Doing Good Things in 2020

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What will 2020 look like?

I chose this photo to allow our minds to fill in the blank… Who do you see around your conference table? Who will lead your team?  Take a moment and imagine who is around your table.  

Now, who else should be invited to join you there?  

I also chose this photo because the text, “Do Good Things” spoke to me.  As we look to make an impact in our industry, it must be done with a mindset of doing good work.  We must focus on coming together to share knowledge and experiences for the good of our industry. There is much work to do, but if we work together we can create change!

As I research leadership and workforce development, I am becoming acutely aware when things seem out of place. I feel a responsibility to act when I see things that should be done differently.  As many of you know, the challenge starts with knowing one’s own leadership style (or leading one’s self) and then understanding how best to be a catalyst for change.  As I work on developing my skills, I challenge you to do the same.  I challenge you to try to see things from another’s point of view and try to reach them where they are.

I have an experience to share that shines a light on the change I would like to see in our industry…

Earlier this year, I walked into a leadership group discussing how we could improve our workforce. This sounds like a great situation to walk into, but at a closer look I saw a challenge that needs our attention. The group around the conference table were all older white males dressed in suits. I don’t think this represents our workforce and I think we should work toward creating a group that better represents the workforce. There were no people of color.  No women. No young professionals. No facility workers.  As much as I respect those men in the room and value their insight as successful leaders in industry, I believe we could benefit from additional insight from a diverse group.  Now, building a diverse group of senior leaders is not easy.  We must recruit and explain why it is important to have a diverse and inclusive group.  These aren’t easy conversations.  It takes courage from leadership and the willingness to listen to others who may think differently.  We must also be willing to invite leaders who may not necessarily have the traditional titles associated with the C-suite. Statistics show the C-suite is not diverse, so how can we adapt and solve this problem.

I understand that an initiative to be diverse and inclusive doesn’t happen overnight. I do believe we have a responsibility to point out when we see things need to change, so that we can improve. As I learn how to do this more effectively, I hope this blog will inspire others to look at how they can be change agents as well.  The rest of this story is an example of something that “in my opinion” needs to change. 

As I turn to leave, I noticed there actually was a woman in the room.  She was a member of the event staff at the director level.  She sat on the edge of her chair leading forward to hear…  This image of her sitting in the back corner along the wall, the only one not at the table, is forever burned in my mind… 

In 2020, WE MUST DO BETTER!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to improve diversity and inclusion in the workforce. Comment here or feel free to send me a direct message.

Brave Blue World

Charli at Brave Blue World

This week as the CEO of Empowering Pumps & Equipment, our media brand, I attended the premiere of Brave Blue World. The Water industry came together with Hollywood celebrities and producers who are passionate about collaborating with people who understand #WatersWorthit.

Brave Blue World
From Left to Right: Tom Freyberg, Barry Liner, Rahkia Nance, Morgan Brown, Charli K. Matthews, Travis Loop

Why I attended the premiere in Hollywood?

I have always been drawn to the Red Carpet and fame of Hollywood, but probably not for the reason that may come to your mind first…Well yes, fashion is one of my favorite parts!  I find myself in tears at most of the award shows as people share their stories and visions of how they can change the world. I love to hear from the celebrities on the big stage to understand their interests and goals.  If you listen to their speeches, their passion for the life they chose comes through. It is often a struggle for an actor/actress to make it to that stage.  It takes a lot of hard work and they know “Now, I have a chance to share my voice with the world!” Some share personal moments of struggle, others are overwhelmed with gratitude for the people who helped them, and others understand that there is a reason they are there that is bigger than themselves and their single win. They understand that when they talk, the media will listen and share it with the world.

#WatersWorthIt

Water is worth sharing the celebrity spotlight and worth the investment to fund the development of a documentary on the future of water. The magnitude of films like this can change the world’s perception.  It will give industry leaders a tool and a vision to move forward with the agenda to improve water infrastructure throughout the globe.  It’s a call to action for water professionals to put their investments in sustainable programs and technologies.  After watching the film, I hope that is replayed daily! I hope it is re-watched until we understand we must take care of our world and we know how to do it.  We must focus on reusing our most valuable resource and look for ways to reduce the water we use daily.

waterWhat I expected from a premiere?

I expected to see beautiful people smiling and celebrating a great work completed.  I expected to see water leaders coming together to discuss what to do next.  I expected they would have all the answers.  After interacting with this group, I understand the answers lie in what we decide to do with the information presented.  Each individual has a role to play.

As the discussion turned more serious and political (as we expect in Hollywood), the question is: How can we really affect policy and the hearts and minds of consumers?

Solving the water crisis affects the world, so we must come together and care about this together.  We must look at solutions that we have all over the world and apply them to our communities. Now that we know the solutions are out there, we must act.

How to be the change?

This year, I lived with the mantra “Be the Change”, as I prepared for the Empowering Women in Industry conference.  This forced me to look inward to see how I could change myself in order to help others be effective at change.  I understand the power of words and how they can affect and influence the network around you.

As we look toward 2020, we will be focusing on the words #MakeanImpact. I think this starts with knowing what you stand for. What matters to you? What do you want your legacy to look like?  Matt Damon is clear when he says he wants to be part of the leadership who solves the water crisis; when he says people a 100 years from now will wish they could’ve solved a problem this big!  I believe every person needs access to clean and reliable water systems.  So, I ask myself: How can I be courageous and step up for water?

My Part in Water

I love that I was bold to ask for another photo of just me on the blue carpet.  I will treasure this photo as I remember the feeling of pride it gave me to pose for water. I was making a stand for something I believe in.  I made an investment to be there.  I am making a commitment to use our media platforms to share the story for a Brave Blue World! I think the way we take part of something bigger than ourselves is to be part of the narrative. Think about your story, do you like it?  If your response is “not really, “ change it.  Discover your passion and purpose and stand firm in building that into your journey through life.

Words have power and symbols attach meaning. The lighthouse was chosen as the symbol for the Brave Blue World because it is built only to serve. How can we align with others and serve the world to ensure we care for our most valuable resource?

How do we attach real value to water?

Over the holiday season, I was in a discussion about the cost of the water bill. It spurs me to question our values as a society.  Shouldn’t we value our water more? After all, it keeps us alive! Furthermore, all of our comforts in life require water in some way.  So if Value is gained or attributed to something when you can see how it makes you as an individual better, how can we tell that story of water?

We are willing to pay for things we value.  Real value comes when we see the need for something, yet we don’t have access to it. If we could show people the process and cycle of water… would it change their value? If we educated people on how to conserve this valuable resource and show them how to be a service to others who need it, would it make a difference?

I saw in the film a theme of water as a business. Like all businesses, it needs a mission.  The core mission for a water business would have to be to protect it, distribute it, and to reuse water as the most valuable asset in the world.  How can you be in business filling this need for others? We know this is different for developed and developing countries, but we need to be part of the story. We must help develop lower cost options for communities as they build and maintain their infrastructure.  We must share the knowledge we know with the world.  We need to be on local boards and councils to influence needed changes.  Like Paul said in his closing remarks, we must demand more.

So, will you join us in the Brave, Blue, World? You can start by sharing this post and your support for this film and the story it tells for the future of water.

Partnering with Michelle Segrest of Navigate Content

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Michelle Segrest has been part of my story for over a decade! We have experienced the rewards and challenges of careers in media and entrepreneurship.  Through all of this, we stand firm in our passion for the equipment and manufacturing industry and agree it is time to support each other.  As Empowering Pumps & Equipment continues to focus on highlighting the real side of industry through storytelling and #EBIndustryTours, we are excited to bring in Michelle to join us!  Michelle brings a wealth of experience and her ability to tell a story captivates us every time. During this time, Michelle will continue to be the captain of her ship with her own company Navigate Content.  If you are wondering, yes, she’s a real sailor!  She is just back from a year long voyage across many seas…  I recommend a cup of cocoa and enjoying her adventures of Sailors & Seadogs which is also available in an eBook.

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Self-Discipline… Finding a Way to Rest

Finding A Way to Rest

Thank you Liz, owner of Chicago Boudoir, for allowing me a way to rest during such a busy week!  For someone who must do something outside of the norm to rest, I appreciate you helping me find a new way to see the gorgeous, brave, and fearless woman within me so I could have energy to empower others!

My struggle…

A couple years ago, I started having real health issues. My blood pressure was too high and my mind was foggy.  Instead of taking time to care of myself and my stress level, I started taking a blood pressure pill. This was problematic to say the least…

Early on in my career, I had a vision of standing on the stage motivating others.  I would constantly push myself to get up and speak in front of people during conferences and meetings.  My body would react with a “fight” response that would cause me to sweat, my heart would beat fast, and my throat to seemingly close up. Because fear of public speaking is common and these symptoms normally present themselves, I didn’t realized the stress of my career choices were affecting my health. 

It literally took a Jeep slamming into the driver side of my car to make me slow down!  I had just dropped my kids off at school. “Shame on me!  Driving my children while exhausted!”  Mommas, you know this negative self-talk all too well. When something terrible happens because we haven’t had rest and couldn’t react in time, we blame ourselves. The reality is… I should’ve asked for help.

After the wreck, my health got increasingly worse. I had this numbness and tingling in my arms and legs which cause me serious anxiety.  Fear was surfacing, and I did not like it! After I had a headache for three days in a row, I went to the doctor.  We started taking a holistic approach to my wellness.  The testing found I was extremely low on B12 and D vitamins. I started taking weekly B12 shots which really seemed to help.  I also began a regular routine of Chiropractic care and supplements to ensure I was at my best…  I thought this solved the problem.  However in a short time, it was back. I spent thousands of dollars in testing but nothing concrete was found.  I was almost wishing for something to be wrong with me… I just wanted to know what I was dealing with so I could get back to work!

I was searching for answers everywhere on what could be causing these problems. It wasn’t until I attended the John Maxwell conference that everything became clear to me.  There were several speakers on how the brain and body work together.  Also, a speaker mentioned prescription drugs were one of the top causes of death. After much thought, I quit my blood pressure pill. I know those pills had destroyed my gut health and it was negatively affecting my body and mind substantially! I decided I would find other ways to control my blood pressure.  I would start by allowing myself time to rest!

 I urge you to listen to your body as it warns you when you are neglecting it.

When you are in pain, SOMETHING IS WRONG.

When you are tired, REST.

When you are hungry, Stop & EAT.

When you are sad, allow yourself time to HEAL. 

When you are overwhelmed, allow someone to HELP.

At the same time all this was happening, I had started a new women’s group at my church.  We all picked words for the year.  My word was Wisdom. I believe I found wisdom through the women who God put in my life to show me how women can truly support women in their time of need.

Last March while planning the Empowering Women in Industry Conference & Awards Gala, I was watching the news coverage of the women’s march. I saw a sign that said, “Women belong in the kitchen” with the verse 2 Timothy 1-7 under it.  I decided to look it up and educate myself on why this person would think this. I believe he was mistaken because this is what I found: 

“God didn’t give us a spirit of fear or to be timid but of power, love, and self-discipline”.  

As I studied more about the verse, it inspired me. I knew I understood the Power & Love part. I feel pretty courageous, and I love everyone! But Self-Discipline, I questioned my capacity!

Since I was going through a lot of health issues, this study started with Self-Care.  I set out to learn how-to take care of myself.  I took up kayaking, and I cut out a lot of the bad things I was putting into my body. I also looked for ways I could put good things into my body including positive self talk.  I constantly told myself, “ I am strong, I am a leader, I CAN with God’s help!” This made all the difference in pulling me out of the darkness. 

I learned Self-Discipline doesn’t come easy.  It takes work.  IT ALSO TAKES REST! It takes being kind to ourselves.  Celebrating small steps forward and rewarding a job well done.  It takes setting clear goals and being honest about whether you are able to accomplish them.   Self-Care is just one area of Self-discipline and it is truly fascinating to see the power the mind has over the body. 

This is what self-care looks to me… NO stress on my face!Charli Smiles

I encourage you to study what it looks like for your life.

I would like to thank Rebekah Mechtensimer for being a wonderful example for me.  Seeing her use self discipline to overcome obstacles while becoming this “best version of self” has made me believe so much more is possible.

I’m wondering… How do you use self-discipline to improve your life? 

A moment to reflect on #WEFTEC and #EmpoweringWomen2019

Empowering Women 2019

Last week was one of those weeks you want to replay over and over! Every year, we prepare for WEFTEC like we are preparing for a marathon.  We know it will be tough both mentally and physically.  There are so many people to see and technologies to learn about. There are service projects and networking events that leave you feeling energized and exhausted all at once.  I was so incredibly proud of my team.  Each person knew their role and executed it with excellence.  As we focus on improvement and innovation in our company daily, we know we could do better with more resources and better planning.  Having said that, we will continue for a few more days admiring a job well done before we move on to all the tasks that must be done… Y’all believe that right LOL… My team is already executing the follow ups!

We do have more to celebrate!!!  Not only did my team master #WEFTEC week, we also executed the Empowering Women in Industry Conference & Awards Gala, successfully!  I have been to a lot of events over my 16 years in the industry, and I will say this one is my favorite!  Not because I got to see the vision I had come to fruition, though that was unbelievable, it was because I watch women’s lives change!

I watched a timid engineer transform into a speaker and even a dancer (before any champagne, I might add).  I watch women connecting with women they had never met; sharing some of their most intimate and challenging stories. The best thing about this was the energy!  It was not an energy of male-bashing or judgment.  It was a group of women actively working to find solutions and help their fellow women in industry succeed!

I am so incredibly grateful that God allowed me to be the one to put a team of empowered women together to #BeTheChange we want to see in the world! The verse that drove me all year was this…

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear or to be timid, but of Power, Love, and Self-discipline”.  

I hope it will also help motivate others to action! We must do the work… we are courageous, we are loving, and we can become our BEST SELF through self-care and education!

I am so thankful for all the women who shared their stories and expertise with our industry… I can’t wait to see everyone again in New Orleans on Oct 8, 2020!

Of course, after an event that touched so many, we have a lot of interest.  If you want to be involved in Empowering Women in Industry, please contact me sooner rather than later at charli@empoweringwomeninindustry.com