Finding Support on the Skinny Branches

A while back a friend of mine texted me, “I need a pep talk.” Less than 24 hours later, I was on her couch. I wasn’t there alone. A text from me to another of our tight, trusted, hilarious, brave, curious, Ladybadass group manifested another shoulder, supporter, nudger, question-er.

I won’t share what we talked about. Share, even with names redacted or changed, any of the information on why I had to hug someone more than three times (this is a big deal for me.) Why both the bottle of wine and the box of kleenex we emptied. That’s not the focus.

Today’s article is about how three strong, brave, professional women found each other.

Six years ago I was invited to be part of an experiment. An experiment that brought together twelve successful women to join forces in an effort to up our individual and collective game. We met monthly for the year with each other and with coaches.

The only rule: Show up.

One of the biggest lessons from this year of ass-kicking: I had no idea how lonely I was. Lonely for people who took similar professional steps that I took. Lonely for people who could see a future for me that was bigger and bolder than I could imagine. Continue reading “Finding Support on the Skinny Branches”

Would you like barbeque or a steak roll?

Adventures in A/B testing

I travel a ridiculous amount. As I write, I’m mid-flight from Charlotte, North Carolina to Miami, Florida. This is only the second of the four flights I’m taking to get to Ushuaia, Argentina. This is my life.

However, it’s the first leg of my journey that inspires this week’s article. To get to the airport, I decided to get a driver.

What my drivers never know when I tap the button on the app is I’ll want to chat with them (if they’ll let me) for the entire ride. I’ve found that rideshare drivers stories make for the most interesting conversations. Note that, to date, I’ve only had ONE driver tell me he wanted just to be a driver. They ALL have a dream, they all are using this side hustle as a means to an end.

Today’s driver (I’ll call him Bob) was no exception. After our initial banter, I jumped into my usual line of questions, “So what do you do when you’re not driving?”Bob was eager to share his story. He had gone to school for accounting and has had a desk job for seven years in the accounts payable department. Partially bored with his current work and partly inspired by the success story of Cousins Main Lobster trucks, Bob had decided to go into the food truck business. He was, as he told me, using his earnings to save up for a truck and to serve the “great people of San Francisco.”

Enthusiasm was not lacking in this young man! When I asked him what kind of food he was going to serve, he spoke of the virtues of barbeque. It’s simple to make, tasty to eat, everyone loves it. We got all the way across the Bay Bridge talking about BBQ and his plans when he threw me a curveball. He brought up his other option of Steak Rolls, egg rolls made with cheesesteak filling. I was jonesing for BBQ; now I was plain hungry.

“I know I gotta have a thing. I just don’t know which is the right thing.” His BBQ bravado was wavering.

I asked him if I could share a little advice: “Have you thought about doing some A/B testing?”

I talked him through the process and concepts of testing two (and only two) ideas with customers and how it helped you learn. By the end of the ride, Bob had decided to make small batches of both BBQ and Steak Rolls to get feedback.

Many of you are keenly aware of A/B testing, so why am I telling you about food truck options? First, I hope you understand my curiosity about who people are and what makes them tick is not limited just to people I know.

Secondly and more pointedly, my advice: Try A/B testing on yourself. Unsure about updates to your email signature, your LinkedIn photo, your header, the way you answer the question “what do you do?” If you’re hesitant about making a change for fear of not getting it quite right, test your ideas.

  1. Ask those you trust.
  2. Give them an A option and a B option.
  3. Review feedback.
  4. Make the change!

Getting feedback from others on how your personal narrative, all parts of it, is unbelievably valuable in figuring out your “thing.” You know you can do it too.

If we know why you’re awesome and we want you for your awesome, then you get to be awesome.

It’s that simple.

Who’s making what decision in which room?

Part of the fun for me in putting ideas and questions out to this #ladybadass community are the conversations following. It’s rare for me not to get pulled into a discussion around a question I posed or a theory I’m developing. Once in a while, I ask people to share their ideas back with you. Share, because I want you to hear different thoughts and ideas. Share because I want you to meet the phenomenal people behind the conversations.

A couple of weeks back I posed the question, “Do you stay in a role longer than you should for the sake of the team?” This particular article garnered several conversations. One, in particular, caught my attention. A conversation I had with a dear friend and co-worker from a part of my life we’ll just call “Adventures in Chicago,” and I asked her to share.

So today, I introduce you to a total #ladybadass Cindy Barry and her thoughts about staying for the team…………..



Through the years I have encountered numerous managers who were nightmares. Having someone in your direct line of management, or a peer inside or outside your division can cause angst, negatively impact morale, and demotivate everyone around them. In the end, they are adversely impacting productivity, which means they are impacting revenue.

They are often the worst kept secret in the company, well known to Human Resources (HR). We can have an entire series of articles on theories as to how and why they are allowed to stay in place. Sadly, they are a reality with which we need to contend. Continue reading “Who’s making what decision in which room?”

Bespoke Bubbles

Lessons in Language and Individuality

Imagine for a moment that you’re invited to discuss with a small group of thought leaders the idea of narrative in the 21st Century. In the invitation informs you that you will give up an entire weekend, there is no agenda, and no other participants are known. The only thing you do know is that the host is this intriguing gentleman whom you’ve had some very thought-provoking conversations with before.

Would you say yes?

Of course, I said yes. Boy, I’m glad I did! Whom I met, what I learned, and my curiosity about what will manifest is still making me ponder almost a week later.

As the other 11 thinkers introduced themselves, I must admit that my IBSC (itty bitty shitty committee) screamed at the top of its lungs. These were people doing tremendous things on a massive scale. I can’t share the invite list, but let’s just say we had social activism, technology, military, politics, global economics, and environmentalism covered. And there I was with my platform of why people need to be able to articulate why they’re awesome.

I won’t go into a long diatribe about the ridiculousness of negative self-talk. We all know that conversation.

Once I got past myself, I listened, I absorbed, I learned. Continue reading “Bespoke Bubbles”

Staying to Protect the Team

I have a question for all the people managers out there. Have you stayed in a job because of the people? A job you know you need to leave, but you just can’t quit the amazing people.

“My boss is a tool but my people are fabulous. I can’t leave them.” I’ve heard this sentence or something like it more times than I can count.

Have you endured a lousy boss because you want to protect or can’t leave the people on your team?

I know I have.

This topic came up while talking with my ladybadass friends recently. Several of them recounted the same scenario:

Atrocious boss + extraordinary people → Difficulty leaving

It got me wondering. Is this a pattern with women leaders or is just a sign of someone who’s a cool person? Continue reading “Staying to Protect the Team”

Do women empty the bank on their relationship capital?

I’ve been floating an idea recently about the concept of “relationship capital.” I honestly want to know if you think I’m nuts or if the idea resonates.

Let me start by explaining what I mean by “relationship capital” and what you do with it.

Someone, usually in a significantly more powerful/senior position to you, decides to put his reputation on the line for you.

For instance:

  • Hiring you when you don’t have the experience and/or someone else isn’t a fan.
  • Giving you opportunities to work on projects that are outside of your usual scope of responsibility.
  • Speaking on your behalf in a room that you’re not in.
  • Pushing someone forward rather than just opening the door.

This is beyond mentoring. This is someone making a bet; a bet on you and your future capabilities. Continue reading “Do women empty the bank on their relationship capital?”