, especially when you’re in the throes of burnout, may feel counterintuitive, but research shows it can help more than doing something nice for yourself.
  3. “You want to buy yourself a latte or a cupcake or get a quick massage. It turns out that the act of gifting that to someone else can boost your well-being more than you expect,” says Santos.
  1. Watch your mindset.
  2. “The Buddhists talk about when you’re facing something that feels stressful not to hit yourself with what they call the second arrow,” says Santos. “The first arrow is that deadline that comes for your book or a breakup or something bad that happens in your life or traffic or whatever.
  3. “That’s not something you can control, but what you can have complete control over is your reaction to it, and that’s the second arrow. You don’t have to freak out about the traffic. You could reframe it and say, ‘Oh, I got an extra six minutes; I’ll throw on my favorite six-minute song on Spotify.’

Laurie Santos, professor of psychology at Yale University and head of Silliman College, spoke at the 2018 Massachusetts Conference for Women. Listen to her entire session, “Time Saving Hacks to Boss Up & Beat Burnout”.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Health & Wellness

3 Hacks to Slay Perfectionism – Before It Slays You

Asian business woman relaxing at desk with arms behind head

If you’re like many of us, you may secretly cherish your perfectionism, because it means you have high standards, right? You may also feel it is essential to success.

But the research shows some more significant downsides: It won’t make you happy. It doesn’t make you better at your job. Plus, the stress of it can steal years of your life.

And the last thing we need these days is more stress. So here are three simple hacks to help you get the perfectionism demon under control.

  1. Put healthy things on your to-do list.
  2. “One of the things that I have found helpful for me as a perfectionist and as someone who lives for the high that I get in crossing something off my to-do list is to put healthy things on my list. So, if I have a day planner that has eight lines on it for a day, I don’t use all eight lines for work things. At least two or three of those lines need to be for things that feed my soul and feed my energy and energize me, like walk the dog, take a shower. I mean, take a shower. It’s a dumb thing to put on a list, but it’s also awesome.”
  3. Mary Laura Philpott, author of I Miss You When I Blink and the forthcoming Bomb Shelter.
  4. And it’s not just an awesome idea; there’s research that backs up why that works. It’s known as the progress principle, Emilie Aries, author of Bossed Up: A Grown Woman’s Guide to Getting Your Sh*t Together.
  5. “The simple act of giving yourself the sensation of forward-momentum is inherently motivating. So, it’s kind of like getting a punch card for a free car wash after ten car washes with two holes already punched in it. There’s social science that shows, if you give yourself the sensation of a head start, you’re more likely to come back and punch the rest of those cards.
  1. Decide what you get a “B” in so you can Ace what is most meaningful.
  2. If the past year or two or three taught us anything, it’s that we can’t do it all and do it perfectly. So, simplify your ambitions with a little dose of realism from the outset. Or, as Aries puts it: Proactively choose what you want to deprioritize.
  3. “There’s a big difference between proactively saying “I’m aiming for a B in my fitness right now, so I can get an A in finishing my book v. I’m trying to go to the gym four times a week and finish my manuscript,” she says. The second is more likely to lead you to feel like a failure in the end. The first gives you a fighting chance at succeeding at what is most important.
  1. Have a mantra.
  2. “The thing I always love to say is something I learned from my producer and cameraman on a show that I do for Nashville Public Television called “The Word on Words,” where I interview other writers,” says Philpott. “When I mess up and get really stiff and robotic because there’s a camera on me and I’m talking in this weird voice, he will lean out from behind his camera and say, ‘Try it again, more like you.’

Mary Laura Philpott and Emilie Aries spoke at the Texas Conference for Women in 2019. This article is based on their session. Listen to their full session, “The Happy Perfectionist: Managing the Trap.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Health & Wellness

Malcolm Gladwell on Bold Leadership in a New World of Work

Malcom Gladwell

Managing in a post-pandemic workplace is more complex than ever. Leaders have been required to stretch their skills in unimaginable ways and swiftly adjust their styles to meet the unique needs of individual team members.

Featuring renowned journalist and best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell, this episode will explore ways you can keep your teams engaged, productive and growing while also juggling the challenges that come with remote and hybrid workplaces.

With inspiration and advice, learn ways to lead boldly and meet the demands of the new world of work.

Transcript & additional resources for this episode below!

 

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

Think Again: Adam Grant on the Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know

Adam Grant

In this episode, Wharton’s top-rated professor and organizational psychologist Adam Grant invites us to examine the critical leadership skill of rethinking: learning to question your opinions and open other people’s minds, making you a stronger and more flexible leader in the process.

In an increasingly divided world, too many of us favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt. The result is that we can become siloed in our lives and in our workplaces, surrounded by people who agree with our conclusions instead of challenging our thought process.

Transcript & additional resources for this episode below!

 

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

How to Turn Your Difference into an Advantage – with Tania Katan

How to Turn Your Difference into an Advantage – with Tania Katan

Amazing “creative disruptor” Tania Katan has spent years sneaking her imagination into the office, using creativity to disrupt norms and turning her differences into her superpower.

As a woman, breast cancer survivor, and a member of the LGTBQ community, Tania shares real-life experiences to help transform your mindset.

You’ll be inspired to capitalize on your differences rather than striving for similarity, and leave a lasting impression so you stand out and get noticed.

 

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Posted in Podcasts, Life on Your Terms, Innovation, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Tagged , |

Asian-American Women Pioneering the Path Forward: A Conversation with Awkwafina & Lisa Ling

Awkwafina

Today’s episode is an exclusive replay of a 2020 Massachusetts Conference for Women keynote conversation recognizing two remarkable pioneers blazing trails for Asian Americans, and inspiring women and girls of all ages and backgrounds: award-winning writer, actress, and comedian Awkwafina and journalist Lisa Ling.

With authenticity and vulnerability, Awkwafina shares personal experiences in navigating the ups and downs of her career and life, illustrating that everyone, regardless of success level, grapples with insecurities and self-doubt. Packed with advice and laughter, you will walk away inspired and ready to tackle your fears and take a risk.

 

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Posted in Podcasts, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Tagged , , |

4 Healthier Ways to Cope with Chronic Stress

Lisa Damour

For some of us, eating popcorn became a new, almost daily habit over the past year. Someone in the house always seemed to have eaten the last of the ice cream. And there was just no keeping cookies around.

Coping strategies? Yes. Healthy and effective coping strategies? Not so much.

Negative coping strategies, says psychologist and New York Times columnist Lisa Damour, are ones that help a little in the short-term but they don’t hold up over the long term. Here are four common examples, according to Damour:

Negative Coping Strategies

  1. Emotional retreat. This is what happens when we withdraw from people, cut them off, or avoid them.
  2. Substance misuse. “One of the things that is true about substances is that they are incredibly effective at helping us feel better,” she says. “But if it becomes a regular short-term solution, it doesn’t end up going very well down the line.”
  3. Junk habits. “These are things that we do that we know we’re not supposed to do, like take our phone to bed and scroll and scroll and scroll through it instead of sleeping, or only eating comfort foods, or not getting off the couch.”
  4. Crankiness. This is the age-old-letting-it-fly-at-someone-to-relieve-a-little-stress strategy.

So, what’s the better alternative? Positive coping strategies, says Damour, have the great advantage of working in both the short-term and the long-term. Here are some examples:

Positive Coping Strategies

  1. Seek social connection. “It doesn’t matter how many people you have in your life. What matters is whether you have what you need. To have the social support that sustains you, everybody needs three things. They need someone to tell their worries to. They need somebody to tell their secrets to. And they need someone or a group who helps them to feel connected and accepted.” If you are missing any of those, Damour suggests, make a special effort to find it.
  2. Think about ways to take a break. “Happy distractions are really important for getting through chronic stress conditions. We’ve got years of research that tells us this,” she says. “It is important to check out sometimes, to not think about the headlines, to not think about prevailing conditions, and just let ourselves restore a little bit.”
  3. Practice incredibly disciplined self-care. “This means getting good sleep and taking steps to make sure you can fall asleep at night, maybe by winding down before you go to bed. This means eating well, eating a terrific variety of foods, enjoying foods, enjoying treats. This also means being active. Moving in ways that feel really good and keep your blood flowing, keep you moving.”
  4. Take care of other people. “Taking care of other people actually does help us take care of ourselves,’ says Damour. ‘So, in addition to taking care of ourselves, we want to do what women always do and take good care of other people.”

The bottom line. Positive coping strategies won’t help you eliminate chronic stress. But they will help buffer the psychological impact of chronic stress. So, if the popcorn or chips aren’t doing the trick anymore, try Damour’s tips for a healthier, more effective impact.

Lisa Damour spoke at the 2020 Massachusetts Conference for Women. This article is based on her talk. Damour is the author of several books, includingUnder Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls.


More from the May 2021 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Health & Wellness Tagged , |