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Safety is a Human Right, with Soyini Chan Shue

Safety is a Human Right, with Soyini Chan Shue

We sit down with Soyini Chan Shue, Owner and Founder of City Safe Partners, to discuss working in a field dominated by white men, providing opportunities for people of color, and her passion for entrepreneurship.


0:00:00.1 Maricella Herrera: Where leaders go learning follows. Harvard Business School Executive Education offers more than 60 in-person and virtual programs. Learn more and apply at, that's


0:00:16.8 Megan Oliver: Welcome to the Ellevate podcast, conversations with women changing the face of business. And now your host, Maricella Herrera and Megan Oliver.


0:00:34.2 MH: Hi, everyone, its Maricella Herrera and I am your host here on the Ellevate Podcast, and I'm here with Megan Oliver, my co-host. How's it going Megan?

0:00:45.7 MO: Its going well. As of now, next week is my 30th birthday. So we'll see how that goes.

0:00:54.3 MH: It's gonna be great. Trust me, your 30s are the best decade and I don't know, I'm entering my 40s this year, so I might change my tune in a couple of years and say your 40s are your best, but I can tell you 30s is where you're young enough. How is it, how does it go? You're old enough to know better, but young enough to not really care.

0:01:22.7 MO: It sounds right to me.

0:01:24.0 MH: And I think it's when you, and correct me if I'm wrong, listeners. I actually would love to hear what other women say about these changes and stages of life, but I know for me, and I've heard it from a lot of other people in their late 30s. 30s is when you realize really, this is me you're gonna have to take me as I am. [chuckle]

0:01:47.2 MO: Yeah.

0:01:48.4 MH: Its quite free.

0:01:50.2 MO: 20s have been all over the map for me, where like there were some high highs, but there were some low lows and some weirdness didn't help that a pandemic happened at the end of my 20s. We'll see, I am excited 'cause I have it on good authority. From basically every single person at Ellevate that I work with, that my 30s are... That your 30s are the best.

0:02:14.9 MH: Yeah. It's a fun decade. Now, there comes a lot of stuff afterwards that, I don't know, you never know, right? What you're getting into. I feel it for myself as I'm... 'cause I guess we both have big birthdays this year, and I've been thinking a lot about what that means for me. Also, my biological clock is completely ticked, I opened my suitcase from my trip to London and the baby smile just for my nephew being around, hit me hard. [chuckle]

0:02:49.9 MO: I know there is that, babies have such a smell and it's so sweet.

0:02:54.5 MH: I know, I miss him already. I haven't seen him in two days and I already miss him.

0:02:57.0 MO: That was literally me this morning, as I face time, I had to face time three people to, she's... My niece is over at my parents place today, but as it turns out, her mom is with her because they're apparently facing really bad weather in Texas right now. So they're working from home. I FaceTimed my mom, who was like, try your dad. And then I FaceTimed my dad who was like the baby's with Bree, and so then I FaceTimed Bree, and I was like, let me see the kid. [laughter] She was like, here's your niece. And I was so thank you. Also, I love and appreciate you. But I was... Yeah, I was like, Let me see that kid, I just need to see her little chubby face.

0:03:39.1 MH: Yeah, I FaceTime my sister-in-law and my little nephew too today. He was very happy to see me and it was funny.

0:03:50.6 MO: I can't wait for her to be able to recognize me in face time.

0:03:53.9 MH: Yeah, it takes a while, but you can get there and you just give it some months.

0:04:00.0 MO: Yeah.

0:04:02.8 MH: Anyway, well, that's been a lot of catching up on life, but, anything interesting going on with you?

0:04:10.8 MO: Do you mean what am I into?

0:04:12.3 MH: Yeah.

0:04:15.2 MO: [laughter] So what I'm into this week is something that I've been into for probably going on two and a half years now, if you know me in person [laughter] you probably know this, I started in 2020, 'cause who didn't start a new binge thing in 2020? Watching General Hospital as in the Soap opera that started in 1963. It's still running in case anyone is wondering, in case anyone watch it as a teenager, like my mother did, Obsessed With Luke and Laura. Laura is still on it, by the way, she's the mayor now, but, so I...

0:04:55.1 MH: [laughter] Sorry, but I feel like, you're talking to me in another language.

0:05:00.1 MO: It's okay, here's the thing, here's gonna be my elevator pitch for why you should watch General Hospital, it is the most fun, and by you, I mean anybody that's listening. It is the most fun I have ever had watching a television show, there are five episodes a week because they release one every week day. They're an hour long each. There are no rules in soap operas, there have been baby swaps, there have been multiple cases of amnesia, there have been so many evil twins since I, this is just since I've been watching in the last two and a half years.

0:05:30.6 MO: There's 250 episodes a year. It's so crazy. It's so fun. There's 40 different main characters, and that's not an exaggeration. One time I actually sat down to count the number of main characters there are, who all have their own individual story lines going on, and I had at least 40. So you're gonna get something new each time you watch. It was some of the most fun I've ever heard when I started 'cause I had no idea who anyone was. Nobody was in a hospital. I was like, I thought this show was about a hospital, it is not about a hospital. The hospital is where they go when crisis happened, which happened a lot. Since I've been watching, there has been a bomb, there have been shoot outs, there have been literally everything that could go wrong, but it's just the best and it's so... Everybody should watch a soap opera, there's only four of them left. ABC has General Hospital, NBC has Days of Our Lives, and CBS has The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful.

0:06:37.3 MH: So, ironically, when I was a child I would sometimes watch The Young and the Restless. [laughter]

0:06:47.3 MO: See, is it not the best?


0:06:50.1 MH: That made me call Salvador.

0:06:52.9 MO: Yeah, my grandmother, I was talking to her and she was, and I was talking to her and she was, I was like, Oh yeah, I watch soap operas, she's like, Oh, I do too, and she's like, what do you watch? And I was like Generals Hospital and she goes, Oh, you watch ABC. She's like, I watch the CBS one. So there's a rivalry I guess going on between which channels soap opera you watch. But I'm like, No, I'm General Hospital all the way. And it's so much fun, and it is also reaching, this year is it's 60th anniversary of being on TV, which makes it the longest running drama on television, and it has just been going strong ever since then. Absolutely bananas 10/10. Love it to be sincere.

0:07:36.0 MH: Wow. Well, maybe I'll give it a chance. I'm not sure yet.

0:07:43.3 MO: If you do, please text me all of your thoughts, because I looked back one time on my text messages to my friends, the first day I started watching, and then the first thing I texted where I was like, I've been watching for 30 minutes now, and I have yet to see a hospital, is like where is the hospital?

0:08:03.1 MH: I've always thought it was about a hospital, but I guess not.

0:08:05.5 MO: There were a ton of doctors, doctors in quotation marks because you never see them talking to patients unless one of the other main characters has a medical thing, in which case then they're being a doctor 'cause they're taking care of them, but you never see them just having other patients. The number of people that just, any medical thing in the show, is done at the hospital, people get therapy at the hospital, people get all their birthing classes at the hospital, people do literally... Sometimes they just come in, they're like, I'm just here to see my mom, and that's not a thing that you do, you don't just go to the 10th floor of the hospital while they're like being a doctor just every day to go see them. [laughter]

0:08:49.1 MH: You learn some good manners.

0:08:54.3 MH: Well, that's an interesting update and what you're into this week, I can follow up with something that's also probably not very productive. [laughter] It's not the word I wanna use.

0:09:11.3 MH: So I... My brother, while I was in London, was obsessed with this ice cream maker called the creami and it's by Ninja, and it makes anything that's frozen into delicious perfectly made ice cream. And he sent me one. So now I am so into this because since I have my three broken toes, I can't really run or exercise as much as I would, I was saying last week I can't run, I can do some bike, but I haven't really started doing much, and therefore I need to be very mindful of my eating in terms of compared to my normal day-to-day life when I'm very very active and also about consuming a lot of protein 'cause I don't want my muscles to lose their muscle. And so I've been doing Greek yogurt with protein and just freezing it with some milk, and oh my God, the best ice cream, low calorie, high protein, just perfect for what I need right now, and I am now obsessed with the Ninja Creami and highly recommend it.

0:10:34.7 MO: So it has... You put meat in there or you just put protein powder in it?

0:10:38.1 MH: Protein powder? No, not meat.

0:10:39.1 MO: Okay, I was picturing like a meat, like a frozen meat because you said anything frozen and I was like, is it like a frozen meat ice cream?

0:10:45.5 MH: I guess you could probably freeze meat, but that's not what I wanna do, no, is Greek yogurt with protein powder and some milk, and I also have some gel ovens and pudding that I can add to give it other flavors, and then you put it in one of their containers and freeze it, and then the machine turns it into delicious ice cream.

0:11:11.9 MO: That's amazing. That's magical.

0:11:13.0 MH: It is. It really is magical. I'm very much in love with this thing.

0:11:18.3 MO: That's like the first time I found out the 3D printers existed, which was in college, and I was like, What do you mean? We could just print things and... What are you talking about? [chuckle]

0:11:27.6 MH: Oh my God. That made me feel old for some reason. They've been around for a long time.

0:11:39.5 MO: I know. Well I'm sure they've around longer than I knew. 'Cause everybody was looking at me like, What do you mean you don't know they exist? And I was like, huh, that like from sci-fi.

0:11:52.0 MH: Well, they are used for many other thing now, the Ninja creami is not. It's just used for ice cream and milk shake and smoothies and things of the sort. And no, this is not an advertising. I wish we were being advertised, but...

0:12:06.7 MO: Yeah, if Ninja wants to sponsor us, we are open to it.

0:12:10.3 MH: Completely. And I'm a fan. So very much so. Anyway, let's go to my conversation today, because this is one that I am very excited for you guys to listen to.

0:12:24.3 MH: It is with Soyini Chan Shue. She is the owner, founder of City Safe Partners, which is a security firm based out of Harlem, and the firm has been growing exponentially in the last few years, and has been recognized by the Women's Presidents Organization and JP Morgan Chase as one of the countries 50 fastest growing women-owned or led companies. So Soyini is doing fantastic work within her company and before coming to build her own company, she actually was a police officer. So we talk a lot about her experience throughout Leadership past when she was in the force to now as a business owner. We talk a lot about community and security and safety, and I think it's an important conversation, particularly because we talk a lot about culture and building culture within companies, which is something you know I'm very passionate about, but also how we can do that by reflecting the community that we're serving.

0:13:32.6 MH: So I hope you enjoy my conversation with Soyini.


0:13:45.7 MH: I'm very excited to be here with Soyini Chan. And Soyini, how are you?

0:13:50.9 Soyini Chan Shue: Hi, I am well today, thank you for having me today.

0:13:53.0 MH: I was reading a little bit about you, but I always like to start this with the big question. You tell me your story. How did you get to where you are today?

0:14:07.5 SS: How far back do you want me to go? [laughter]

0:14:13.3 MH: Its up to you. Tell me...

0:14:15.0 SS: Alright. So, I can tell you a little bit about myself. I was born and raised in the Bronx.

0:14:22.8 MH: A true New Yorker.

0:14:22.8 SS: I'm a true New Yorker. I lived here my whole life. Went to school, elementary grade school. College as well. I was gonna say, I had an interesting start. I started out as a hair stylist maybe when I was in my early 20s, very early 20s, when I was 19, 20, right? And then my mother urged me to take the police test. I joined the NYPD when I was 20, to be exact, and then I transitioned to a career in law enforcement, that was a wonderful career choice because the police department is really vast, it has so many different community. I mean, not community, but job opportunities within itself, so I worked in numerous roles within the police department, I was promoted to the rank of sergeant special assignment, and I retired in 2016, and 2016 I decided to take over a company that I was in the process of purchasing and I've been the CEO of City Safe Partners.

0:15:29.6 SS: Where I lead advanced security firm located in Harlem, which is in New York City, New York. And we provide armed and unarmed security guard services and private investigation services to have a presence to deter any crime or any safety needs that they may have in their establishments. So to take you to current. I've been the CEO of the company for almost six years now, it's been a citing road and journey. So again, thank you for having me on the show.

0:15:58.9 MH: I really want to know a little bit about your career changes. I had not read about you starting in beauty, but it's a very different, you went from beauty to law enforcement, to entrepreneurship, to being the CEO of a security firm. How did you go? And let's start with, how did you go from law enforcement to your next endeavor?

0:16:25.5 SS: Okay, well, I was gonna say how I started in beauty, it was basically a job that I did during high school to be able to make ends meet and try to contribute to my household, and then also it transitioned to almost a professional career because I got asked to work on movie sets when I was in my...

0:16:44.8 SS: When I was 18, 19, which was super exciting, I worked at Silver Cup studios on a few movie productions, and I did hair on movie sets. And that was my career choice. I thought I was gonna be able to travel the world, and then my mother hit me with a reality check, she's like, No, you need a stable career with a pension, and her concern. And so she prompted me to take the police test and which I did, I got hired relatively quick, and I was gonna say I had... Like I mentioned before, I had an amazing career, and then you hit your 20 and then you're saying, what's next, and it was really a leap of faith for me because I wanted to... I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I always struggled with entrepreneurship throughout my police career as well, so not being born into wealth I'm like, how can I create wealth or generate additional income for my family so I'll be able to afford to send my kids to private school, college, et cetera. Right? And have home ownership. And so really transitioning from the police department to security was an easy transition for me because it was something I knew well.

0:17:54.2 SS: I'm certified by the New York State Department of Justice as a trainer, so I can teach in every law enforcement topic. And so coming out of the police department with experience from coming from organized crime and community affairs Bureau, it was an amazing opportunity to leverage some of the things that I learned in the police department around public safety, and really, I'm passionate about keeping people safe. And I feel like safety is a human right, and I think that despite your socio-economic background, you deserve to be safe in your community, so that was one of the driving factors, and I think it's the way to get back, not only to provide safety, but also to create jobs in our community.

0:18:37.9 MH: So I love that you're saying, I wrote it down, safety is a human right. And in my field of work, so we're in diversity equity and inclusion and belonging, I always think of psychological safety within companies, but to hear you talking about basic human safety of your life, it really is a human right. It really is something that we take for granted sometimes when we are not aware of what can be happening in other places.

0:19:17.0 SS: I mean, just think about it, how the lack of safety can impact your mental health, or the lack of feeling safe can impact your mental health, so I think, especially in today's environment, people wanna feel safe, and I think having a security company allows us to provide people with a sense of safety, whether they're traveling back and forth to work, entering in and out of their residential building that they live in, when I feel that security guards provide us that presence, and not that you can stop everything from happening, but it is a sense of comfort for people coming in and out and traveling back and forth to work everyday.

0:19:55.4 MH: It really is. So I... Maybe I have to go a little personal. I grew up in El Salvador, and I talk about this a lot in the podcast because I grew up during a war, right. I was used to waking up and hearing a bomb go off. And this was when I was younger than 10 years old. But at some point when I was older, sometime in my teens, we had a robbery in my house and I was there and my mom was there. And it was an armed robbery.

0:20:27.3 MH: And it was one of the scariest moments I've gone through. And after that, because these men had been in our house, and had taken the car, there was a lot of fear of what can happen, and we actually did have security and security guards in the house, and what you're saying is so right, the fear that I had as a teenager was something that was marked for many, many, many years of my life, and that just knowing there was someone there to be, to make you feel a little safer made a huge difference in just my mental state.

0:21:15.3 SS: Absolutely, I'm sorry that you had to live through that type of trauma, it's unfortunate that you grew up in a situation like that. Believe it or not, a lot of young people are living in some neighborhoods within the city and they hear gunfire every night. And they're walking through situations in which they don't feel safe, so definitely it's a... Again, I say it's a human right, I think it's something that we need to look at a little bit more seriously, and I think that is so inequitable in our city that some people feel safer than others, and I think it's really difficult for young people that are growing up in urban communities where you have these gun violence and you have these situations in which they can't travel back and forth to school safely, so you see all of the shootings that are happening around the country right now.

0:22:10.0 SS: It's really a scary time for young people, so definitely that's something that we need to address as I guess as a community.

0:22:17.0 MH: And as you said it's a matter of equity too, right? It's certain areas in the city, in certain urban areas, certain places. And when you think about it, it's what impacts a lot of communities of color, right?

0:22:31.3 SS: Yeah, yeah. And it's really unfortunate because the psychological warfare that it has a toll on young people, and it's just... It's difficult for them to be able to navigate every day, and you don't realize how much trauma someone's carrying around just from living in a situation like that, so definitely, I'm happy that you were able to get through your difficult time and hopefully you have been able to move past that and then get the support that you needed from your family at that time.

0:23:03.6 MH: 100%. For me, it wasn't that bad to be honest, it's I think just growing up in that situation created certain resilience within me that I am very grateful for now, but... And I can say that now, but it was how I grew up and I didn't even think about it in that moment. One question that I really wanted to ask, which is, what are some of the learnings that you would like to share with other women of color about being a black woman in a field where, like you said, it is extremely and completely dominated by primarily by white men.

0:23:38.8 SS: Definitely practice self-affirmation and know that you belong, and then definitely don't let someone else's ignorance deter you from actualizing your dreams. So I would say that I learned how to stand up for myself, I learned how to speak up for myself, and also to put people in their place constantly, and not to... And I stop making excuse for people, kinda shutting the behavior down, and it is kind of hard sometimes, but you have to be tough. And I think growing up in a Bronx, I definitely had a lot of resilience and fortitude about me. You have to be tough to grow up where I grew up, and you have to know how to stand up for yourself, you know how to navigate situations in a way in which you can still work with someone, but you can kind of set them straight and say, "Hey, that's not okay. It's disrespectful." And then sometimes just asking them, "Why would you say something like that?" Putting them on the spot, making them feel uncomfortable instead of, I'm the person that is the victim of it, and then I have to feel uncomfortable too, so putting it back on them and kinda standing my ground and knowing that I belong there and that I had a goal set that I set for myself and I wasn't gonna let anybody to deter me from reaching those goals.

0:25:02.9 MH: I love that, and I love that you started with self-affirmation and knowing that you belong, because I think a lot of the times we let other's perceptions of who should be in a room get inside our heads when we absolutely belong wherever we decide we belong.

0:25:22.7 SS: And I think that tactic has worked for so many years, and I remember coming home and my husband one day he said, "Why don't you just quit?" And I was like, "That's exactly what they want me to do." I said, "I'm not taking my ball and going home. I'm gonna slam dunk on them. I'm gonna show them how it's done." And it kinda got me really amped up because I'm like, "I'm not running away from this nonsense. I'm coming here." Just growing up from humble beginnings, I want what I deserve, and I wasn't gonna let someone or their bad attitude or their smirk comments stop me from getting what I felt was rightfully mine. And it really teaches I think other people that don't let someone run you away because that's their intended goal, then they win and you lose.

0:26:14.6 MH: I love that. I'm gonna get my slam dunk. I'm staying. And I will say thank you for doing that because I think that that... And for sharing that, because I think a lot of the times, we don't see other people do this, we don't see other people stand their ground and then we think we can't do it, and seeing someone stand your ground, be successful in the field, like this be... I know you were a decorated police officer, and then you start to think, "Oh, you know what, maybe I can do it too." So it's important not only to take the stance to stand up, but then also to share those stories so that people know that they can... That if you can do it, other people can do it.

0:27:01.6 SS: And it's important for people to see other women of color doing it, because I think if they can see that I can make it and live through it, I remember being in a position which we had to help diversify some units and within the police department, I would try to interview people and find people who wouldn't normally be in this unit, but was way qualified, and they would just overlook because they didn't have that phone call, and so we would actively recruit and find people who have been overlooked for so long, and people would say, this is why diversity is so important, it's because you know what it feels like to be overlooked, so if you can pull somebody up and help them to get into a field or get them into a position in which they can grow and flourish, that's your role of being the first one or the only one, and so you're supposed to be there to help others.

0:28:01.3 MH: I love that. How is this learning, and I love you talking about this experience of diversity to find certain units, but how are you translating this as a corporate leader now?

0:28:13.2 SS: Well, the whole purpose of me really establishing City Safe and having my own company was to allow people to grow within the security field, because if you look at most car companies at the higher... At the executive level, it's mostly white males, and so I wanted to create my table where people of color would have the opportunity to serve in any level within my company, so they can serve at the entry level. The managerial level, the supervisor level, and at the C-Suite level. And so we create opportunities. We nurture the talent from within, we also hire people of course from other companies, but with the goal of being is to have our workforce should reflect our leadership and vice versa, and so I felt that it was important to allow people of color, women as well to serve in these roles, because if you look at a lot of my competitors or larger companies, you don't see many people of color at that C-Suite level, and it used to really bother me because I used to be a security guard as well, when I was a police officer, I used to work two jobs to make ends meet.

0:29:40.0 SS: And I did a walk through with a company that I was thinking about working with, and I walked through their office and I was like, Wow, it's not reflective of their workforce, and I think it's important for us to allow people of color to see especially the guards that are just starting out to see that, yeah, your boss can look like you, and guess what? And you can move up in this company if you put in the hard work, so it's just creating opportunities and allowing people to grow within your company and not having that glass ceiling.

0:30:17.8 MH: I think that's so important. And like you said that, like we were saying before, right? This is about seeing that you belong and seeing leadership that reflects your employees, seeing, and more than that, that it reflects the community that you're serving. It matters.

0:30:35.5 SS: It does, it does, and that's why we were so intentional about being in Harlem, people can walk by and see us, they can walk in and apply for employment, but moreover we're so rooted in our community, we support local sports programs, we are definitely helpful with our community, our neighbors, we provide security sometimes for organizations that don't have a budget for it, and so we are really rooted in the community. We created over 4000 jobs since we've been established.

0:31:13.7 MH: That's amazing.

0:31:14.6 SS: And right now, we have 400 active employees. We went from a very small company in 2015 to almost 400 head count. And we're really proud to say, the work that we do in our community.

0:31:28.9 MH: I have so many questions about this because I think you touched on several things I want to talk about, one, being that rooted in community aspect and how that's different from some other... And I would say companies in the field, but honestly a bunch of companies everywhere. How do you think that gives you an advantage?

0:31:53.9 SS: I think our employees really buy into our core values, and I think that they wear the City Safe patch with pride, knowing our story, our commitment to community, how we really nurture them. A lot about guards are really coming from different backgrounds, and some of them are probably new to the country, English might be their second language and they're transitioning from employment, so we actually take the time to make sure that we place them in places in which they can be successful, but we provide additional training opportunities. I think also the training, the coaching, and also encouraging them and then also seeing the workforce and letting them know that, "Hey, there's opportunities within the company to move up. So say, for instance, you start out in an entry level position like construction site security, and then you do a year with the company, we love to place you based on your performance, and it's not based on anything else, it's not based on nepotism about who you know or who you don't know, it's based on your work and how you show up every day." And I think it makes them feel that they're playing on a level playing field.

0:33:11.7 SS: And so their level of commitment and desire to come to work every day is there, and that's how we got through Covid. When people were having issues with staffing, my guards were showing up every single day.

0:33:25.1 MH: That says a lot about how they feel about the company, 'cause I was gonna ask you, how do you find, and particularly in these moments, we had covid, which I'm sure for your field was not an easy time to navigate, and then we have the great resignation, and we know there's labor shortages in some industries, so how are you managing to find and retain employees during this time, but it seems like it's because they are invested in the company, because the company is invested in them.

0:33:55.8 SS: Absolutely, and I was gonna say, you know, we've never really had a hard time hiring, and I was gonna say that we work with many different agencies to source our guards, but moreover, I think when they come to the office and they find out a woman of color owns the business that number one, they're so inspired. Two, they're intrigued, they wanna know, How did we do it? You know, and then I think the...

0:34:24.6 MH: There must be something here.


0:34:28.7 SS: Exactly, and people actually kinda seek us out. One person said, "I heard, you're a woman minority-owned business. I had to come apply for a job here, I was gonna apply for another with another security company. But I was just so inspired. I wanna come work for you." And you never realize the impact that it has on a young person when they see someone who looks like them, and I think that that has been a draw for City Safe. And as well as... We actually work with certain non-for profits that are actually almost like community-based organizations that help people who are looking to be employed, so we would go out there and provide training and talk to them and coach them as well as see if they would be a good fit for our company. So we have a few different pipelines in which we provide or where we source our guards from. We also have retired police officers and veterans that we hire as well, so we are really proud of our relationship with the veterans workforce one that we actually have been working with since 2015 to get people who are transitioning from the military that's pursuing a security career. We gladly take them on.

0:35:55.8 MH: Yeah, the more you talk about this, the more I can... I just keep in my head 'cause it keeps going off like, "Of course, a woman in minority-led company will focus on hiring women in minorities," because when you're talking about it, you talked about employees who English isn't their first language. That's a really hard position to be in. And try to get a job. You talk about veterans, who we know have a hard time getting back into civilian life many, many times, retired police officers, people from their community, outreach through non-profits, you're taking into consideration a lot of the groups that people don't take into consideration, and I think that's very powerful because of what it says about leadership and because of what then you can see you're not starting just like, "Hey, let's check these diversity boxes, but you're bringing in a group of people that can make the culture be inclusive from the start."

0:36:58.1 SS: And then decide to work and what they bring to the table the level of dedication, especially someone who felt that they did not have an opportunity and they can read and speak English fluently, but they may have an accent, and they might have been overlooked, and so we approach our hiring a little bit different because we actually provide security in places in which they would be able to really assist the community because people are looking for people who speak different languages, and that's how we support our clients in ways that other companies kinda miss that opportunity.

0:37:42.0 MH: So changing gears a little bit, you clearly are very busy, [laughter] 'cause we've talked about the changing world that you're working in. You said you have 400 employees, I think.

0:37:57.1 SS: Yes.

0:37:57.9 MH: And I know that City Safe has been named as one of the country's 50 fastest growing women owned or lead companies, and there's a lot of stuff that has been going on. So how do you find time for leading a business, overseeing this huge staff and still having time for yourself or don't you have time for yourself?

0:38:21.7 SS: Well, I make time for myself. You know I have a daughter. That's 14. I have two older sons that are kind of off on their own somewhat, but I have to make time for my family because I think that they are my why. Right? They're the main reason why I do this, and I work as hard as I do, but I think life and work balance is very important, you can't buy time back. The time with your family is invaluable, so I just... I make a point to take my daughter to school, pick her up, take her to her appointments, I'm like a mommy Uber. I learned how to manage my time well. So I still manage to cook dinner for my family and to make time to do things that are important because I'm more of a... I'm a mom. Right? So that is not a job I'm gonna outsource or delegate, I have to take care of that on my own, and so that is really important to me to be able to spend time with my children, my husband and my family moreover. So I could say honestly, it was tough initially to get this balance, but I think I'm getting into a good groove where I actually take time to work out and exercise, and Thank God my kids are not tiny little kids, 'cause that would be probably a bigger challenge but I would say it's not... It's difficult as it may appear to be, but I feel like I'm managing and I'm keeping a handle on it, and sometimes I just take a day for myself to kind of recharge if I need it.

0:40:13.0 MH: And I was gonna ask you how you recharge.

0:40:17.0 SS: You know they have these little local spas that are awesome, maybe get a massage. But just taking a minute and doing something that you enjoy doing, and sometimes making it about you, and I think that's important because as mothers, as CEO, you put so much into everyone else in the business, and sometimes I think I'm my most creative, when I take time for myself to clear my head.

0:40:46.3 MH: I would agree with that for myself, I tend to say I'm a runner and if I don't run and currently I can't run 'cause I have three broken toes, but... Long story, but I say When I don't run, it's not good for anyone around me, I really feel like I need that time for me, so that I can show up for other people.

0:41:13.1 SS: Yeah. I'm learning how to say no sometimes too, not over extending yourself. [laughter] Sometimes just stepping back and say, "Hey, I can't help everyone", 'cause I used to try to do everything for everyone and try to be everything to everyone, and I realize that self-preservation is important.

0:41:35.2 MH: It really is. And like I said, I think it's important for you and as a CEO, as someone who people look up to, it's important to know that 'cause you can't burn yourself out. You wanna be there for others?

0:41:53.6 SS: No, and definitely impacts your mood and your personality when you burn yourself out. I definitely make sure that I go to the gym at least twice a week. The minimum now, those were some of my new goals that I put in place that I can say I'm proud of, that I'm actually sticking to.

0:42:14.5 MH: Oh, good job. We talked a lot about what you've done. How you got to where you are. What's next for City Safe?

0:42:23.4 SS: For City Safe we wanna be a national company, currently, we're licensed in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Georgia, and Florida's pending, and our goal is provide a measurable security services in all industries. Definitely, if people are in need of security services, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at And thank you again for having me on the show.

0:42:47.3 MH: Thank you so much for being here. This is a lot of fun. I think it's... We don't talk about these industries much, and I think it's very important for us to showcase stories of people who have non-traditional backgrounds and come through these roles to lead companies or start companies and make a difference knowing and bringing that knowledge from somewhere that you wouldn't think about it before. Like law enforcement. So what do you learn there? What have you seen there? How do you see the relationships there to build then this company that has created so many jobs, and like you just said, you're just in a few... You're licensed in four States. So 400 jobs in four states, it'll be a massive impact of the jobs you can create when you expand. So thank you for sharing that.

0:43:40.3 SS: Absolutely, thank you again for giving me an opportunity and a platform to share my story.

0:43:46.0 MH: Well, before we go, it wouldn't be this podcast if we don't do a little lightning round.

0:43:55.0 SS: Okay.

0:43:55.2 MH: I'll ask you some questions, don't be worried, they're all kind of silly, and you can answer in a sentence or less and we are going to start with an easy one. Does pineapple belong on pizza?

0:44:11.9 SS: No.

0:44:13.9 MH: See you and I had to disagree on something. I'm a pro pineapple person. [laughter]

0:44:22.3 SS: Yeah, I'm just thinking pizza should just be so traditional, you know.

0:44:28.2 MH: Yeah. I like my, I like... It depends on the mood, but yes, I could see all side, I definitely would go for a margarita.

0:44:34.4 SS: Yeah. That's my favorite.

0:44:36.1 MH: If you could time travel. Where is the first place you would go?

0:44:39.2 SS: Let's see, probably to... Going forward or backwards?

0:44:49.6 MH: And that's the question. Where would you go?

0:44:52.5 SS: Ah, definitely, definitely to Mars. [laughter]

0:44:53.0 MH: So forward.

0:44:58.2 SS: Forward, yeah. Just having maybe a little bit of space and not so much congestion. Maybe the air quality might be better. I didn't know. It's definitely less guns.

0:45:09.8 MH: Yes, please. Hopefully, that is forward. Dream dinner guests.

0:45:17.7 SS: Definitely Oprah Winfrey.

0:45:19.6 MH: Ah, she would be great. What's a skill you wish you had?

0:45:27.1 SS: Definitely, I wish I could sew.

0:45:30.2 MH: Ooh, I haven't heard that one actually, in this, a lot of people come in with, play an instrument or sing or something like that. Sew it was a good one.

0:45:44.7 SS: I would love to design my own stuff, like my own clothing and stuff like that, and be able to put it together.

0:45:51.9 MH: Yeah, best piece of advice you've ever been given.

0:45:56.0 SS: Don't ever exchange time for money.

0:46:00.7 MH: Wow, that's deep. And finally, what's one thought you'd like to leave with our listeners.

0:46:10.3 SS: I would say definitely practice self-affirmation and always know that you belong and you're good enough.

0:46:22.4 MH: I love that. That's a really great sentiment to end on. Thank you so much.

0:46:28.1 SS: Okay. Thank you.


0:46:36.6 MH: Yeah, it was a great conversation. I had a lot of fun talking to her and hearing about a business being built in such an industry that I'm so unfamiliar with, and it opens your eyes about the similarities within businesses and why it's important to have... There are certain tenets that are important no matter what you're doing or what industry you're in, and I think she's doing a really great service for her community by building the company in the way that she's built it and by structuring leadership and giving people opportunities to grow within leadership within her company.

0:47:15.8 MO: And talk about a male-owned, a male-led industry of security.

0:47:23.5 MH: Absolutely, yeah. We talk about that. We talked about that like you heard.

0:47:28.4 MO: Yeah.

0:47:30.0 MH: So what's happening at Ellevate this week Megan?

0:47:34.0 MO: We've got various things happening at Ellevate, let me be your quick guide. Ignore that, that was dumb. At our women's seeking confidence round table. We're gonna be talking about setting boundaries, which is very important for people in their personal and professional lives, and just life in general. I feel like setting boundaries is one of those skills that you just are always learning and always getting better at, and then our entrepreneurs are gonna have their own round table about the many ways to get funding for your business, which is huge, so any entrepreneur.

0:48:07.1 MH: That's so hard.

0:48:08.4 MO: Yeah, so any entrepreneur is definitely gonna wanna come to that one. The women's seeking confidence round table is gonna be Tuesday at 1:00 PM Eastern, and then the Entrepreneurs Roundtable is gonna be at... On Thursday at 4:00 PM. In addition to that, we have several of our community circles coming up, most immediately is gonna be today, is our community circle for the LGBTQ community, which is led by me. If you wanna see me, come join us and then tomorrow is our Asian Pacific Islanders, that's at 10:00 AM Eastern and mine today is at noon Eastern, so be there. And then next week is our Latinx community circle at... On Tuesday at 5:00 PM, Eastern.

0:48:58.3 MH: Awesome, I hope you can join us to one of these because it is really, it's great to get to meet this community, I know I'm biased, but they are fantastic. Fantastic people.

0:49:10.8 MO: Yeah, and then we have some... If you... Those are all virtual. So if you wanna get your virtual networking on and your virtual learning on some of those, if you wanna meet any of us in person and you happen to be in any of these areas, let me know. Cincinnati is gonna be putting on a Galentine's Wine and Chocolate pairing today at 5:00 PM Eastern. Toronto is going to be putting together a cocktail connection, all about being together again. Also in person, and that's also at 5:00 PM Eastern, several more today, Orange county is meeting up for their monthly meet-up, and they are gonna do an anniversary celebration 'cause they're celebrating their anniversary. Austin is gonna be meeting for a happy hour about being a fierce female investor, especially in a market downturn, huge right now, that's at 7:00 PM, whereas the Orange County is gonna be at 9:00 PM Eastern, and our Dubai chapter is also meeting today at 10:00 AM Eastern Time for a Galentine's mix of mingle and I have connection.

0:50:16.8 MO: Literally all of that is happening today, so if you're in any of those chapters or any of those areas, please look it up, and then a few more that are happening over the course of the next week, Los Angeles is meeting for an in-person happy hour. Pittsburgh is meeting for Galentine's Day networking. We got a lot of Galentine's day stuff coming up that's very us, and Atlanta is meeting for a wine up networking mixer, all of those are happening tomorrow, so be sure to check out our website to see all the cool stuff that you can go to in the next week.

0:50:48.0 MH: Awesome, thank you for that Megan. And also happy Galentine's day, I can't believe I missed that.

0:50:54.3 MO: Yes, happy Galentine's Day. It's okay, I missed it to.

0:51:00.1 MH: Oh God, this is what happens when you're busy.

0:51:00.7 MO: Yeah.

0:51:03.9 MH: Anyway, Happy Galentine's Day to everyone. It's a great time to celebrate our female friendships.

0:51:10.3 MO: Speaking of Celebrating Women, do you wanna get us started on our history makers, today?

0:51:16.5 MH: Yeah, Lindsey Vonn became the first woman to ski the Kitzbühel Streif, and she did it at night, I don't really know where that means, but that sounds actually quite scary.

0:51:24.6 MO: Yeah, it sounds terrifying. And Lindsey Vonn is a badass. So if anyone can do it, she can. Naomi Sharon became the first woman signed to Drake's record label, OVO Sound.

0:51:41.0 MH: Andrea Moller became the first woman to participate in the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational.

0:51:48.6 MO: Patricia R. Wallace became the first woman to lead the US Army's 80th training command.

0:51:54.8 MH: Lisa Curcio Gaston became the first woman to be elected Commodore of the Chicago Yacht club.

0:52:00.8 MO: And Rebecca Walsh became the first woman appointed to referee a men's English football league championship match.

0:52:09.6 MH: Really?

0:52:09.8 MO: Yeah, the first one.

0:52:12.0 MH: Well, I guess it's better late than never. Amazing. Congratulations to all these amazing women who are making history.

0:52:22.8 MO: Yes.

0:52:26.1 MH: Yeah, I really say I have kind of a mixed feeling with these because they are so great to celebrate and I want us to continue to celebrate always all the great achievement of women, but it's sometimes really sad, but it's taken so long.

0:52:39.7 MO: I know.

0:52:42.0 MH: So let's keep going so that we can keep celebrating them, and as long as the first are not the last, I think we're all good.

0:52:47.4 MO: Yeah.

0:52:50.6 MH: Great. Well, thanks for being here. And thanks for listening, everyone. Next week, I get to chat with Brooke Bartholomew Quinn, she is the Chief Customer Officer at Care Fertility, the leading global fertility health care company. We talk a lot about the fertility journey and why it's important to have access and why employers need to make sure that we have access and a lot of equity in the workplace. It's a great conversation. I go a little bit personal, so I just warn you that that does happen, but I think by now you all know me and it's okay.

0:53:30.4 MO: I'm looking forward to. This has been one that I have been looking forward to for a while, and I know I say that a lot, but I really have been looking forward. I think this is a topic that doesn't get talked about enough, and that we should absolutely be talking about more, and so I'm really excited that we got a chance to really approach this subject.

0:53:54.3 MH: Yeah, We talk about fertility, we talk about menopause, we talk about men a lot, we talk about being child-free. Yeah, it gets deep. It goes deep and it gets personal, so I hope you all listen and I hope you enjoy it.

0:54:08.8 MO: Yeah, see you here next week.

0:54:15.2 MH: Join an exceptional peer group to sharpen your leadership skills and advance your career, Harvard business school executive education now offers in-person and virtual programs. Learn more at That's

0:54:33.6 MO: Thanks so so much for listening to the Ellevate Podcast, if you like what you hear, you can subscribe, give us five stars and share your review. You can learn all about Ellevate membership and all the great things that Ellevate Network is doing at our website That's E-L-L-E-V-A-T-E And special thanks to our producer, Catherine Heller, she rocks. Thanks so much and join us next week.