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Unconventional Journey to the C-Level, with Joy Altimare

Unconventional Journey to the C-Level, with Joy Altimare

Episode 145: Unconventional Journey to the C-Level, with Joy Altimare

When Joy Altimare, Chief Engagement and Brand Officer at EHE, started her career in marketing, she soon realized that she was more interested in the bigger picture. Starting in the corporate world and moving to a startup at 8-months pregnant, Joy talks about her experiences with negotiating, her career, and the journey that led her to a corporate healthcare provider focused on preventive care. She also shares her insights on leading a company with employees from multiple generations, managing a team, and setting boundaries for work-life balance and integration.

Episode Transcript

00:13 Kristy Wallace: Hello and welcome to the Ellevate Podcast. This is your host, Kristy Wallace, with my co-host Maricella Herrera. Welcome back, Maricella.

00:22 Maricella Herrera: Hi, so great to be back. But not really, 'cause it's really cold.

00:25 KW: I know, you said that and I was looking at you, you didn't mean that.

00:29 MH: [chuckle] No, I did not. Especially not when a snowstorm is coming and I was happily, happily in the warm weather.

00:37 KW: I know, I know.

00:38 MH: But it is... Look, it is good to be back. I told you, when I was walking from the subway to the office the day after I got back, I was smiling ear to ear, and it kind of dawned on me how weird it was that I was so extremely happy to be walking to work, but also, I am always very extremely happy to be walking to work. So I'm just very lucky that I like what I do.

01:01 KW: I know. Well, I was saying you miss... I was saying last week on the podcast how much we miss... You miss people, the people you work with become good friends. And so, especially during the holidays, when you're not with them, the presence is missed. So, it is tough because so many people were out at various times and then we just, I think, this week, finally got everyone back in the office, and it feels great, like the family is back together again.

01:28 MH: It really does. So we have to tape this quickly 'cause then we're having drinks and doing happy hour.

01:32 KW: Yes, unless you're doing dry January, like me, in which case you are going to be...

01:37 MH: I saw you with a glass of wine.

01:39 KW: Shh. Maricella, this is public, you don't say that.


01:46 MH: I'm kidding, I'm kidding. [chuckle]

01:47 KW: I need to keep the... I need to keep the...

01:50 MH: Dry January, yes, yes.

01:52 KW: I need to stay with that.

01:56 MH: [chuckle] Didn't happen.

01:57 KW: Yes, my daughters came to join me for family happy hour at the Ellevate headquarters unexpectedly, due to some sick child care. But it all works, they're excited to be here.

02:08 MH: It worked out, it worked out better, it's great. I hadn't seen Morgan or Zoe in a while. It's great to have them.

02:14 KW: Yeah, I bribed them with chocolate and potato chips.

02:17 MH: There's a lot of chocolate out there, too. Did you see the Kisses?

02:21 KW: Oh, there we go. Maricella, who's on the podcast this week?

02:25 MH: So this week, we have Joy Altimare, she's a Chief Engagement and Brand Officer at EHE, and is soon to be one of my new best friends 'cause she is amazing.

02:36 KW: Yeah, and she recently spoke at an Ellevate event as well, right?

02:39 MH: Yeah, she did. She spoke at the event last week with Sallie and a few other amazing women who were talking all about defining success. And Joy's story is awesome, she's been in startups, she's now at a healthcare company that's been around for 100 years, she has done lots of different things. One of the startups, she got the job when she was eight months pregnant, started to work immediately, basically. She's just a force of nature, she's really great. You'd love her, actually.

03:14 KW: I cannot wait to listen to this episode. You did the interview, so I always love it when you do it, 'cause then I get to be surprised and hear all the great stories and inspiration. What was your biggest take away?

03:27 MH: From the Defining Success event? So, I would say there was a lot of talk about failure, which I always appreciate, because the reality is we are always... A lot of the times, we're afraid to fail, but the only way that we can figure out... The only way we can really get to do something that we are really proud of, it necessarily won't be the first time we try, we have to be comfortable with failing and with being more risk takers and really doing that. So that was great to hear. Yeah, I think I liked that part of the discussion quite a bit.

04:05 KW: And it's so relevant now. I always find I've been having so many conversations, this month of January, with women who just feel either stuck in their careers, or things didn't work out the way they wanted, or not moving forward, uncertainty. And a lot of it comes back to feeling like a failure and you didn't do something right. And that's not the case, there's so much ahead of us that we don't even realize yet, and things that turn out to be different than initially expected, and it's giving ourselves a little bit of that leeway to experiment, to succeed, to fail, because failure is not a bad thing, we've heard that on this podcast before. It's a learning experience, but failure is oftentimes falling forward into the next great thing.

04:57 MH: Oh, that's quotable.

04:58 KW: And how do we celebrate it? That's... I'm 90% certain that that is not mine, that I took that from someone else, but I'll repeat it because I think it's really important. And on that note of January, and thinking about your career and the next steps, there's some great stuff happening at Ellevate, right?

05:19 MH: Absolutely. Yes, we're starting the year off really focused on how do we help everyone in our community get to success, however they define it. And what we really do believe is that, if you have that community that can support you, then failure isn't that scary, if you have someone that can help you get through whatever it is, or who you can learn from who has been there before. So, we want more people to join our community, and we have a 20% discount during the month of January for anyone who joins Ellevate with the code "ItStartsWithMe", because it should start with me, and you should put yourself first, and you should get to where you wanna go.

06:04 KW: Excellent. Thanks Maricella, and I'm excited to see what 2019 holds, and it starts with January, and it starts with me, and it starts with Joy. So let's hear from Joy and you in this week's Ellevate Podcast.


06:28 MH: I'm really excited to be here today, chatting with Joy. Joy, thank you for joining us.

06:33 Joy Altimare: Thanks for having me, so excited to be here.

06:35 MH: And I wanna start today, our conversation, by asking you to tell me a little bit about your career and your journey.

06:42 JA: For sure. So, I'm Joy Altimare, and I am the Chief Engagement and Brand Officer at EHE, which is a preventative health company. But I didn't start in healthcare, I actually have an interesting path to the C-suite, probably not very typical. I went to college in Boston, I went to Boston University, and I started, actually, a little bit... Not a little bit, a lot a bit in advertising. So, I went to college, though I always tell people I didn't know if... I'm a product of... My father's Jamaican, so I'm a product of this belief that you can either be one of three things: You can either be a doctor, a teacher, or a lawyer, those are fundamental jobs that you should go into you, that's my father sent me to college to be, and when I told him, after my freshman year, that I was gonna do this thing called advertising, he was like, "I don't even know what that is, and I'm not paying X amount of dollars for BU, it's a private school. You have to figure it out."

07:38 JA: So I negotiated, that's where I learned my first negotiation skills, [chuckle] and long story short, I decided that I was gonna continue on the science path, so I finished with a degree in biology, but I also got a degree... BU has a great program where you can... It's called BUCOP. Basically, you can get two for one, so for Jamaican parents, that's amazing. They're like, "It's a discount." [chuckle] And so I got also a degree in communications, which was amazing. So I started in advertising, I fell in love with it instantly. I love the idea of being able to look at a population of people and change the way that they think. So as a result, change the way that they behave.

08:19 JA: So, I started in advertising when it was less siloed, when companies did everything. We partner with our clients, and we did everything from strategic planning, even from a concept, all the way to media planning and buying, so I had exposure to the entire process. And then, as I graduated from different levels, I realized that, as it was becoming more siloed, that wasn't gonna be the best place for me, so I found my way, at the end of that part of my career, just kind of frustrated with the advertising agency a little bit, and disillusioned, I guess, because it was just so siloed, and we really were just taking orders versus being a thoughtful contributor to the process.

09:00 JA: So I worked at Condé Nast for a little bit, which was amazing because they were doing this digital transformation, this behemoth print giant was trying to figure out... I was too, same adjective, but used differently. [laughter] Was trying to figure out how do they now compete with the new world of digital, and I had to come from an integrated background, so that was great. So I did that for a while, then I worked at Equinox for a while, and then I got pregnant, and I went to go work at a startup, which is unknown, unheard of, right? But I interviewed for this job around eight months pregnant.

09:35 MH: Really?

09:35 JA: Yes. And I interviewed for a female CEO who was under 30, and she didn't even flinch when I walked in. It was...

09:44 MH: Everything about this story...

09:45 JA: Yeah.

09:45 MH: I'm just loving it.

09:46 JA: It's amazing, right? And she didn't even flinch, she... I didn't even flinch, I didn't... It's almost also crazy, I wasn't even thinking about, "Oh, I'm eight months pregnant, I probably shouldn't go for this interview." I got a call from her [09:58] ____ group, I really liked... The job was really to create this B2C platform from a traditional B2B play. She really liked some of the work that we were doing at Equinox, and she had a different perspective. It was a very old-fashioned product, orthotics, and she just had figured out how additive manufacturing could change the dynamic of that industry, and was being very successful on the B2B side, but really wanted... Her true passion was to say, "How can we make this more accessible to more people who need them?" Not prescriptive, but more accommodating, which was... Where you could... The white space where we could play.

10:38 JA: And when I interviewed with her, it was an instant lovefest. Neither of us even... I think I forgot that there was a belly there. She... Within weeks I had the job, and it was really amazing, because I realized that this is not the typical startup culture that people go into, and I didn't feel like I was gonna be this new mom, with this new job, in this crazy environment that I would have no life. It was really where I started to understand this concept of a work-life integration, and chasing this balance was gonna be futile. It doesn't exist, really. You have to, in this new world, think about integration.

11:15 JA: But long story short, we had a really successful run, and then I found myself in an awesome situation where EHE was kinda presented to me, and I, at the time, was looking at a couple different options. But personally, my father had had a stroke, and my father was super healthy, he ran triathlons my whole life, he and I bonded over fitness, and I was an athlete, I was a swimmer growing up. So to have this... Your first man you love in your life have a stroke, it was almost like all the stars aligned and said, "This is the job you should take." So that's how I ended up at EHE, and then I fell in love with the concept of how prevention can change people's life, and how lifestyle can really add more years, more happy years, and better performance to the individual.

12:03 MH: I have so many follow-up questions about all of this, yes, so many.


12:08 MH: First off, how small was the startup where you joined?

12:11 JA: So, when I joined, I was the 18th employee.

12:15 MH: So you were the 18th employee, and you were eight months pregnant.

12:18 JA: I was eight months pregnant, I was the 18th employee, and then we grew to about 110 employees over the course of two years, a little under two years.

12:26 MH: That's insane to me, 'cause especially being employee number 18. Some people who've listened to this podcast have heard, when they think of scaling businesses and how you actually make that happen, and that phase between 12-ish to 50...

12:44 JA: It's hard.

12:44 MH: Is very hard.

12:46 JA: And I would say even 50 to 100 is very hard.

12:48 MH: Very hard.

12:48 JA: So, we had really great mentors who... We were... I was one of the oldest people there, [chuckle] so that was like a gut check. I had been the youngest in every other part of my career, but we had really great mentors who said, "Startup culture changes after every three months, and/or after every 25 people you hire."

13:10 MH: Yeah, that makes sense.

13:10 JA: Because when you're one through 12, you're almost like... Osmosis things happen, 'cause you are spending 12 hours, 10 to 12 hours or more together, and so you don't have to rely on collaboration tools, you can actually just talk to each other in a very informal way, and you really, it's more of like a very... It is that lifestyle integration, that life-work integration, because you're making decisions over coffee when you arrive, and then you're... It's just very... Everyone's doing a little bit of everything, and there's less processes, and there's less defined roles. And for some people, like me, that was amazing, because I like... Because I come from the [13:49] ____ side, my brain works on the entire spectrum, it doesn't just say, "Oh, I'm a marketer and I can only think about the marketing." I love the idea of, how does the product... What's the user journey as we built the product, so that we can also marry that to the user journey of how we acquire the consumer.

14:06 JA: So it does change, though, when you hire more product and engineer people. When I created the marketing team there, as well as EHE, it changes, 'cause now you have people with different experiences coming to the table, different ways in which they think the process should work, and you have to... You hired them for that, so you have to accommodate that, and that is the true definition of, when we have at EHE now, it's a 105-year-old company.

14:33 MH: Completely different.

14:34 JA: Completely different. We have people who have been with us for 35 years, and we have people who have been with us for three months. How do you manage this not only multi-generational workforce, people who only know how to write on paper, versus people who never use paper, [chuckle] along with multi-tenured? It's... For people like me, it's amazing, 'cause it's a complete... I geek out over the dynamic of people, processes, technology, and just the human nature piece of it.

15:06 MH: If you would see me, you'd see that I'm smiling ear to ear, 'cause this is the things I geek out on, too. That's the type of stuff I do here too, and I'm also more of a generalist in a sense, in a way that I don't like thinking of one specific thing, but more of that holistic thing.

15:22 JA: The holistic. Yeah, for sure.

15:24 MH: Which is great, and I... From the moment you said you left advertising as it was getting more siloed, I'm like, "Ah, she's bigger picture, holistic view of things."

15:33 JA: I think in general, women like us also, we don't like to be put in a box. So as soon as we start to feel like, "I'm getting closed in," we literally started pushing, pushing, pushing to get out of the box, and then pop, and then we figure out something else.

15:47 MH: Yeah, and honestly, women have more... Research shows, Sallie would say...

15:51 JA: Research does show. [laughter]

15:52 MH: That women have much more of a capacity to both pay attention to different things at the same time, so sort of almost multi-tasking, but also are much more interested in lifelong learning.

16:03 JA: For sure.

16:04 MH: Which is the same thing, it's trying to figure things out, push a little bit here, learn a little bit about this part, which keeps you going.

16:11 JA: I think we also have a greater capacity to manage and juggle multiple things, which is slightly different from multi-tasking. I feel like men... And again, this is just general.

16:21 MH: Right.

16:21 JA: But men, generally, are multi-taskers. They can make a list or manage four or five things at the same time, but not necessarily go very [16:31] ____.

16:31 MH: True.

16:32 JA: We are emotional, more emotional, and even when we try at work to be less emotional, we're still thinking about the person we had a one-on-one with and what's happening with them, not just how are they performing. So we definitely manage different things at the same time, but we're also looking at, how are we... What's the impact that we're having on the general population? And I think that that is something that... I have a daughter who just turned four, and I'm, of course, the classroom mom, so... [chuckle] So, I go and I watch just the dynamic of how the classroom, even at four, how girls and boys interact differently, how, unfortunately, cliques are created even at that young age, and you start to see just... Girls manage things differently than boys, and it's just innate to who we are. We learn how to juggle from five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. We are planners, most of us are planners by nature, because we are planning for our lives at 13, 14, 15. We're trying to figure out, "Well, what do I have to pack today because I have to do X, Y, and Z?" Also, you go through puberty differently than boys do, so we're just... I think we're just, from nature, different.

17:49 MH: Yeah, absolutely. So tell me, and I'm not gonna let go of the you were eight months pregnant when you got there, [laughter] because I really wanna hear a lot about this story. It's just fascinating to me. How was it starting at a new place with a completely different setup, because it's your first startup experience, at that point in your life?

18:11 JA: For sure. So I... I was a late mom, so I had my daughter around 37, 38, and I think that helped in general when I went to the startup universe. I think that I knew who I was, and I knew I was very confident in my abilities. I didn't feel as though I had to... You have to prove yourself at every job, right? You're walking in, and you need to, in some ways, endear yourself to your colleagues, but also prove yourself to your team, and I am a huge believer in that, you earn the right. Just because you have the title, you don't just walk in. So you do have to do a little bit of that, but there's a difference from when I did that in my 20s than I did it in my 30s. In my 20s, it was almost trying to also prove it to myself, and when I walked into this experience, I knew why I was hired, I knew what my... I did a 30-60-90 plan for my CEO so that she could also know what I was going to do.

19:10 JA: One of the things that I had gotten counsel from, from a lot of people who had worked in startups is, while it's lovely for people like us who are generalists, the one minefield is not living up to an expectation that was undefined. So for me, I thought it was really important that I completed a 30-60-90, that I socialized, not only with her, but my executive colleagues, so that everyone understood this is what marketing does. 99% of the time, people don't know what marketing does. They think we make it a pretty package.


19:41 JA: They don't really understand how much data and quantitative information and input goes into the decisions we make. And so, a lot of it, when I joined there, I felt confident walking in the room, but I was definitely met with some opposition from the product and engineering side. And to all the people in product engineering, I love you.


20:02 JA: But it was very difficult, because they were not used to working with a hands-on marketer. They... I'd worked... I became really great friends with the head of product engineering. He created the algorithm for Match, so he's super smart. And he thinks very differently than I do, but he said to me in our first meeting, "I don't develop products for people, I develop products for products." And that was like...

20:27 MH: That's very different.

20:28 JA: Well, who purchased those products? People. So there was this just fundamental challenge of appreciating what marketing does, and it was my job. You almost have to take it on, you could either... You have two options, you can either say, "It's not my job to teach you about marketing, you're an adult, you know how it works," or it's my job to say, "Let me partner with you and meet you where you are, and then walk you through this journey so that we can actually get to the promised land together." And I chose the latter, to say, "Okay, this is... Let me see... It's marketing. It's what we do as marketers. Let me profile you, let me see what motivates you, let me then create a channel strategy, so meet you where you are, and then nurture you along the path of where I want you to go." That's essentially what I did, but in a human way.

21:18 JA: And eventually, we became... He was the first person I talked to before I got to the office, he was my work husband, and he... It became a friendship. I took him to get a great haircut 'cause he was going to the barber around the corner, and I was like, "If you wanna date successfully, you gotta get a better haircut." Then we became friends, and he taught me how to code. So, it became a really great relationship, but it took two to three months to kinda just get through that first initial barrier, and that, I would say, was the hardest part of going to the startup. It wasn't the hours, it wasn't anything other than... It wasn't the pressure either, it was really just creating an opportunity for me to educate, but also be educated.

22:04 MH: Which is interesting to me. I love this story, by the way, because it's about, it really is about the people and creating those relationships, and I love how you broke it down into, you really used marketing...

22:19 JA: Yes.

22:19 MH: To build that relationship, which is... I've never thought about it that way, but that's really what human connections kind of fall into...

22:26 JA: Exactly.

22:27 MH: Or break down to.

22:29 JA: Our success, I think... So I'm not even ashamed to say this. So I have an amazing CEO, he invested in me with an executive coach that I just had my last session with yesterday, so sad. But it was six months of hard work, and what we realized is that everything is around human connection. You can be so effective at that part of your job which is really defined by what your job is, versus how you do it. And the interesting piece that I learned is that what got me here, which is I think is a book, what got me here will not get me there. So the things that you do in your 20s and 30s as a mid-manager, which is, you're able to be innovative and maybe change a process that changes the dynamic of the company, when you're an executive in your 30s and 40s, that's your job.

23:21 MH: Yeah.

23:21 JA: So no one's excited that you did that. And so that's a little bit of humbling, right? And so then you have to realize, "Oh, my job is not necessarily to do it, it's to remove barriers so my team can do it, and to understand where they are as humans, so that I can create a relationship with them to encourage them when they may hit a wall or realize a failure, that's my job." And so, it's just... That whole process was so great because I realized that I always thought of myself as an amazing manager, and I thought of myself as an amazing colleague to my peers, but what I realize is that I was just doing what I thought I would want done to me. It is about the human relationship and you have to be a listener, sometimes, so that you can understand where you two can meet together.

24:12 MH: So, tell me about EHE and your work there.

24:15 JA: Yes. So EHE stands for Engaging Healthy Employees. As I mentioned before, we are a preventative health company, and so what we've done over the last year and a half is really re-engineer our product. We really believe that there's this clinical piece, which is the health piece, which is really aligning with the US Task Force For Preventive Medicine, to make sure that we're aligned to what you should be receiving. The data shows that, of all women in America that are getting their exams, only 30% are getting the full preventive exam. 70% of us go, but most of us go just to our OB-GYN, because they think, for so long, people just wanted to know about fertility issues, and can they have a baby, can they not have a baby. But when we see this rise in cardiovascular disease in women, it tells us that because only 30% are getting complete exams, meaning they're getting their lipids tested, that there's a whole bunch of us that are just not getting a complete exam, which is the basis of EHE, to make sure that everyone who's seen gets a complete exam.

25:13 JA: And it's so important, even in your 20s, to get a complete exam, because you wanna benchmark, year over year, how things are changing, how things are evolving, so that if you, God forbid, have something occur in your 30s or 40s, you actually have a little bit more sense of self because you have seen the progress. It doesn't come out of the blue, right?

25:32 MH: Right.

25:32 JA: So, we specialize in that clinical piece which is so important, the annual exam, complete annual exam, that aligns with the US Task Force. But we also do this lovely piece which I love, it's called Health Mentorship, which is this, I call it "surround sound care". It's what we do all year long to make sure that you're eating well, that from a lifestyle behavior perspective, that you have the support you need. So we think about how you eat, how you think, and how you move, and we think those three elements are the holistic health that you need, that everyone needs.

26:04 JA: When you think about prevention, we're not disease management, we're not dealing... We have a whole referral service, so if we do find something, we have great relationships across the country, 105 year worth of relationships across the country that we can refer you into a right specialist. But our goal is to help you achieve the goals that you wanna set for yourself. We don't own your health journey, you own it. We just give you the tools and the resources that your employer has paid for.

26:33 MH: Right. I was gonna say it's C2B model.

26:37 JA: Yeah, we work with employers who believe in the power of prevention, who basically understand that their employees are the bread and butter of their business, and it's not just about performance, it's about better performance, longevity, it's about feeling good. And we work with a breadth of employers, employers who are in the consulting space, all the way to employers who are in the energy space. And so they have different types of employees that we work with, and we see that, at the end of the day, all employees, when they leave the exam and when they matriculate into this health mentorship piece, they feel the value of just having this resource.

27:14 MH: So, you talked a little bit about work-life integration when we were starting.

27:17 JA: Yes.

27:18 MH: Tell me a little bit about how you think about that, and how you make time for yourself.

27:25 JA: So, it's a journey, we'll start there. So, I think one of the big things that I learned, especially in my late 30s to now, is forgiveness of yourself. I'm type A.


27:40 JA: Surprise, surprise.

27:41 MH: I would've never noticed.

27:43 JA: I'm type A, I'm the only child, and I'm a Scorpio. So I just have the trifecta of just... I'm gonna be easy to deal with. [laughter] So I think, in general, work-life integration, it was like a wave that hit me one day. I'm trying so hard to say I have the balance for who, to impress who? No one. No one cares, really, if I have work-life balance, they just want what they're asking of me to be achieved. So at the end of the day, work-life balance is for who? Nobody.

28:16 JA: And what works for me is to say I'm okay with having a little bit of integration. I'm okay with checking my phone if I need to, I'm okay with giving... So there's boundaries though, around it. So for me, I've decided my team... And my CEO knows this too, but he's probably the only exception. I will talk to you up until about 6:30. I leave the office between 5:30 and 6:00. I'm usually available until I get in the door, and then I'm not available from 6:30 till about 8:00, because that's family time. And my phone... It's not even like I'm tempted, 'cause the phone is left in the foyer, so I don't even know if you're calling it.

29:00 JA: But I give you my home number, I'm Gen Y, so I still have a landline. So I give you my home number, and if you need me, call me on that number. And so what that's done is it's created a boundary for me, it's created a less, that anxiety of, "Oh, does someone need me and they're just not reaching out?" But it also makes the team stop and think, 'cause texting is so easy. I text you or I emailed you, so now it's on you. You have to now stop and think, "Is this worth me calling her? Is this worth me getting on the phone, or can I try to figure it out?" So that, to me, was like lesson number one. I'm gonna have work-life integration with boundaries, there's periods of time that I'm not available. And usually I'll get back online at 8:30, but it's been such a conditioned behavior now that when I get back online, there's nothing for me to look at. My CEO is, again, is the only exception, he can text me anytime, but usually he's just asking a quick question. He's also, he's an amazing CEO, he's self-sufficient, he has no ego, so he's done this before.

30:00 JA: So that is really the principle, to one, forgive yourself because you're gonna make mistakes and you're not gonna get it perfect every day, but then to create boundaries around what you are willing and not able to do. And I recognize that in your 20s and 30s you may not be able to do that. I recognize that as you're climbing, I'm still climbing, but as you're climbing, that you may find yourself in an environment where your work environment doesn't allow for that, your job doesn't allow for that. And then I think you have to ask yourself questions like, "Is this good for me? Is this where I want to be?"

30:33 JA: That... To be honest, I talk about the siloing of advertising, but it also was... I was traveling 20 days out of the month. I was... I had gotten myself to a position where I was dealing more with FT analysis versus the business of advertising, and that wasn't for me, so I didn't see how that was gonna end. How was I never going to travel? I looked up at people who were ahead of me and they were traveling a lot, and they had... They saw their kids rarely, and they missed basketball games, and they... That wasn't what I wanted, so I had to ask myself hard questions like, I'm not really happy with what's happening to the industry, as well as, this is not the lifestyle I want. And I know that that's difficult because sometimes you've gotten yourself into a financial situation where it's hard to leave, but you have to be honest with yourself and forgive yourself if you've changed your mind, that you don't want that career anymore, or you don't want that environment anymore. Sometimes you have to do that.

31:32 MH: Was it a mindset shift for you to actually set those boundaries at some point?

31:37 JA: I think it definitely was. My grandmother died in her early 90s and she had dementia toward the end, but she was still very vivid up into her 80s, and she was a pistol, and she would just basically say, "I don't wanna do that." She would say, "I don't wanna do it," and so... And I lived in a multi-generational household, so she was in my house growing up, and we just started to... I guess it was a mindshift, 'cause I started to adopt that. I don't wanna, I don't wanna do this, I don't wanna go to Chicago today, I don't want to be planning three months out when I could actually have a day with my husband because I have this crazy schedule, I don't wanna do that, I don't want that. So it requires being still for a moment and just really asking yourself the hard questions.

32:30 JA: Do I like my life right now? Do I see my parents once a year, only on the holidays, in a three-day span? Do I like the friends that I've cultivated? Am I in the right circle? Am I getting the right advice? Am I around ambitious women who also have a life that I admire? These are things you have to ask yourself, and sometimes you have to make the hard shift of saying, "This is toxic and I didn't even recognize it, so I have to move beyond that," and find yourself around women... And you need men too, we need the men as well, but around a group of people who have the life that you want to have.

33:08 JA: And you never know the intimate details of people's lives, but looking at someone and saying, "I really like how they manage through this family/work thing. I'm going to ask them for advice, and I'm going to get myself... " It's the old adage, birds of a feather flock together, so if you find yourself the only one in your crew always giving advice, you're probably in the wrong crew. Find a crew of people that you can get advice from, and that's... I think that's Ellevate, right? That's the purpose of Ellevate. [laughter] But I also feel like that's what we're not told to do, actually, as young girls. We're told to have the answers, to be the leader. I went to an all-girls schools from 7th-12th grade. I was told to be the leader, and I love that, I think it's gotten me very far, but you also need to reach above and reach below, and reaching above means getting advice from people who've walked the path before you.

34:05 JA: So that's a piece, I think, that came with, to be honest, maturity. It came with time. I don't think I would have thought like that in my 20s, I was too competitive with myself and with my colleagues. Now, I'm less competitive and more like my grandmother, like, "I don't wanna do that, I don't feel good about doing that, so I'm not doing it."


34:22 MH: That's great.

34:23 JA: Yeah.

34:24 MH: Yeah, find your squad, that's what we say.

34:25 JA: Find your... Yeah, I call it find your tribe, yeah, for sure.

34:28 MH: Thank you so much for being here, Joy. I really, really enjoyed our conversation.

34:31 JA: Thank you so much, it was great. It was... This is my third podcast ever, so I'm so appreciative, and I love Ellevate.

34:39 MH: Love it, thank you.

34:40 JA: Thank you.


34:43 KW: Thanks so much for listening to Ellevate. If you like what you hear, help a girl out; subscribe to the Ellevate Podcast on iTunes, give us five stars and share your review. Also, don't forget to follow us on Twitter at @EllevateNtwk, that's Ellevate Network, and become a member. You can learn all about 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, Katharine Heller, she rocks, and to our voice over artist, Rachel Griesinger, thanks so much, and join us next week.


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