It all started in a long, hot van ride last April packed with ten family members exploring Vietnam. As I binged-listened to interview-style podcasts in that van, I noticed that all of the subjects were men. It occurred to me that if I wanted to hear a podcast featuring stories from female leaders, I needed bring it to life myself. A few months later, She’s a Boss Podcast was live.
Looking back twenty-one episodes later, I’m blown away by the incredible women I’ve had the chance to interview in a few short months. Some I knew, but didn’t really know their stories. Others I got to know in the process, and likely would never have had the opportunity to meet them otherwise. This experience has taught me that there are so many incredible women doing amazing things all of the time, I just needed to take the time to listen.
The ladies I featured in season one offered an incredible amount of insight and advice. I’ve painstakingly selected one thing from each of them for this season recap.
“Supervisors can give you feedback that really builds you up or that tears you down.”
Sarah shared two stories that stood out about positive experiences with former supervisors. One had her back when she was criticized for making a tough decision and another provided constructive feedback in a thoughtful way. It’s important for leaders to remember how impactful their feedback (and how they give it) can be on an individual.
“I’m not going to let everything they worked for fall by the wayside.”
Tran described her gratitude towards her parents who fled Vietnam with their three small children to make a better life for the family, then worked hard to establish themselves in a new country with nothing. She attributes her work ethic and optimistic perspective to how she was raised. Tran’s reflections reminded me that we should all be appreciative of what we have and what others have done to pave the way for us – our success is a reflection of many who rooted for us along the way.
“You always have a choice. Even in the most trying situations, you have a choice in terms of how you respond.”
Stephanie’s story of her experience with breast cancer while pregnant with her daughter was incredibly powerful. Her life-long mantra of “life is choices” helped her to stay strong for her daughter during this tough time. This mindset can be applied to any situation one faces in life.
“If you’re trying to be productive all of the time, you’re never going to get to the next idea.”
So many of us try to be productive 100% of the time. We feel guilty stopping work at a reasonable hour or taking time for breaks. Even as a small business owner, Anna recognizes those breaks are necessary for making space which leads to innovation.
“Say ‘yes’ to the small moments and opportunities because those can lead to really big moments and opportunities.”
Many of the key moments in Kelly’s career were a result of her keeping an open mind to new opportunities. She acknowledged that not every opportunity ends up working out, but there’s always some learning to come out of it.
“It’s just about women thinking that they can do it and making the leap.”
Nikki is a female CEO in the male-dominated gaming industry and feels that the only thing holding more women back from doing the same is them being too nervous to make the leap. She and many other founders this season stressed the importance of taking that first step, even if it scares you.
“Don’t try to be a man in business … Be yourself, be open, know you’re not trying to prove yourself to anyone.”
Naruby shared how her style of building relationships – different than how a man might approach – gives her a distinct advantage. It’s easy for women to focus on the ways in which being a woman can mean more challenges in the workforce, so I appreciate how Naruby chooses to focus on the advantages.
“Don’t go it alone and feel you have to put up an illusion of confidence or that you know all the answers.”
Kate knows a thing or two about advice, as both a social psychologist and the founder of an advice app. She reminds us that although we often think we should do things without the help of others, we’re social animals and we need to be ready and willing to seek and receive advice from others.
“Taking that time for yourself is really important…In the end, it makes me a better and happier person. It makes me a better and happier attorney and advocate, spouse, parent, and friend.”
In Edna’s line of work, the stakes are very high. She has learned that she cannot save everyone – it’s her job to do the best she can and give her clients a voice. We all need to leave work at work in order to be better in all aspects of life.
“I didn’t understand the importance of knocking on doors, of looking for my allies.”
As someone who works in a creative field, it’s logical that early in her career Jenny believed that creating great work was all that mattered. The reality she shared is that no matter what you do in your career, building trusted relationships is critically important.
“Sometimes you have to take your knock and move on… but sometimes you have to take a knock and stick with it.”
Katie has experienced the highs and lows of startup life with multiple different ventures. She shares how easy it is to quit when things go wrong, but in many cases it’s important to keep going forward even when times are tough.
“You can get out. The strength will come later, you have to take the first step.”
From Dee’s experience with domestic violence, she has learned how hard it is for victims to get out of a bad situation. She reminds us all to keep an eye out for others and to recognize when to ask for help.
“When you’re feeling intimidated about asking for more: think outside of yourself. What good could you do for the world (for your partner, your children, etc.) if you negotiate more money?”
Sarah has observed that woman often feel guilty about asking for more during compensation negotiations. To combat this she encourages us to think about something bigger than ourselves, since that can often motivate us to fight for what we deserve.
“My success in life has been divine timing and a good attitude.”
Most of my guests try to attribute their success to “luck” – an explanation I tend to shut down when I see it coming. Glenda’s perspective gives credit to the “divine timing” but also recognizes that her good attitude and hard work played a role. We can’t control the opportunities that come our way, but we can absolutely control how tackle those opportunities.
“I’ve learned something from every experience. Even if it hasn’t been the way I had hoped or envisioned something to go, I have taken something from it.”
When asked about past challenges, Rachel had no interest in dwelling on the negative. She optimistically views every barrier as a chance to learn.
“When you become obsessed with solving a problem, you just DO it.”
Often people talk about becoming an entrepreneur, but never take any action on that dream. Bianca reminds us that even if you start with something very small, if it’s important to you, you’ll just do it.
“Your good intentions do not alleviate you from the responsibility of the outcome of your decisions.”
Alison talked about why making hard decisions is a critical skill of a good leader. Many try to avoid tough decisions with the best intentions. Ultimately, they need to focus on the long-term impact on the organization’s goals and take responsibility when they make mistakes.
“When I have a goal in mind, I never give up until I achieve it.”
Julia’s relentless focus on achieving her goals helped her gain six world titles. She also applied this ability to stay focused on an end-goal to her physical therapy after injury and again when recognizing and treating her depression after retiring.
“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with… they reflect on you and you reflect on them.”
Do the people around you challenge you and help you grow? Or do they reinforce poor habits and negative mindsets? Ruth suggests that it’s worth occasionally auditing the five people you spend most time with and how they impact you.
“You’re spending time on administrative tasks that are keeping you from making more money.”
This advice was specific to people who may need to outsource tasks to a virtual assistant. But it’s a good reminder to all of us that our time is valuable and we should be wise about how we spend it – even outsourcing tasks at home like cleaning and yardwork is a smart investment for many of us.
“One important lesson I’ve learned from being a working mom is to fully separate work life and home life.”
We’ve all heard that “having it all” as a woman is unrealistic. Lauren has found that fully compartmentalizing aspects of her life allows her to be present and focused in both her career and with her family.
I really hope you enjoyed season one as much as I have.
More episodes to come in January! Happy Holidays, everyone.