Conversations

The Biggest Secret to Finding and Keeping Your Best People

Roxi Hewertson has revealed a lot of secrets to creating a successful workplace in her new book, Hire Right Fire Right, but the biggest secret to finding and keeping your best people is to remember that the hiring process is about creating relationships, not transactions. So why do so many companies make the mistake of hiring a new person through a resumé, letters of reference and one or two interviews? Roxi says it’s because that’s the way we’ve always done it. But today, especially in the days of COVID, when we’re looking at new ways of doing so many things, we need to examine how we match each new hire with the job, the team, the company goals and how that talent can be integrated into profitable and productive relationships within the organization.

As founder and CEO of the Highland Consulting Group, Roxi partners with clients to build and sustain outstanding leadership capacity and results, with a vision of creating a better world one leader at a time. Great leaders are made, not born, and Roxi’s work focuses on the processes that builds great leaders, and sustainable organizations that support both employees and customers. In her first book, Lead Like It Matters, Because It Does, Roxi says that she wrote the book she wished she could have read in her 30-year career in business leadership. She interviewed with Dr. Nancy in 2015 about how you can become the CEO of your own life, and why great leadership is so important. In this interview, she reminds us that we are our own CEO’s and gives us guidance on both sides of the fence—hiring new people for our organizations, and applying for that new career move.

Overarching Messages in Hire Right Fire Right

Roxi blames lack of preparation on poor hiring practices and divides her new book into three sections: Acquiring, Retention and Closure (ARC). She warns never to depend on the traditional tools, like the resumé (because you never know who wrote it and what is a lie or an exaggeration) and the reference letter (because the applicant has read the letter and the author of the letter knows that and edited their recommendation accordingly). Instead, Roxi supplies eight relational factors—A through H, starting with “attitude” and ending with “heart,” with big dashes of “character” and “emotional intelligence” for good measure. Her step-by-step approach tells how to find out about the eight factors, including how they “fit,” which doesn’t mean that they’re the same as the rest of the team, but if they are a good match for the job at hand.

The Retention section involves onboarding correctly and development of the new hire. Roxi says that even if you haven’t onboarded correctly there are some things you can do, “that help those relationships and help people feel like they belong, that they fit and are welcome in the organization and that they’re valued.” She says that people think because so many meetings are taking place on Zoom that people aren’t doing training and development now. But Roxi says, “In fact, the opposite is true. In some ways, people are able to get together more than in the past. Then the question becomes, how do you design and manage those get-togethers virtually so that it builds trust and builds relationships–and develops people. So there’s no reason why you can’t move forward, even during a pandemic.”

The third section is about when an employee is leaving, whether that’s voluntary or involuntary. She says the point is to retrieve valuable information from the exit interview and if the person is being fired, she has tips to avoid arbitration, lawsuits and collateral damage. Roxi boils it down to five B’s:

  1. Be truthful
  2. Be fair
  3. Be clear
  4. Be respectful
  5. Be smart

They need to be able to leave with dignity. Roxi says that she has always followed the 5 B’s and never had an arbitration.

Roxi’s Recommendations for Women Job Applicants

If you’ve been offered a job, Roxi says that she always goes in being exactly who she is: strong, confident, not arrogant, and if it isn’t a good fit, or they don’t want to hire her, then it’s okay because the job wasn’t right for her. She says, “My attitude going in is you deserve as much pay as you can get. You deserve as many perks as you can get. And if you know that you’re good for the job and they can’t figure that out, then they’re lost. Women are bringing more than they’re getting is how I think about it.” She also recommends that every woman considering leadership read How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith. It shares the 12 habits that get in women’s way as they’re negotiating and being a leader in an organization. Roxi says that she still has one of those habits after all her years coaching and being in business.

More Secrets and Valuable Information

Listen to this interview for more insights into the complications of doing business and engaging employees in the time of COVID. Buy and READ Hire Right Fire Right—and learn all the secrets to finding and keeping your best people. Check out this article Roxi wrote about how one company did it right with compassionate furloughs during COVID on HR.com. And check out Roxi’s award-winning  ”Leading with Impact: Your Ripple Effect” course on Ask Roxi, and through her TEDx talk from 2012. It is as compelling and relevant to how our leaders lead today as it was six years ago.  Great leadership depends on what leaders do, not who leaders are.

Why Promote Partnership and Collaboration Among Women

A. Margot Blair, founder of AMB Consulting and Company, is a business and partnership strategist whose central theme throughout all her initiatives is collaboration. It’s also the central theme to this conversation, or as Dr. Nancy says, “None of us gets anywhere by ourselves.” Margot specializes in creating strategic partnerships, marketing events, and developing social profits (non-profits that benefit the people they serve). Her fascinating journey began as an entrepreneur life coach for teen girls who faced adversity, much as she had herself. It was her own childhood adversity and that of her early clients that inspired her to help others learn how to define themselves by their own terms instead of allowing their situations and circumstances to define them.

Today, that organization is called DiscoverHer Worldwide and it provides personal development training to 4,000 incarcerated women and girls, focusing on leadership behaviors, resilience and collaboration between women. This work, in combination with her for-profit business has earned her several awards, including being recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 Leader and Top 35 Millennial Influencer.

DiscoverHer

In discovering herself as an entrepreneur and college graduate at the age of 19, Margot faced a lot of competition and realized that she didn’t want to do it alone–that we’re not meant to do it alone. This led her to studying the psychology of collaboration that became the core of all her work. Margot says, “One of the things that I make sure to teach the people I work with is really understanding that as you’re being poured into, whether it’s mentorship or it’s a business-coach relationship, whatever the dynamic—as you’re being poured into, it’s important to pour into other people. That’s really the premise of the DiscoverHer movement. It’s discovering her, the woman you’ve been designed to be.”

In her own journey, she said that it’s a process of really figuring out, “What’s my calling? What’s my purpose and how does that relate to my destiny and then how do I come into the full version of myself?” Margot says that she totally believes we have all we need right inside ourselves. She explains, “We have to learn and sharpen our skills in diverse areas and unlearn certain things that no longer serve us and remove ourselves from certain relationships that no longer serve us or propel us forward to who we’re supposed to be.” This is what she has been doing for the last four years with a partnership strategy that starts with being intentional about collaboration.

The Partnership Approach

Listen to this podcast to learn more about Margot’s journey and how she has turned partnership strategies into collaborations with major organizations, such as The Obama Foundation, The Black Enterprise, LinkedIn, ADP, Toyota, and many more. Discover how to amplify your own events and initiatives with her new resource and free download, The Partnership Approach. Margot says that you will shift your mindset in several ways to position yourself to partner with people you’ve always wanted to reach out to. Margo invites you to connect with her to learn more at amargoblair.com or on her social media platforms.

 

 

Why a Woman Needs to Stay in Her Power

Sharon Melnick, PhD, answers the question—why a woman needs to stay in her power—with a very simple answer, “When a woman is in her power, she raises everyone around her.” Dr. Sharon is a business psychologist who founded the virtual coaching initiative “Next Level Leader,” through which 92% of mid-career women of color and white women participants gain challenging and high paying next level roles in weeks, not months or years, even during COVID. Her methods have transformed 40,000 clients and trainees at more than 50 Fortune 500 companies, and she has presented at women’s leadership conferences around the world—including events at the White House and the United Nations.

Her drive for change came during her research at Harvard Medical School where she learned about intergenerational cycles and how you bring your childhood experiences into your adult life, both in parenting and the workplace.  If we don’t feel seen and heard as children, we often don’t use our voices as adults, and our amazing ideas are cut off. Instead of contributing and using our power for good, our power starts to leak and we focus on things we can’t control. We may internalize the way others see us—as not enough or not ready for that promotion—and we get demoralized, frustrated, even depressed when we feel disrespected. That’s why Dr. Sharon says, “The very first thing that’s important for a woman to get to that next level is to get in her power and stay in her power.”

From Pigeon Holed to Promoted

Dr. Sharon gave the presentation based on her new e-book, From Pigeon Holed to Promoted, at the 15th annual National Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference a few weeks ago. She said that we need to redefine power away from the negative power over model most of us have experienced. Instead, a woman finds her power at the intersection of three skill sets:

Resilience is her ability to stay centered and not get derailed by distractions—being able to stay connected to her bigger purpose and the contribution she’s here to make.

Confidence is her ability to own her own view of herself and create the perception that is needed for the outcome she wants.  It gives her the courage to take risks and go for it knowing that she stands for something that is for the good of all.

Influence is gained by aligning your skills and experience with that of the company’s goals when you ask for that next level promotion. That alignment helps you use the momentum of the company to propel you to the next level. In her presentation, Dr. Sharon compared it to being swept along by the current of a swift stream, as opposed to trying to get momentum from standing still. In this conversation she told a story of a client of hers who used this technique after years of trying to get a plum assignment from her manager. Once she showed how her ideas would help make him look good to his higher-up, she got all she asked for, which resulted in an Extra $100,000 in her pocket and a promotion in four months.

The Importance of a Woman Staying in Her Power

When a woman is in her power, Dr. Sharon says, “We have to be impeccable for our 50%, we have to influence the culture, be a role model and ask for objectivity, and be one of the people who brings it up on your team to require inclusivity.”  The key is to focus on the 50% that you can control and not be distracted by the 50% beyond your control. In these times when every woman is doing two or three full time jobs while working at home and homeschooling, it’s important to find space for a calm moment to visualize those big picture ideas and when you can ask yourself, “What do I want?” She says that it’s not all about you; it’s about bringing everyone along with you, adding, “Every woman in her power is a change agent. Just by that transparency—just by sharing your story—just by sharing your vision about how the culture could be for all of us, you raise everyone around you.”

Listen to this conversation for more ideas about why a woman needs to stay in her power. Check out Sharon’s website for more about her on line coaching programs, her blog, speeches, and her book From Stress to Success. And look up more information about National Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference where both she and Dr. Nancy contributed valuable information to help lift women up to the next level together.

Life, Work and Meaning—A Thoughtful Respite for Our Times

Michele Weldon Head Shot 2020Michele Weldon is a storyteller and lifelong journalist, whose new book of essays reflect a theme of life, work and meaning—a thoughtful respite for our times. This is her sixth book; it has already won an award for best essay, and it’s titled after her father’s guidance for his six children, Act Like You’re Having a Good Time. Her father used this admonition to stop childhood bickering and stubborn refusal to behave well. Its result was to give Michele an overall view of “living life with intended optimism,” which is exactly what we need as an antidote for the uncertainty of COVID, outrage over racism and the “us” versus “them” political atmosphere. As Michele says in this conversation, “I think we need to treat each other on every level – from in our homes to the highest political divisions – with respect. The name calling and finger pointing and all of that needs to stop at every level, and to understand that there are a lot of people really hurting right now.” So Michele has offered a collection of essays to allow us to take a break from the pain and chaos, examine our own lives, reclaim the dreams that we’ve misplaced along the way, remember our humanity and hope for a better future.

Why Act Like You’re Having a Good Time?

Act Like Youre Having a Good Time Book CoverMichele says that she has been an essay writer for decades but had never put them all in one place. So for five years, she had this goal of doing just that. The theme, “Life, Work and Meaning” came about because she is a 62-year-old woman thinking about her life, reflecting on her accomplishments (or perceived lack of them) and her purpose for the future. She created the book to speak to women like herself, which she describes in the book as having “a big personality, which is code for women who say what they think, express ambition, and show an intolerance for systems and their enforcers that are biased, unjust, and limiting,” and also for younger women and men. It’s time to take inventory and plan how to make an impact. She hopes people who read the book will feel the respite from these challenging times and think, “oh, I think that way too—or I never thought of that.” She writes about memories from childhood, so it’s a friendly companion. She says, “It’s not intellectually challenging, but it can be emotionally comforting.”

 

Purpose—The Import of Life, Work and Meaning

 

With her work as a journalist, Michele is fortunate to be able to work from home, with the added benefits of not having to commute or travel. All of this extra time has led her to think about what she can do with it. She has rediscovered painting and is taking a weekly Plein Aire class, but this book, in combination with COVID, has made her think about her own life and what advice to share with others.

Michele currently serves on five advisory boards, each with a different mission, and a lot of people are asking for help right now. To answer that call, she is mentoring young journalists, who she might have turned down a few months ago, and thinking about writing another book just for them.  She says that some people are choosing to be really safe and insulated right now while others are reaching out to connect globally. Michele sees this extra time as an opportunity to figure out how she can create change in the world beyond her small circle of friends and family.

Michele advises, “The best we can be is empathic and kind and generous with ourselves and other people and not be quick to judgement, and definitely not try to hurt people or compete too hard at the expense of anyone. Just sort of calm down and recognize the humanity in everyone.”

Listen to this conversation for more of Michele’s personal story and learn how she embarked on a career in journalism. Check out her website www.micheleweldon.com for more about her books, keynotes, interviews, access to essays, and to contact her.

How to Find Your Dream Job and Get Highly Paid for Work You Love

Renessa Boley Layne found that her own dream job is helping other people to find theirs and figuring out how to place a value on that so they can get paid very well for the work they love doing. Renessa took several wrong turns along the way. She was so good in math and science that she was groomed from junior high to go into STEM (before STEM was even a concept) and was further rewarded with a six-figure salary as a successful engineer while in her early 20’s. But she hated math and science, and life gave her signs—chronic illness, depression, etc.—but she was deaf to them for quite a while because she was advised to tough it out. That’s what high-achieving women do. Renessa took the safe path—the path where she could get a free education, followed by a job where she could make a lot of money. When she hated that career, she tried something different, which she also hated. This went on until she slowed down, found her true gift is helping other people find their own dream jobs and she founded Perfect Work Academy for other high-achieving women and men.

She Wrote the Book

Fast Lane, Wrong Direction: Insider Secrets to Redesign Your Success and Reclaim the Passion, Purpose and Balance You Lost Along the Way tells Renessa’s story and the process she went through to discover work that she loves. She says it isn’t easy. It’s scary and arduous and it even requires grieving and self-forgiveness when you quit a “successful” career. We receive so much of our identity (respect and prestige) from our job titles and credentials that we often lead with those when people ask what we do, rather than describing our purpose and what gives us fulfillment in life. Renessa says that the market pays for value and once you figure that out, you can get highly paid to do anything.

 

Three Steps to Finding Your Dream Job

If you are feeling stuck consider these steps that Renessa says are absolutely critical to figuring out how to create your dream job.

  1. Design with the end in mind.

Renessa says, “Clarity is crystal clear. Nothing is dynamic until it’s specific.” Don’t just get a college degree or take a job to do something different. Define your perfect work first. Don’t be afraid to be bold. Renessa says that you can have anything you want as long as you get clear about it. If you can’t figure it out on your own, pay for help.

  1. Figure out your own strategic sequence.

Renessa points out that everyone has their own starting point in life. As an example, she says that she is 45 years old with a daughter living at home. Nancy has grown daughters and grandchildren. They have different starting points and their strategies will be different for finding their perfect work.

  1. Position your value.

Any two people will be paid differently for the same job. Renessa uses the example of two speakers—one will make a lot of money speaking, while the other may not make so much. The market pays for value, and you have to decide how to position that value so the client, company or customer pays you well for your dream job.

Free Tool

Many of these principles apply to any big change you want to make. Renessa says that whether you want to change the way you parent, your role in a relationship, or any other aspect of life that you find unfulfilling, the three steps and process is the same. Check out her book if any of these situations resonate with you.

In the meantime, check out this free tool, the Success and Happiness Test. This test applies to any goal related to your work—if you want to write a book, become a leading authority, start a side hustle, whatever you’re considering. Answer the 12 questions on Renessa’s Success and Happiness Test and you will receive a 10 page customized report that tells you what you’re doing right and wrong, how to create your perfect work or change your situation. Renessa predicts, “It will read you like a book.”

Listen to this conversation for more of Renessa’s story and perspectives on how we view ourselves in the careers we choose, how our egos stick us in certain places, how to orchestrate the support we need, and more. Check out Renessa’s website for success stories and additional information.

Power Forward to Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging

Dr. Sheila RobinsonDr. Sheila Robinson has grown her company, Diversity Woman Media, over two decades to become a nationally recognized, multifaceted resource that helps customers drive and deliver business results through diversity, inclusion and talent development initiatives. Sheila says that she has two customers: the internal customers – corporations and organizations that she helps drive and deliver business results, and the external customers – the women who are leaders and future leaders of our world. Her hallmark initiatives for the external customers are “Diversity Woman Magazine,” which provides ideas, solutions and resources to help women advance their careers, and the annual Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference.

Dr. Nancy credits the Diversity Women’s conference for changing her life and helping her understand the true meaning of inclusion. After that first conference several years ago, she became a sponsor and an advocate for the Diversity Woman brand. She says that if you want to really understand what coming together over differences and belonging feels like, and how that fresh perspective can propel us all to greater success, you must attend the Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference.

Register Now! October 8 & 9, 2020. It’s Virtual!Power Forward

 

For the first time the Diversity Women’s conference is going virtual, so it’s easier than ever to attend. Sheila and the conference team are making it as compelling as possible in the virtual mode and have a slate of impressive speakers. Dr. Nancy and Trudy Bourgeois are scheduled to deliver their presentation about how we’re better together, “Together We Can – Supporting One Another Across Differences.”

Sheila says Power Forward describes where we are today as women—all women—all races, cultures and backgrounds. She says that we can’t afford to take one step back and let the crisis caused by COVID and outrage over racial injustice distract us. She says, “We’ve got to continue to move forward. And Power Forward is about escalating that.” While acknowledging that we are facing a number of challenges, the speakers are geared to help us power forward, with the mindset to keep us resilient, courageous, and adaptable, to reimagine and work with what we have, and to seize the opportunity to move it  faster and further than ever before. Sheila adds that it took white women 100 years to get the right to vote and women of color even longer. We absolutely cannot go backwards or allow our progress toward equality to stall out.

Free Stuff—Win-Win-Win and More!

Listen to this conversation to hear more of Sheila’s story, how she feels about her purposeful work, and Nancy’s views about how the Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference is a win-win-win for everybody who attends. Check out Sheila’s free webinar series, “Moving Forward–from Fear to Focus.” Instead of making masks in her living room, Sheila responded to the pandemic by revising her work to help women trying to remain visible at work while working remotely in their living rooms, how to handle the additional stresses of quarantine and possible loss of income, and other issues with expert guests like Dr. Nancy O’Reilly. Available here.

Own Your Own Power and Influence

Sheila’s parting words of wisdom are for women to realize that we influence the conversation at our dinner tables. That’s why she likes working with women so much. She says that no one person or race can cure systemic racism and biases built into our various cultures. But women have a power that we only have to recognize and use at our dinner tables, “We do influence how our children—even our adult children—go out into their play places, their workplaces, school places. We influence how our spouses go out into their workplaces and play places.” She urges women to take advantage of this influence and know that by influencing our families, we also reshape our community, our society, our country, and our world. Read more on diversitywoman.com.

A Women-less History Teaches Girls They Are Worth Less

Rachel_VogelsteinRachel Vogelstein serves on the board of the National Women’s History Museum, a virtual museum that in part provides curricula for teachers and students and resources that share the stories of the women who contributed to our country’s founding and advancement in support of our democracy and human rights. Rachel has a rich history of professional services for women, including currently being a professor of gender and U.S. foreign policy at Georgetown Law School, and as a Douglas Dillon senior fellow and director of the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations. However, she said that her awareness of women missing in our history books has become sharpest as a parent, whose children are missing vital information about half of our nation’s citizens.

It’s these missing women that compelled a group of women to fight long and hard to create the Museum. It began when they noticed that the only statue of women in the Capitol building, among hundreds of men, was the suffragist statue displayed in the basement, aka “the crypt.” They got it moved upstairs, figuratively elevating women’s contributions to center stage in the Capitol hall. That effort, 25 years ago, launched a campaign to build a museum to commemorate women and transform the way we teach history in our schools. While it hasn’t been physically realized yet, Rachel says that they are committed for it to be built on The National Mall in Washington, D.C., where the other national monuments and museums are located. She says that there are museums for practically every issue and idea, including postage stamps, textiles, all kinds of arts and craft, but nothing to commemorate the women who have served the nation.

Millions of People Visit the Online Museum

The Museum’s online presence has attracted millions of visitors with curricula available for teachers and resources for students. They have historians who have worked with the museum to curate online exhibits and information about a range of women, not only the suffragists, but women who helped shape the future of our nation at its founding, and others who fought for human rights and civil rights. These were really powerful leaders that provide role models of bravery and courage to create change. They are inspirational figures who can teach us ways to shape our own future.

How to Get Involved

Rachel encourages listeners to become a member of one of the committees fighting for the creation of this Museum. She says that there are hundreds of thousands of people across the country who have been affected by their virtual work, but we need to let our congressmen know that we consider building a physical presence a priority—whether that’s through letters, phone calls or social media. A physical structure will give the Museum the credibility to take a more important place in our nation’s capital. They have a capital campaign to raise funds for the building and it is a 501c3 organization, eligible for charitable tax deductions. In the meantime, the Museum will continue growing its online offerings to increase women’s presence in the story of our history. Rachel says that every time a young girl opens a history book and sees a women-less history, she learns that she is worth less and perhaps this country doesn’t belong to her.

Listen to this conversation for more information about Rachel and the Museum. Go online on August 26 to check out the full day of programming celebrating the signing of the 19th Amendment.  As Rachel says, “When women see women accomplishing their dreams and daring to do the impossible, they begin to believe in their own potential.” The National Women’s History Museum aims “to complete our nation’s history, and empower future generations to build their dreams.”

Creating Opportunities for a Diverse Workforce in Tech

Krista PeryerKrista Peryer is passionate about helping women, people of color, and anyone who is underrepresented to find a way into the tech industry. Krista says, “The great thing about it is the tech industry will never tap out on jobs. There will always be new jobs and new resources and that is why the tech industry is so fascinating to me is that it’s not just workforce development and economic development, but it’s personal development as well, because there’s endless opportunities to learn new things and to make yourself more valuable and to earn more money.”

That’s why five years ago, she co-founded The Geek Foundation, Inc. and for the first four years, Geek concentrated on partnering with the library and other community organizations to put on programs to expose children to tech in ways that helped them explore future job opportunities in the industry. She herself had hit the “gatekeeper mentality” in tech when she tried to enter the field. The white males working in it discouraged her, advising that unless you’d spent your life in tech, it would be too difficult.

Krista refused to believe that. She loves tech and was a mathlete as a child. Also, every tech company needs employees. They are constantly hiring and there aren’t enough people to fill the jobs. She sought a traditional degree, but found that for what she wanted to do, she would need to go to school another six years. Then she talked to the people who hired for the tech companies. They said that as long as the applicant could pass their technical exam, they didn’t need a 4-year degree. Krista arrived at the conclusion that college degrees are great for some things, but certain positions in tech, like front-end developers and IT positions, are thought of as a skilled trade, rather than a college-bound profession.

The Geek Foundation Wins Its First Grant

In 2019, The Geek Foundation partnered with The Northwest Project, Drew Lewis Foundation and Pitt Technology Group and won the Collective Impact Grant from The Community Foundation of the Ozarks– $24,000 to develop a curriculum for a three to five month program to result in useful and relevant IT certifications to help place more low-income women into second-tier information service positions. Krista said when COVID hit, they refused to let it slow them down, so instead of having spring and fall classes, they put on two classes in June: one in online web development and a second in IT. Krista said announcements were sent out through organizations like SingleMomzRock (http://www.singlemomzrock.com/) and Minorities in Business. Both classes were full in two weeks. And half the students were women. Krista is really excited to see what happens when they open the classes up to the public. And the larger goal is to expand into more communities, across the nation and around the world.

The Impact of Working in Tech on Low Income Neighborhoods

Krista is a big picture thinker. She imagines that giving women and other under-represented people access to tech can transform individual lives, neighborhoods, cities and the world. She runs through the issue. Suppose someone is making the federal poverty level of $17,000 a year. Average starting pay in tech jobs is $40,000 to $60,000 a year, with health benefits. Imagine how that can transform a family and the neighborhood they live in. A larger tech workforce in the community would attract more tech companies to the city and that would create a greater need for a skilled workforce. Individual quality of life improves with well-paid jobs and economic prosperity is shared by the larger community.

The Future of Tech

Listen to this conversation for more about how Krista sees the future for tech, the maker industries including robotics, wearable technologies like Google glasses and other possible branches for positions. Dr. Nancy and Krista also discuss what stops women from going into STEM fields and why it’s all nonsense. Krista says that with social media we have more ways to change our perspective and get over artificial hurdles for women in tech. Check out The Geek Foundation website and sign up for their newsletter to receive notices of new programs when they happen. For specific questions, e-mail info@thegeekfoundation.org.

Women–Use Your Voice and Be the Leader You Want to Be

Felicia DavisFelicia Davis is a riveting speaker, author and award-winning leadership coach who works with emerging and experienced women leaders to develop effective leadership brands, compelling communication skills and the confidence to show up and be the leader they want to be. But she wasn’t born that way. She tells Dr. Nancy that she was born to 14 year-old children, then nurtured by her grandmother and an array of aunts, her father, teachers and friends (who both challenged her and supported her) until she emerged from college committed to help women take a stand for what they believe in.

Today, she offers that transformation for women leaders through her Branding Institute, with the “Brand Your Brilliance” workshop for high velocity leadership, and a hundred more initiatives. She calls her propriety branding process a “change catalyst” and agrees with Dr. Nancy that you have to find comfort in discomfort in order to grow. Felicia says, “I tell you Dr. Nancy, in every single big initiative I’ve taken on for myself personally, you can bet your bottom dollar, two things are sure. Number one is it scared the be-Jesus out of me. Number two, I didn’t have everything figured out.” She explains that she doesn’t start with a 10-point plan (no one does), but figures out step one, then step two and the rest evolves along the way. If you’re feeling stuck by life’s circumstances, read this post to see how Felicia pushed past her own roadblock to lead even more powerfully than before.

Why Women Don’t Use Their Voices

Felicia did a seven-city empowerment tour to support women to step up boldly and use their voice. But she also had many small group and one-on-one conversations with women to learn what stopped them from using their voices. She found it all hinged on three big things:

  1. Hiding out and thinking results alone would get them a seat at the table
  2. Ambivalence in decision making and being unwilling to trust their inner voice to make a decision
  3. Risk-aversion and not forming the personal self-confidence to get things done.

These open, honest conversations helped Felicia understand what shaped their identity and thinking. Dr. Nancy brought up the question that people asked her along the way, “Who does she think she is?” And Felicia said the real problem is when you say that to yourself. The self-critic and internal biases begin within and are the first roadblock to using our voices.

How to Succeed in the Post-Pandemic World

Felicia says there are three things we need to do to lead and succeed whether we go back to our jobs or try something new:

  1. Be able to have courageous conversations to speak up about what has weight in your heart.
  2. Have full-on clarity around why anyone should be led by you. This means you have to have a common goal or issue to get thing done. Felicia asks, “What is your vision for your industry in a post-pandemic world?”
  3. Gather your collaborative crew. She suggests that you find a diverse mix of people to serve as your allies, co-conspirators, supporters and mentors.

Both Felicia and Dr. Nancy agree that our biggest strength is to support one another—and that’s everyone. Black, white, male, female, all identities, cultures, ages and races must identify as “we.” Dr. Nancy says, “It’s richer and more fluid; it’s more creative. It makes more sense”

Listen to this conversation for more words of wisdom and guidance about how to shed your barriers and find your voice, and the other missions that Felicia supports:  Take the Lead, whose mission is Parity for All Women by 2025, and the Black Women’s Collective that she founded after the Black Women’s March to remind black women who they are, to amplify their voices and give them more space to be seen in the right rooms, at the right time and in the right places. Visit Felicia’s website for the Branding Institute, her inspiring blogs and other programs to help women become the leaders they/you are destined to be.

Redefining Business as a Tool for Building a Better World

Stacy_Jurado_MillerNine years ago, Stacy Jurado-Miller started and built a business with her husband called the Vecino Group, which became a $100 million real estate company devoted to building a better world, one community and one development at a time. She did this with no experience or interest in real estate development, but with a belief that if you develop a business with the goal of building a better world, that business will be successful. Stacy says that the traditional model of business for profit was developed by men. This male-driven capitalism model has brought us to where we are today. Stacy calls herself a passionate communicator and says, “The thing I’m most passionate about at this moment in time is the untapped power of using business to build a better world.” In fact, she says any business can be redefined as a tool for a mission-driven business and the pandemic right now presents a huge opportunity for change.

Gender Equity and Redefining Leadership

Stacy says the question for women is do we want to change the world by continuing to work our jobs within the traditional male-driven companies or is it quicker to develop our own system and create a new path for change? Feeling frustrated in her traditional company, Stacy’s passion for nearly four years has been the lack of gender equity and how traditional business defines leadership. Male-driven business values assertive competitive risk-takers as the natural best leaders. Whereas Stacy thinks it’s very contrary to that and says, “I think if you’re a good listener, if you’re empathetic, if you can identify what people are saying and what they’re needing, and play to that, that’s true leadership.” So in January, she took a leap of faith and quit her job, even though she says she is as proud of that company as she is her children.

Work That Doesn’t Feel Like Work

Then in March COVID-19 hit along with stay-at-home orders, homeschooling and all the rest. But like a lot of us, Stacy has had time to think. And one of the things she is thinking is that if you turn your passion into your business, you can’t help but succeed. She says that when you pursue something that creates fire in your belly, you will do it every day. Work doesn’t feel like work. And barriers get dissolved.

Barriers that Stop Women Starting Their Own Companies

Stacy says that women face two sets of barriers. Our internal barriers are confidence and insecurity, and that women feel they need to have everything figured out before we will do something. Of the external barriers, Stacy thinks funding is the biggest hurdle. Women founders have trouble raising capital because of the traditional ways success and leadership are defined by men. She says that if the potential looks different, investors see it as too risky. In fact, Stacy sees it as less risky and a more solid investment.

Stay-tuned to find out where Stacy’s vision will take her next. In quitting her position at the company she helped found and grow, she realized that she could do it all again with another business. One that truly ignites her fire in her own belly in ways that feel like personal activism for female equity.

Listen to this interview for more of Stacy’s personal story and how she and Dr. Nancy believe women will change our traditions and redefine business to build a better world.

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