Marrying Your Networks

Carter & Charli smiling

Carter & Charli smiling

While I was listening to the Empowering Women Podcast, I heard the phrase “Marrying Your Networks.”  I thought, this is another way of describing my passion for connecting.   I enjoy the challenge of taking two seemingly different groups of people and finding a common bond. I also think we can learn so much if we take the time to listen to other point of views.  So many times, people see “different” and avoid the situation completely.  I see difference as an asset.

Sometimes I do find myself with an uncomfortable feeling around a stranger.  Now, I am not talking about the “RUN, you are in Danger!” uncomfortable. (This should be given immediate attention!)  I’m talking about the person looks different or views the world differently than me, and I don’t know what to say to them uncomfortable.

I think about this a lot in my own business and family.  Each of my children are on a completely different wave length…

To tie this into our daily work, I’ll use Carter and I as an example.  When it comes to Sales & Marketing, we are like oil & water. We usually agree with the final result or goal, but we go about the work completely differently.

Me: Focused on customer at all times and how they feel about working with us.

Carter: Focused on the details of customer expectations and measurable results.

Now, both of these are very important to ensuring success in the overall customer experience. However, these differences can cause some confusion at times.  If we take into account the other person’s goals and how they process information needed to make a decision, we can learn how to communicate in a language the other person can understand better.

Thinking of the other person’s communication style and goals:

Carter could say to me, “I think the customer would feel better about their program if they received________.”

I could say, “Based on this stat, we should be doing more ________.”

This is a simple example of how we can communicate differently with people just by taking in their point of view.  As we look to grow our networks to grow industry, I challenge you to connect with a person outside of your normal “looks like me, thinks like me” circle.  You will be surprised what you learn about yourself while listening to another person’s story.  Also, if you go into these networking opportunities with a mindset of helping the other person accomplish their goals, this is where the magic happens!  Marrying networks with a common goal make us better, faster, and stronger!

I’d love to hear your tips for better communication with people outside your comfort zone.

Reflecting on episode 7 of the Empowering Women Podcast

You_got_this photo with podcast
I really enjoyed the last two episodes because they opened my eyes to additional career paths that are meaningful and have an element of responsibility to our communities.
Drena’s story makes me feel like I am getting something right in terms of leadership. Fascinated that STEM careers can include things like makeup counters which I do spend time at from time to time.  So many areas to talk about, but I’ll focus on these areas: Mentoring, Leadership, Belief.
One reason Drena was successful in her career was because she actively seeks mentors and sponsors strategically along her path. As she looked to grow in an area or skill, she would look to a leader in that space to sponsor or educate her in the skills she needed.
I loved how she discussed how her career was mostly influencing others’ behaviors. She discussed how influencing is basically done through storytelling and listening for pain points or problems that can be solved.  Communication is key to the success of a business.  The better we can communicate with others, the better our workforce becomes.
I believe her leadership style aligns with mine. I am also very focused on continuous learning.  I call it continuous improvement, but I see the only way to improve is to learn from our failures and successes.  She also asks people to stretch.  I am always pushing my team outside their comfort zone while focusing on building strengths.
“Tackling today’s challenges” – I make sure my team is involved in the strategy of our company and consistently check in with them to make sure they are working on something they are passionate about.  I believe we are all more driven when we feel we are making an impact on something we care about in our core being.
This was probably my favorite quote Drena stated:  “As a leader, we must trust our own voice and opinion and stop undervaluing it or playing small.”  I still struggle with this, but I am improving.  I am thankful to Drena for sharing her challenges so I feel less alone in those feelings.  Thank you, Drena!
I also wanted to highlight the importance of being bold and having the courage to (like Drena says) “Make the Ask.”  Whether you are trying to climb the ladder, obtain hands-on experience, just get an Ally! Go ahead and ask for it.

Invest in Yourself

Charli-invest-in-yourself

What comes to mind when you read Invest in Yourself?  Is it buying yourself that new outfit? Shopping at Whole Foods? Or being able to invest in your 401K?  Whatever came to mind, I want to challenge you to rethink what this means to you.

I was recently discussing how we often sign up for training events with a sincere intention to attend and improve at a specific subject / area of expertise. In some cases, for whatever reason, we don’t attend. I find myself asking, “What is it that makes us follow through with that commitment?” Does personal development need to be forced by our employers to make sure we put enough attention on it to actually do the task?  Or is it a matter of money?  Is the only way our minds can see value in a commitment if it is tied to money?  Coming from a background of sales, this is something I will continue to research.  In the meantime, allow me to call attention to the importance of personal development and investing in your skills.

Wikipedia defines Personal development as “activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance the quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations. Personal development takes place over the course of a person’s entire life.[1] Not limited to self-help, the concept involves formal and informal activities for developing others in roles such as teacherguidecounselormanagerlife coach or mentor. When personal development takes place in the context of institutions, it refers to the methods, programs, tools, techniques, and assessment systems that support human development at the individual level in organizations.

Let’s start with improving awareness and identity.  If we don’t spend time reflecting on our own abilities and how we can improve, we will be in a constant state of confusion.  Not understanding what direction to go or what strengths we possess to get us there.   Understanding who we are or who we would like to become is the first step in personal development.  Spend some time to understand your talents and goals.

Building Human Capital and Employability. This should have Human Resources rejoicing as well as demanding investment into personal development.   How can HR really show that they are building the human capital within their organizations?  I believe there is fear that if we help train our employees to be better at their jobs that they may acquire those skills then leave the organizations.  This fear has increased in recent years with millennials entering the workforce.  I too have struggled with the investment and the ‘unknown’ in an employee’s commitment, but there is no room for abandoning our responsibility to training and building our employees within our organizations.  If you treat your employee well, even if they leave, they will send connections and even sometimes sales back your way.

Invest In Yourself

Self-help… now I am a big fan.  I probably have more books in this area than any other, but this can only go so far.  We must network and grow by connecting with people who are better than us. Networking with role models and mentors who have already figured out much of what we are trying to accomplish.  Joining a network of peers in your industry is one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself. I say give to yourself, because you don’t have to wait for your boss to sign you up for these opportunities. If you understand the importance of this to your development as a person and an employee, you can easily make the case for this.

As I think about this for our own conference, Empowering Women in Industry,  I have never been more confident in the amount of value something like this will give to your life.  At $350 for a full day of learning skills, networking, and celebrating industry success with dinner and music, I will take back that overpriced purse or wine and take another look at really investing in myself.

So, if the research says we must tie dollars to our commitments to make sure they happen, that is all set up for our event – just know that this is not what is motivating our event. Our event is motivated by the desire to help you invest in yourself. You are worth investing in!!! When you grow, and we grow together, we can #BetheChange.

“Personal development is the belief that you are worth the effort, time and energy needed to develop yourself.” ―Denis Waitley

Reflections on The Empowering Women Podcast – Episode 4

You_got_this photo with podcast

In this latest episode, #4, Mel the Engineer engages with Christen Wood, a Wastewater Operator & Operations Administrator at the County of Summit Department of Sanitary Sewer Services. She has been working in the wastewater field since 2008- first at the City of Ashtabula wastewater laboratory, then in both laboratory and operations roles for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. Her education includes a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Findlay. She currently holds certifications as a Professional Operator, Wastewater Treatment Class IV; Ohio Class III Wastewater Operator; and Ohio Class II Wastewater Analyst. She is passionate about the Operations Challenge competition and sharing the excitement of clean water with the world, including through the wastewater Twitter community as @sewer_chic. Her achievements include OWEA Professional Wastewater Operations Award, NESOWEA Herb Hansen Award, and writing the winning WEF Fight Song: Treat the Water Right.

If you have followed my journey, you know I am passionate about the water industry, and so there are many quotes I can share from Christen’s interview. Let me just start with the most important!

The doctors of the world are very celebrated as they should be, but wastewater operators save more lives each year by protecting the waters that people are drinking and fishing and swimming in….”

Let’s just pause and think about a world without clean water….

  • No Water
  • No Coffee
  • No Beer
  • No Wine
  • No Swimming
  • No Processing
  • No Energy
  • No Comfort…

Ok… you get the picture!  It’s important!

Another thing that is important is that we look at the system and make it more welcoming to women in these fields.  How do we make the jobs more attractive?  Yes, we pay them well… but is that all there is?  How could make these job more inviting and desirable as a career path?

Christen_Wood quote

Christen talks about the value of the Operations Challenge at building individuals and developing their skills.  Not just water skills, but the ability to work better as a team and grow into management in their careers.  This is a big deal in the world of operators.  From what I heard in this interview and in my conversations, there is an element of ‘earning your spot’… Let’s make that path clear and available to ALL that want it.

Diversity is the key to building our future workforce at its best.  We are focused on training women to be better communicators and leaders so they can share the ideas that are essential to the growth of this industry – now let’s make room for them to lead.

Listen to Christen Wood‘s story and you will probably see the first step to that growth!

https://www.empoweringwomeninindustry.com/podcast/episode/b698c9d2/empowering-women-podcast-christen-wood-operations-administrator-at-the-county-of-summit-department-of-sanitary-sewer-services

I’d love to hear your feedback on these Empowering Women podcasts! What ‘takeaways’ have you gained from listening?

What would you like to hear moving forward?

How can this podcast Empower YOU?

On to your next episode…

LADYBOSS… Why The Label?

Charli-boss-horizontal

I’m curious. When you see that word is it a positive or negative?  Is it motivating or demotivating to you? Is it annoying or uplifting?

I was recently listening to Rachel Hollis’s book, “Girl, Stop Apologizing”.  I love Rachel’s energy and agree with most things she says.  She brought up the term Girl Boss and how media has created this cute word that we use to describe women entrepreneurs. She goes on to say how the “Girl” is not needed to describe the job and it reduces the value of the significant BOSS job us ladies are doing!  At first, I totally agreed with her. I thought, “ Yes, we are doing the job that would be described for a man as “boss”.  Shouldn’t we just be Boss for us too?” But, then as I sat and reflected on this statement, I began to feel proud of it.  I am just fine with claiming that I am a Lady,( a work in progress no doubt) … and a Boss.  I think it is great to find common bonds and connections with people who are like you.  I have said many times, “don’t label me” I don’t do well with politics or judgement based on these labels.  But, Lady… now that is a label I wear proudly. And well, “Boss” is just the name I was given to me by my team.

I think it is important to realize we ARE DIFFERENT but EQUALLY VALUABLE! Respecting the differences other “labels” have and realizing we all have ideas and solutions based on our unique experience and talents will help move us forward.

I have recently been studying leadership and paying close attention to my own bias, so I can be a better boss. The more I study, the more I know I have much to learn! Being one of the few women CEOs in my network, I find it motivating to have a focus on building up other women.. And though the men in my life give me a hard time for my “girlpower” energy, I will continue to be proud of it! In order for the numbers of female leaders to increase steadily we have to have more lady bosses there to support them, to make the environment more inviting, so we can help to solve the complex problems our world faces. I will continue to advocate and empower more #ladybosses and push for a #balanceforbetter society.

I am a woman, so I find it easy to talk about that… I am aware that diversity is not just about gender.  If you are focused on changing your “label”, I’m here to help you as well!

In today’s world, we have to think about our personal brand! Whether we convey it through social media or just in our everyday interactions, our personal brand is part of our identity! People are going to “assess” you and put you ‘in a box’ (whether we like it or not, it’s just part of our nature)  If we get to define our identify before others can do that for us, isn’t it something we should do?

I challenge you to create “your words” around your identity!

My word is #LADYBOSS!