Fearless Girl and Fearless Women, with Kristy Wallace
Episode 50: Fearless Girl and Fearless Women, with Kristy Wallace
You already know Kristy Wallace as the president of Ellevate Network and host of the Ellevate Podcast, but today you get to hear the real story behind her career and what brought her to Ellevate as we turn the tables on her. In this episode, Maricella interviews Kristy and they talk about career shifts, feminism and diversity, raising your kids (boys and girls) to be feminists and to care about the world around them, finding and following your professional mission and being a working mom.
00:14 Katharine Heller: Welcome to the Ellevate Podcast. I'm not Kristy Wallace, but I am with Maricella Herrera.
00:22 Maricella Herrera: [chuckle] Hi, everyone. And for all of you, who do not know the great Katharine Heller, she is our podcast producer, and she's with us here, not Kristy Wallace. But we are here talking behind Kristy's back.
00:35 KH: We are, because Kristy is the guest on today's episode and I'm very excited.
00:40 MH: I am too. It's my first interview. Please don't judge.
00:43 KH: You did a great job.
00:44 MH: Aw, thanks.
00:45 KH: Yeah, yeah. You guys are gonna love this episode. Kristy, full disclosure, I've known her for almost 20 years, maybe 18 years?
00:52 MH: Oh, my God.
00:52 KH: We knew each other through friends and like a friends group thing. So I've known her, but I didn't really get to know her very well, until we started working together. And she is so fascinating. I still find her stories like, "Wait, I didn't know about that."
01:06 MH: Yeah. You probably know about everything right now, since you're always in the room.
01:10 KH: Well, now I'm learning a lot about finance. But, yeah, Kristy is the President of the Ellevate Network.
01:16 MH: Kristy's the President of the Ellevate Network. That is true. She runs the business. She is our team leader. She is the face of Ellevate with Sallie and is really great. She has quite the story too, because she has done quite a few things, quite a few ventures, and she gets pretty personal in the interview, which I think is great.
01:34 KH: She does. Like I said, she was saying things that I'd never heard about. We don't talk about that stuff when we're hanging out with our friends. When you're in a big friend group, you don't always get into the personal thing that happened at work, that was soul-crushing. And I'm glad that she spoke about it, 'cause we need more of that.
01:49 MH: We do. We need more transparency. I was happy to have the chance to turn the tables on Kristy. So it's fun. It's very, very fun. I can't wait to interview some of you out there, at some point, and have more people come to the podcast, and join us. If you're interested, email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any career questions, advice, if you want us to just say "hi" to you on air, just email us, tweet at us, #ellevatepod, and we'll be happy to give you some feedback, or info.
02:28 KH: Their brutally honest and wonderful feedback, so thank you for that.
02:33 MH: Yeah, I know.
02:34 KH: Taking notes, taking notes.
02:37 MH: Katharine, I do have one set of info, before we go to Kristy's interview.
02:43 KH: Go on.
02:44 MH: What did you think about the Fearless Girl statue?
02:46 KH: Okay. I liked it. I could see, obviously, the room for incidents.
02:54 MH: I agree. I agree, honestly. It's so interesting what's happening with the statue, because it was a great marketing initiative. I'm not gonna lie, it's good. Everyone was talking about it. It was amazing. Very smart people, who did that. I, as you know, have recently become more of a outspoken feminist.
03:16 KH: Love it.
03:16 MH: As many as of us have, I think, after certain events of last year, and I posted a video of it on my Facebook.
03:26 KH: A video of what?
03:27 MH: Of the statue, of just a news video and posted how I love it, posted it on my Facebook. And one of my former classmates from business school responded, and commented, "As the old adage says, 'If you stand in front of a bull, you will get killed.' "
03:45 KH: "Get the horns." Oh, okay. There's another adage, "If you mess with the bull, you'll get the horns."
03:50 MH: Well, he's from Argentina, so...
03:51 KH: There it is.
03:51 MH: He probably just...
03:52 KH: Maybe Google translate, and then back to English.
03:54 KH: That's what I do when I speak to my French relatives. What's interesting though, I wanna bring up, because this is something that comes up, you can be a Republican and still be a feminist. You can be... There's so many... It doesn't mean you have to be one thing. And that's what I hope people understand, is it just really means helping each other out as human beings.
04:11 MH: Exactly.
04:12 KH: It's very important.
04:13 MH: Which is why we're taking back feminism.
04:16 KH: Maricella, can I ask you a personal question?
04:17 MH: Yes.
04:18 KH: Intersectional feminism, what are your current thoughts, as a woman from El Salvador?
04:23 MH: I think it's more important than ever. When you hear... Looking into the data and looking into the research, as when you hear that, "Okay, white women make 80 cents on the dollar for whatever a white man makes. Black women make, I think it's 64 cents on the dollar. And Latina women make 54."
04:49 KH: Yeah.
04:49 MH: That's ridiculous.
04:51 KH: And also, it's something that nobody speaks about, 'cause... Yeah, for years, it was all about "72 cents to the dollar," I grew up with that. It wasn't until the last 10 some odd years, not that there hasn't been a lot of work on the issue, but now, finally, more and more people are speaking about it, which I think is very important.
05:08 MH: And it's important to get many voices on that conversation, and on the table. And let's, being... This is my personal view. I come from a culture that sexism is very ingrained. It's part of the culture. It is just social norms, at a level much higher than what we see here in the US. And so, for me, even when I go home, when I'm in El Salvador, and I speak to my friends, they don't understand why I would call myself a feminist, or don't understand that there is inequality. So it's even more important to get those voices from places, where things are even a little bit crappier.
05:49 KH: Yeah, yeah. No, for sure.
05:52 MH: I think intersectional feminism is feminism, period. That's how it should be. There should not be any distinction anymore. It just should be all-inclusive, all the time.
06:01 KH: Yeah, absolutely. Exactly. Well, should we get to the interview? Or do you have some polls?
06:06 MH: Well, the poll... The reason I asked you about the Fearless Girl, is because we did ask our members what they thought about the Fearless Girl statue. This is really hot off the presses. We have not closed this poll, as from the day where we are taping this, so it's preliminary info, but I think it'll hold up. 66% said they love it. 14% said, "State Street should have parity on their board first and lead by example." 11% said, "A little girl? Why not a woman?" But I get it, but the girl is cute.
06:40 KH: Yeah. She's gonna grow up though. That girl is...
06:43 MH: She's gonna grow up.
06:43 KH: Yeah. Well, it's getting old.
06:45 MH: Yeah. 6% said, "It's cute, but doesn't mean anything."
06:51 MH: Which, there has to be more than a statue, there has to be more than a statue. There has to be more conversation, but the statue is part of it, it is starting it. And 2% said, "What statue?"
07:02 KH: Alright.
07:02 MH: So there we go.
07:03 KH: That's okay, that means they were doing something else. It was in the news for a hot second. It's very busy.
07:08 MH: So that's what we asked, and now, we can go to the interview with the other fearless girl.
07:13 KH: Yes.
07:14 MH: Or fearless woman, in this case...
07:16 MH: And hear from Kristy.
07:28 MH: I have 1,000 questions for you here. This is episode 50. It's been a long time in the making.
07:33 Kristy Wallace: Ooh!
07:34 MH: It's shifted, it's moved. Was this what you were expecting for the podcast?
07:39 KW: I don't know what I was expecting for the podcast. It was initially, more so, Sallie's brainchild. And I remember, she really... She was like, "Let's do a podcast," and you made it happen. We were in a co-working space in New York City and were just sort of hacking it together at the time. We had curtains hanging up to try and block the sound, and we had... Our members are coming in to tell us their stories and it's become so many things to me. I'm so inspired. I just think all the time, or for a while, I thought to myself, my daughters, who are their role models? Who do they have to look up to? And will my daughters ever see a female president in their lifetime? Will they see women leading companies, and becoming more than 3.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs, and women representing more than 20% of government?
08:45 KW: And then I sit in this room, and I talk to the women on the other side of the microphone, and I'm just like, "Damn, there are inspiring, amazing women taking action, doing things, starting companies, supporting other women, leading change, and they're all in our network, they're all right here. We're just scratching the surface of who these women are." So, is this what I thought the podcast would be? It's more than I ever thought it would be, 'cause the stories inspire me every day. I hope that they inspire our listeners and [chuckle] it's a lot of fun.
09:27 MH: It is fun.
09:28 KW: It's a lot of fun.
09:29 MH: Yeah. And I agree, those stories, of the role models that we've featured here, are amazing, and we're gonna continue doing that, and we're gonna continue showcasing more and more great women, who have interesting career journeys. I know your journey is pretty windy and twisty.
09:46 KW: Yes, it is.
09:47 MH: So, why don't we start there?
09:49 KW: With my journey. Well, so I went to Villanova. Woo!
09:55 MH: Just in time for March Madness.
09:57 KW: Yes, just in time for March Madness. Important that we note that Villanova was the NCAA basketball champ last year.
10:02 MH: Don't remind Sallie.
10:04 KW: I will not remind Sallie, [chuckle] who went to UNC. March is the time when Sallie and I are not on the best of terms.
10:12 KW: But, yeah, so I... It was a weird time, even going to school. We have access to so much knowledge and information now with technology and the internet. And I don't think we realize, often enough, how much the world has changed in the past 20 years, because of technology. When I first was applying to school, I had all my documents I got in the mail and I... My sister and I, I have a twin sister, and we were typing applications at the kitchen table on a typewriter, but I think back now, about how little... I wouldn't say control, but how little knowledge I had in the decisions that I made, and fortunately, I ended up at a school that I absolutely loved. But it was just they accepted me and I said, "Okay, sure. That sounds good. I'll do it." My dad was happy. I'm like, "Awesome!" When it was time to pick my major, I was like, "I don't know. I love reading books. I'm gonna be an English major." Didn't think about business, didn't think about marketing. And when I graduated from college with a double major in English/Sociology, I actually went into investment banking.
11:23 KW: And again, it was a recruiter. This was 1999 and I wanted to move to the city. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I was interviewing at publishing companies, and PR companies, and only because I'm like, "What do you do with an English major?" I don't know if that makes sense, but recruiters said, "Well, talk to this investment bank. You can write the pitch books, you can do research, you've got the basic skills." And it worked, and it was a very eye-opening experience. I had a moment where I was working there and they said, "Well, we want you to start sitting at the front desk," and I said, "Well, why do you want me to do that?" And they're like, "Well, you're more attractive than the woman who usually sits there, so we think you should sit at the front desk." And I'm like, "Oh, okay, so banking's not for me. Awesome." So I left. [chuckle]
12:14 KW: I left banking and started working at a company called Vault.com. And a college friend introduced me to Vault, and she said, "It's a great company, come work here." It was a sales position. I said, "Absolutely not. I am not a salesperson, that is just terrible. How dare you even suggest that?" But I did do it and I loved it. Great skill to have, I would say. For anyone who's thinking about where to refine your skills or where to gain experience, doing sales is... You build relationships, structure, and organization, how to really convey your product, how to pound the pavement, and close the deals. If you even wanna start your own business, those are all skills that are important to have. And what was important to me, and something that I didn't realize at the time, but I realize it now, is I believed in what I was selling. A lot of what I was doing was diversity research. I was selling sponsorships for diversity career fairs, a lot about recruitment marketing, and helping employers connect with job seekers. And I really believed in that, and in the product that we were doing.
13:30 KW: So fast-forward, I... Vault had a successful exit. I was on the senior leadership team when that happened. I'd been there for about eight years. My last role there was expanding the company internationally, so launching Vault in Europe and Asia. I was 29 years old. I got married, quickly became pregnant with my first, and decided, "I can't do this anymore. I cannot work 12-hour days, seven days a week. I can't keep this up, I'm exhausted, and I don't know the path forward." And I think we see that a lot with members in our community, where they hit this point, where you're like, "I don't know. Maybe I like what I'm doing, but I don't like where I am, or I've outgrown this job, or I don't know what the path forward is." So I was on the founding team of Zeel.com and started a company from the ground up, which was a huge learning experience. And then I joined Ellevate.
14:33 MH: It's interesting, 'cause I feel like I've heard your story many times, but I didn't know that much about the banking part. And as you know, I was also in that world myself, except I was doing it in Mexico for real estate companies, which was very interesting, to say the least. But when they told you, "Go sit at the front," did you realize that was basic sexism?
15:01 MH: Misogyny? Inequality? [chuckle]
15:05 KW: I'll be honest. As I recall, in hindsight, the way that I felt was, initially, like, "Oh, they think I'm pretty, that's cool." Because we live in a society, where you want to believe that you are attractive. And then I was outraged, because I'm like, "I did not go to college to sit at the front desk. How dare they even ask me to do that?" And then, I think, I processed, and it became like a, "Hmm, this feels dirty. This is really... This is inappropriate." Over the years, as I think back on it, I think my interpretation of it has certainly evolved into more of the sexism and outrage over that, than I had at the beginning, but...
15:58 MH: Yeah. The reason I ask is... We've talked about this, I feel like a lot of the people, especially now, we keep seeing... We're doing this campaign on Take Back Feminism, but a lot of the people are like, "Well, no, there's really no inequality. It's never happened to me or I don't know anyone that's happened." And a lot of the times, it's just because you don't realize it's happened.
16:20 KW: Oh, yeah. Listen, it's... Many women have said that and men. I've been called out on social media, where it's like, "Well, you're all about feminism, but I don't understand why." And it's easy to say, "Okay, well, here are the stats. Here are the facts. Here are the figures about women making less than men for equal work, all the unpaid work that women take on, even if you've got the most amazing husband in the world or a partner." Lack of... Women are [chuckle] 50% of the population, 50% of the entry level workforce, have been for years, and yet still represents such a small number of senior leadership positions, of management positions, of board positions, of government positions, of any position that wields power within companies, within government, within many controlling bodies of our society, women are not represented.
17:19 KW: And that's just the basics of it. But my sister... I have a twin sister, Katie, who's my rock, and she's amazing, and she is a teacher, and has been a teacher in the same school for almost 20 years now. And she said to me, she's like, "I support everything that you do, but I don't really understand it." And I get that. I get that she doesn't understand it. And maybe she hasn't experienced... She works in a set pay grade, and it's a very female-dominated industry, and there's a lot there, but I would argue that, if you start to look at who the principals are, and who the leadership, who's in positions of leadership, and who... What is that power divide? And the access to increased pay, and opportunity, that there is something, that maybe she's not seeing. And my sister's got her Master's. She's fantastic.
18:15 MH: Yeah. I see it a lot with my friends, some of them who work in very tough industries, and they don't get why I've become so passionate about the topic. And it's really just about education, putting the stuff out there, putting the info out there.
18:31 KW: Yeah. [chuckle] What's so important about what we're doing, is it's not anger. This isn't a bunch of angry women, who are like, "Ugh, I'm gonna fight and I want my way." And this isn't about hating men. It's not about hating...
18:49 MH: We like men.
18:50 KW: Yeah, I love many men, but...
18:53 KW: My husband and my son, that's it, okay, and my dad.
18:56 KW: Oh, my God. That didn't come out right. But...
19:00 MH: I'm sorry.
19:02 KW: But it's about... We live, I think we become complacent. Over time, our society, our culture infrastructure, has become one, in which there is this divide, and because it's such an ingrained part of the way that businesses are structured, of the way that they reward employees, of the way that they view the characteristics of a successful employee, and it goes through the review process, and that's just one aspect of it. It's become ingrained, it's become commonplace, and so it's easy for us to think that equality exists, because it is what we've always known. We wanna be part of that solution of bringing our society, bringing our world, of bringing people, and women, and families, and men to a greater level, by fully engaging diversity, and women, specifically gender diversity, into the future of our society.
20:01 MH: And diversity is a big topic. Realistically, we talk about gender diversity at Ellevate, but there's so many other ways of cutting, and slicing, and taking diversity into consideration. And how do we embrace that more? How do we actually get to become more intersectional and have more voices around the table?
20:24 KW: Having the conversations, providing a space for those conversations to occur, and being a listener, an active listener in those conversations. What I mean by that is, diversity today is not the same thing diversity was 10 years ago or 20 years ago. There's different identities, that we can't put everyone so neatly in a box, and as such, the way that we're reviewing individuals, the way that we are responding to them, the way that we are creating or changing the perceptions around people, is important. I think it's important that we have frank conversations around access to opportunity. It's who's getting the jobs, who's getting the education, how are we creating the cycle of lack of opportunity to move outside of the current realities?
21:26 KW: So back to the initial answer is, we have to keep talking about this and we have to keep listening to what others are saying, which is why, for us, when we talk about gender, I appreciate people asking me questions about it. If you don't understand, thank you for asking me questions, thank you for wanting to understand, thank you for sharing your experiences, and thank you for internalizing the onus of being a driver of change within yourself. Because I don't wanna hear, "Oh, I've got a daughter, so, yes, I believe in this." No, you are a human being, you believe in this, because you believe that, in our world, we're all equal. And so we have to keep talking about it.
22:12 MH: I love that. I really, really love that, the part of, "You're a human being, regardless of your gender, or how you identify, or your race, everything." Whatever it is, you're a human being and you should care about this. Having people come and ask you is a big thing. And I've been seeing a lot of that, actually, I just wrote a piece on it, which is more of "Dating While Feminist," but having a lot of people, who might not know what the hell I'm talking about when I say, "I'm a professional feminist," when they ask me what I do, but it is about, how do we keep that conversation going? But I also think, how do those, who are the majority, or who understand what we're working towards, how do they use our privilege, or their social capital to actually create change?
23:04 KW: Yeah. Into that point, it's... I'm a white, heterosexual, middle class woman, and so for me, I'm always looking up at the white, heterosexual, middle and upper class men, who I want to be equal with. And I'm not looking at the people that are behind me on that ladder, that have less than I have, because we're always just looking forward. And so I think we all have to stop, and turn around, and look at who's behind us, and how can we grab their hands, and help them up? And so we're all... I'm to blame too. I'm at fault too. I think we all can benefit from an increased awareness, but what are the actions that we do? Well, talk about it. Talk about it with others. Learn, and then share that knowledge with other people, have those courageous conversations.
24:03 KW: When you are sitting in the office, and you see a woman cut off at a meeting, or you see someone taking someone's else idea, a man taking a woman's idea, taking credit for it, if you're part of a review process, and you see that there's inequalities, that maybe someone who, English isn't their first language, is getting penalized, because of their "lack of communication skills", just be aware. So learn, have the conversations, be aware, always look for opportunities to be a change-maker. And they can be all micro-opportunities. Everything helps. Everything's important. Listen to podcasts like this, support organizations that are doing things that you believe in, that are driving change that you believe in. I think in our day-to-day lives, every day, no matter who you are, and no matter where you live, you have an opportunity to make the world better for yourself, and for others.
25:08 MH: Yeah. And one thing you didn't mention, that I thought you would, which is what you can do as a parent too. You are raising Benjamin to be a proud feminist...
25:21 KW: Yes, I am. Yes, I am.
25:21 MH: Just as you are raising Zoe and Morgan to be badass bosses. So how should parents engage their kids in this conversation, from even a young age?
25:31 KW: For me, so much of the work that I do, is to make the world a better place for my kids, and I want to make them the best people that they can be, so that they contribute the most that they can to that world, and make it a better place. [chuckle] You're just here making me cry, [25:48] ____ my face.
25:51 KW: So with Benjamin, he's young, he's little. I try to talk to him about the gender pay gap and I use the most obvious, which is, "Well, look at the US Soccer Team, and the women won the World Cup, and the men did not, but the women got paid less." And his response is, "Well, then the men must be better." And I'm like, "But they're not, because the guys didn't win, the girls did." And he's like, "Well... " He's like, "I don't know what to tell you. The guys' gotta be better, they're getting paid more." And I'll say, "If Mommy and Daddy were doing the same job, Daddy would get paid more." And he's like, "Well, Daddy must be better," and I'm like, "That's not true."
26:35 KW: And so it's not that obvious in our day-to-day lives, although it's subtle, and you see it happening. You start to see, if you're a manager and you're looking, "Well, Sallie makes 50K and Johnny makes 60K," which is very realistically how it could be. "Well, Johnny must be better." Yeah, so I talk to him about that, and just trying to put it in context, even if it's day-to-day life, when he's talking about the kids in his class. And I know there's a girl who runs faster than he does, and that's the way it should be, and that's great. And I talk to him about International Women's Day, and why it was happening, and what it meant to me. He wore red to school that day.
27:24 MH: I saw.
27:26 KW: Even talking to him about the election, and not just about the gender of candidates, but about the issues that we were talking about, and why they're important, why it's important to talk about these issues, and what does democracy mean, and how does he play a role in that? And not spouting to him, "Here's what I think," but, "I wanna know what you think. What do you, Benjamin Wallace, think about building a wall to keep people out?" Or, "What do you think about access to healthcare?" And try to put it in some context that he can understand, 'cause he's our future.
28:05 MH: Yes, he is. I love that story of the wall, by the way.
28:10 KW: Yeah, well, he's anti the wall, but his reasoning is, because he would really like to go to Mexico, and he does not think there should be a wall keeping him out. So he saw it more as keeping him out of Mexico.
28:25 MH: [chuckle] I love him.
28:26 KW: And he's got a good friend who's Mexican, and he's very concerned about his friend's family.
28:30 MH: Aw.
28:30 KW: He will not be able to see his friend anymore. Yeah, kids... You put it...
28:37 MH: They're little sponges.
28:37 KW: They do understand the basics of it, and yeah, it's a learning process, as a parent, how you talk to your kids about this stuff.
28:48 MH: How did you, and this is changing topics a little bit, but how did you develop that passion for dealing with issues that are related to equality, women, and girls' education? 'Cause I know you also do a lot of stuff surrounding girls.
29:05 KW: It's many layered. It happened over time. When I was back working at Vault, and we would have diversity events, and employers would tell us, "Well, I saw a lot of candidates, but we only specifically want a specific type of candidate. We're not really about diversity. We're about only those who go to this school and have this [chuckle] GPA," which is funny, because I also, when I started working at start-ups, they were like, "Oh, you don't go to an Ivy League school. Typically, we don't hire people that aren't in Ivy League." And at that time, I'm like, "What?" But within the hiring structure, and within companies, we put these benchmarks, and these labels around what, hierarchy around what is that ideal person. And oftentimes, who fits that mold is not... That's not diverse. And you have a bunch of people that all went to the same school, or all came from same background. Well, that's not diverse.
30:14 KW: But, anyways, it was during that time, that I was frustrated with diversity, and then I spent some time of self-reflection, thinking about... Particularly, as I was in the midst of a next career change, like, "What are the things that matter to me? What do I care about?" And that was one of them, also education was really important to me. I went to private school my whole life, which was great on many levels, but I think I really lacked some of the access to education, that could have helped me, maybe choose a different major or have a different career path. And I'm incredibly happy with where I am, but just access to opportunity through education. I also was getting involved in some non-profit boards. I had been a Girl Scout for many, many years. I joined the Leadership Advisory Board of the Girl Scouts of New York. I started to learn more about what they were working on, and how they're helping girls become leaders, and really create those skills.
31:28 KW: And so, long story short, it was over time, just really starting to see first-hand within diversity, and then within gender diversity, all of the inequalities, and starting to see the programs that were being created to solve for that, and starting to see then, my mission, and my personal drive to be a part of that solution. I had been a part of Ellevate, which had been called 85 Broads for many years. I'd been a member of the network, and I personally gained so much benefit from the connections I made, and the events, and the education, and wanted to bring that to the next level, and drive greater impact through what we do everyday.
32:19 MH: How do you find that? How do you... What advice would you give for someone who's looking for that real personal, professional mission and passion?
32:28 KW: It's always a journey. And you should expect that what was great when you're 21, is not great when you're 31. And potentially, that then changes when you're 41, and again, when you're 51, because who you are as an individual, the things that you like to do, the things that you're passionate about, maybe your family, or your social situation, all of that impacts your life, and let's be honest, to your career, as you spend a third of your life at your job, probably more, when we think about being on email, and everything, on weekends, and nights. If a third of where you spend your time, is your career or your job, and then maybe you have family, and then you've got sleep, it defines us, but we're always changing. And so, it's, I think, unrealistic... And you're lucky, maybe, if you find something, and you love it, and that's what you do for the rest of your life. But I don't think, for many of us, that's what it is.
33:37 KW: But it's scary when you reach that moment and you're like, "Hmm. What's next?" Man, I was really scared at all of those times of transition, because I didn't know the answers, and I was afraid of the risk. I was afraid of failing. After I left Vault, for example, I had worked really, really hard, so I started to think... And I think you need to be honest with yourself, and you need to have those moments of reflection. I started to think, "What are the things that I really liked about what I did? What are the things that I didn't like about what I did? What is important to me in my next job? What type of company do I wanna work for? What size company do I wanna work for?" These are all things that, at least when I graduated college, no one talked to you about, because they're very important questions. You probably don't know the answers when you're 21, but when you're 30, you do, which is, "This is the type of team structure, this is the type of person I wanna work for, this is the type of culture, this is the size of company."
34:46 KW: How do you find your path forward? Be honest with yourself. Be brutally honest with yourself. Ask yourself the tough questions. Think about what you really care about. I would say, and I think we oftentimes associate doing good with not making money, and I don't think that's the case. I think you can do things you're passionate about for for-profit companies, for multi-million, billion, trillion dollar companies. It's not just, "Okay, I'm gonna do good, so I'm gonna go work at the local animal shelter. Go work for Petco." There's opportunities.
35:24 KW: And something else that was important to me, during that time, was my personal board of advisors, which I didn't know to call it that, before I came to Ellevate, but now, I do know. Your personal board of advisors are the people that you trust to give you honest feedback, and to help shed a light on the path forward, and to provide a good perspective, so that could be a former boss. Which, my former boss has always been a mentor, sponsor, inspiration for me. He still is. It could be a boss, it could be a family member, it could be a friend, it could be anybody, but knowing who you can turn to during times of transition. And don't be afraid to take the leap. Try something new.
36:05 MH: That's the hard part though.
36:06 KW: Yup.
36:07 MH: I mean, all of it is a hard part, but actually taking the courage to start, and move, and pivot, knowing that, if it doesn't work out, you still have to be resilient, and try again.
36:19 KW: But we're so afraid of failure. What's the worst that happens? You start a job, you don't like it, so then you're back where you were six months before, or whenever, however, before you were finding a new job, right?
36:31 MH: True.
36:32 KW: It's our ego. And I get it's not that easy, there's financial implications, and other implications. But it's only through failure that you learn, that you challenge yourself, that you learn what you like, what you don't like, and craft this better life for yourself. And failure's good. I think so many fantastic things were created out of failure, so don't be afraid of it.
37:01 MH: What do you think was your biggest failure?
37:04 KW: Oh, god.
37:05 MH: Good failures, sorry.
37:06 KW: What was my biggest failure? Oh, working with my husband, actually, [laughter] was my biggest failure. Jake and I, Jake had started... My husband Jake is a graphic designer by trade, but he's an entrepreneur and he had started an ad agency with an outsource model, so it was based in the Philippines. And so a lot of the team was in the Philippines with his co-founder, and then he was working from the US, and hired me to be Project Manager. And [chuckle] we don't work well together. I mean, we're great together as parents and husband/wife, but we do not work together well professionally. Yeah, that was, by far, [chuckle] I think for both of us, not a good idea.
37:58 MH: That's a good failure, I guess? [laughter]
38:00 KW: Yes. We are still together. We are still together and very much in love. [chuckle] Although, that company is no longer.
38:08 MH: Well, there you go. But Jake is doing his own thing, so it's fine.
38:11 KW: Yeah.
38:13 MH: So we were looking a lot at, yesterday, our team was doing a lot of research on stats and things, that we've been seeing about inequality. And I know we already talked a lot about diversity, but I wanna get this in there, because, did you know that mothers were considered to be 12.1 percentage points less committed to their jobs than non-mothers? While fathers were perceived as being 5 percentage points more committed than non-fathers. Childless women are 8.2 times more likely to be recommended for a promotion than mothers. The numbers suck, but it's not surprising. But the reason I'm reading this, is because, I remember, a while ago, when we were taping a podcast intro, one of the poll questions we had was, "Have you ever felt judged for being a working mom?" And I asked you, and you didn't wanna answer.
39:12 KW: Oh. I didn't wanna answer?
39:12 MH: Have you ever felt judged [39:13] ____ a working mom? [chuckle]
39:14 KW: Yes, absolutely. Yeah. Yes. [chuckle] One specific example was, I was working with a team that I'd worked with for many, many, many years, and great team, but I had a kid. And I was the first one, out of all of us, to have a child, and suddenly, my time became more scheduled. Before the kid, I'd wake up at 6:00 in the morning, be out the door in 20 minutes, and at my desk. And, sure, you needed me to stay 'til 8:00, 9:00, 10:00 at night? Of course, no problem. It was completely flexible, and there was no barriers at the beginning or end of the day.
40:02 KW: But now, I had a child, and I had a child care provider, and that child care provider had set hours. And to be honest, I was of the mindset, that you don't have kids to not see them. I wanted to see my kids. And so that meant that I had to leave at a set time every day. And that became a bone of contention, because the impression was, that I was working less than my peers, that I was less committed, because I had a hard stop every day, so I couldn't just stay late for another meeting. And the owner of the company had said to me, "Can you just stay late one day a week? Just stay 'til 10:00 one day a week." And [chuckle] I have to admit, I thought about it, because I cared a lot about this company, and this team... I thought I was letting them down, because... This is so... I can't believe I'm saying this... Because that's how they felt. They felt I was letting them down and I believed it.
41:05 KW: And so I said to them, "No. Why do you need me to stay late? What happens late?" And he's like, "Well, sometimes we have meetings." I'm like, "Why can't we have meetings before 6:30?" And he's like, "Well, I'm not here all day, and so... I'm in meetings, and so sometimes, internal have to be later." And I just said, "I can't. I can't. It's just not realistic and it's not gonna happen." And I did, ironically, on the other side, I probably worked harder than all of them, because I worked... I was super focused when I was in the office. I was incredibly efficient. I worked really hard, 'cause I knew I had to get all my stuff done at a certain time, so it wasn't like I had the whole day in front of me. And even when I got home, and after I put my kid to bed, I was doing work. And we live in this society, in this world today, where, good or bad, it's all access, all the time.
42:05 KW: And we had a... You have a sick kid and you need to stay home. Well, I've got access to all my files, all my email, my voicemail. I'm still doing calls. I'm still doing meetings. I'm still FaceTiming with my team. You can still work outside of the confines of your desk and your four walls of your office. So that, to me, was hard. And I don't know, if I'm more frustrated about how they perceived that I wasn't working as hard, which I knew was untrue, or more frustrated at myself, for doubting myself during that time. Because it's very easy to believe what others think of you and I think that that's the biggest mistake we can make, is to not just believe in ourselves.
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